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Seismic Processing - Table of Contents

01.01 01.02 01.03 01.04 01.05 01.06 01.07 01.08 01.09 Chapter 1 - In the beginning ... An introduction The geological time scale Rock types Sedimentary basins Oil and Gas formation Oil and Gas Traps Approximately Mathematical Chapter 1 - Questions

02.01 02.02 02.03 02.04

Chapter 2 - Seismic Acquisition The ideal seismic source Onshore seismic sources Other Land sources

02.05 02.06 02.07 02.08

Recording the data - Onshore Offshore seismic sources Recording the data - Offshore Chapter 2 - Questions

03.01 03.02 03.03 03.04 03.05 03.06 03.07 03.08 03.09 03.10

Chapter 3 - Waves and Raypaths Waves P and S Waves Wavefronts Ray Paths More Ray Paths Ghost Reflections Multiple Reflections Diffractions Chapter 3 - Questions

04.01 04.02 04.03 04.04 04.05

Chapter 4 - Geometry Marine 2D Geometry Multi-Fold Geometry Calculating the fold Land Geometry

04.06 04.07 04.08 04.09 04.10 04.11 04.12

Elevations and shot depths Field Statics Crooked Lines The problems with 2D 3D Geometry 3D binning Chapter 4 - Questions

05.01 05.02 05.03 05.04 05.05 05.06 05.07 05.08 05.09 05.10 05.11 05.12 05.13

Chapter 5 - Recording the data Number systems Binary numbers Binary arithmetic Digitisation Aliasing Multiplexed data Recording filters Tape Formats Field Tape Formats SEG-D SEG-Y Chapter 5 - Questions

06.01 06.02 06.03 06.04 06.05 06.06 06.07 06.08 06.09 06.10 06.11 06.12 06.13

Chapter 6 - Frequencies Complex Numbers Frequencies Combining different frequencies The Fourier Transform The Forward Transform The Inverse Transform Example FFT's Digital Filtering Convolution The frequency content of the seismic trace Phase Chapter 6 - Questions

07.01 07.02 07.03 07.04 07.05 07.06

Chapter 7 - Processing Flows (1) A typical processing flow Transcription Vibroseis data & correlation Shot summing Initial Statics

07.07 07.08 07.09 07.10 07.11 07.12 07.13

Signature Deconvolution (1) Signature Deconvolution (2) Signature Deconvolution (3) Signature Deconvolution (4) Gain Recovery Trace editing Chapter 7 - Questions

08.01 08.02 08.03 08.04 08.05 08.06 08.07 08.08 08.09 08.10 08.11 08.12 08.13

Chapter 8 - Processing Flows (2) Resample Spatial Resampling Spatial Frequencies Spatial filtering FK Filtering Linear Tau-P filtering FX Deconvolution Spatial Filtering Examples (1) Spatial Filtering Examples (2) Spatial interpolation Sorting & Gathering Chapter 8 - Questions

09.01 09.02 09.03 09.04 09.05 09.06 09.07 09.08 09.09 09.10 09.11 09.12 09.13

Chapter 9 - Processing Flows (3) Dynamic corrections NMO and Velocities Seismic Velocities Picking Velocities (1) Picking Velocities (2) Velocity problems Velocity QC Other velocity analyses and QC DMO (1) DMO (2) DMO (3) Chapter 9 - Questions

10.01 10.02 10.03 10.04 10.05 10.06

Chapter 10 - Processing Flows (4) Multiples - Again! Deconvolution (1) Deconvolution (2) Deconvolution (3) Deconvolution (4)

10.07 10.08 10.09 10.10 10.11 10.12 10.13

De-Multiple (1) De-Multiple (2) Residual Statics (1) Residual Statics (2) Other Statics (1) Other Statics (2) Chapter 10 - Questions

11.01 11.02 11.03 11.04 11.05 11.06 11.07 11.08 11.09 11.10 11.11 11.12 11.13

Chapter 11 - Processing Flows (5) Trace muting CDP Stack Filtering (1) Filtering (2) Equalisation & AGC Migration (1) Migration (2) Migration (3) Other Post-Stack Processes / Display Display (2) What happens next? Chapter 11 - Questions

12.01 12.02 12.03 12.04 12.05 12.06 12.07 12.08 12.09 12.10 12.11 12.12 12.13

Chapter 12 - Advanced Processing Complex Trace Analysis Well Log Processing Data Matching Zero Phasing Seismic Inversion AVO (1) AVO (2) Scanning & Reprocessing QC - Trials and Tribulations Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow Chapter 12 - Questions Final Questions

Chapter 1 - In the beginning ...


As the beginning seems an appropriate place to start, Chapter 1 provides a tiny bit of geological and mathematical background to Seismic Processing. Please make sure that you have read Navigating through this course before going any further!

Page 01.02 - An introduction We start with a brief introduction to the whole process of Seismic Exploration, a mention of its history, and an explanation of the types of seismic trace displays used in this course. Page 01.03 - The geological time scale As a prelude to a four page instant geological background, nothing less than the history of the world is used to familiarise you with the formation names used by geologists. Although not strictly related to Seismic Processing, some background to the overall geological setting of seismic data is useful. Page 01.04 - Rock types Specific rock types, and their formation, are discussed, with particular emphasis on the sedimentary rocks that are the foundation of the world's Oil & Gas production. Page 01.05 - Sedimentary basins Since all of the world's Oil & Gas reserves are found in sedimentary basins, this page illustrates the formation of a typical basin. The structures produced during basin
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formation provide the setting for both the generation and subsequent "trapping" of Oil & Gas deposits. Page 01.06 - Oil and Gas formation The chemical and physical processes necessary for the production of Oil & Gas are discussed, together with an example of an actual sedimentary basin cross-section. Page 01.07 - Oil and Gas Traps Once the Oil & Gas has been produced, the conditions must exist for the "trapping" of the Oil & Gas in a suitable structure. Examples of the major types of trap are shown. Page 01.08 - Approximately Mathematical To finish this introduction, something non-geological. A look at least-squares regression, one of the mathematical algorithms used extensively in the Seismic Processing route. Page 01.09 - Questions A set of questions to test your knowledge of the topics covered in Chapter 1.

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An introduction
Seismic Exploration
Although this course will concentrate on the processing of reflection seismic data for hydrocarbon exploration, it's probably worth reviewing the historical context and the other uses of seismic techniques.

The Chinese had a device as early as 100 AD. for detecting earth tremors - probably the first seismic receiver! The first use of explosives to delineate structures under the earth was in the 1920's and 30's in the Southern US and South America. The techniques used developed fairly slowly over the next twenty or so years until the advent of tape recording in the 1950's, and digital computer processing in the 1960's. Since then the technology has increased exponentially, with the ups and downs of the world oil price controlling the overall research effort. This course deals exclusively with seismic reflection data processing. The recording of refracted seismic waves is used for shallow investigations and will be mentioned in passing (we can't avoid recording refractions with the reflections). Reflection techniques can also be used for very shallow site investigations (either for placing an oil rig, or for engineering work), or very deep penetration into the earth for examination of the limits of the earth's crust. Other geophysical techniques (gravity, magnetics etc.) will not be discussed. Like most real-world activities, seismic exploration has not featured well in the movies. The 1953 film "Thunder Bay" has James Stewart throwing sticks of dynamite from a boat in a Louisiana bayou, and the 1976 re-make of "King Kong" used the excuse of seismic exploration as a reason for visiting the appropriate island. Neither of these is recommended viewing! (I won't mention the single shotgun blast at the beginning of

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"Jurrasic Park" producing a 3D image, though it would be interesting to develop such a technique!)

In simplistic terms, seismic exploration can be thought of as the sonic equivalent of radar. An energy source produces sound waves that are directed into the ground. These waves pass through the earth and are partially reflected at every boundary between rocks of different types. The response to this reflection sequence is received by instruments on or near the surface, and recorded on magnetic tape for computer processing. The process is repeated many times along a seismic "line" (generally a straight line on the surface), and the resultant processed data provides a structural picture of the sub-surface. Sophisticated processing techniques can be used (usually in conjunction with calibration data recorded down a well) to turn the resultant seismic section into a direct indicator of rock types and (possibly) detect the presence of hydrocarbons (oil & gas) within the earth.

The data recorded from one "shot" (one detonation of an explosive or implosive energy source) at one receiver position is referred to as a seismic trace, and is recorded as a function of time (the time since the shot was fired). As this time represents the time taken for the energy to travel into the earth, reflect, and then return to the surface, it is more correctly called "two-way time" and the vertical scale is generally measured in milliseconds (one thousandth of a second - 0.001 seconds). During the processing sequence these traces are combined together in various ways, and modified by some fairly complex mathematical operations, but are always referred to as "traces". The display of many traces side-by-side in their correct spatial positions produces the final "seismic section" or "seismic profile" that provides the geologist with a structural picture of the sub-surface.

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For reasons of efficiency and data redundancy, the results from each shot are actually recorded at many different receiver positions. Receivers are placed at regular intervals around or to one side of the shot position typically extending over some 3 kilometres or more of the surface. The resultant collection of traces from one shot is generally recorded together and referred to as a "Field Record". Each shot position is numbered, and the position of each shot (normally the "shotpoint") is accurately mapped. This "shotpoint map" shows the position of the seismic cross-section on the surface. For conventional so-called twodimensional (2D) seismic data (we'll talk about 3D later...) this cross-section is assumed to lie directly below the surface "line".

Since the early 1960's seismic data has been recorded and processed digitally. What we visualise as a seismic trace is actually nothing more than a string of numbers, where each number represents the amplitude (or height) of the seismic trace at a particular time. Traces are typically recorded with a sample period (the time interval between numbers) of 1-2 milliseconds (0.001 - 0.002 seconds), and recorded to a total two-way time of (typically) 5 or 6 seconds. Each trace thus consists of some 2,500 - 6,000 numbers recorded on tape. As each of these numbers can take up to 4 bytes of computer storage, and as one field record can consist of (for example) 240 seismic traces recorded every 25 metres on the surface, the data storage problems are, even now, considerable. Six seconds of data recorded at a 2 millisecond sample period, with one field record of 240 traces shot every 25 metres = 115,200,000 bytes per kilometre (recorded every 5-6 minutes offshore, or 1.3 gigabytes per hour!)

The seismic trace


There are many different ways of displaying a seismic trace, most of which are used in this course. When we are dealing with a short piece of trace, and wish to examine the numbers that make up the digital representation of the trace we will probably use one of the examples shown here.

1) Shows the trace as a series of "spikes" representing the numerical value of the trace at each sample. 2) Shows the same series with the implied continuous waveform drawn in. If we wish to be more precise, we will use 3) which shows the continuous waveform in a smooth fashion (such a curve can be reconstructed, subject to certain conditions, from the numerical

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values). In all of these cases we will assume that values above the zero line represent positive numbers, whilst those below are negative numbers.

When we are showing longer traces, or collections of traces, we will resort to more conventional displays.

1) Shows a "Wiggle-Trace" display of a whole trace, 2) a "Variable-Area/WiggleTrace" display - used for seismic sections as it enhances continuity, and 3) and 4) show types of "variable density" or colour displays which we will use when lots of traces are involved. For all of these displays, the positive values will normally be plotted towards the right, or as black or red "peaks" on the variable density displays. VariableArea/Wiggle-Trace displays normally have the peaks filled-in as black.

The geological time scale


ERA PERIOD EPOCH { Recent { Pleistocene { Pliocene { Minocene { Oligocene { Eocene { Paleocene MESOZOIC Cretaceous YEARS PAST 10,000 2,500,000 12,000,000 26,000,000 38,000,000 54,000,000 65,000,000 135,000,000 Primates & Flowering Plants Humanoids Grazing & Carnivorous Mammals LIFE FORMS

Quaternary Tertiary CENOZOIC

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Jurassic Triassic PALEOZOIC Permian Carboniferous { Pennsylvanian { Mississippian Devonian Silurian Ordovician Cambrian PRECAMBRIAN

195,000,000 225,000,000 280,000,000 320,000,000 345,000,000 395,000,000 430,000,000 500,000,000 570,000,000 700,000,000 700,000,000 3,500,000,000 4,650,000,000+

Birds Dinosaurs & Mammals Reptiles & Fern Forests

Amphibians & Insects Land Plants Fish Shellfish Algae Single-cell organisms Formation of the Earth

The age of the Earth is approximately 4 thousand million years (4,650,000,000). Life first appeared some 600 million years ago, with humanoids appearing about 3 million years ago. The Earth's age is conveniently divided into two major time divisions marking the boundary when life first appeared: the Cryptozoic (hidden life), or Precambrian; and the Phanerozoic (obvious life), or Cambrian. Until comparatively recently, with the advent of radio-carbon dating and similar processes, the only way to establish the relative ageing of rocks was by means of the fossilised remains within those rocks. This led to difficulties in dating rocks earlier than the earliest solid remains (greater than 600 million years old, or Precambrian). The time period over the remaining geologic time scale has been sub-divided into three eras (Palaeozoic, Mesozoic and Cainozoic), each sub-divided into named periods and ages, as well as further sub-divisions referred to by the name of a characteristic fossil. Most, but not all, of the major oil discoveries are in rocks formed during the last 200 million years (Triassic and younger).

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Rock types
Rocks can be classified into three main types, depending on the chemistry of their formation.

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Igneous rocks
Igneous rocks were formed by the cooling and subsequent solidification of a molten mass of rock material, known as magma. These rocks are still being produced by active volcanoes.

Plutonic (coarse-grained) rocks, such as granite and syenite, were formed from a magma buried deep within the crust of the Earth which cooled very slowly during the initial stages of the Earth's solidification, thus permitting large crystals of individual minerals to form. Volcanic rocks, typified by basalt and rhyolite, were formed when the molten magma rose from a depth and filled cracks close to the surface, or when the magma was extruded upon the surface of the Earth through a volcano. The subsequent cooling and solidification of the magma were very rapid, resulting in the formation of fine-grain minerals or glasslike rocks. As igneous rocks are composed almost entirely of silicate minerals, they are often classified by their silica content. The major categories are referred to as acid (granite and rhyolite) and basic (gabbro and basalt).

Metamorphic rocks
Metamorphic rocks are those whose composition and texture has been altered by heat and pressure deep within the Earth's crust. Dynamothermal, or regional, metamorphism refers to those rocks where both heat and pressure have caused changes. Where the changes have been produced by the heat of an intrusion of igneous rock, the metamorphism is termed thermal, or contact.

Metamorphism occurs to both igneous or sedimentary rocks, where the resultant rock depends on the amount of heat and pressure they have been subjected to. Shale is metamorphosed to slate in a low-temperature environment, but if heated to temperatures high enough for its clay minerals to re-crystallise as mica flakes, shale becomes metamorphosed into a phyllite. At even higher temperatures and pressures, shale and siltstone completely re-crystallise, forming schist or gneiss, rocks in which the alignment of mica flakes produces a laminated texture called foliation.

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Among the non-foliated metamorphic rocks, quartzite and marble are the most common. Quartzite is typically a tough, hard, light-coloured rock in which all the sand grains of a sandstone or siltstone have been re-crystallised into a fabric of interlocking quartz grains. Marble is a softer, more brittle, varicoloured rock in which the dolomite or calcite of the original sedimentary material has been entirely re-crystallised.

Sedimentary rocks
Sedimentary rocks are the weathered debris derived by the slow processes of erosion of upland regions containing other rock types.

These weathering products are ultimately transported, by water, wind or ice to the seas, lakes or lowland areas where they settle out and accumulate to form clastic (fragmented) sediments. As the sediments are transported, the individual grains are battered and tend to become more rounded and sorted according to size by the varying strengths of current and wave action. By the time it reaches the sea, and is distributed over the sea-floor, the sediment is commonly well-enough sorted to be distinguishable as shingle, sand, silt or mud. Although mixtures are also present, these are the deposits that later become hardened to form the sedimentary rocks, conglomerate, sandstone, siltstone and mudstone or shale respectively. During this process, trapped organic material gives rise to the oil and gas we are trying to find! Two other types of sediment are additionally deposited in the marine environment in which they are created. An abundance of calcium carbonate secreting organisms, including certain algae, corals and animals with shells, can give rise to limestone, a rock composed almost entirely of the mineral calcite. An important variety is dolomite, where the basic mineral constituent is a calcium-magnesium carbonate and which most commonly results from changes to the rock due to percolating waters after deposition. The intense evaporation of restricted or isolated sea areas can give rise to the accumulation of sea salts on the sea floor. They may reach considerable thickness and include anhydrite

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(calcium sulphate), calcium carbonate, rock salt (sodium chloride) and, eventually, potassium salts. They are collectively referred to as evaporites. At the edges of the continental land masses, this eroded and precipitated material, deposited in the shallows of ancient seas, caused the sea bottom to subside and the gradual build-up of sedimentary basins.

Sedimentary basins
Sedimentary basins were formed over hundreds of millions of years by the action of the deposition of eroded material and the precipitation of chemicals and organic matter in the sea water. External geological forces then distort and modify the layered strata. The following pictures show (vertically exaggerated) the formation of a typical basin.

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Sediment collects on the sea-bed, the weight causing subsidence. Different materials collected at different times, so producing the regular "layering" of strata in the basin.

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Volcanic action, or the movement of land masses, causes faults to appear in the basin. These same forces cause rotation of the overall basin forming a new mountain range.

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Erosion of the highlands, and additional subsidence forms yet another area of low-lying land that is filled with water forming another ancient sea.

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Additional sedimentation takes place, causing an "unconformity" in the underlying strata.

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Finally, land mass movement causes folding and distortion of the basin. In reality the above processes may have occurred again and again and in any order during the formation of a sedimentary basin, giving rise to thick, complex structures in the sediments.

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Oil and Gas formation


Sedimentary basins exist around the world at the edges of ancient continental shelves. These basins can be of complex structure, with many different layers within the sediments deposited in a particular geological age.

The temperature increases with depth within the Earth's crust, so that sediments, and the organic material they contain, heat up as they become buried under younger sediments. As the heat and pressure increase, the natural fats and oils present in buried algae, bacteria and other material link and form kerogen, an hydrocarbon that is the precursor of petroleum. As this source rock becomes hotter, chains of hydrogen and carbon atoms break away and form heavy oil. At higher temperatures the chains become shorter and light oil or gas is formed. Gas may also be directly formed from the decomposition of kerogen produced from the woody parts of plants. This woody material also generates coal seams within the strata. If the temperature and pressure gets too high, the kerogen becomes carbonised and does not produce hydrocarbons.

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The oil and gas produced by these processes may be in any combination and are almost always mixed with water. The minute particles of hydrocarbon are produced within the pores of permeable rocks (for example sandstone) and, being lighter than the surrounding material, move up through the rock until prevented from doing so by an impermeable rock. Although the initial source rock may only contain minute amounts of hydrocarbon, as the particles of oil, gas and water move, or migrate*, through the pore space within younger permeable rocks, they coalesce into larger volumes. By the time this movement is stopped by the presence of a cap of impermeable rock (or when they reach the surface) the total hydrocarbon volume may be large enough to be a produce an oil or gas field that will be profitable to develop. The ultimate profitability of such a field depends, of course, on external economic forces and world demand as much as on ease of extraction. As seismic exploration is concerned with the imaging of sub-surface structures, it is those structures that may indicate a potential hydrocarbon trap that are of most interest to the explorationist. * Don't confuse the migration of hydrocarbons with the use of the term migration in seismic processing - we'll be talking about that later!

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Oil and Gas Traps


There are many types of traps associated with hydrocarbon accumulations, here are a few examples. A structural trap formed by the folding of the strata into an anticline. The hydrocarbons permeate up through the porous rock below until trapped by the denser rock above. One of the first types of traps to be identified, as they are sometimes associated with anticlines on the surface. This type of structure is readily visible on a seismic section, but, as seismic sections are normally "time-sections", the actual structure may be obscured (or even artificially produced) by velocity changes above the anticline. A structural trap formed around a fault. Many combinations are possible, requiring the impermeable cap rock to be present on the other side of the fault. Under certain conditions the hydrocarbons will actually migrate along the fault plane, and so move several kilometres from the source rock. May be difficult to identify on the seismic data due to raypath problems around the fault.

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Some of the possible traps associated with a salt intrusion. The actual trap may form above the salt plug, in which case it may be easier to image on the seismic data than those on the sides of the plug. Another early discovery; the first seismic reflection surveys were used to identify salt intrusions in and around the Gulf of Mexico and southern USA.

A more complex structural trap, where the reservoir rock was first folded and eroded, then sealed by an impermeable rock which was deposited later over the eroded structure. Although this type of structure may be visible on the seismic data, it may not be obvious that this is a trap.

A stratigraphic trap formed by lateral changes within one (apparent) rock layer. In this case, the reservoir rock may, for example, have come from river sands which were deposited amongst clays from surrounding swamps. The clays have solidified into an impermeable seal, so trapping the hydrocarbons within the sandstone. The most difficult type of trap to find on seismic data. May require additional processing (tied to information from wells) to identify. There are obviously many more types of trap possible (some still to be found) but you should now have a basic idea of the kinds of structures that may be "interesting" on a seismic section. We'll now move on to some very basic mathematics!

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Approximately Mathematical
Although seismic processing utilises some of the most sophisticated numerical algorithms known, the processing geophysicist can probably get by with simply understanding what the processes do; not how they do it! It is useful, however, to understand some of the basic principles involved. A basic knowledge of arithmetic, geometry and trigonometry is almost essential. Although we rely on the computer to do most of the work, we need to supply parameters for each processing stage that are mathematically (as well as geologically) sensible, and to be able to check the computer's results. The single most common mathematical thread that runs through seismic processing is that of "Least-Squares", the process of minimising the errors involved in making some approximation to our data. This technique is used again and again within the seismic processing sequence and is worth spending a few moments on. If you are quite happy with this technique, or simply bored or terrified at the prospect then please feel free to click the "Next Page" button above. In order to explain the principle of Least-Squares, here's a set of numbers representing the time of my journey to work over several days:Day Day Day Day 1 2 3 4 25 37 28 35 minutes minutes minutes minutes

I would like to establish the "best-estimate" for my journey time, without having any concept of the meaning of "average", but with a knowledge of some basic maths. I'll start by making a guess at the best time - say 30 minutes. In order to see how good a guess this is, I'll simply subtract it from each actual value:Day Day Day Day 1 2 3 4 25: 37: 28: 35: 25 37 28 35 30 30 30 30 = -5 = 7 = -2 = 5

The total error could be described as -5 + 7 + -2 + 5 = 5, but this does not take into account the fact that some of the numbers are positive, and others negative. I'm really only interested in the magnitude of the error, not it's sign, so I'll do the simplest thing (mathematically) I can do and square the numbers before adding them. This gives me (for a guess of 30) a total error squared of 25 + 49 + 4 + 25 = 103. My best guess will be where this number is a minimum. Here's a whole series of guesses, with the associated "error-squared":
Guess 20 - error squared = 603 Guess 22 - error squared = 439 Guess 24 - error squared = 307 Guess 30 - error squared = 103 Guess 32 - error squared = 99 Guess 34 - error squared = 127

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Guess 26 - error squared = 207 so on ...

Guess 36 - error squared = 187

and

Here's a plot of the error squared against guess for a whole range of numbers:-

It's fairly obvious that the Total Error-Squared reaches a minimum value at the base of the curve, and this corresponds to the position of the "best-fit". In order to calculate its value, we need to express our calculations in general terms. If we call our initial data values X1, X2 etc., then any given value's error-squared is:-

where G is the guess. The total error squared (E) is:-

where N is the number of values. We can expand this to:-

or (by simplifying):-

Now, the only (slightly) heavy bit. In order to minimise this total error-squared, we need to differentiate the right-hand side of the above with respect to G (the thing we're trying to find). This will give us the slope of the resultant curve, and the "turn-over" point where
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this equals zero. The differential of E is then:-

which we set equal to zero to find the minimum error position for G:-

and rearrange (and divide by 2):-

and solve for G:-

This appears to tell us that the best guess for G is the sum of all of the individual values (25+37+28+35=125), divided by the number of values (125/4=31.25). A very long-winded way of proving that the best-fit of a constant value to a set of numbers is the AVERAGE! Of course, this process can be extended to "best-fit" any mathematical function to any set of numbers of any dimension; the solution in each case having the minimum errorsquared. Here's our data points once again with a whole set of higher-order curves fitted:-

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The red line is the average we just computed, the green is a straight line, the blue quadratic and the brown cubic. The brown (cubic) curve fits four points exactly, but is hardly the most meaningful "fit" in this case. (It implies that, next week, it'll take me a month to get to work, I suppose the traffic's going to be really bad!). We will come back to the concept of least-squares much later in this course!

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Chapter 2 - Seismic Acquisition


This Chapter presents a very brief look at Seismic Acquisition, with particular emphasis on those topics relevant to the seismic processor. If you've spent the last 15 years on a land crew in the Amazon, or an equivalent length of time in the middle of the Arctic Ocean collecting marine data (or are doing either of these as you read this), you might want to skip this bit!

Page 02.02 - The ideal seismic source What goes into the ground comes back out again! The characteristics of the ideal seismic source are discussed. Page 02.03 - Onshore seismic sources The use of explosives onshore - still the most common source for "Land" recording. Page 02.04 - Other Land sources Other land sources are mentioned, and vibratory sources (the second most common source) are examined in some detail. Page 02.05 - Recording the data - Onshore The logistics and mechanics of recording data onshore can be enormous. A brief explanation of the standard recording device is followed by a wider review of recording techniques. Page 02.06 - Offshore seismic sources From land to sea! The differences in the marine environment, and details of Air-Guns, the most common offshore seismic source. Page 02.07 - Recording the data - Offshore Highlights the differences between onshore and offshore recording and addresses the general problems associated with Marine Acquisition. Page 02.08 - Questions A set of questions to test your knowledge of this very brief introduction to Seismic Acquisition.
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The ideal seismic source


Changes in the speed (velocity) of sound and the density within particular rocks causes reflection and refraction of the sound waves produced by a seismic source. Specifically, variation of these parameters at an interface between two different rock types causes a reflection of some of the seismic energy back towards the surface. It is the record of these reflections against time that produce our seismic section. A seismic reflector can only reflect back to the surface an image of the energy pulse it receives. If we send a complex pulse into the ground, that pulse will be superimposed on every reflector we record. For this reason we wish to make the actual seismic source as close as possible to a single pulse of energy - a spike.

A spike of energy sent into the earth produces a set of clear reflectio ns.

A more complex energy pulse produces confused reflectio ns

In practice and ideal spike is impossible to achieve. As we will see later, a spike implies that an infinitely wide range of frequencies need to be present in the source, all released over an infinitesimally small time range.

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The earliest seismic surveys used explosives as a seismic source with, for offshore exploration, up to 50 pounds (23 kg) of dynamite being exploded just below the surface of the water. This is a very effective source, still used for onshore surveys, but is environmentally obviously no longer a desirable source for offshore acquisition. Many other designs of source have been used over the years, and we will now go on to discuss the most common.

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Onshore seismic sources


There are enormous logistical problems associated with Onshore Seismic Exploration. The seismic "line" must first be accurately marked out by surveyors. This may mean painting marks on roads through residential areas ...

... or cutting through dense jungle to mark shot and receiver positions. In either case modern GPS equipment has simplified the positioning, but accurate elevation (height above sea level) measurements must also be made using conventional surveying techniques. Once the line position is marked, the shooting and recording equipment can be transported onto the line. Oil & Gas deposits tend to be in some of the more inhospitable regions of the Earth, so the actual terrain conditions may limit the available shooting / recording positions as well as define the costs of the acquisition.

Dynamite and other explosives are still used for roughly half of all onshore seismic exploration. 1 kg of seismic explosive releases about 5MJ of energy almost instantaneously, enough energy to keep your electric fire burning for almost 1 hours. The part of this energy which can usefully be converted into a compressional wave of seismic energy depends on the depth of the shot in the ground, and the local ground conditions. Seismic shots are normally placed below the near-surface highly weathered layers of the earth. This improves the coupling of the source to the ground, and avoids problems with the vary variable (slow) acoustic velocities in the weathering layer. Tests may be necessary in a new exploration area to determine the optimum shot depth and charge size. It may be necessary to fire an array of shots for each shotpoint. The number and position of each shot designed to improve the downward-going energy but to attenuate the energy going in other directions.

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In areas where the near-surface conditions demand it, large drilling rigs may be necessary to drill the shot-holes for burial of the explosive charge. As mentioned above, the position and height of each shot-hole are carefully recorded, and the depth of the shot in the hole is measured by simply noting the length of the tamping rod used to place the shot in the hole. These parameters are necessary for the correct processing of the data.

Charges can vary from a few grams to several tens of kilograms, depending on the depth of the target reflectors. The explosive used is very stable, almost impossible to detonate without the correct electrical detonator, and often comes in small "cans" which can be combined together to make larger charges.

Where better surface conditions exist, or access is difficult, a portable form of drilling rig may be used. Water & mud pumps, compressed air, emulsion and foam have all been used to improve the circulation of the drill bit in different conditions. The types of drill used extends from hand-held augers to large truck-mounted hammer drills. Production rates for "conventional" (dynamite) exploration depend almost entirely on the rate at which holes can be drilled.

If we assume that the shooting medium is consistent in all directions, we can make some generalisations about the effect of an explosive charge on the surrounding rock.

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In the immediate vicinity of the charge extremely high pressures will exist very briefly at the shot instant, pulverising the neighbouring earth materials and displacing these to form a physical cavity within the shot hole. Beyond this actual cavity there will exist a region where movement is so great that materials are stressed beyond their elastic limits. This part of the sub-surface will be permanently altered. This region is expected to be a spherical volume, and is commonly referred to as the equivalent cavity. Beyond the radius of this notional equivalent cavity, displacements are such that we can simply consider the compressional wave produced by the shot as a conventional "seismic" wave, and assume that any pressure changes will only cause transient changes in the rocks - they will return to their normal state after the wave has passed.

Other Land sources


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Almost anything that could possibly be used as a source of acoustic energy has been tried onshore at one time or another. Metal plates hit with hammers (still used for very shallow refraction surveys), weights dropped from various devices, explosive charges and offshore seismic sources in water containers, even shotguns fired into the ground. Modified hardcore-tamping equipment has been used for shallow surveys, and ground penetrating radar is used by archaeologists (and some police forces) for detecting near-surface disturbances. Out of all of these, by far the majority of other onshore surveys are conducted using a vibratory source on the surface. The most common of these being the vibroseis method developed by Conoco.

Vibroseis
In a Vibroseis survey, specially designed vehicles lift their weight onto a large plate, in contact with the ground, which is then vibrated over a period of time (typically 8-16 seconds), with a sweep of frequencies.

In upsweeping, the frequency begins low and increases with time and in downsweeping the sweep begins high and decreases in frequency with time.

Up Swee p

Down Swee p

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Regardless of the sweep direction, vibroseis trucks normally operate in synchronised groups, so increasing the total amount of vibratory energy input into the ground. With less chance of damage to surrounding property than explosives, vibrators are ideally suited for used in urban areas and have been used successfully in the centre of major cities and along the shoulder of major highways. Of necessity, vibrators are a surface source.

On the first page of this Chapter, it was pointed out that the ideal seismic source is a spike, or as close to it as possible. Explosives meet this criteria very well, but vibroseis is obviously very different - it's akin to the "chirp" used by radar systems - very long in duration but carefully controlled and very repeatable. Because the vibroseis sweep is so carefully controlled (and directly recorded for each shot), it's effects can be readily removed during the data processing. The technique, involving correlation of the recorded data with the recorded sweep, reduces the apparent source to a symmetrical wavelet containing the same frequencies as the sweep. The vibroseis correlation is now often performed directly in the field and will be discussed when we come to look at correlation.

Recording the data - Onshore


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Onshore seismic data is recorded using a simple (normally electro-magnetic) device known as a geophone. A moving-coil geophone consists of a coil of wire, suspended from a spring, surrounded by a "W" shaped magnet. The metal spike is pushed into the ground, and any upwardtravelling energy from the seismic shot is recorded as the electric current generated by the movement of the coil relative to the magnet.

The amount of energy recorded by the geophone is, of course, minute. Where conditions allow (for example on relatively flat ground), several geophones may be grouped together, or place in strings around the central (nominal) receiver position. This not only improves the total signal output from the group, but also "tunes" the geophones so that energy from below is enhanced whilst that from the side (ground-roll) is attenuated. We'll see more on this when we discuss marine seismic sources. In some cases, where the surface elevation varies rapidly, or there is very loose nearsurface material, it may be necessary to drill holes and bury the geophones below ground level. In other cases (for example along a shopping street in the middle of a town) the geophones may be mounted on metal cones and just placed in contact with the ground. Both of these techniques have their own problems which must be addressed in the processing of the data.

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Once the shot positions have been marked, the geophones are laid out (in groups if necessary) and connected either by wire or radio (a telemetric system) to the recording truck. Although this may seem a trivial task, the planting of one geophone every metre over maybe 5 kilometres is nontrivial, and an enormous amount of planning (and labour) must be used to "lay" the line of geophones. Remember once again the possible environmental problems - from desert to frozen tundra! The geophone groups may be laid out for several kilometres prior to the start of shooting. As the shot position advances down the line, different sections of the recording groups are made "live" by the recording instruments to maintain a similar range of offsets (distances from shot to receiver) for each shot. At some stage the groups of geophones must be physically moved in order to maintain the "live" section.

Even in a rural setting, geophone placing can be arduous, and noise can be generated by traffic or power lines (typically 50-60 Hz). In more remote locations, transportation problems can add to the already considerable cost of Land Acquisition. With these problems a conventional (explosive) seismic crew may only record about 80-100 shots per day. A Vibroseis crew (in ideal conditions) may achieve as many as 800.

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Offshore seismic sources


Most Offshore seismic exploration does not have the logistical problems associated with Onshore exploration, but the operational difficulties more than compensate for this! All of the necessary shooting and recording equipment must be deployed from the rear of the vessel, and towed continuously. Of necessity, offshore seismic exploration vessels have become larger over the years to cope with the increasing workload, and are expected to operate in all but the very worst weather conditions. In many areas of the world 24-hour operations are conducted, requiring sufficient personnel to operate both the vessel and the seismic equipment roundthe-clock. Multiple seismic sources and receiver cables are used to provide the high densities of data now required. Even in the simplest 2D work, such a vessel can easily obtain 10 times the amount of data as the best (Vibroseis) land crew in any given time.

Although explosives were once used as an energy source for offshore exploration, the environmental repercussions, and the need for rapid firing and repeatability have brought about the design and construction of new sources. The most common offshore (or Marine) source in use today is a variety of Air-Gun, first produced in the 1960's. These guns use compressed air (at typically 2,000 to 5,000 psi) to produce an explosive blast of air into the water surrounding the gun. The latest of these, with the movable shuttle that releases the air on the outside, is the Sleeve-Gun. Air enters through the pipe (A) and is fed into the main chamber (D) and the air-spring return chamber (C).
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Once the Solenoid valve (B) opens, air is allowed into the firing chamber (E), and the pressure differential forces the outside sleeve to the left with great force, releasing the air from the main chamber. The resultant air-bubble produces a shock-wave in the surrounding water. A single air-gun produces a pulse of energy (or signature) that looks something like this (the upper plot shows the time-function, and the lower shows the frequency content of the signature):Hardly a perfect energy source! Although the initial energy burst is reasonable, a complex pressure interaction between the air "bubble" and the water causes the bubble to oscillate as it floats towards the surface - this produces the extraneous bursts of energy following the initial burst. The amplitude and period (time difference) between these bubble pulses depend on the depth of the gun and the size of the main chamber in the gun. We can't do much about the depth (see Ghosts in the next Chapter), but, if we build an array of guns, made of different chamber sizes, and fire these simultaneously, we gain several advantages. 1. We obviously increase the total amount of energy being directed into the ground for one "shot". 2. The different chamber sizes will produce different bubble responses, and these will tend to cancel out. 3. We improve the directivity of the source. Other than directly below the source array, some frequencies will be attenuated by the spatial design of the array.

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Here's a typical gun array, and the sleeve guns being deploy ed from the rear of the vessel. Once again, here's a plot showing the time and frequency response of the entire array. When the entire array is fired, the bubbles "cancel-out" (more or less), and the frequency content is much flatter over the range of typical seismic frequencies. This is now close to an ideal source, and is very repeatable. It has to also be very reliable as shots are normally fired roughly every 5-10 seconds - possibly up to 10,000 shots in 24 hours!

We have mentioned before the concept that an array or group of shots or geophones can improve the spatial response of our source and/or receivers. This plot shows the hemisphere of energy emanating from the source array shown above (viewed from below). The grey line shows the direction of the seismic line (the direction the boat is moving in) with the arrow showing the vertical output from the array. The colours show the total energy, red being the highest. Change the frequency of interest and see how, although the downward energy is always maximum, the energy at other angles is attenuated by the array design.
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Although the actual "shooting" of Marine data is made simple by modern Air-gun arrays, there are still some operational difficulties associated with these sources. The high operating pressures are very dangerous. Air at 80-100 psi is used in industry, with an appropriate abrasive, to remove paint from metal. Air at 2000-5000 psi will remove almost anything (including skin) without any abrasive. The guns must be properly maintained - any gun failure will damage the desired array output response and re-introduce bubbles into the signature. Deployment of the arrays is made relatively simple by the use of floats etc., but the position of each array (multiple arrays may be used for alternate shooting etc.) must be carefully monitored in all three dimensions. We'll discuss the positioning of arrays in more detail when we discuss shooting geometry. Again, just like on land, many different types of seismic source have been used in the marine environment. However, as almost all modern data is acquired with variations of air-guns, we will restrict our discussion to those and move on to the recording instruments.

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Recording the data - Offshore

The recording of offshore seismic data is complicated by the fact that all of the recording equipment must be encased in an oil-filled cable or streamer (about 10 cm in diameter) that is towed behind the vessel. Unlike land geophones, the hydrophones used in marine recording normally use a piezoelectric device to record the incoming energy. These hydrophones are connected together in groups (just like land recording) and may be placed every metre or so along a 3000 metre streamer. The front-end of the streamer is connected to the vessel by a complex system of floats and elastic stretch-sections, which are designed to eliminate any noise reaching the streamer from the vessel. The end of the streamer farthest from the vessel is connected by similar stretch-sections to a tail-buoy. This buoy may contain its own GPS receiver and radar reflector so that its position can be established.

There are several problems associated with marine acquisition:1. Keeping the streamer at a constant depth is important. 2. Determining the position of (possibly) multiple gun arrays, and every hydrophone group in multiple streamers (vessels are now on the drawing board with up to 20 streamers!). 3. Getting all of the seismic signals from all of the recording groups (in all of the streamers) back to the recording system on the vessel. All of these problems are solved by the complex system of mechanical and electronic systems inside or on the outside of the streamer itself. Here's some of them:Although the oil used within the streamer is designed to give the streamer neutralbuoyancy, changes in tides and currents can effect the depth of the streamer. Mechanical depth controllers (known as birds) are placed at intervals along the streamer which (using pressure as a
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guide) adjust the angle of their "wings" to correct for undesirable changes in depth. Combinations of acoustic transceivers (transmitter-receivers), operating at frequencies above the normal seismic frequencies can be used to establish distances from one part of one streamer to another and to the source array. Compasses are also used within the streamer itself to check the angle of the streamer at several positions along it's length. Complex electronics within the streamer filters the incoming signal from a whole group of geophones, and then converts the resultant voltage into a numeric value (digitisation). The numbers corresponding to the values for all of the groups at any one time are multiplexed (interleaved) together and sent digitally down just a few wires to the recording instruments. This process is repeated roughly every 2 milliseconds (2 ms or 1/500th of a second) and the resultant digital recording is eventually sent to the processing centre. (Which may also be on the vessel!).

Other equipment, either in the streamer or in the instrument room on the vessel, can be used for real-time processing of the seismic data. Other, more complex processing, can be done while the vessel is turning-around between seismic lines. (This can take a time remember the 3 kilometres of equipment out the back!). Other techniques can be, and are used for the recording of marine data. Ocean-Bottom Cables, where the receivers are actually placed in contact with the seabed, are becoming increasingly common. These allow for the recording of S-Waves (remember, these don't travel though water), and can be fixed in position to allow for the re-recording of the data in future years. This technique, or 4D recording (3 dimensional seismic data recorded at
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time intervals), can be used to measure changes in an Oil or Gas field caused by the actual extraction of the hydrocarbon. Although the "per-kilometre" rate for offshore acquisition is much less than that for onshore, there are still considerable costs involved. A single, modern, seismic streamer costs about $1,000,000, and the running costs of personnel and equipment are also high.

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Chapter 3 - Waves and Raypaths


We now move on to the two ways that seismic energy can be described, either as waves or as ray paths, and look at some of the wave and ray path phenomena that can appear on our sections.

Page 03.02 - Waves The general parameters associated with waves, in both time and space. Page 03.03 - P & S Waves The two types of waves encountered in seismic exploration, their differences, and all their possible names! Page 03.04 - Wavefronts One way of looking at seismic energy. A very brief mention of the wave equation used (in an approximate form) in some of the more complex processing. Page 03.05 - Ray Paths The other way of looking at the energy, and the one used most of the time. Some of the physics associated with reflections and refractions. Page 03.06 - More Ray Paths More on ray paths. Reflection coefficients, and the arithmetic of reflection and refraction. Page 03.07 - Ghost Reflections One of the more common problems associated with marine data. The duplicate reflections produced by energy that has reflected back down from the sea surface. Page 03.08 - Multiple Reflections The biggest single problem for the processing geophysicist! Events on our seismic section produced by the energy reflecting more than once. Page 03.09 - Diffractions

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Another problem that can sometimes be useful data. Energy that is reflected back in all directions from abrupt changes in the physical parameters of the Earth. Page 03.10 - Questions Another set of questions to conclude this Chapter.

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Waves
Making Waves
Whenever an acoustic source is detonated on or near the surface of the Earth, an acoustic wave is produced that propagates away from the source.

Apart from effects very close to the source, this wave moves through the medium without causing a net movement of the material - the medium (more or less) returns to its normal state once the wave has passed through. Waves can travel through a body (body waves), or along the surface of a body (surface or interface waves), and, although we are not directly interested in surface waves they can be used for shallow investigations (refraction studies) or they can cause problems by masking body waves within seismic data. Here are some of the parameters associated with a wave recorded as a function of time:-

A simple sinusoidal wave can be described by three parameters. Its amplitude, or maximum excursion from the zero level, its frequency, or the number of "cycles per second" of the wave, and its phase - the offset of the maximum value from time 0 measured in degrees along the cycle (1 cycle = 360 degrees). For more complex waves, the RMS or root-mean square amplitude may be more useful - we'll come back to that later.

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A wave shown as a function of distance has similar parameters:-

The wavenumber is usually measured in "cycles per 1000 metres" and represents the frequency of the wave in space. For a wave measured in both time and space (on, for example, a seismic section) the velocity relationship shown above gives the horizontal velocity of the wave through the earth.

Here's another time-domain wave, use the scroll bars to change frequency, amplitude and phase:-

Even restricting our discussion to body waves, we still have to consider two wave types - P & S Waves.

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P and S Waves
Energy that is applied exactly at right-angles to an elastic body produces an elastic body wave in which the particle motion is in the direction of propagation - a P-Wave.

The pressure wave pushes the particles of material ahead of it, causing compression and expansion of the material. The P-Wave is the type of wave assumed for conventional seismic exploration.

The P-Wave is also known as:

Primary wave Compressional wave Longitudinal wave Push-pull wave Pressure wave Dilatational wave Rarefaction wave Irrotational wave

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A wave in which the particle motion is at right-angles to the direction of propagation is known as an S-Wave. S-Waves have been used for some forms of seismic exploration but they do not propagate through fluids so are not recorded (directly) in conventional marine acquisition.

The S-Wave is also known as:

Secondary wave Shear wave Transverse wave Rotational wave Distortional wave Equivolumnar wave Tangential wave

Whenever a P-Wave or S-Wave hits a change in velocity or density, a process known as mode conversion takes place and some part of the wave converts into the other form (P to S, S to P). The use of this phenomenon is just beginning to be investigated but, at the moment, it is ignored in conventional seismic processing. It can, however, explain some of the artefacts seen on seismic sections. The (somewhat gross) assumptions made in seismic processing assume only P-Waves, travelling through isotropic* and homogeneous* material. * isotropic - the physical properties of the material don't depend on the direction of the wave it's the same in all directions. * homogeneous - the physical properties of the material are uniform throughout the material.

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Wavefronts
In much the same way as light, we can either consider the seismic energy as a wavefront, or as a series of rays emanating from the shot. For a wavefront, imagine a sphere of energy, expanding from the shot in all directions as time increases. We are not normally interested in the upper part of this sphere, except for where it interferes with the down going energy - see the following pages on Ghosts and Multiples. We can therefore concentrate on the lower half of this sphere - it's expansion in time being dependant on the velocity of the medium through which it is moving. Here's a cross-section view of the expanding wavefront in a simple geological model, as it appears at various times throughout the recording. The model assumes a constant velocity within each layer - in practice the velocity may change both vertical and laterally (in 3 dimensions!). The actual shape of the expanding wavefront can, therefore, become very complex, even with relatively simple structures.

We can also view the exploding wavefront in plan view on one reflector. The highlighted area showing the different regions of the horizontal layer that are "illuminated" by the shot energy at different times (the buttons show the time in seconds). As the shot expands, of course, the energy originally present in the shot is spread over a larger and larger area as time increases. This, coupled with energy losses due to friction within the rocks, causes a progressive loss of energy with time that must be compensated for early in the processing. Remember that the above diagrams are greatly simplified - the actual expanding wavefront will be like a very distorted sphere, with the distortion changing as it passes through each major reflector. Each point on each reflector will also act like a seismic source, with a sphere of energy
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being radiated from the reflecting point, some of which will reach the surface. To put it in a nutshell, here, in rectangular co-ordinates, is the equation relating the spatial and temporal dependence of a seismic wave:-

If this gives you a headache (it does me!) don't worry. I just included it to show the kinds of books I read and, although it will be referred to in passing (THE WAVE EQUATION), I will not be explaining it in great detail. Perhaps, because of its complexity, the processing geophysicist can concern himself 99.95% of the time with the relative simplicity* of the ray path assumptions which we will now discuss! * Relatively simple, of course, depends on your point of view!

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Ray Paths
Ray paths, or lines drawn on a cross-section showing the path of the energy from the shot to the receiver, are a useful way of showing the total travel-time of a seismic "ray". This is the simplest form of ray path diagram, showing just one ray from a shot, to a reflecting horizon, and back to the receiver. The reflector in this case is perfectly horizontal, and, as the angle of incidence must equal the angle of reflection, the total travel time from source to receiver can be computed with nothing more complicated than the Pythagorean equation. (Jokes about sons of squaws and hippopotami are strictly forbidden at this point.) Things become a bit more complicated when we move up to more than one reflector. The upper ray path travels through the upper layer (with a velocity of V1), whereas the lower ray refracts at the first interface, and then reflects at the lower. Its average velocity will be some combination of V1 and V2. The refractions at each interface follow Snell's law - the sines of the angles are proportional to the velocities.

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Now we have lots of reflectors/refractors. As well as the ray path shown here, we will also have reflections from each interface. Note that the fourth velocity down (2000) is slower than that above (a velocity inversion). The wave refracts outward slightly at this point. In reality, of course, we may not have a perfectly constant velocity either laterally or vertically within each layer. The rays will follow curved paths. Generally, of course, we record hundreds of channels of data from any one shot, using receiver groups spread over some thousands of metres. Here's the ray paths for just 24 receivers, and just one reflector. Two things to note here - 1) the events are still horizontal, try to imagine dipping or curved events, and 2) the regions below ground (the sub-surface coverage) of one shot is just one-half of the receiver spread length.

Finally, here's an interactive model. Click close to the surface to move the shot position, or on a different horizon to map reflecting rays from that horizon. Use the buttons to change the structure in the model and shoot some rays.

Pretty disgusting isn't it! Note that, on the more complex models, some of the ray paths just stop. These have reached a critical angle, and no longer refract through a layer. Just keep this model, and the complexity of the ray paths in mind during the later parts of this course.

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More Ray Paths


We can also use our ray path models to determine the actual amplitude of the reflections returned from any layer. Referring back to our initial ray path diagram:For any one reflector, the interface between two rocks of differing velocity and/or density, the reflection coefficient (RC), or the amount of incoming energy reflected back is simply the difference in products of velocity & density, divided by their sum. V1 and V2 are the velocities above and below the interface, and p1 and p2 are the respective densities. It doesn't matter what units are used as long as they are consistent. The resultant reflection coefficient is between -1 and +1.

A reflection coefficient of, for example, 0.3 implies that 30% of the energy reaching a reflecting interface is returned towards the surface. The remaining 70% of the energy passes through the interface. This remaining energy (1 - RC) is known as the transmission coefficient. As we are only considering P-waves, these terms should more correctly be referred to as the P-wave reflection and transmission coefficients. The product of velocity and density for any layer is often referred to as the acoustic impedance of that layer. The above equation then becomes simply difference divided by sum of the acoustic impedances (AI's). If we use the normal units of metres/second for velocity and grams/cc for density then the units for AI are somewhat complicated. For this reason the term "AI units" is often used. Generally speaking, both velocities and densities increase with depth. If density is roughly proportional to velocity then for interfaces where the velocity increases across the interface the reflection coefficient will be positive. RC's are negative when moving from a high velocity to a low velocity. What does a negative reflection coefficient imply? It simply means that the energy is reflected in the opposite sense; a positive pressure wave becomes a negative one. Or, in terms of the seismic trace:-

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Incoming "Wavelet"

Reflection RC = positive

Reflection RC = negative

The above RC equation is, of course, an approximation. If fact it only holds true for rays at right-angles to an interface (which the ones above are obviously not!). We'll come back to this point much later during our discussions on AVO (Amplitude Versus Offset). We can also use ray paths to examine some of the problem rays associated with seismic acquisition and processing. These are generally rays that have reflected more than once before returning to the receiver.

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Ghost Reflections
One of the commonest form of undesirable ray associated with marine seismic acquisition is the ghost reflection. The sea surface is an almost perfect reflector. Energy travelling from the shot (under the water) is travelling through a medium with a velocity of about 1500 metres per second, and a density close to 1.025 grams/cc. The air above the sea surface has an acoustic velocity of about 350 metres per second, with a density of about 0.0013 grams/cc. Plugging these into the "RC" equation gives a reflection coefficient from below the sea surface of about -0.9994, or almost perfect reflection (with sign reversal). Here's the ray paths showing the possible routes for ghost reflectors:-

The energy travels from the shot, up to the surface, reflects almost perfectly (but sign reversed) and then travels a similar path to the direct ray from the shot to the reflector. The ray returning from the reflector does exactly the same thing at the receiver. There can be four different rays produced:1. 2. 3. 4. Direct ray Ghosted only at the shot Ghosted only at the receiver Ghosted at both shot & receiver.

Given that the actual ray paths will have more curvature than those shown in the diagram, the ray paths from the shot to the surface and back down again will be almost vertical. If we assume that they are vertical, we can calculate the time difference (in milliseconds) between the direct ray and the ghosted ray as approximately 4/3 times the depth of the shot in metres (we're assuming a water velocity of 1500 m/s). The same calculation can be done for the receiver. If, for example, our shot depth is 6 metres, then the time difference between the direct and ghosted rays will be about 8 milliseconds. If we assume that the shot energy consists of a set of constant frequency cosine waves added together (we'll see later that this is a valid assumption), we can consider the effect of the ghost on the individual frequency
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components.

A Frequency of 40 Hz

A Frequency of 80 Hz

A Frequency of 125 Hz

Delayed by 8 ms. and reversed

Delayed by 8 ms. and reversed

Delayed by 8 ms. and reversed

Added to the original to give: Added to the original to give: Added to the original to give:

You can see that the component frequencies of 40 and 80 Hz are actually increased by the ghost, whereas the 125 Hz component (in this case) is completely removed! The direct ray and the ghost are exactly 180 degrees out of phase, and one removes the other. In general terms, a ghost will cause "notches" in the frequency spectrum at frequencies that are a multiple of (roughly) 750/(Shot Depth) and 750/(Receiver Depth) Hz. In practice, the Shot and Receiver depths are usually chosen so that these frequency notches are beyond the range of frequencies required for the seismic data. Typically, depths of less than 10 metres are used, making the first notch > 75 Hz.

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Multiple Reflections
Given that the sea surface is an almost perfect reflector, and that the seabed can also be an equally good reflector, it's not surprising that these cause other problems for the processing geophysicist. The water layer is one of the prime candidates for the generation of multiple reflections (or multiples), which occur when the energy reflects more than once on any reflector. It should be stressed that the water layer is not the only source of multiples. Any shallow layer, with sufficiently strong velocity contrast, can become a source of multiples on both marine and land data. Here's the ray paths showing the possible routes for multiple reflectors from the water layer:-

The energy travels from the shot, down to the seabed, then up to the surface, reflecting almost perfectly each time (but sign reversed at the sea surface). It then travels a similar path to the direct ray from the shot to the reflector. The ray returning from the reflector does exactly the same thing at the receiver. For multiples, may different combinations can be generated at both the shot and the receiver position, including repeated "bounces" of energy within the layer causing second, third etc. generations of multiples.

The amplitude of the multiples will normally be sign-reversed (again due to the sea-surface reflection) and will appear as an image of the primary reflector, usually some constant time below it. Subsequent multiples will also exhibit this "periodicity". The amplitude of the multiple can be anything up to a complete reversed image of the primary!

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Multiples generated by the water layer will cause "peaks" in the frequency spectrum at frequencies which are a multiple of (roughly) 750/(Water Depth). Other multiples can produce peaks at almost any frequency, generally at the lower end of the frequency range. These can be (to a greater or lesser degree) attenuated in the processing by identifying their periodicity, or by the fact that most multiples will exhibit lower average velocities than primaries - more on this later.

The possible multiple paths for rays are endless, here are a few possibilities:-

None of those shown above are generated in the second layer, try to imagine the total combinations possible! In practice, each pair of reflectors is a multiple generator - it's simply a question of how strong the multiple is! We will examine different techniques for multiple removal later in the course.

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Diffractions
Two other types of ray commonly appear on our seismic records. There are refractions in the early part of our records, caused by the energy refracting along a boundary between the rapidly changing shallow velocities, and diffractions. We'll look at refractions briefly in various parts of this course but they generally don't cause the processing geophysicist any problems - they are removed from the front-end of the records at an early stage of the processing. As well as being easy to remove, these refractions can also give us important information about the shallow velocities on land data - more on this later as well. Diffractions, however, can be a major problem.

Imagine that this is a plan (map) view of a small part of some shallow-water area, and that the North-South line in the centre represents a seismic line being shot. The seabed here is very hard, and has (to use a technical term) "lumps" of some kind scattered about on it. These lumps are, effectively, single points that reflect energy back from all directions. (Parts of the Irish Sea between the UK and the Republic of Ireland appear just like this - any discontinuities acting like point reflectors.)

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Ignoring for a moment any actual (primary) reflectors on the data, this is what a (synthetic) seismic section looks like from the above model. All of the data shown here is, essentially, noise. It appears at the same time, and with the same average velocities (in fact, a whole range of velocities) as our primary reflectors, and can only be removed by its apparent dip (the slope of the event on the section).

Any isolated point, either the "lumps" shown above, or, for example, the end of an interface that truncates against a geological fault, will scatter energy from all directions back towards its source. Although the diffraction curves shown on the right are a problem, the curves associated with breaks in reflectors are important and will be discussed again when we consider the migration process necessary to correctly position our seismic data.

All of the data recorded also suffers from other forms of undesirable "noise". Some of this may appear as continuous events on our section (coherent noise), or as a background to all of our data (random noise). Both of these types of noise are attenuated during the processing, but the final level of noise may still be sufficient to mask primary reflections on our seismic section - in some areas it's difficult to find any signal!

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Chapter 4 - Geometry
We need to start the processing sequence by telling the computer where all our seismic data came from! We need to supply the X, Y and Z co-ordinate of every shot and geophone station for the line. Luckily, in many cases, we can rely on a regular shooting pattern to simplify the input.

Page 04.02 - Marine 2D Geometry The simplest and most regular geometry - a review of the important parameters necessary to specify regular shooting. Page 04.03 - Multi-Fold Geometry We overlap the data from many shots to provide a redundancy of sub-surface information. Page 04.04 - Calculating the fold The calculation of the fold (the level of sub-surface redundancy) is simple for regular shooting, and this page will calculate it for you! Page 04.05 - Land Geometry We no longer have regular shooting! Shots and geophones can be positioned anywhere in three dimensions! Page 04.06 - Elevations and shot depths The height above sea level of all of our shots and geophones is as important as their position in the other two dimensions. Page 04.07 - Field Statics A simplified look at some of the calculations necessary to correct for data shot and recorded at different elevations. Page 04.08 - Crooked Lines Another dimension of problems! When we can no longer shoot in straight lines.
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Page 04.09 - The problems with 2D Although 2D seismic data provides a cross-section of the earth, it is not always all in the same plane. The need for 3D acquisition and processing. Page 04.10 - 3D Geometry Multiple crooked lines! An introduction to 3D geometry. Page 04.11 - 3D binning How we handle the collecting together of the 3D data in the processing. Page 04.12 - Questions A set of geometric questions to end this Chapter.

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Marine 2D Geometry
We'll start with the simplest geometry - a marine vessel with just one source and streamer shooting a conventional (2D) seismic line.

This diagram, typical of that provided to a processing centre by the acquisition crew, provides all of the basic geometric information necessary to process the data. It may be necessary, however, to check the logs provided for each seismic line to ensure that none of these parameters varies dramatically from one part of the survey to another. We'll examine each of these values in turn:The depth of the cable is critical for two reasons. One, we need to (eventually) correct all of the data to Mean-Sea-Level (MSL), and two, remember the Ghost problem from Chapter 3? The cable ghost in this case will be at about 750/7 or 107 Hz - well above our normal seismic frequencies. The group interval (the distance between hydrophone group centres) defines the basic cable geometry. This, together with the information that we have 240 recording channels, enables us to check the overall cable length (240 X 12.5 = 3000 metres). The actual "live" part of the cable will be 12.5m less than this - from the centre of group 1 to the centre of group 240. There is no convention regarding the numbering direction of the groups. Either group 1 or the highest numbered group is nearest to the boat, generally depending on the company doing the acquisition.

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The (incorrectly marked!) CDP position actually refers to the position of the mid-point between the shot and the centre of the first recording group. This would be the "common-depth-point" (CDP) if we only had perfectly horizontal reflectors. This will become important when we decide how to label the shot positions on our final section. The depth of the shot is obviously as important as the depth of the streamer, and may effect the signature of the source array (remember the bubble periods for Air-Guns depended on the depth). The ghost frequency here will be about 150 Hz - even more above the frequencies of interest. Probably the single most important number, and the one that most errors are made on, the offset or distance from the shot to the centre of the nearest recording group. Although (for 2D recording) we assume that the streamer is in a straight line behind the vessel, we may have a lateral, or cross-line offset if the shot and streamer are not in the same "plane" (for example, the shot being on the port side of the vessel, and the streamer on the starboard side). The distance from the navigation recording antenna to the shot is not of great importance to the seismic processor, but must be compensated for when the navigation data is processed.

All of these parameters are important, and all are required to process the data correctly. The paper (or electronic) logs from the acquisition must be checked to ensure that none of these parameters vary widely along or between lines - if they do then we may need to compensate for it in the processing. It's about time we looked at some seismic! Here's one shot record from marine geometry similar to that shown above:-

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The annotation down the left-hand side shows the two-way time in seconds, and the numbers across the top are the channel numbers, or numbers corresponding to the group numbers on the cable. What's the differences between this record and the geometry shown above? Well, firstly we only have 120 channels, and, as the energy arrives first on channel 1, it's safe to assume that channel 1 is nearest the shot. Note also that channel 116 (5 from the right) looks to be a dead trace. This may well be a dead or bad channel throughout this line, we'll need to check other shots and make sure we exclude it from the processing (it may appear dead, but could just contain random noise). The shallow part of the record, at longer offsets (further from the shot) become dominated by refractions. These travel almost directly down from the shot, along an interface between two layers at high velocity, and then back up to the receivers to arrive before the energy coming directly from the shot through the water. We'll remove most of this refraction "noise" in the processing. The line-up of events on the left hand side of the section at about 1 second are reflections, although they probably include some multiples (note the ringing associated with short72

period multiples). We'll discuss these in some detail later, in particular the curvature of these reflections.

There is one other parameter, missing from all of the above diagrams, that is vital for the processing of "regular" seismic data (normally 2D marine data). We'll now go on to discuss this parameter, and its relevance to the processing sequence.

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Multi-Fold Geometry
The other parameter that is important for regular shooting is the distance between shots. This may be known as the shotpoint interval, the shot interval, the shot move-up, etc. It's basically (in the case of marine data) the distance the vessel moves before firing the gun array again. Here's one shot, with a recording spread of length "S". If we assume that all of our reflectors are perfectly horizontal*, it can be seen that the reflection point on any reflecting horizon will be midway between the shot and the receiver. The blue line on the sub-surface shows the sub-surface coverage for this one shot - exactly half of the spread length. * Another one of the gross assumptions used in seismic processing!

If the shooting vessel moves exactly "S/2" units before the next shot, we obtain continuous coverage of the subsurface. (The red shot and receivers are moved vertically up on the diagram for simplicity - in practice they would overlap the blue shot.) This was, until the 1950's, the way that all marine data was shot. The section produced from the placement of all the shot records side-by-side was known as a 100% section (as all of the sub-surface was covered). If we reduce the distance between shots to something less than "S/2", then we will duplicate some of the sub-surface data. This is the principle of multi-fold shooting, also called the common-midpoint (CMP) method or, (incorrectly, as we will see later), common-depth-point (CDP) shooting. If we reduce the distance between shots, we obtain multiple coverage of the sub-surface points. In this simple case, moving the shot by "S/X" covers each point under the ground "X/2" times.

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This is known as the fold, CMP fold or CDP fold, and provides a redundancy of data that can be used to attenuate random noise, and to provide additional information on the reflecting horizon. Another way of specifying the fold refers everything to the 100% section mentioned above. For example, 6-fold data is sometimes referred to as a "600%" section. Although the theoretical fold is simple to calculate, the actual fold may be complicated if the shot interval is not a multiple of half of the recording group interval - we'll look at this next. In the meantime it's probably worth mentioning one additional constraint on the shotpoint interval for marine data. If we are recording 6 seconds of data, we need about 8 seconds between one shot and the next (in order to allow the shot energy to die away, and recycle the air-guns). With 25 m between shots this means that the vessel has to travel 25 m in 8 seconds, or at a speed of about 6 knots. With a 18.75 m shot interval the speed decreases to 4.6 knots, and below this (a smaller shotpoint interval) the speed of the vessel is insufficient to keep the equipment floating - the streamer sinks! The shotpoint interval can be reduced if we are recording less than 6 seconds, although we increase the risk of the energy from one shot interfering with the next and need multiple source arrays to allow for the recycle time.

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Calculating the fold


The calculation of CDP fold is normally quite simple for regular shooting. When the shot interval is a multiple of one-half of the group interval then things are simple. This shows just 6 groups at 100m intervals with a shot interval of 50m. The total recording spread length is 6 X 100 = 600m, so we are moving 1/12th of the spread between shots. 1/12th moveup gives 6-fold data, with the sub-surface readings every 50m (half the group interval). When the shot interval is something other than a multiple of one-half of the group interval then things get more complicated. If the shotpoint interval is changed to just 25m (1/4 group) then we don't get 12 fold as expected (we don't have enough channels). Instead, we still get 6-fold data, but now our sub-surface readings, or CMP interval, or CDP interval is 25m - note the "interleaving" of the sub-surface coverage.

Here's the full calculation of fold:SPINT NCHAN = Shotpoint interval GINT = Group interval = Number of recording groups GINT2 = 0.5 * GINT LCM = Lowest Common Multiple of SPINT and GINT2 NS = LCM / SPINT NG2 = LCM / GINT2 CMPINT = LCM / ( NS * NG2 ) MC = SPINT / CMPINT

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NFOLD = NCHAN / MC Where NFOLD is the resultant fold, and CMPINT the resultant CMP interval.

If the shotpoint interval is an exact multiple of one-half of the group interval, then the above simplifies to:CMPINT = GINT / 2 NFOLD = ( NCHAN * GINT ) / (2 * SPINT ) Number of CMPs on line = ( NCHAN / NFOLD ) * ( Number of shotpoints - 1 ) + NCHAN

As the computation can be complicated, here's a quick program to compute the fold using the above formulae. Plug in the first three values (any units as long as there are consistent), and press the button to compute the CMP interval and fold.

You may also note that, even though the diagram shown above shows some other shots on the sub-surface diagram (in grey), the first and last shots on the line do not generate "full-fold" CMPs. The CMPs from the so-called "taper-on" and "taper-off" of the line will contain folds from 1 up to the nominal fold expected for the line. Note that those at the beginning of the line (on the left) only contain traces some distance from the shot (far offsets), whilst those at the end of the line contain only the near offsets. All of this assumes totally regular shooting. Any shots missing from the sequence, or any consistent bad traces recorded from the receiver groups, will reduce the overall fold of data.

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Land Geometry
Seismic data recorded on land does not normally follow the same regular pattern as that shot at sea. It may be impossible to arrange our shots and / or geophones in a straight line, or to place them with totally regular spacing. Here's a diagram we've seen before! The colours of the geophone groups across the top show the groups that are "live" for each of the five shots shown below. Note that neither the geophones or shots are in a straight line, the shots are offset from the geophone line, and the shot is positioned in roughly the centre of the live spread. This split-spread shooting is common on land data, unlike the off-end shooting necessary for marine acquisition. Added to the above problems is the fact that land data, unlike marine, is not shot at a constant elevation (height above sea level). Maybe we're shooting up the side of a quarry, or over the top of a sand dune. In every case, the elevation will vary from shot to shot and from geophone station to geophone station, and, when we're using explosives, the shot depth may also vary.

The above problems can be simply stated. We need to know the precise position in 3 dimensions of every shot and every geophone station for our line, together with information on which geophone groups are live for each shot.

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The enormous amount of additional information required for the processing of land data was, until fairly recently, supplied on hand-written documents. The position of every shot and geophone station (often supplied relative to the desired line position) had to be entered into the processing centre computer by hand. Modern surveys use GPS navigation systems and digital recording to provide accurate positioning information, often on floppy disk. The digital positioning data, or that supplied on paper allows us to produce an accurate map showing every shot and geophone position on the line (this may be done in the field office). This provides two of three dimensions required to process the data. The other, the elevations and shot depths, and their impact on the processing will be discussed next.

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Elevations and shot depths


The elevation problem is a simple one. If our shots and geophones are not all at the same elevation (i.e. not marine data), then the reflections from any event will be distorted. The "record" on the right of the diagram shows the image of the deep, horizontal reflector on the seismic shot record. A perfectly flat horizon appears distorted due to the different travel-times of the rays from shots and receivers at different elevations. (We can assume that most of the energy will be moving almost vertically close to the surface.) The distortion is (more or less) the same for ever reflector - it does not change with time. For this reason it is known as a static correction (we'll mention dynamic corrections later), and correcting for this is a major consideration in land data processing. So, as well as the map shown on the previous page, we need accurate elevation information for every shot and geophone group (or geophone station) on our line. These are now also provided on digital disk files, but, in the past were simply supplied on paper. The elevations, or heights above sea level, are still often measured in the field by conventional surveying methods.

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Here's an (old) hand-written chart from the field giving (at the top) details of the elevations and static calculations. The lower half of the diagram is a stacking chart, showing the sub-surface midpoints between shots and receivers, and the expected fold along the line. Much of the computational work on statics is now automated, and is often processed in the field. In order to remove the effects of the different elevations of shots and geophones (and other changes in the near surface), we need to time-shift or static correct all of our data to a new datum at an early stage in the processing. This datum may be a fixed datum, at a fixed elevation (for example, sea level), or may be a floating datum - a smooth line through the mean of the shot and geophone elevations. Either way we need to consider these initial Field Static computations in some detail.

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Field Statics
In order to establish the time corrections (statics) for every shot and geophone station in our line, it's necessary (once again) to look at some ray paths.

Given a weathering (low velocity) layer of depth "d", we can consider three types of ray paths that will be recorded on the early part of our seismic field records. There will be direct rays , that travel either through the air (air waves) at very low velocity, or through the top of the weathering layer with a horizontal velocity of V1. There will be reflected rays , travelling at velocity V1 and reflecting from the boundary at the base of the weathering layer, and refracted waves , reaching critical angles and travelling along the base of the weathering layer with (predominantly) velocity V2.

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Here's how they will look on our shot record. As usual, we have distance across the top (increasing left-to-right), and time increasing downwards. The various "noise-trains" visible of the early part of the record come from:The surface wave. The direct wave. The reflected wave. The refracted wave. At the lowest offset (X1), the first arrival is formed by the direct wave at time T1, the second arrival is the surface wave (T2) and the third is the reflected wave (T3). The refracted wave does not reach the short offsets. At other offsets (X2 & X3) the order of arrivals changes as each wave moves at its own velocity.

Here's the first part of a record shot at part of a LVL (low velocity layer) survey. This survey, shot especially to establish the shallow information necessary to static correct our data, is usually shot with a low energy source (maybe even the hammer and plate shown before!), and low geophone group spacing. The "picks" of first arrivals (usually made by the processing geophysicist "helping" the automatic picking of the computer) can be fitted with straight lines (probably leastsquares), and the various velocities established. Three distinct velocities (and hence three shallow layers) can be identified on this record.

Once the velocities have been established, the intercept times (found by extrapolating the lines back to zero-offset) can be used to establish the depths of the layers. For the two layer case shown at the beginning of this page the depth can be calculated from:-

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Where "t" is the intercept time. All the above assumes two things. 1) that the events are horizontal, and 2) that the horizontal velocities we calculate are also applicable vertically - there is no anisotropy*. The first problem can be solved by shooting into both ends of the spread and averaging the results (this "cancels out" the effects of dip). The second problem can only be solved by other techniques such as "uphole-surveys" where geophones are placed down the hole and the uphole times used to calculate true vertical velocities. * Anisotropy - where the seismic velocity depends on the direction in which it is measured.

This only touches on the complex area of field statics. Other calculations need to be made to tie uphole information to the LVL results and the whole process, although often done in the field, can get very complex. As a guide to the sorts of velocities we may meet in LVL surveys, and later in the normal processing sequence, here's the theoretical velocities of some of the substances the seismic wave has to go through:-

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All of the above static calculations, as usual, imply some level of approximation. The LVL's are only run periodically along the line and the velocities and depths are interpolated for every geophone and shot station. Because of these approximations, and errors in elevations, shot depths and positioning the field statics are almost always (to some degree) in error. This necessitates the use of residual static calculations in the processing sequence where the seismic data itself is used to refine (and sometimes recalculate) the field statics. More on this (much) later.

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Crooked Lines
There are obvious situations in onshore exploration where we are unable to shoot straight lines. In these cases a "crooked line" can be shot. Imagine trying to shoot an East-West Vibroseis line through the middle of a residential district. The roads (shown in grey) provide the only viable positions for both the shots and receivers, but this will not give us a straight line.

We can approximate an East-West line by following the major and minor roads across the survey area. The geophone stations follow the black line, with the shots (in red) placed every two stations, shooting into 60 groups (30 either side of the shot).

The mid-points between all shots and groups are shown here in grey. Note that as the line bends, the mid-points scatter "inside" the bend, with some midpoints under the buildings. Although we will not be able to use every mid-point in our processing, a crooked line processing sequence uses a complicated calculation, based on midpoint positions, to determine the optimum
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"CMP" (common mid-point) line that passes through as many mid-points as possible. After we have input all of the geophone and shot station positions, and specified the "live" geophone stations for every shot, the computer calculates all of the mid-points and fits a CMP line to them. This line (shown here in red) is the "best" smooth line that passes through as many mid-points as possible. The mid-points shaded blue are more than 4 CMP intervals away from this line, and will not be used in this case. We would need to adjust this parameter for any given geometry. Here's an enlargement of the top curve of our line. The CMP line (shown on this diagram in blue) defines a series of bins which are used to decide which CMP each mid-point is assigned to, and to omit those midpoints outside the range we specified. The mid-points within each bin will be combined together as though they came from the same sub-surface point. Although this introduces some errors, it does allow us to process multi-fold data for a crooked line.

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If we stretch-out our line of CMPs (or as more commonly but incorrectly called CDPs!), we can see the spread of mid-points around our desired "line". We can also see that only those mid-points within the pink rectangle will be included in our processing, maybe our choice of binning parameters should be modified?

If we check the fold of our CMPs we can see that, excluding the taper-on and taper-off of fold at the ends of the line, that we reach our nominal 15 fold for most of the line, only dropping to about 7 fold in areas where we have excluded lots of mid-points. A decision to increase the bin "width" would have to depend on our knowledge of the area. Would the noise attenuation we achieve by widening the bins be offset by the errors introduced by including data from further off the line? If we have a major North-South structure in the area then the cross-dip within each arbitrary CMP may cause problems. If the data is of very high quality, maybe we can measure this cross-dip and compensate for it when we combine our mid-points together. All of these decisions have to be made every time a crooked line is processed, and may best be decided by test runs using different parameters. There are as many problems caused by crooked-line shooting and processing as are solved by the technique. It is, however, the only technique possible in many areas.

Before moving into other dimensions, here's an example 60-channel land shot record.

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This is from a high-resolution survey (only 1 second of data), with the shot obviously in the centre (a split-spread), and is of very high quality for land data. See if you can find the following things on this record:The irregular timing of the first arrivals on each trace due to statics. The inverted "V" in the centre probably caused by ground-roll. A bad geophone group producing a very weak trace. A badly connected geophone group that is polarity reversed (a peak when it should be a trough, etc.). A curved primary reflector at about 0.9 s. Note it's asymmetrical because it's a dipping reflector.

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The problems with 2D


Although 2D seismic data is still common (especially in frontier areas), there is increasing use of 3D seismic acquisition and processing, which solves some of the problems associated with 2D seismic data. What are these problems? Firstly, there is a problem related to the fact that our 2D seismic lines cover thin "slices" of the sub-surface. We can make some assumptions about what happens in the gaps between our lines (an interpolation based on possible geological scenarios), but we don't really know what's happening in the areas that our lines miss. If the lines are very widely spaced, we could miss a vital structure! The second problem is slightly more difficult to visualise ... Imagine a 2D seismic survey, with the boat sailing off towards the horizon, shooting over a deep canyon in the seabed. As well as reflections from the bottom of the canyon, the geometry is such that we also receive reflections from the sides of the canyon - three reflections from the same structure! These off-line reflections, sometimes referred to as side-swipe are generally indistinguishable from the reflections from directly below! This problem effects all 2D seismic data to some degree. Although, as we have seen, we can "tune" our shot arrays to reduce the energy going sideways, some energy (at some frequency) will get through.

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The "canyon" shown above could, of course, be a buried canyon deep in the sedimentary section, and could be just as likely in both onshore and offshore surveys. Similar effects can occur close to any steep reflector - the sides of buried sea cliffs, the edges of salt domes, etc.

The only way to solve both of these problems is to cover the entire survey area with a series of very closely spaced seismic lines, producing a 3D volume of seismic data.

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3D Geometry
In order to produce a 3D volume of data, we need to acquire seismic data with a line spacing similar to the spacing between the CMP's along each line - typically 12.5 to 50 metres. Both land and marine data are acquired using multiple sources and geophone arrays, to facilitate the acquiring of the large volumes of data necessary. The geometry for land data can be extremely complex, essentially shooting multiple crooked lines at once! Marine 3D data is normally acquired using multiple streamers and shot arrays. The shot arrays (shown in blue) are fired alternately, producing 6 lines of CMP's (shown in red) at once. In practice up to 20 streamers may be used - this requires over 60 km of equipment to be deployed for each swath of lines being recorded.

The streamers are allowed to feather, or drift, in order to obtain data from a wide range of mid-points. Compasses in the streamers, acoustic transponders on both gun arrays and streamers, and direct measurement of tail-buoy and float positions are used to determine the position of every hydrophone group for every streamer for every shot. After completing one pass of the area, the vessel will go back through the area in the other direction, overlapping lines with those shot previously.

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This shows the mid-point coverage for one sail-line (6 CMP lines) for just a few hundred shots. The plot is exaggerated vertically by a factor of 25! Imagine, if you can, another sweep of mid-points overlapping this one and shot in the opposite direction and then again and again back and forth - the subsequent binning of the data into a regular grid makes 2D crooked lines look simple!

We will come back to the binning problems on the next page, but will now briefly consider the problems of data volumes associated with 3D data. Here's a new area ready for exploration. The types of surveys that may be required for the development of the area are:1. A 2D reconnaissance survey 2. A detailed 2D survey 3. A 3D survey The initial 2D survey will determine the predominant direction of dip in the area, which will be used for the subsequent detailed 2D survey (to minimise the side-swipe problem). Although not strictly necessary, the 3D lines are often also orientated in this direction. The initial 2D survey, shot with a wide line spacing, will produce about 7 Gigabytes of field data covering some 90 km of the sub-surface. The detailed 2D survey will produce about 400 km of data, increasing the data volume up to over 60 Gbytes. The 3D survey produces 7,500 km of CMP lines, and needs over 400 Gbytes just to store the field data! The positioning information increases by a similar amount with an enormous
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amount of navigation data processing required before the seismic processing can really begin.

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3D binning
It's almost impossible to visualise the computations necessary for the binning of 3D data. The area needs to be divided into regularly spaced rectangular bins, and all of the mid-points in each bin cross-indexed by line, shot and group number. We may have 120 mid-points, from different shots and different lines in just one 3D CMP bin, and several tens of thousands of bins in the survey. Although the angle of the binning grid normally follows the predominant shooting direction, minor adjustments to this angle may improve the overall data density within each bin. The bins in the direction of shooting (the in-line bins) normally have their size determined by the nominal CMP interval being shot. The cross-line bin size depends on the spacing between our original lines. To maintain the necessary number of traces, and range of offsets in each bin, it may be necessary to "stretch" each bin (in either or both directions) to include more data. This elastic-binning of 3D data actually duplicates some data from adjoining bins but helps to maintain the overall CMP fold.

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The total fold in any bin is normally examined graphically. This is also normally produced on the shooting vessel. The map of bins shown here would need to be rotated to match the actual map. We can see the taperon and taper-off of fold at the end of each line, and the overall variation of fold over the whole area. The small rectangle in the centre of the plot shows the area that we will now examine in some detail. Here's an enlargement of the area marked above - now you can see the individual bins. We will see later that not only is the total fold important, but that we also need a good spread of source-receiver offsets in each bin. The second button shows the fold for just the far offsets (the last third of the streamer). Note that some lines (shown in white) have no contributions from these offsets. The third button shows the azimuth, or the average direction of each mid-point from the centre of the bin. If this shows large areas with a constant azimuth, we may need to adjust our binning parameters to avoid the overall spatial "shift" that this may introduce.

As we mentioned before, 3D binning is just like crooked line binning, with multiple lines being binned at once! The only advantage is that the final output bins normally follow a regular grid. As with crooked line binning, it may be necessary to test various binning parameters on the seismic data itself, and make a qualitative decision as to the optimum binning parameters. Remember, for the correct processing of either 2D or 3D land or marine data, that we must get the geometry correct or all that follows is a waste of time (and money).
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Chapter 5 - Recording the data


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This Chapter looks at how the voltages produced by the energy arriving at the geophones (or hydrophones) are stored on magnetic tape for future processing. There's "many a slip.." as the old proverb says between geophone and tape, and we'll try to address some of the problems and limitations associated with digital recording.

Page 05.02 - Number systems For those of you unfamiliar with the number systems used by computers, the first three pages of this Chapter provide a brief introduction to number systems ... Page 05.03 - Binary numbers ... binary numbers ... Page 05.04 - Binary arithmetic ... and binary arithmetic. Page 05.05 - Digitisation Some of the problems of recording data in a digital form are covered, with audio-visual output! Page 05.06 - Aliasing One particular problem, that of the digital representation of the different frequencies present in the data (and their reconstruction) is discussed in some detail. Page 05.07 - Multiplexed data The seismic data arrives at all our geophone groups at once! How the multiplexing of data solves the problem when no temporary storage is available. Page 05.08 - Recording filters A quick look at recording filters, with a digression into dBs and Octaves. Page 05.09 - Tape Formats The remaining pages in this Chapter cover the various standard tape formats currently in use in seismic field recording and processing. This page presents an overview of these
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formats. Page 05.10 - Field Tape Formats SEG-A, B, C and D are the most common formats for field data still in use. This page looks briefly at SEG-A, B and C ... Page 05.11 - SEG-D ... before moving on to an in-depth look at SEG-D, the most common format at present. Page 05.12 - SEG-Y Finally SEG-Y, a format more often used for processed data but becoming popular for field data that has been partially processed in the field. Page 05.13 - Questions As before, some questions to keep your brain active!

Number systems
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A number system is defined by the base (or radix) it uses, the base being the number of different symbols required by the system to represent any of the infinite series of numbers. Due to obvious anatomical reasons, the decimal system in universal use today requires ten different symbols (digits) to represent numbers and is therefore a base-10 system. This system was first developed by the Hindus and was in use in India in the 3rd century BC. As any whole number greater than 1 can be used as a base, it's not surprising that many different number systems have been used throughout history. Some cultures have used systems based on the numbers 3, 4, or 5. The Babylonians used the sexagesimal system, based on the number 60, and the Romans sometimes used the duodecimal system, based on the number 12. The Mayans used the vigesimal system, based on the number 20 (which probably means that they removed their socks when counting). The binary system, based on the number 2, was used by some tribes and, together with the systems based on 8 and 16, is used today in computer systems.

Here's an example of a large decimal number (as an exercise, copy this onto your own cheque and send it to the author of this course!). The text expansion of the number gives some clue to the way that the position of a symbol in a number defines its value. The number 21698.00 can be expressed in the following way:2 x 10000 = 2 x 104 = + 1 x 1000 = 1 x 103 =
100

20000 1000

+6x +9x +8x +0x +0x

100 = 6 x 102 = 10 = 9 x 101 = 1 = 8 x 100 = 0.1 = 0 x 10-1 = 0.01 = 0 x 10-2 =

600 90 8 0 0

= 21698.00 Like all number systems, the decimal system uses positional notation to provide the exponent (the power of 10) that the symbol needs as a multiplier; the "hundreds", "tens" and "units" used in primary schools. We can use any other integer as a base, here's 21698 decimal expressed in octal (to the base eight):-

5 x 84 = 5 x 4096 = 20480 + 2 x 83 = 2 x 512 = 1024 + 3 x 82 = 3 x 64 = 192 + 0 x 81 = 0 x 8= 0 0 +2x8 =2x 1= 2 = 21698 So 2169810 = 523028, we'll use subscripts to indicate the base, but normally omit them for decimal numbers. Octal numbers need just 8 symbols. Unlike decimal numbers we don't use 8 and 9. Any number base needs as many symbols as the base, and "x" digits in this base will store basex numbers (from 0 to basex-1). For example, 3 decimal digits will store 103 or 1000 numbers (0-999). 3 octal digits will store 83 numbers (0-7778 or 0-51110). Conversion from one base to another is fairly simple - converting back to decimal is done like the example shown above, multiply each digit (from the right) by successive powers of the base. To convert a decimal number to another base, divide by the base and keep remainders (until you can't do it any more). Here's 21698 again, this time converted to hexadecimal (base 16):21698 16 = 1356 remainder 2 = 216 1356 16 = 84 remainder 12 = C16
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84 16 = 5 16 =

5 remainder 4 = 416 0 remainder 5 = 516

We then read the last column upwards to give 54C216 = 2169810. We need 16 symbols to specify hexadecimal numbers so, by convention, we use the letters A-F to represent the decimal number 10-15. Let's now move on to the number system used in computers - the binary system, or numbers to the base 2.

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Binary numbers
Most electrical equipment (computers included!) only really understands two states - on or off. The electrical circuits on a computer chip use the equivalent of electronic switches to store and process a series of 1's and 0's that make up a binary number (a number to the base 2).

We can convert a number to base 2 (which needs just 2 symbols) in the same way as any other base. Once again here's the conversion of 2169810 to binary:21698 2 = 10849 remainder 0 10849 2 = 5424 remainder 1 5424 2 = 2712 remainder 0 2712 2 = 1356 remainder 0 1356 2 = 678 remainder 0 678 2 = 339 remainder 0 339 2 = 169 remainder 1 169 2 = 84 remainder 1 84 2 = 42 remainder 0 42 2 = 21 remainder 0 21 2 = 10 remainder 1 10 2 = 5 remainder 0 52= 2 remainder 1 22= 1 remainder 0 12= 0 remainder 1 Reading up the last column we get 1010100110000102 = 2169810. You can see that binary numbers are a lot longer than the decimal equivalent. Each binary digit (or bit) can only store one of two possible values, so the fifteen bits shown here will only store a number up to 215-1, or 3276710.

A group of 8 bits, or one byte, is generally the smallest unit that can be accessed by a

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computer. This will store integers from 0-255, or, if we use one bit to indicate that the number can be either positive or negative (a sign-bit) we can store values from -128 to +127. To avoid writing long strings of binary numbers, programmers make use of the fact that every 4 bits (half a byte, or a nibble) can be directly converted into one hexadecimal digit. Here's the conversion table from decimal to hexadecimal to binary for the numbers 0 to 15:-

Decimal Hexadecimal Binary 0 0 0000 1 1 0001 2 2 0010 3 3 0011 4 4 0100 5 5 0101 6 6 0110 7 7 0111 8 8 1000 9 9 1001 10 A 1010 11 B 1011 12 C 1100 13 D 1101 14 E 1110 15 F 1111 So, instead of writing 1010100110000102, we can left pad it to 16 bits, and convert each nibble into hexadecimal; 01012 = 516, 01002 = 416, 11002 = C16, 00102 = 216, giving 54C216 = 1010100110000102 = 2169810.

If we wish to store number in other ranges, we need to use combinations of bytes to produce longer "words". We can also use floating point storage of numbers where, just as your calculator can show 1000 as 1.0e+3, the number is stored as a mantissa (the 1.0) and an exponent (the +3 meaning "times 103"). Here's some typical number formats, and the range of values they can store:Type Signed byte (char) Bits Bytes 8
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Minimum Maximum -128 127

Unsigned byte Signed short word Unsigned short word Signed long word Unsigned long word Floating point (single) * Floating point (double) *

8 16 16 32 32 32 64

1 2 2 4 4 8

0 -32768 0

255 32767 65535

4 -2147483648 2147483647 0 4294967295 -3.40E+48 -1.7E+308 3.40E+48 1.7E+308

* The format and range of floating point numbers depends on the manufacturer of the computer! There is no fixed convention as to how multiple bytes are stored in any computer. They may be stored with the highest byte first, or the lowest. Like the cause of the war in Lilliput in Gulliver's Travels, these are sometimes referred to as "big-endian" or "smallendian" computers.

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Binary arithmetic

Binary arithmetic is simple enough for a computer to understand!

Here's the sort of thing you might once (long ago) have done in school - a decimal addition table. Next to it is the (somewhat simpler!) binary version:+ 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 1 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 2 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 3 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 4 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 5 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 6 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 7 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 8 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 9 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 Binary + 0 1 0 00 01 1 01 10

Decimal The logic in the binary table is almost obvious. If both inputs are the same, output a zero. If they are different, output a one. If both inputs are "1" then carry one to the next column.

Here's a simple example of binary arithmetic using 16-bit words to add 1234510 to 1487210:-

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12345 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 0 0 1 14872 + 0 0 1 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 27217 0110101001010001

Subtraction is done by adding negative numbers, where negative numbers are coded in 2's complement. This technique, known as 10's complement in the decimal world, was known to abacus operators long ago and is very simple. Suppose we wish to subtract 1234510 from 1487210 in binary. We do this by adding -12345 to 14872. To convert 12345 to -12345, we take the binary version (0011000000111001), reverse each bit (1100111111000110) and add "1" (1100111111000111). This gives us the 2's complement of 12345. Now we add -1234510 to 1487210:-

-12345 1 1 0 0 1 1 1 1 1 1 0 0 0 1 1 1 14872 + 0 0 1 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 2527 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 1 1 0 1 1 1 1 1

This gives the correct answer (252710), but one bit overflows off the end of the answer. This bit is ignored during subtractions. Multiplication is done by shifting and adding (much like long multiplication by hand, but only multiplying by "1" or "0"), and subtraction is done by repeated addition of 2's complements and shifting, using the overflow bit to decide when to shift! All of this can be accomplished by very simple logic circuits on the computers CPU chip.

When floating point numbers are being added, the exponents must be normalised before addition. This is like trying to add 1.0e+3 to 1.0e-3 on your calculator. The calculator goes through this normalisation to give the correct answer (1.000001e+3). Here's a version of that previous addition in IBM floating point (one of the common floating point formats). This format uses 32 bits for each number:-

Exponent Mantissa 1.00E+0 i 1.9531251 x 2 coded as: 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 1 1 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 9 3s 0


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1.00E-03 i 1.02410 s

x 2- coded as: 0 0 1 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 1 1 0 1 1 0
10

Normalis 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 1 1 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 e 01001001000000000000000000000010 Add 01001001000111110100000000000010

The answer converts to 1000.00097610, which as close as we can get to 1000.001 in this format.

Finally, here's a string of binary bits (128 bytes in all) - what do they signify? The answer, of course, is almost anything! We need to know the format of a particular file on disk or tape in order to decipher it. These bits could represent a picture (0=white, 1=black) or encoded text: _ _H _( __ _@@ _ _ ____ __b/___""_ _,Q__,Q__.Y___ ` _ 8___8___8|__` b__ B_ ___ _____a__XUx_? (Unlikely!)

or it could be a piece of seismic trace, or CD music.

We will be examining some formats for seismic tapes once we've looked at digitising problems.

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Digitisation
Almost everything we see and hear these days comes from a digital source. Special effects in the cinema or on TV depend on digital techniques, CD's are digital music. Even radio and TV are about to be transmitted as digital signals. This text is just a series of black dots defined by a series of binary numbers in a disk file. Digital recording of seismic data has been in use since the 1960's, and, in deciding how to record our data, we have to make three decisions. 1. What is the largest possible amplitude in our incoming analogue signal, and how do we scale this for storage? 2. What is the smallest possible number (other than zero) we wish to record (relative to the largest)? 3. How often do we sample the data, what sample period do we use? The scaling of the data can be arbitrary - there is no guaranteed relationship between the minute voltages produced at the receivers and the numbers we store on tape. These numbers could represent, for example, millivolts, but may be scaled in almost any way - we need to scale them so that they "fit" the numeric range we are using. The total possible range of numbers (from the smallest to the largest) is often expressed as the dynamic range of the system. This is usually expressed in decibels (dB), which is a logarithmic scale where every 6dB represents (roughly) a doubling of amplitude. Each bit of an integer system will thus give 6dB of dynamic range. 16-bit words used for some systems (and CD's!) hence have a 6 x 16 or 96 dB dynamic range, just about equivalent to the total audible volume range. Floating point systems now in use have much larger ranges. The choice of sample period is slightly more complicated, and we'll leave this until the next page!

In order to illustrate some of the pitfalls associated with digital recording, the following
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show a sine wave of 150 Hz sampled every 2 milliseconds, a digitised image, and a digitised sound. If your system has a sound output, use the control buttons to play the sound. All of these will be (mis-)treated in the same way to illustrate some of the problems associated with digital recording.

This is our original data. The sine wave is sampled every 2 milliseconds, and the sound is sampled at 1/8th of a millisecond. Both the sound and the picture use 256 levels of digitisation. In the picture this represents a colour, while in the sound it's an amplitude level.

The data here has been clipped (the blue line shows the original data). A bad choice of recording parameters means that any very large amplitudes go beyond the recording range (into the green area), and are recorded as the largest possible number. Modern recording equipment makes automatic allowances for high amplitudes, but this phenomenon is possible on some older field systems, and in some processing systems. Displays are often clipped to prevent high amplitude traces obscuring other data. Clipped data is usually fairly easy to spot - peaks and troughs will have flat tops rather than being rounded. We need to make sure, in any digital system, that we have a sufficient numeric range to record the largest amplitudes.
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This set of data has been quantised. Although we have avoided clipping the data by using large enough number, the actual range of numbers is limited. In this example we have used only the numbers from -3 to +3 (in integers) to cover the full range of the data. This problem also occurred on some early field systems, and can still be apparent on some processed data with a very large amplitude range. If we store our data in 16-bit words so that the largest value is +32767, and the data is incorrectly scaled (or is the raw field data), we may find at the end of the trace that our amplitudes are in the range 0 to 0.5. All of these small values will be quantised to the integer value zero!

Random noise, caused by all sorts of things in the field, will radically distort the signal in our seismic trace. We will see later how much of the processing sequence is designed to attenuate this random noise.

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Coherent noise is another problem. The 150 Hz original trace now has 50 Hz noise added to it (land data can suffer from 50 or 60 Hz noise from power lines). The sound sample in this case has 100 Hz noise - 50 Hz is almost inaudible, and may damage your speakers!

We also need to be sure that we record the correct frequencies in the field. The examples shown here have all been filtered with a low-pass filter, removing any frequencies above a fixed value. The 150 Hz sine wave has been completely removed by this filter, and we only record zeroes!

Finally, the most complex problem, that of aliasing. Once again we only have low frequencies, but, in this case, simply achieved by taking every other digital sample from our original waveform (we have resampled the data to 4 ms). You'll note that the picture looks like something from a TV "true-life" crime programme! This example shows under sampling, with the added problem that the original 150 Hz sine wave (and some of the higher frequencies in the sound sample) now alias to the wrong frequency. The original 150 Hz signal now appears as 100 Hz! We'll discuss this in detail on the next page.

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Aliasing

This is a piece of seismic trace, sampled at a 1 ms sample period. The vertical grey lines show the sample positions. As we progressively resample the data to a lower sample rate (higher sample period), note the distortions introduced into the waveform. With a 2 ms sample period, the reconstructed waveform (from the numeric samples) almost matches the original (in red). There is some minor distortion, however, due to the highest frequencies being misrepresented. Moving to a 4 ms sample period, and things really start to go very wrong! Although the reconstructed waveform (blue) goes through the same sample values as the original, there are large deviations from the original waveform.

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An 8 ms sample period shows the problem in an extreme case. All of the high frequencies in the original waveform have aliased to incorrect lower frequencies.

The mis-representation of high frequencies in sampled data is known as aliasing. The American statistician Wyman Ellsworth Nyquist proved that the highest frequency that can be successfully recovered from sampled data is 0.5 divided by the sample period. Here's a list of upper limits (or Nyquist frequencies) for some typical sample periods:-

Seismic

Sample Nyquist Period Frequency (ms) (Hz) 1 500 2 250 4 125 8 62.5 22050

Music CD's 0.02268

Frequencies above the Nyquist frequency, if they are not removed before the data is sampled, fold-back into the range of frequencies from 0 to Nyquist. This plot shows input frequency against output frequency for data sampled with a 4 ms sample period:-

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The blue line in the plot above shows the 150 Hz signal from our previous examples "aliasing" back to 100 Hz on data sampled at 4 ms. The blue line on this plot shows the original, the red line is the reconstructed 100 Hz output.

If we can guarantee that we only have the correct range of frequencies in the original recording (by applying the appropriate filters to the data before it is digitised), we can fully reconstruct the total waveform from the sample values. This reconstruction makes use of Sinc functions *, or the function sin(x) divided by x. The function is scaled so that it crosses zero at each sample point, and so that its maximum value is that of each sample value. Summing all of sinc functions gives the intermediate points. * Not to be confused with a sink function, which is something to do with plumbing!

This example shows the stages of reconstruction. 1. The sample values


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2. The interpolating sinc functions on every sample 3. The sum of all of the since functions - the interpolated waveform

Multiplexed data
A typical recording system will look something like this:Data from Geophones Preamplifier Low-cut filter The data from each group of receivers is initially amplified optionally low-cut filtered to remove noise always high-cut filtered to remove frequencies above Nyquist amplified again to within the range of numbers we are
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High-cut filter

Amplifier

recording Analogue to digital conversion Formatted output to tape converted to a numeric value

and recorded on tape.

There is a problem associated with recording multi-channel seismic data. If we consider some point in time, after the shot has fired, all of our receiver groups are receiving data simultaneously. If this data is recorded on tape as soon as it is available, the data on tape will be in the wrong order. We will have all channels at one time sample, followed by all data at the next sample - the data is ordered by time, not as seismic traces. This type of recording format, known as multiplexed recording, is still found on older data, or current data shot with old recording instruments! If we place the "clock" in the flow shown above (just before the A/D conversion), we only need one conversion unit for all channels. You should spot one other problem here. If the multiplexing "clock" shown here (for just 6 channels) rotates in 2 milliseconds, then the data from recording group 6 (and all those in between) are recorded later than channel 1. This multiplexer skew, dependant on the channel number, is usually corrected in the earliest stages of the processing - when the data is being de-multiplexed from the field tapes into an internal tape format in trace order. When you get tired of clock watching, click on the animation to pause it!

The data is always received at the recording instruments in multiplexed order. If the instruments have enough local storage (computer memory) available, then the data can be collected in one order and output in the other - the data is de-multiplexed in the field.

In a nutshell , the difference between multiplexed and de-multiplexed data is simply the order in which the data for one field record is stored. Either "across" the channels (multiplexed) or down the traces (de-multiplexed).

Channel
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Time 0.000 0.002 0.004 1.000 1.002

1 A001 A002 A003 A501 A502

2 B001 B002 B003 B501 B502

3 C001 C002 C003 C501 C502

239 YY001 YY002 YY003 YY501 YY502

240 ZZ001 ZZ002 ZZ003 ZZ501 ZZ502

Multiplexed order: A001, B001, C001 etc. De-Multiplexed order: A001, A002, A003 etc. When data is stored in de-multiplexed format (often known as a trace sequential format), the groups of numbers are (logically) referred to as "traces". For multiplexed formats, the group of numbers are often referred to as a "scan" - the data from all channels at one time.

Recording filters
Before we get deep into the business of recording filters, we need to define a couple of terms.

Filters are applied to the seismic data before it is digitised to remove (among other things) frequencies above the Nyquist frequency for the sample rate we are using. These filters are, of necessity, analogue filters (somewhat more

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complicated than the one shown here!), with cut-off frequencies defined in Hertz, and "slopes" that are usually specified in dB's per octave.

Decibels
A bel (named after Alexander Graham, not ding-dong!), is defined as the logarithm (to the base 10) of a power difference. For example, one of the fastest piston-engined aircraft, the North American P-51D Mustang, has flown with an engine that develops 3000 hp. This compares with the 0.85 hp of KarlFriedrich Benz's first car in 1885. The power ratio here is 3000 0.85, or about 3530:1. Taking the logarithm of this ratio, we can express this difference as "3.55 bels".

The bel was soon found to be a somewhat unwieldy unit. The total range of sound audible to humans, from the flap of a butterfly's wings to the threshold of pain (or the average rock concert) represents a power difference of about 1,000,000,000,000 to 1, or about 12 bels. In order to be able to use a unit with more meaning, the decibel (dB), or one tenth of a bel has come into general use. Thus the range of human hearing is usually expressed as about 120 dB. The dB is a power ratio. If we are dealing with amplitudes (of, for example, a seismic trace) then, as power equates to the amplitude squared, we can define the decibel as:-

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Where A1 and A2 are amplitudes. Here's some typical amplitude ratios expressed in the logarithmic scale of dB:-

Amplitude Ratio 1:1 1.4:1 2:1 4:1 8:1 10:1 100:1 0.7:1 0.5:1 0.1:1

Log10 0

dB 0

Approx. 0 +3dB +6dB +12dB +18dB +20dB +40dB -3dB -6dB -20dB

0.14613 2.92256 0.30103 6.0206 0.60206 12.0412 0.90309 18.0618 1 2 -0.1549 20 40 -3.098

-0.301 -6.0206 -1 -20

Octaves
We're probably familiar with the concept of octaves in a musical sense. Here's the centre three octaves of a piano keyboard (middle "C" marked in red), with a plot showing the frequency of each note (including the black ones!). Use the buttons to switch the frequency axis to a logarithmic scale. It should now be obvious that the frequency for each note is a constant factor (about 1.0595) times the frequency for the previous note; a geometric progression. The ratio is actually equal to the 12th root of 2 - each octave (12 notes) representing a doubling of

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frequency. (The "A" below middle "C" is a fixed point - 440 Hz.)

An octave is, once again, a logarithmic scale representing the ratio between two different frequencies (it comes out as about 3.322 x Log10 of the frequency ratio). This following shows some frequency ratios expressed in octaves:-

Frequency 1 Frequency 2 10 10 10 10 80 80 50 15 20 40 80 40

Ratio Octaves 1.5 0.58496 2 4 8 0.5 1 2 3 -1 -3 0.5

10 0.125 70.71 1.4142

dBs/Octave
It we put the two concepts of dBs and Octaves together, we get a "Log/Log" scale.

This plot shows some typical filter "slopes" specified in dBs per octave. I've used an amplitude of "1" at 50 Hz as my starting point (remember that both dBs and octaves are relative measures). As 6dB is about one half, a slope of 6dB per octave means we halve the amplitude at half the frequency - amplitude is proportional to frequency. 12dB per octave applies a scalar equal to frequency squared, and so on. Switch the axes to log scales to see the different representations of the slopes - the only all appear linear on the log-log scale.

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Recording filters
Now we've worked our way through that lot, we can talk about recording filters!

Here's the amplitude response of a typical recording filter. Plotted on a logarithmic amplitude scale (dB), this shows the frequency passband for a 8 to 77 Hz filter, with slopes of 18 dB/Oct. at the low end, and 70dB/Oct. on the high end. This filter is designed for recording data at a 1 millisecond sample interval - if we recorded the data at 2 ms, the amplitudes present above 250 Hz would still alias - they are only about 25 dB down, or about 5% of the maximum amplitude. Another vital characteristic of a recording filter is its phase response. This shows the "shift" introduced into each frequency component by the electronics. A phase shift is inevitable in a recording filter, but, the best types of filters have a linear phase shift over the important (the strongest) frequencies. This curve is fairly linear over the region of highest amplitudes, this (as we will see later) will introduce an overall time shift in our data, but will not affect the timing of the individual frequency components in the seismic trace.

Although the high-cut filter is very important to prevent aliasing, a low-cut filter is not always applied

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(often referred to as "OUT"). This can cause some unwanted low frequency noise that can be removed in the processing, provided that it doesn't completely obliterate the signal!

It's important for the person processing the data to be aware of any changes in recording filters within one seismic survey. Because both the amplitude and phase characteristics of the recorded data are irreversibly affected by this filter, data recorded using different filters will not "tie". It's usual for the signatures supplied to the processing centre by a marine vessel acquiring data to be recorded with the same filter as the seismic data - just make sure you use the right filter for the right data!

What is the effect of high-cut filters on the appearance of seismic data?

The small piece of (fully processed) seismic data shown here has been filtered with a whole range of high-cut filters. These were applied in the processing as digital filters, which do not introduce any time shifts in the data. Note the changes in fine detail as the high-cut moves lower. (The data are sampled at 4 ms so 125 Hz = no filter.)

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Tape Formats
Once upon a time, there was a multitude of different tape formats used for seismic acquisition and processing. Every manufacturer of recording equipment had their own format, and every processing contractor had their own format for "in-house" storage of data during processing. Although there are still a few different internal formats in use by the processing companies, the format of field data has now (largely) been standardised.

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Thanks to the on-going efforts of the Society of Exploration Geophysicists (the SEG), the number of field formats has rapidly decreased over the last few years. The more common historical formats, SEG-A, SEG-B and SEG-C will be discussed briefly, but SEG-D, the most common current format, will be discussed in some detail. At the other end of the alphabet, SEG-Y is really the only format now used for storing processed seismic data, and is becoming popular for the storage of field data, or partially processed data from field processing crews.

All tape formats use some kind of error checking. The most simple form of error checking for the binary numbers on tape is parity checking. This technique, used throughout the computer industry, is a very simple check for the individual "bits" in a binary number. The number of "1's" in a byte is counted and, if the result is even, a "1" is put in a special parity bit appended to each byte. This is known as odd parity. When the number is read back from the tape, if the number of "1's" (byte plus parity bit) is no longer odd, then one or more bits are in error. This is known as a parity error and doesn't tell you which bits are wrong - just that something is wrong. Of course, if two bits flip from 1 to 0 (or vice-versa), the parity check won't spot it. Here's a few bytes with their parity bit added:Binary number Parity Bit 01000000 0 00001110 0 11000001 0 00101101 1 00101111 0 10110100 1 11011010 0 11010110 0 Even parity is also possible (the number of "1's" is made even).

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Another technique used is known as a checksum. This takes all of the bytes in one particular part of the tape (for example, one multiplexed scan of all channels at one time), and sums them together. Any overflow from the resultant one or two byte value being ignored. Once again, on reading the tape, an error in the checksum shows that one of the numbers is wrong - not which one. This technique is similar to that used by accountants (before the advent of calculators) to check a sum of a column of figures. Each figure was divided by 9 and the remainder noted (known as Modulo-9). The sum of these results (again, Modulo 9) should equal the original sum (Modulo-9). Here's an example:Number Mod 9 6307 7 9622 1 316 1 183 3 4099 4 2446 7 Sum Mod 9 22973 5 23 5

The one major failing of this technique (which you may like to test) is that is doesn't spot a transposition of digits in the sum. If we add "6442" instead of the last figure "2446", we get the answer 26969 which is still 5 Modulo 9!

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Seismic field tapes (particularly multiplexed tapes) make use of yet another form of error checking. At the beginning or end of each logical section in the tape (for example, one scan), a sync code is written. This sync code (generally a sequence of "all 1's") covers multiple bytes and is used to check that the correct number of values has been recorded in each section. A "sync error" generally means that things have got out of step, and we may have to remove this shot from the processing sequence.

All tape format share a common general layout:-

Regardless of the physical format of the actual magnetic media on the tape (which I will not be addressing), each tape, or file on a multi-file tape consists of some or all of the following:

A general header that identifies the tape, or this part of the tape. A header for each "batch" of data (for example, one field record) on the tape. A header for the individual traces (de-multiplexed) or scans (multiplexed) on the tape. The seismic samples themselves (in whatever format).

This sequence is repeated along the tape, with an "End-of-file" (a particular code) recorded at the end of each file on the tape. A file may consist of many individual traces or records, and the tape may consist of many different files. The end of the tape is marked with a double End-of-file (EOF), and some kind of physical marker may be used to prevent the device writing the tape from spinning off the end. When the writing device recognises the end of the tape, it completes the writing of the current record, and then instructs the operator to mount a new tape (or switch devices).
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The data on the tape may be blocked into physical records (either fixed length or variable length), and there may be "gaps" between these blocks of data. The blocking was introduced so that simpler tape devices could be used that didn't have to cope with some of the enormous record lengths possible in seismic recording. In the same way, the gaps are needed for "stop/start" tape devices to stop at each gap so that one record doesn't run into the next. Let's go on to talk about some specific formats ...

Field Tape Formats

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SEG-A
SEG-A was the first attempt to standardise the format for seismic field tapes. Although not in general use today, you may come across it when reprocessing older data. Like many field formats, the tape consists of a series of records:-

Each shot record consists of a header block followed by a data block which may be stored as a separate record or as part of the same logical record as the data block on tape. A single end-of-file mark follows each shot record on the tape. The header contains useful information on each shot - the exact format varies with the manufacturer of the recording equipment. Some things will always be in the header. A Field Record number will always be stored that identifies this particular shot (this may or may not be the same as the shotpoint number annotated on the map and final section - the Observer's Logs will show the relationship). One other useful item from the header is the initial gain. This is the gain that was used by the recording amplifiers at the start of the record. This used to have to be set by hand so some overflow is possible at the start of the record. The amplifier has only 15 bits (including the sign bit) with which to represent the signal. Instead of recording a gain value with each sample, the recorder merely records changes of gain from that applying at the previous scan, and periodically records the actual gain so far calculated (the redundant gain) so that this may be checked by the decoding software. Gains are stored as binary numbers representing multiples of 6dB gain applied to the data (for example a value of "6" would mean 36dB or a gain of 26).

The actual seismic data (in multiplexed format) is stored in a series of scans, where each scan consists of a 3 byte sync code, 1 byte in which the redundant gain is written, two byte sample values for each data channel, and a number of auxiliary channels. The auxiliary channels may contain additional information, the first generally containing the time value for each scan. A single scan (for 48 channel recording) looks something like this:-

Scan byte

1 FF

2 FF

3 FF

5/6

7/8

9/10

G G Seis ch 1 Seis ch 2 Seis ch 3

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Scan byte 101/102 103/104 105/106 107/108 109/110 111/112 113/114 Seis ch 48 Aux ch 1 Aux ch 2 Aux ch 3 Aux ch 4 Aux ch 5 Aux ch 6

The scan code will always consist of 3 bytes, normally FFFFFF; the 4th byte, shown above as GG, contains the redundant gain. The redundant gain is the total gain applied to the appropriate channel at that scan, recorded sequentially for each channel. On the first scan it applies to channel 1, on the 2nd to channel 2, etc. The gain value at the start of the record is taken from the field record header. Bit 15 (the most significant bit) of every data sample is the "G" bit, and when set to "1" indicates that there has been a gain change of 6dB since the previous scan. To determine whether this gain was an up change or a down change, it is necessary to look at the U bit. This is bit 7 (the most significant bit) of the 4th byte of the scan (GG). If on, it is an up change, if off, it is a down change. Since the U bit applies to an entire scan at once, it is clear that the gain in any scan can only change up or down, if it changes at all; it cannot change up on one channel in that scan and down on another. This can lead to overflow (and clipping of the data) but this is unusual. Thankfully, most of the messy checking required by this format should be handled by the processing software. It may be useful, however, to be aware of the format in order to be able to spot any problems!

SEG-B
The SEG-B format uses 16 binary bits to represent the signal, plus another 4 bits for gain ranging the values so that the 16 bits have the greatest possible significance. When writing to the tape the channels are blocked into groups of 4, preceded by a gain word containing the gain bits for each of the 4 channels.

The first 4 bytes of each scan contain the sync code, the next 10 bytes are auxiliary channels which are recorded as 16 bit integers with no gain. Auxiliary channel 1 is normally used as a sync increment word. Hence each scan starts something like this:-

Scan byte

0/1 0101

2/3 4/5 6/7 8/9 10/11 12/13 14/15 16/17 18/19 20/21 22/23 24/25 26/27 28/29 0103 aux aux aux

aux

aux Gain 130

Seis

Seis

Seis

Seis Gain

Seis

ch.1 ch.2 ch.3 Sync Timing Code Word

ch.4

ch.5

1-4 Gain Word

ch.1

ch.2

ch.3

ch.4

5-8 Gain Word

ch.5

Once again, each set of data from one shot is preceded by a header block (or separate record) that contains the Field Record number and other useful information

SEG-C
In SEG-C format, the potential in millivolts (the exact value!) generated by the geophones is converted to IBM floating point format. IBM floating point format uses 32 bits as shown below :-

Bit

1-7

8-31

Sign Exponent Mantissa

The sign bit is bit 0, while bits 1 to 7 are the exponent which is biased by Hexadecimal `40'. Bits 8 to 31 contain the mantissa. We saw some examples of this format earlier.

The tape is recorded as before, with a header for each shot followed by the individual scans. Each scan begins with a 4 byte sync code, normally FFFFFF00, then 2 bytes which is used as a sync increment, followed by 2 bytes which are not used and normally set to zero. Immediately following these 2 unused bytes are the IBM floating point representations of channels 1 to N. Hence each scan starts like this :-

Scan byte

0-3 FFFFFF00

4-7 8-11

12-15

16-20

21-24

???? spare channel 1 channel 2 channel 3

Sync Timing Code Word

Although this format had none of the "gain" complications of the other formats, it proved unpopular due to the amount of tape it used (only low density tapes were then available). As tape densities 131

improved, the format was quickly replaced by the more versatile SEG-D format which has now become the general standard.

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SEG-D
SEG-D is the most complicated of field formats to date. Firstly, it can contain either multiplexed or de-multiplexed data and, secondly, it has so many variants and optional parts that it can vary greatly from one set of instruments to another. The general format is as follows, with the green sections optional, "IBG" meaning interblock gap (a space on the tape), and "EOF" as an end-of-file marker:Additional 2nd General Channel Channel Channel Sample Channel General General Sample Header Set 1 Set 2 Set n Skew Sets 1-n Header Header Skew 2 Header Header Header Header Header Blocks Header 1ST SCAN TYPE HEADER 2ND SCAN TYPE HEADER Last Channel I I E I Next Sample Extended External Trailer Sets 1-n B DATA B O B Record Skew Header Header Blocks Header G G F G Header Header LAST SCAN TYPE HEADER

The header record is a single block of information separated from the data by a standard inter-block gap. The header record is composed of a general header, one or more scan type headers and optionally, the extended and external headers. The header record is "officially" between 300 and 10000 bytes in length and a multiple of 32 bytes, in practice headers in excess of 20000 bytes are already in use for multiple-streamer (3D) marine data. Within the extended and external headers, it is possible for equipment manufacturers and seismic contractors to record certain additional information that is not defined in the SEG standard. This information is defined and documented by the equipment manufacturer or seismic contractor. Some contractors' formats contain shotpoint event time, source identifiers, even latitude and longitude for the shotpoint. This is particularly useful for the QC of 3D processing. The order of actual data values (in red) will be described below, the format of the samples can be in a number of possible different formats:0015 Multiplexed 20-bit binary data 0022 Multiplexed 8-bit quaternary exponent data 0024 Multiplexed 16-bit quaternary exponent data 0036 Multiplexed 24-bit 2's complement integer data 0038 Multiplexed 32-bit 2's complement integer data 0042 Multiplexed 8-bit hexadecimal exponent data 0044 Multiplexed 16-bit hexadecimal exponent data 0048 Multiplexed 32-bit IBM floating point format data 0058 Multiplexed 32-bit IEEE floating point format data 8015 Demultiplexed 20-bit binary data 8022 Demultiplexed 8-bit quaternary exponent data 8024 Demultiplexed 16-bit quaternary exponent data 8036 Demultiplexed 24-bit 2's complement integer data 8038 Demultiplexed 32-bit 2's complement integer data 8042 Demultiplexed 8-bit hexadecimal exponent data 8044 Demultiplexed 16-bit hexadecimal exponent data 8048 Demultiplexed 32-bit IBM floating point format data 8058 Demultiplexed 32-bit IEEE floating point format data

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The numerical values are the format codes stored in the header for each block of data (I don't propose to go into these in detail!).

Multiplexed data is stored very simply. Each scan is preceded by a Start-Of-Scan code and a time value which identifies the following scan - the data samples being stored in one of the formats given above, and additional information (gains, etc) being available in the general header:-

S T All S T All S T All O I 1st Scan O I 2nd Scan O I Last Scan S M Samples S M Samples S M Samples Demultiplexed SEG-D format tapes (the most common format) consist of a header record followed by a number of demultiplexed data records and then a single end of file mark. This sequence is repeated for each shot on the line:H Trace H H I H I H I H I D Header Data B D Data B D Data D Data B D Data D Data B GR GR GR G R Extension R R TRACE 1 TRACE 2 TRACE TRACE 3 i TRACE TRACE 1 j CHANNEL SET 2 CHANNEL SET n CHANNEL SETS 1-n SCAN TYPE 2 CHANNE L SETS 1n LAST SCAN TYPE Data Blocks I B G Data Blocks I B G Data Blocks

CHANNEL SET 1

SCAN TYPE 1

The data records are recorded immediately following the header record. Each data record is separated from the next by a standard inter-block gap and may be identified using information stored in the trace header which precedes each data channel. The original SEG-D format only allowed 20-byte trace headers. This has now been extended to almost any length, and, like other formats, the data is sometimes blocked into convenient units for the tape drive to read. The most important things stored in the trace headers are:Bytes 1/2 File number (BCD) Byte 3 Scan type (BCD - typically 01) Byte 4 Channel set (BCD - typically 01 --> 09) Bytes 5/6 Channel number (BCD) Bytes 7/8/9 First timing word Byte 10 Trace header extensions (BCD - SEG-D revision 1 and beyond)
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BCD stands for "Binary Coded Decimal" where each decimal digit is separately encoded into 4 binary bits. The data traces are recorded into a number of different channel sets for example, seismic channels 1 to 240 may be recorded into channel set 1 of scan type 1, while a number of auxiliary channels may be recorded into channel sets 2, 3, 4, etc of scan type 1. If you need to become fully conversant with SEG-D (for whatever reason!) I would suggest the SEG publications "Digital Field Tape Format Standards - SEG-D" or "Digital Field Tape Format Standards - SEG-D Revisions 1 & 2", which describe the format in bit-by-bit detail!

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SEG-Y
In order to facilitate the movement of data from one preocessing contractor to another, the SEG initially designed the SEG-X format for data eXchange. This was rapidly superceded by SEG-Y which is a trace sequential (or de-multiplexed) format designed to store fully or partially processed seismic data. Its versatility has led to it being used more and more for raw or partially processed field data in a de-multiplexed format. The standard SEG-Y tape format looks like this:-

The tape is divided into seismic "lines" by End-Of-File marks (EOF's), with a double EOF at the end of the tape. Each line consists of two line headers, followed by a series of seismic traces each with their own header. The actual format of the seismic samples (and the number of bytes in each trace) is defined by the format codes in the binary line header.

The first line header is a free-format text header of exactly 3200 bytes. Each byte represents one character, which is stored in the (now) somewhat archaic EBCDIC (Extended Binary Coded Decimal Interchange Code) format. By convention, this header is organised as 40 rows of 80 columns, with the first three columns (shown in yellow) containing a "C" followed by the row number (1-40). Although the remaining information has no defined format, this example (from
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a fully processed seismic line) shows a typical layout of general line information, recording information and processing information.

The standard SEG-Y binary header consists of 400 bytes, with integer binary coding containing useful information for the whole line. Bytes 25-26 are particularly important, as they define the format of the seismic samples that follow:-

Bytes 1-4 Bytes 5-8 Bytes 9-12 Bytes 13-14 Bytes 15-16 Bytes 17-18 Bytes 19-20 Bytes 21-22 Bytes 23-24

Job identification number Line number Reel number Number of data traces per record Number of auxiliary traces per record Sample interval in micro seconds for this reel Same for original field recording Number of samples per trace for this reel Same for original field recording Data sample format code: 1 = IBM floating point (4 bytes) 2 = fixed point (4 bytes) 3 = fixed point (2 bytes) 4 = fixed point (wcode) (4 bytes) 5 = IEEE floating point (4 bytes) } NON-STANDARD! 6 = fixed point (1 byte) } May be redefined in future revisions! CDP fold expected per CDP ensemble Trace sorting code: 1 = as recorded (no sorting) 2 = CDP ensemble 3 = single fold continuous profile 4 = horizontally stacked Vertical sum code: 1 = no sum 2 = two sum N = n sum Vibroseis sweep frequency at start Vibroseis sweep frequency at end Vibroseis sweep length (ms)

Bytes 25-26

Bytes 27-28

Bytes 29-30

Bytes 31-32

Bytes 33-34 Bytes 35-36 Bytes 37-38

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Bytes 39-40

Vibroseis sweep type code: 1 = linear 2 = parabolic 3 = exponential 4 = other Trace number of Vibroseis sweep channel Vibroseis sweep trace taper length at start Vibroseis sweep trace taper length at end Vibroseis sweep trace taper type code: 1 = linear 2 = COS-squared 3 = other Vibroseis correlated data traces code: 1 = no 2 = yes Binary gain recovered code: 1 = yes 2 = no Amplitude recovery method code: 1 = none 2 = spherical divergence 3 = AGC 4 = other Measurement system code: 1 = metres 2 = feet Impulse signal polarity code: 1 = increase in pressure or upward geophone case movement gives negative number on tape 2 = increase in pressure or upward geophone case movement gives positive number on tape Vibrator polarity code: 1 = seismic signal lags pilot by 337.5 to 22.5 degrees 2 = seismic signal lags pilot by 22.5 to 67.5 degrees 3 = seismic signal lags pilot by 67.5 to 112.5 degrees 4 = seismic signal lags pilot by 112.5 to 157.5 degrees 5 = seismic signal lags pilot by 157.5 to 202.5 degrees 6 = seismic signal lags pilot by 202.5 to 247.5 degrees 7 = seismic signal lags pilot by 247.5 to 292.5 degrees 8 = seismic signal lags pilot by 293.5 to 337.5 degrees

Bytes 41-42 Bytes 43-44 Bytes 45-46

Bytes 47-48

Bytes 49-50

Bytes 51-52

Bytes 53-54

Bytes 55-56

Bytes 57-58

Bytes 59-60

Bytes 61-400 Spare

The standard SEG-Y trace header consists of 240 bytes, many of the terms used won't mean much to you at present, but should become clearer as we discuss the processing
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sequence:Bytes 1Trace sequence number within line 4 Bytes 5Trace sequence number within reel 8 Bytes 9Field record number 12 Bytes 13-16 Bytes 17-20 Bytes 21-24 Bytes 25-28 Trace number within field record Energy source point number CDP ensemble number Trace number within CDP ensemble Trace identification code: 1 = seismic data 2 = dead 3 = dummy 4 = time break 5 = uphole 6 = sweep 7 = timing 8 = water break N = optional use Number of vertically summed traces Number of horizontally summed trace Data use: 1 = production 2 = test Distance from source point to receiver group (negative if opposite to direction in which the line was shot) Receiver group elevation from sea level (above sea level is positive) Source elevation from sea level (above sea level is positive) Source depth (positive) Datum elevation at receiver group Datum elevation at source

Bytes 29-30

Bytes 31-32 Bytes 33-34 Bytes 35-36 Bytes 37-40 Bytes 41-44 Bytes 45-48 Bytes 49-52 Bytes 53-56 Bytes

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57-60 Bytes 61-64 Bytes 65-68 Bytes 69-70 Bytes 71-72 Bytes 73-76 Bytes 77-80 Bytes 81-84 Bytes 85-88 Bytes 89-90 Bytes 91-92 Bytes 93-94 Bytes 95-96 Bytes 97-98 Bytes 99-100 Water depth at source Water depth at receiver group Scale factor for previous 7 entries with value plus or minus 10 to the power 0, 1, 2, 3 or 4 (if positive multiply, if negative divide) Scale factor for next 4 entries with value plus or minus 10 to the power 0, 1, 2, 3 or 4 (if positive multiply, if negative divide) X source co-ordinate Y source co-ordinate X group co-ordinate Y group co-ordinate Co-ordinate units code for previous four entries: 1 = length (metres or feet) 2 = seconds of arc (in this case the X values are longitude and the Y values are latitude, a positive value designates the number of seconds east of Greenwich or north of the equator) Weathering velocity Sub-weathering velocity Uphole time at source Uphole time at receiver group Source static correction

Bytes Group static correction 101-102 Bytes Total static applied 103-104 Lag time A, time in ms between end of 240-byte trace identification header and time break, positive Bytes if time break occurs after end of header, time break is defined as the initiation pulse which maybe 105-106 recorded on an auxiliary trace or as otherwise specified Bytes Lag time B, time in ms between the time break and the initiation time of the energy source, may be 107-108 positive or negative Bytes Delay recording time, time in ms between initiation time of energy source and time when recording 109-110 of data samples begins (for deep water work if recording does not start at zero time) Bytes Mute time--start 111-112

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Bytes Mute time--end 113-114 Bytes Number of samples in this trace (unsigned) 115-116 Bytes Sample interval; in micro-seconds (unsigned) 117-118 Gain type of field instruments code: 1 = fixed Bytes 119-120 2 = binary 3 = floating point N = optional use Bytes Instrument gain constant 121-122 Bytes Instrument early or initial gain 123-124 Bytes 125-126 Correlated: 1 = no 2 = yes

Bytes Sweep frequency at start 127-128 Bytes Sweep frequency at end 129-130 Bytes Sweep length in ms 131-132 Bytes 133-134 Sweep type code: 1 = linear 2 = COS-squared 3 = other

Bytes Sweep trace length at start in ms 135-136 Bytes Sweep trace length at end in ms 137-138 Bytes 139-140 Taper type: 1 = linear 2 = COS-squared 3 = other

Bytes Alias filter frequency if used 141-142 Bytes Alias filter slope 143-144 Bytes Notch filter frequency if used 145-146 Bytes Notch filter slope 147-148

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Bytes Low cut frequency if used 149-150 Bytes High cut frequency if used 151-152 Bytes Low cut slope 153-154 Bytes High cut slope 155-156 Bytes Year data recorded 157-158 Bytes Day of year 159-160 Bytes Hour of day (24 hour clock) 161-162 Bytes Minute of hour 163-164 Bytes Second of minute 165-166 Time basis code: Bytes 1 = local 167-168 2 = GMT 3 = other Bytes Trace weighting factor, defined as 1/2N volts for the least significant bit 169-170 Bytes Geophone group number of roll switch position one 171-172 Bytes Geophone group number of trace one within original field record 173-174 Bytes Geophone group number of last trace within original field record 175-176 Bytes Gap size (total number of groups dropped) 177-178 Bytes 179-180 Overtravel taper code: 1 = down (or behind) 2 = up (or ahead)

Bytes Spare 181-240

Each trace header is then followed by the seismic samples, in a fixed length record with the format specified in the binary header for the line. Many variations on the standard SEG-Y format exist in practice, and a revision of the

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format is due at any moment from the SEG. Regardless of variations, however, the standard information in the headers should be in the bytes shown in the tables above.

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Chapter 6 - Frequencies
The manipulation of the individual frequency components within a seismic trace is a key part of the seismic processing sequence. This chapter looks at frequencies in some detail, and establishes the basic principles of time & frequency domain conversions.

Page 06.02 - Complex Numbers Another possibly unfamiliar number system - complex numbers. A brief history and even briefer look at some of the mathematical operations on complex numbers. Page 06.03 - Frequencies Frequency components as complex numbers and combinations of two components of the same frequency. Page 06.04 - Combining different frequencies This time, the combination of different frequencies. Page 06.05 - The Fourier Transform Going into the frequency domain! Page 06.06 - The Forward Transform Converting from time to frequency using the Fourier Transform ... Page 06.07 - The Inverse Transform ... or going the other way (from frequency to time). Page 06.08 - Example FFT's Example Fourier Transforms of some standard functions. Page 06.09 - Digital Filtering Filtering in the frequency domain ... Page 06.10 - Convolution
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... or the time domain. Page 06.11 - The frequency content of the seismic trace The seismic trace as a combination of spectra. Page 06.12 - Phase Phinally, the phenomena of phase ... Page 06.13 - Questions ... and some questions to phinish the Chapter!

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Complex Numbers
The numbers we use in everyday life can be expressed as a one-dimensional graph extending from minus infinity to plus infinity:-

Although some numbers are difficult to represent in some number bases (for example 7 divided by 3 gives 2 and one-third, which is 2.333333 ... in decimal), they become simple in other bases (7/310 = 2.13). Other irrational numbers (like pi), which cannot be fully represented in any number of digits in any base, still have a position on the range of real numbers we normally use. Real numbers allow us to solve equations such as x2 = 49. Remember that there are two answers to this, +7 or -7. The problems start when we try to solve equations like x2 = -49. Our normal range of real numbers does not allow us to solve this and early mathematicians believed that this equation had no solution. By the middle of the 16th century, however, the Italian mathematician Gerolamo Cardano and his contemporaries were experimenting with solutions to equations that involved the square roots of negative numbers, and, by 1777, the Swiss mathematician Leonhard Euler introduced the symbol i to stand for the square-root of -1. The imaginary numbers produced by using the symbol i have no physical meaning, but they do allow for the solution of all polynominal equations (the square root of -49 is either 7i or 7i). They also lead to some interesting mathematical solutions like e(pi i) = -1! Numbers which consist of part real and part imaginary (for example 22.3 + 1.925i) are called complex numbers.

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In the same way that real numbers can be thought of as points on a line, complex numbers can be thought of as points in a plane. The number a + bi is identified with the point in the plane with x co-ordinate a and y co-ordinate b. The points 1 + 4i and 2 - 2i are plotted here using the convention invented by the Swiss bookkeeper Jean Robert Argand in 1806. Logically, this type of plot is sometimes referred to as an Argand diagram. If a complex number in the plane is thought of as a vector joining the origin to that point, then addition of complex numbers corresponds to standard vector addition. This shows the complex number 3 + 2i obtained by adding the vectors 1 + 4i and 2 - 2i. The complex number -2 + 3i has the real part -2 and the imaginary part 3. Addition of complex numbers is performed by adding the real and imaginary parts separately. To add 1 + 4i and 2 - 2i, for example, add the real parts 1 and 2 and then the imaginary parts 4 and -2 to obtain the complex number 3 + 2i. The general rule for addition is:(a + bi) + (c + di) = (a + c) + (b + d)i Multiplication of complex numbers is based on the premise that i i = -1. This gives the rule:(a + bi) (c + di) = (ac - bd) + (ad + bc)i All of the normal mathematical functions (logs, trigonometric functions etc.) can be applied to complex numbers (they usually give complex answers). Plots of some part of some of the more esoteric functions of complex numbers give rise to the fractal patterns popular with computer artists!

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Since points in a plane can be written in terms of the polar co-ordinates r and p , every complex number z can be written in the form:z = r (cos p + i sin p) Here, r is the modulus, or distance to the origin, and p is the argument of z, or the angle that z makes with the x axis. If z = r (cos p + i sin p) and w = s (cos q + i sin q) are two complex numbers in polar form, then their product in polar form is given by:zw = rs (cos (p + q) + i sin (p + q)) We'll go on now and discuss frequencies, and how complex numbers play their part!

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Frequencies
Way back in Chapter 3 we showed how a waveform, consisting of a single frequency, would appear in the time domain (as a function of time). We can define such a waveform by three parameters - its frequency (usually in Hertz - the number of cycles per second), its amplitude (the maximum value of the waveform), and its phase - the offset of the central peak from time zero measured as an angle. Here then is one such single frequency waveform, with some numbers assigned to its three parameters. The horizontal scale is time (shown in seconds), and the period between successive peaks of the waveform is 40 ms. This corresponds to a frequency of 1/0.04 or 25 Hz. The amplitude of the waveform is "4", and the waveform begins at a point 1/6th of a wavelength from its maximum value the phase is 360/6 or 60 degrees (or pi/3 radians). The actual equation for the type of waveform shown above is:a*Cos(2*pi*f*t+p) where a is the amplitude, f the frequency, t the time and p the phase. pi is either 3.14159... if we're working in radians, or 180 if we're working in degrees, so the example given (with everything in degrees) is:4*Cos(180*25*t+60) = 4*Cos(4500*t+60)

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You can plot functions like this (in the same way that I did) by using a spreadsheet. Simply build a column of times incrementing by your chosen sample period, and plug the equation above into the next column (you may need to convert it to radians). An X/Y plot of these numbers should produce something like the plot shown above!

We could look at the above waveform in the frequency domain, plotting both the amplitude and phase of this waveform as a function of frequency. This obviously only gives us one point on each graph, but we need two graphs for this representation as opposed to the one in the time domain. Why? The clue to this is on the previous page. In the frequency domain we need a complex number to specify the waveform. The combination of phase and frequency values in the frequency domain transform into waveforms in the time domain, and allow for complex numbers in both domains, as well as for negative frequencies (a concept that we'll discuss when we get to spatial frequencies!). Luckily, we don't record either complex or imaginary numbers in our seismic data (which is just as well, as they'd be difficult to display!), and we don't record negative frequencies (if you like, energy from the shot going backwards in time!), so we actually only need about half as many "samples" in the frequency domain as we have in the time domain - more on this later. Once again, we'll go back to clock watching! Imagine a clock that rotates through 360 degrees in 40 ms. If the length of the "hand" is four units, and we plot the height of the end of the hand from the centre of the clock, we get the cosine wave shown here.

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Click on the animation to stop it - if you can stop it after 1/6th of a revolution (at 2 o'clock), you'll get the same time function as shown above - a 60 degree phase value! So, as we might expect from the clock above, we could represent this single frequency as a complex number vector with a radius of "4", and an angle of 60 degrees to the "Real"-axis in this Argand diagram. We could express this 25 Hz. component as "2 + 3.464i", and, although it is (slightly) more intuitive to talk about its amplitude and phase, we need to remember that we are dealing with a complex number when we look at combining different frequencies (or different amplitudes and phases of the same frequency) together.

Here's the complete relationship between amplitude (A), phase (p), and the Real (R) and Imaginary (I) components of a complex number expressed in polar co-ordinates, or our single frequency component expressed in Amplitude and Phase converted to its complex equivalent:-

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Combining different frequencies


Let's start by looking at what happens when we combine two waves of the same frequency with different amplitudes and phases. The plot here shows the time functions (from -0.2 to +0.2 seconds) for two 20 Hz waveforms, their amplitude and phase values, and an Argand diagram showing the amplitude and phase components as a vector. Change the amplitude (0 to 100) and phase (360 to +360) of each waveform and click on the button to add them together.

Note particularly what happens when the two waves have the same amplitude and exactly 180 degrees difference in phase - adding them together "cancels-out" this frequency. Check what happens when they are 90 degrees apart, or when both have the same phase.

Now we'll increase the complexity by adding two waveforms of different frequencies. Once again, try a range of amplitudes and phases with frequencies close together and far apart (you can only specify frequencies from 0 to 125 Hz - I've assumed a 4 ms sample period):-

The result will always look "cyclic" (the pattern repeats). Try adding 100 Hz to 110 Hz you should see an apparent 10 Hz (the difference) in the output. This is due to some of the relationships you might remember from trigonometry at school (COS (a + b) = COS (a) COS (b) - SIN (a) SIN (b) and the like!).

If we extend this summation process further, we can consider a waveform that is constructed from the summation of many different frequencies. Here's a few hundred milliseconds of one such waveform constructed by adding together 11 different frequencies with different amplitudes and phases. The sum (in blue) is scaled up by a factor of 2 relative to the individual components in order to make it more visible!

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The amplitude for each frequency varies up to an arbitrary value of 100, the phase is more or less random for each component. The addition of all of these frequencies produces, once again, a cyclic waveform (containing a repetitive sequence). This sequence repeats every 80 ms (every 20 samples at a 4 ms sample period). I have deliberately used a set of sampled frequencies going from 0 Hz to the Nyquist frequency (125 Hz), and, in fact, if we have "N" samples of amplitude and phase over the 0 to Nyquist range, the time function will repeat every (N-1)*2 samples (80 ms). This ties in with a comment made on the previous page. If we only have positive frequencies (from 0 to Nyquist), and "Real" numbers in our trace of "M" time samples, we need (M/2)+1 frequency samples to represent all of the frequencies in that trace (we assume that the trace repeats after "M" samples). Here's just one "cycle" of the output "trace" from the above summation - I've "stretched-out" just 20 samples around time zero (at a 4 ms sample period).

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We could represent the little piece of trace shown above by plotting the amplitude and phase of each of the component frequencies (when we move on to many frequency components this will really be the only way we can show them). Here's the amplitude and phase spectra of the above trace. Each frequency component is shown on both graphs - the top giving the amplitude of the particular frequency, and the bottom the phase angle. These plots are simply another way of looking at the trace, and are a graphical representation of the Fourier Transform of the trace. The Fourier Transform is a mathematical process that allows us to move from the time domain (the plot of amplitude vs. time - the "trace") to the frequency domain (amplitude and phase spectra). The Inverse Fourier Transform (from the spectra back to the trace) is often known as
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Fourier Synthesis - we synthesise the trace by adding together the individual frequency components just as we've done above!

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The Fourier Transform


The Fourier Transform is named after Baron Jean Baptiste Joseph Fourier, a French mathematician, who, in his treatise The Analytical Theory of Heat (1822), employed a trigonometric series, usually called the Fourier series, to express discontinuous functions as the sum of an infinite series of sines and cosines. The Fourier Transform is simply a mathematical process that allows us to take a function of time (a seismic trace) and express it as a function of frequency (a spectrum). The fullblown formal statement of the Fourier Transform is:-

... and its inverse is:-

Both of the above transforms require an integral over the range -infinity to +infinity, not a lot of use when we have a finite string of numbers representing a seismic trace. Here's an alternative formulation of the forward transform for sampled data:-

Although we've replaced the integration with a summation over a finite interval ("N" samples), the "i" in the exponent on the right should give you the clue that we are dealing here with complex numbers. We'll look at a practical example of this over the next few pages for just real numbers, but let's first examine the results by using a ready-built program.

The Fourier transform, for sampled data, can be programmed fairly simply to take advantage of the fact that the Cosine of "2x" is related to the Cosine
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SUBROUTINE FFT(A,M,N) COMPLEX A(N),U,W,T N = 2**M

of "x" (Cos(2x)=2(Cos(x))2-1). This can produce some surprisingly fast "code" (the FFT or Fast Fourier Transform), and the example shown here on the right (From: J. W. Cooley, P. Lewis, and P. D. Welch, "Historical Notes on the Fast Fourier Transform", IEEE Transactions on Audio and Electroacoustics 1969 and later papers) is a FORTRAN program that will compute the forward FFT of any number of points 5 that are a power of 2 (2, 4, 8, 16, etc). Both the input and output series of numbers in this program are complex numbers, and similar algorithms are available in other programs.

NV2 = N/2 NM1 = N - 1 J = 1 DO 7 I = 1,NM1 IF (I .GE. J) GO TO 5 T = A(J) A(J) = A(I)

A(I) = T K = NV2 6 IF (K .GE. J) GO TO 7 J = J - K K = K/2 GO TO 6 7 J = J + K PI = 3.141592653589793 DO 20 L = 1,M LE = 2**L LE1 = LE/2 U = (1.0,0.) W = CMPLX(COS(PI/LE1),SIN(PI/LE1))

Instead of programming this, we can use existing software. For example, there is an option in the "Analysis Tool Pack" in Microsoft Excel to perform forward or inverse FFT's on a (once again) number of points that is a power of 2. The example output shown below, for an "8point" FFT, was produced using the Microsoft Excel spreadsheet on a PC - note that the output consists of complex numbers. Input FFT 88 88 77 172.509667991878-49.5807358037436i -39 124-18i 4 -8.50966799187825-145.580735803743i 6 40 -56 -8.509667991878+145.580735803744i 9 124+18i
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DO 20 J = 1,LE1 DO 10 I = J,N,LE IP = I + LE1 T = A(IP) * U A(IP) = A(I) - T 10 A(I) = A(I) + T 20 U = U * W RETURN END

-1 172.509667991878+49.5807358037435i

We'll look at the output of this "forward transform" in some detail on the next page.

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The Forward Transform


Let's examine the output from the spreadsheet on the previous page in more detail:Time Input FFT 0 88 88 124-18i -8.50966799187825-145.580735803743i 40 -8.509667991878+145.580735803744i 124+18i 0.004 77 0.008 -39 0.012 4 0.016 6 -0.012 -56 -0.008 9 -0.004 -1 Real 88.00 Imag Amp Phase Freq 0.00 0 62.5 125

0.00 88.00

172.509667991878-49.5807358037436i 172.51 -49.58 179.49 -16.04 31.25 124.00 -18.00 125.30 -8.26 40.00 124.00 0.00 40.00 18.00 125.30 0.00 -8.51 -145.58 145.83 -93.35 93.75 -8.51 145.58 145.83 93.35 -93.75 8.26 -62.5 49.58 179.49 16.04 -31.25

172.509667991878+49.5807358037435i 172.51

I have added both time and frequency scales to this table, note that both of these scales must start at "0", and that the last three values (N/2-1 where N is 8) represent negative times and frequencies. Since I have chosen a 4 ms sample period for these values, the frequency scale must reach a maximum of 125 Hz (Nyquist). For "N" points at a "DT" ms sample period, the frequency increment will be 1000/(N*DT). In this case 1000/(8*4) = 31.25. I have split the FFT output into its real and imaginary components, and then used the relationships given at the bottom of page 3 of this Chapter to convert these to Amplitude and Phase (in Degrees). In fact, as I was using a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet to do this, I used the spreadsheet functions IMABS and IMARGUMENT to compute the amplitude and phase directly from the complex FFT output (I multiplied the phase by 180/PI() to convert to Degrees).

If we re-arrange the data sets into time order, we can plot the time function, the amplitude spectrum, and the phase spectrum for this set of numbers:-

If we ignore, for the moment the value at the right of the two spectra (125 Hz), we should
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notice that the amplitude spectrum is totally symmetrical, and that the phase spectrum is asymmetrical. We can see this also in the original complex numbers in the above table:FFT -8.509667991878+145.580735803744i Real Imag Amp Phase Freq

-8.50966799187825-145.580735803743i -8.51 -145.58 145.83 -93.35 93.75 -8.51 145.58 145.83 93.35 -93.75

For a frequency of "-x", the real part of the complex FFT output is the same, the imaginary part is sign reversed (in mathematical terms the second complex number is the complex conjugate of the first). This is always true when we only have real numbers in the input time function - the information contained in the negative frequencies is the same as in the positive frequencies (with the sign of the phase reversed). What this actually all means is that we can get away with just one-half of the spectrum when we have an input that is just real numbers (like, for example, a seismic trace). We'll look at this (and the "fiddle" that is required to handle this properly) by inverse transforming the amplitudes and phases from the above table back into a seismic "trace".

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The Inverse Transform


Back to our trusty spreadsheet once again - the inverse Fourier Transform simply means that we need to add together all of the appropriate frequency components at each time. The left-hand columns in this table show the amplitude and phase values for the positive frequencies in the transform on the previous page. Across the top are the output time values (in normal order this time), and each white square contains the result of the equation Amp*Cos(2*pi*frequency*time+phase) for each set of values. Time -0.012 -0.008 -0.004 0.000 0.004 0.008 0.012 0.016 Phase Cos Cos Cos Cos Cos Cos Cos Cos 0.00 88.00 88.00 88.00 88.00 88.00 88.00 88.00 88.00 x1 -16.04 -157.05 -49.59 86.91 172.50 157.05 49.59 -86.91 -172.50 x2 -8.26 18.00 -124.00 -18.00 124.00 18.00 -124.00 -18.00 124.00 x2 -93.35 -108.97 145.58 -96.92 -8.52 108.97 -145.58 96.92 8.52 x2 0.00 -40.00 40.00 -40.00 40.00 -40.00 40.00 -40.00 40.00 x1 Sum/8 -56 9 -1 88 77 -39 4 6

Freq Amp 0.00 88.00 31.25 179.49 62.50 125.30 93.75 145.83 125.00 40.00

We add up the columns to give the totals at the bottom with TWO PROVISOS. 1. Because we have ignored the negative frequency components, we have to double all of the values for frequencies other than 0 Hz and Nyquist (125). These "end" values have their negative components "built into them", whereas the other components do not! The multipliers are shown in red in the last column. 2. We need to divide the final sum by the number of points in the original transform (8 time points) in order to normalise the amplitudes. If we perform both of these steps correctly, then the final result (using just 5 frequency points) will be the same as if we used all of the original 8 points. In general we only need "N/2+1" samples in the frequency domain to represent "N" real numbers in the time domain. For example, if we have 1024 sample values in time, we actually need just one value each for 0 Hz (DC) and Nyquist (neither of these has an imaginary component in the frequency domain), and 511 complex values for all of the other frequencies - in other words 511 x 2 + 2 = 1024 sample values in frequency!

We have shown a simple way of doing the inverse transform using a spread sheet. Is the
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forward transform possible using a similar technique? Well, not quite so simply, but a solution is possible. Expanding the original Fourier Transform equations (no, I'm not going to do that here!) reveals that the real component of the transform for any particular frequency can be calculated by multiplying the time "trace" by a cosine wave for the frequency of interest, and summing all of the results. In the same way the imaginary part can be computed by multiplying the trace by a sine wave and summing the results. Here's our original example again, this time with the transform calculated from the cosine and sine cross multiplications:F=0 F=31.25 F=62.5 F=93.75 Cos Sin Cos Sin Cos Sin Cos Sin 1.00 0.00 -0.71 -0.71 0.00 1.00 0.71 -0.71 1.00 0.00 0.00 -1.00 -1.00 0.00 0.00 1.00 1.00 0.00 0.71 -0.71 0.00 -1.00 -0.71 -0.71 1.00 0.00 1.00 0.00 1.00 0.00 1.00 0.00 1.00 0.00 0.71 0.71 0.00 1.00 -0.71 0.71 1.00 0.00 0.00 1.00 -1.00 0.00 0.00 -1.00 1.00 0.00 -0.71 0.71 0.00 -1.00 0.71 0.71 1.00 0.00 -1.00 0.00 1.00 0.00 -1.00 0.00 F=125 Cos Sin -1.00 0.00 1.00 0.00 -1.00 0.00 1.00 0.00 -1.00 0.00 1.00 0.00 -1.00 0.00 1.00 0.00

Time -0.012 -0.008 -0.004 0.000 0.004 0.008 0.012 0.016

Amp -56 9 -1 88 77 -39 4 6

Mult/Add 88.00 0.00 172.51 49.58 124.00 18.00 -8.51 145.58 40.00 0.00 Real Imag Real Imag Real Imag Real Imag Real Imag The first two columns contain the original time function. The columns labelled "F 0" contain a cosine and sine wave for 0 Hz, the next two columns for 31.25 Hz and so on. The Mult/Add row is the result of multiplying the "Amp" column by the appropriate cosine/sine column and adding all of the results. The values computed are the same real and imaginary values that we obtained before. Although this technique is not as fast as the FFT program shown earlier, it is simpler to implement on a spread sheet. Enough theory - let's look at some real examples!

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Example FFT's
It's common, when discussing Fourier Transforms, to show transform "pairs" - that is the equivalent time and frequency domain representations of some common functions. Because we are only dealing with real numbers in the time domain, the following plots show the time domain function (T), the amplitude spectrum (A) and the phase spectrum (P). You can assign almost any scale to these displays - if the time samples are, for example, 4 ms apart, then the frequency scale will go from 0 to 125 Hz. If you stretch the time scale (make them 8 ms apart), then the frequency scale compresses (from 0 to 62.5 Hz). The amplitude plots are on a linear scale (not dB), and the phase plot goes from -180 to +180 degrees. The time function, in each case, is centred around time zero. The first example has a single "spike" at time zero, and no other values in the time domain. Imagine a series of cosine waves of all possible frequencies, with the centre peaks all lining up at time zero. The centre values combine constructively, and all of the other values cancel out! The single spike therefore contains all frequencies, with zero phase (the cosine waves all peak at time zero). This is often referred to as a "white" spectrum. Now we've extended the spike to cover a range of samples - each sample has the same value. The frequency response is identical to the "sinc" function we've mentioned before, with the amplitude reaching zero at the reciprocal of the width of the live samples.

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If the red time function is 100 ms long, then the first zero in the amplitude spectrum is at 10 Hz. Note that the phase spectrum "flips" to 180 degrees at this point. A sinc function in the time domain corresponds to a constant amplitude "block" in the frequency domain, showing the similarity between the forward and inverse Fourier Transform. The phase is zero because the time domain function is symmetrical - a single cosine wave (with no phase shift) is symmetrical therefore the sum of these is also symmetrical. Any symmetrical wavelet in the time domain will have zero phase. Here's the spike from our first example, but no longer at time zero. The amplitude spectrum is still white, but the phase spectrum now has a linear phase shift (the apparent jump in the phase spectrum is due to the fact that we cannot measure phases greater than 180 degrees, 200 degrees will appear as -160 degrees, etc). At 10 Hz, 360 degrees, or one wavelength, is 1000/10 or 100 ms. A shift of 5 ms on this represents 5/100th's of a wavelength or 18 degrees. For 20 Hz, a 5 ms shift represents a 36 degree phase shift and so on. A linear phase shift is equivalent to a constant time shift.

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One frequency, in this case at zero phase, is represented by one spike in the amplitude spectrum. If this spike were at 0 Hz (DC), then the time domain representation would be just a constant value - once again showing the symmetry of the transforms (the inverse of the first example shown above). We looked at ghost's in Chapter 3, this example shows a single source or receiver ghost, with it's frequency domain "notches". Note how the phase drifts around zero - although it's close to zero, these minor phase changes can distort the appearance of each reflector in the seismic section. Another example from Chapter 3 a multiple sequence. Note that, once again, there is some phase distortion, and that certain frequencies (multiples or harmonics of the dominent multiple frequency) are enhanced. A sequence of random numbers! As one might expect, the frequency spectrum contains all frequencies in practice, if the "trace" were longer, the amplitude spectrum would be almost white. The phase spectrum, however, is almost as random as the original time function!

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Just two sample values, with the second sample smaller than the first. This is a minimum-phase wavelet, that we will discuss briefly in a few pages. Two samples again, with the smallest value first. The amplitude spectrum is identical to the last example, but now we have a maximum-phase wavelet - once again, more on this later.

Finally, here's a live FFT running in real time. The "zero" samples in each domain are shown as open circles (time zero is in the centre). Use the left mouse button to drag any sample, in any domain, to a new value, or the right mouse button to zero a sample. Use the buttons to initialise or modify the appropriate spectra. Try single frequencies, linear phases, or any of the examples shown above!

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Digital Filtering
We've seen how to build containing specified amplitude and phase spectra, and how to convert a "trace" from the time domain to and from the frequency domain. How do we use this in the seismic processing sequence? Here's a small piece of seismic "trace" which obviously contains a good mixture of frequencies. The rapid change from positive to negative numbers implies that some high frequencies are present, so let's try to remove them by a combination of forward and inverse Fourier transforms. We will transform this trace from the time domain into the frequency domain, apply a filter to remove the high frequencies, and transform it back. We apply the filter by multiplying the amplitude spectrum by our desired filter pass-band, and, to avoid introducing timing errors, we will leave the phase as it is - we will apply a zero-phase filter. Pictorially, here's what happens. 1. The input trace is converted into its amplitude and phase components. 2. The amplitude spectrum is multiplied by the desired filter. 3. The phase spectrum is added to our desired filter phase response (in this case zero). 4. The output is transformed back into the time
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domain. You can see that the high (and very low) frequencies have been attenuated, and the result is "smoother". We can obviously extend this process to apply any kind of filter - the following are more examples, each uses our standard "trace" as input. This is another low-pass filter. In this case we have totally removed any frequencies above one-half of the Nyquist frequency, leaving the lower frequencies alone (x 1), and not modifying the phase. This is an example of an antialias filter. We can now throw away half of the original samples, and still fully reconstruct the data up to our filter cut-off point. This filter does nothing to the amplitude spectrum, but applies a 90 degree shift to the phase spectrum. The effect of the trace is quite strange - we have shifted all of the component frequencies by 90 degrees.

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We have shown before that a linear phase shift is equivalent to a time shift. Here we're applied a linear phase shift that goes from 0 at 0 Hz, to 90 degrees at Nyquist. Once again the amplitude spectrum is unchanged. This applies a half-sample time shift to the data (even if the data is sampled at 4 ms, we could use this technique to apply 2ms or any other shift. A 90 degree phase shift once again, this time coupled with an amplitude correction proportional to frequency. The total result of this (believe it or not!) is to differentiate the input trace - the output represents the slope of the input at each sample. An example of an Inverse Filter. We've applied an amplitude spectrum scalar proportional to the reciprocal of the input, and a phase correction that is the negative of the input. The output contains all frequencies at zero phase - a single "spike" at time zero. Although this process seems totally useless (we've lost all of our original trace information), we will see later how a modified version of this can increase the signal frequencies in our data.

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It's fairly obvious from the above that we can perform almost any sort of filtering by this method, but it does require a double transform to perform the filtering. Can we accomplish the same thing in the time domain, without going through the transforms? The answer to this is, of course, YES, and we now move on to Convolution!

Convolution
Yet another filter applied to our poor seismic trace! The amplitude and phase spectra for the filter should be vaguely familiar. This is a "sinc" function (sin(x)/x) that we've seen in other places. This is obviously a low-pass filter, which applies a fairly strong "smoother" to our seismic trace. Can we do this in the time domain? The equivalent process to a complex multiplication in the frequency domain (multiply amplitude, add phase) is known as Convolution, and is described by the formula:-

Where x is the input time function, h is the time domain representation of the filter, f is the output, and * is used to indicate convolution - a combination of multiplication and addition.
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In its full form the equation looks like this:-

Which, roughly translated, means:1. Time-reverse the filter (the -T bit). 2. Lay it next to the seismic trace. 3. Cross-multiply each sample in the filter by each sample in the trace, and add the results to give one output sample. 4. Move the filter along one sample and do it again.

We need the time-domain representation of our filter. We can get this by simply inverse transforming the desired amplitude and phase spectra into the time domain, or, if our filter is a "black-box" (for example, the electronics in the recording instruments), we can obtain the filter response by using a single spike as the input to the filtering process.

Here's the same filter as above, with a single spike used as input to the filtering process. Remember that a single spike contains all frequencies, and, if we make our time zero the centre of the spike, the phases are all zero. Time zero is shown on both time plots by the blue line. Since the input contains all frequencies, the output is an image of the filter - in this case three samples of constant values (1/3rd), centred around time zero. Let's use this filter, and the equation shown above, to filter our data in the time domain!
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Here's the original "trace" in digital samples (at a 4 ms sample interval), the time-reversed filter (it's symmetrical, so no change), and the result of all the multiplications and additions. Use the buttons to show each stage of the process:-

The final column above matches the plot shown at the top. We have low-pass filtered our trace in the time domain by taking a running-average of every three samples (I had to append zeroes to the trace to handle the "ends"). So, a running average is a convolution - we could accomplish the same thing in the frequency domain by multiplying the spectrum of the trace by a complex spectrum which is a sinc function.

Here's a final example of a convolution run as an animation. The same input trace (again!) with a somewhat arbitrary filter of four points: 1, -2, 4, -1. Click on the animation to pause and re-start it. The same filter shown, once again, in the frequency domain.

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The frequency content of the seismic trace


We can assume that the seismic trace itself is made up of a series of convolutions of different waveforms. The following displays show the time domain functions and the amplitude spectra of just some of the functions that contribute to the recorded trace. The shot command the signal from the instruments that a shot must be fired. Convolved with ... Multiplied by ... The shot itself, in this case an array of airguns from a marine survey. Convolved with ... Multiplied by ...

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A ghost reflection on marine data caused by the energy reflecting from the sea surface. Convolved with ... Multiplied by ... The reflections themselves, assumed to be a random sequence with a fairly white spectrum. Convolved with ... Multiplied by ... Energy losses due to the spreading of the energy from the shot, and absorption caused by friction within the rocks. Convolved with ... Multiplied by ... The response of our recording hydrophones (and amplifiers). EQUALS EQUALS The final seismic trace!

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We could continue this list ad infinitum! Random noise may be added at any stage, coherent noise may be added, for example, at the recording instruments, and multiple reflections will cause other peaks within the final amplitude spectrum.

All that the processing geophysicist needs to do is to remove all of the other effects from the above data, leaving just THE REFLECTIONS!

We'll conclude our look at frequencies with one last topic - phase!

Phase
We need two parameters to specify a component of a given frequency - both its amplitude and its phase. The following display shows six different "wavelets", each with the same amplitude spectrum, but with differing phase spectra. The phase spectrum, in each case, have been "unwrapped" to remove apparent jumps of 360 degrees in the phase. The grid lines on this plot show 90 degree steps as a reference. Remember that a large linear phase component simply represents a "time-shift" in the wavelet. Flick through the different wavelets and try to find the one that is as short as possible in the time domain, and that releases its "energy" as soon as possible.

The first wavelet in the sequence is obviously zero phase - it is symmetrical, so all the component cosine waves must be symmetrical and peak at time zero. The subsequent wavelets have various phase spectra, and various lengths but the last (number 6) meets the criteria mentioned above - it's as short as possible in the time domain, and releases its energy as soon as possible. Wavelet 5 is of equal length, but all of its energy is at the rear of
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the wavelet.

The wavelet which, for a given amplitude spectrum, occurs only in the positive time range (it starts at "0"), and releases its energy in the shortest possible time is known as a minimum phase wavelet. It is possible (by a fairly complex process involving logs of complex FFTs!) to compute the appropriate minimum phase spectrum from a given amplitude spectrum and there is only one possible result - only one wavelet meets these criteria for a given amplitude spectra. Why is this important? Almost all of the filtering processes that occur to the seismic energy as it passes through the earth are minimum phase processes. The shot energy itself is fairly close to minimum phase, as are most of the effects shown on the previous page. Some of the processes performed on the data (in particular Deconvolution which we will discuss later) are minimum phase processes. The result of all of these combinations of minimum phase "processes" is itself minimum phase!

We will come back to minimum phase concepts later, but for now, just remember that a minimum-phase wavelet starts at time zero, is as short as possible, and releases its energy as soon as possible. If you try to draw a wavelet, the chances are that it will start off with a big peak, and then die away fairly quickly - it will be (roughly) minimum phase. The fifth example in the sequence shown above is the time-reversal of the minimum phase wavelet and is known as the maximum phase wavelet. Any other wavelet (not zero, minimum, or maximum phase) is referred to as mixed phase. One final note on phase. If we have just 2 samples (and it only works for 2!), there are three possible phase spectra. Ignoring any linear phase components (or time shifts), if both samples have the same value then the wavelet is symmetrical and hence zero phase. If the second sample has a smaller absolute value than the first it's minimum phase, and maximum phase if the second sample is larger.

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Chapter 7 - Processing Flows (1)


It's about time we got onto processing! We start with a look at some of the very early stages in the processing sequence.

Page 07.02 - A typical processing flow An example of a modern processing flow that could apply to 2D or 3D land or marine data - we'll look at all stages in detail. Page 07.03 - Transcription Stage 1 - reading the data from the field tapes (and making sure that it's all there!). Page 07.04 - Vibroseis data & correlation Some special processing sometimes required for Vibroseis data, with an explanation of correlation. Page 07.05 - Shot summing
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The summing of data from multiple shots sometimes required for Vibroseis data and other "low amplitude" sources. Page 07.06 - Initial Statics Calculating and applying the initial statics necessary to get our data referenced to the correct "time zero". Page 07.07 - Signature Deconvolution (1) Everything you wanted to know about signature deconvolution ... Page 07.08 - Signature Deconvolution (2) ... and more ... Page 07.09 - Signature Deconvolution (3) ... and more ... Page 07.10 - Signature Deconvolution (4) ... and more, including a "live" example. Page 07.11 - Gain Recovery The initial amplitude corrections applied to correct for the spreading of the energy (and other factors). Page 07.12 - Trace editing The only chance the processing geophysicist has to make a killing! Page 07.13 - Chapter 7 - Questions Some questions (as usual) to end the chapter.

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A typical processing flow


As we've finally got around to talking about processing, we'll start with a typical processing flow, showing all of the processes applied to one "line" of seismic data. This flow is based on a typical marine 2D line, but could apply almost equally to any type of processing. The processes necessary for the geometrical correction of the data are shown in red, whilst the others (in yellow) are really just cosmetic processes designed to improve the final result. Many of the processes are optional, and other processes may be used within the sequence. We will discuss each process in detail in the following pages and Chapters.

Field Data
1 Transcription 2 S.O.D Correction 3 4 Signature Deconvolution Initial Gain Recovery Conversion of the field data to an appropriate internal format. A static correction so that time zero is the time that the shot was fired. Replacement of the source signature with a more desirable wavelet. An initial correction for the spherical spreading of the signal with time. Anti-aliased and resampled to the highest sample period commensurate with the desired frequency range. Removal of bad traces / shots and correction of any polarity
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5 Resample 6 Edit

reversals. 7 Multichannel Filtering Attenuation of shot-generated noise, improvement in spatial coherency. Input of geometry, and calculation of traces from every common mid-point. Removal of long period multiple reflections. Correction of the spread of data within one CMP for dipping events. Removal of short period multiple and frequency balancing. Correction of curvature on events due to differing trace offsets. Removal of first-break noise. Amplitude normalisation. Summation of all data from one common mid-point. Final static correction to the final datum. Adjustment of the initial gain recovery to compensate for velocity changes. Additional coherency enhancement (spatially). Final frequency balancing. Re-positioning of dipping events to their correct spatial position. Adjustments to the final amplitude / phase spectrum. Limiting of frequencies to the useful signal range. Amplitude normalisation.

8 CMP Gather 9 De-Multiple 10 Dip Moveout 11 Deconvolution 12 NMO Correction 13 Mute 14 Equalisation 15 CMP Stack 16 Datum Correction 17 18 Final Gain Recovery Multichannel Filtering

19 Deconvolution 20 Migration 21 Spectral Shaping 22 Bandpass filter 23 Equalisation

Final Display
Although many of these processes are optional the CMP (or incorrectly named CDP) stack (item 15) is essential when we are processing multi-fold data. The processes prior to this stage are called (logically) pre-stack processes, and those after post-stack processes. It's useful to distinguish between these two parts of the processing sequence, as there may be a 60:1 or more reduction of data at the stack stage.

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Transcription
The first stage of any processing sequence requires that the data from the field be loaded and checked. Remember that the field data has been acquired at enormous cost, and that the field tapes and associated data (if they are the original copies) must be treated with some respect! On more than one occasion the field data from marine surveys has been dropped overboard during data transfer, and, again more than once, field tapes have been over-written in the processing centre! All processing systems have their own internal format for the storage of data. Even with the current trend towards cheap storage devices, it may still be impossible to store all of the data on disk, and tape-to-tape systems are still quite common. Let's repeat an earlier exercise and calculate the storage requirements for some typical field data. If we assume 6 seconds of recording, at a 2 ms sample period, then we have 3000 samples
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for each trace. If these are stored in 32-bit longwords then the total storage for one trace (excluding any header information) will be about 12,000 bytes. Again, we'll assume a 240 channel recording system, which gives us 240 x 12,000 bytes, or about 3 megabytes (with headers) for each field record. We've already got enough to fill two 3" floppy disks with data. Now we'll assume a 25 m shotpoint interval which, for a 30 km seismic line gives us 1200 shots. Multiplying up again, we now have a total of 3,600 megabytes (3.6 Gb) for just the field data for this line. If we want to keep other processed versions of this line then we'll need as much again for each stage before stack (unless we're resampling the data). When one considers that a complete marine survey may consist of 1,000 or more kilometres of data (120 Gb), and we will normally be processing many lines simultaneously, you begin to see the storage problem. With multiple streamer 3D surveys the problem gets totally out of hand!

So, our initial processing stage must read all of the field data and convert it into our internal format.

If the data has been recorded in a multiplexed format (ordered by channel, not trace) then the computer has to have enough temporary storage (ideally memory) to read the entire record, and then re-order it.

We need to check this initial stage to ensure that every trace of every shot has been read correctly. Many of the problems at this stage (hopefully getting fewer) are related to the physical condition of the recording media. The reprocessing of old data that has not been stored correctly may require the resources of one of the specialised companies that can, hopefully, ensure that as much data as possible can be read from the field tapes. We also need to compare the list of shots read from the tape against those listed in the various field reports (normally the Observer's Logs). Although each shot is identified by a shotpoint number, these may not be recorded on the tape. Instead a Field Record Number may be used which might be designed to match the shotpoint number but which might, occasionally, get out of step.
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At the end of this stage we must have a complete list of the shotpoints and traces now in our internal format - errors at this stage will affect everything that follows!

What kind of problems can we encounter even if we read the data (apparently) correctly? Most of these are fairly obvious since they usually involve some kind of mis-interpretation of the data on the field tapes. If, for example, we are expecting (and the field tape headers agree) data recorded at 2 ms sample period, and in fact it has been recorded at 4 ms, then we'll only get half the number of samples we expected. If the computer gets confused about the actual format of the numbers on the tape, then the output will normally be very "un-seismic" looking. A scan error (where one multiplex scan of the channels gets out of "sync"), will generally mean that we'll have to omit that shot from any processing, but, we should look at the data as soon as possible to confirm this. The following display shows four examples of loaded data, using SEG-Y as an example. Note the (sometimes fairly subtle) errors when we read data in the wrong format. The abbreviation "FP" indicates floating-point data.

There are one or two other considerations that may be required by data from Vibroseis or other (more unusual) sources - we'll look at these briefly before moving on through the processing sequence.

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Vibroseis data & correlation


You should remember, from Chapter 2, that Vibroseis data is "shot" using a sweep of frequencies over maybe 12 to 16 seconds. As one might expect, the amplitude spectrum (over the whole time range) of the data shows the full range of frequencies present in the sweep - a good amplitude response. The phase spectrum however, is a disaster! Some of the very rapid changes in phase cannot be seen on this plot, and the whole spectrum "wrapsaround" many times between -180 and +180 degrees.

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This sweep is effectively superimposed on every reflection in our seismic section. If we could leave the amplitude spectrum alone (it's pretty good), but change the phase spectra to something more useful then maybe we would be able to "collapse" all of the sweep into a more concise source. We could, of course, transform the sweep into the frequency domain, modify its phase, and transform it back, but this would be quite costly given that a sweep may be (in some cases) more than 20 seconds long. There is, however, a time-domain technique that is just as useful!

Correlation
At this point we will digress slightly to refer back to the section on Convolution given in the previous Chapter.

This is the formula for Convolution given in the last Chapter. You should recall that Convolution in the time domain (remember the multiplying and adding) is equivalent to multiplying the amplitude spectra of x and h together, and adding their phase spectra.

Here's the formula for the process known as Correlation. The only change is the sign on the last term - we do not time-reverse the second trace before the cross-multiplication and addition common to both Convolution and Correlation.

What effect does this have on the outcome? Time-reversing a trace reverses all of its phase components (+X degrees become -X degrees, etc.), and since Convolution multiplies the amplitude spectra and adds the phase spectra, as we might expect Correlation still multiplies the amplitude spectra but subtracts the phase spectra. We will see later on how Correlation can be used to compare two traces, but, for now, let's concentrate on the Correlation of a trace with itself - an Autocorrelation.

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Autocorrelation
This diagram shows the Autocorrelation of a three-point "trace". The input (in black) is not time-reversed, and is placed alongside itself, shifted, cross-multiplied, and added to give the output trace. If, as shown here, the input trace consists of the samples "a", "b" and "c", then the output will be:-

ac ab+bc a2+b2+c2 ab+bc ac

Note two things from the above example. Firstly the centre value of the Autocorrelation, when the trace lines up with itself exactly (the zero-lag value) is always going to be equal to the sum of the squares of all of the amplitudes in the traces (this is regardless of the number of samples and shifts we use). Since these squares will always be positive, this will always be the largest number in the Autocorrelation. The output Autocorrelation is symmetrical. Once again this is independent of the number of samples, and the actual values. Sample "x" times sample "y" always equals sample "y" times sample "x". As the output is symmetrical, it must be zero phase. If we think about this in terms of the Fourier transform of the trace, we multiply the amplitude spectrum by itself, and subtract the phase spectrum from itself - giving (ALWAYS) a zero-phase output with the amplitude spectrum squared!

Here's the Autocorrelation of the Vibroseis sweep given above - I've had to plot this on a different time scale as the entire sweep collapses down to just a few milliseconds.

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The amplitude spectrum, after Autocorrelation, is the square of the input - the cut-offs at either end are a little sharper but the frequency range is still good.

The phase spectrum is now zero.

If we Autocorrelate the sweep with itself, we obtain a nice, short, zero-phase wavelet. If we correlate the sweep with all of the traces recorded using that sweep, then every sweep present in the trace (each reflection) will be collapsed down to the zero-phase wavelet shown above. We can then reduce the data length down to the typical lengths needed for the final seismic data - we no longer need the extra 12-16 seconds for the sweep.

Luckily, nowadays, almost all Vibroseis correlation is done in the field and the processing centre receives correlated data which looks much like any other seismic data. Note that, unlike some of the marine sources we have looked at, Vibroseis data (after correlation) is ZERO PHASE not minimum phase, and we may need to make some additional allowances in the processing to compensate for this. Vibroseis correlation is really a form of signature deconvolution, where we change the source shape (present on every reflector) into something more useful - more on this in a couple of pages time!

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Shot summing
Another technique common with Vibroseis data, and also with other less "energetic" sources, is the summation of a number of shots (at the same position) to produce one "field record". Once again, this is normally done in the field but it's worth considering as a possible processing step on older data.

Here's a small portion of seismic data from 4 shots at the same position. In an ideal situation, the signal (the reflections) from each shot will be in the identical positions in space and time, and any random noise will differ (as here) from shot to shot. Simply adding the data together (and dividing by 4) will enhance the signal and attenuate the random noise.

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The sum!

It can be shown (by some fairly messy Maths) that the root-mean-square amplitude of the random noise is reduced by one over the square-root of the number of summations - in this case a factor of 2 (4 summations). Before closing this section of processing that is normally done in the field, let's digress again to discuss the order of processes and so-called linear processes.

Linear Processes
A linear process is essentially one that can be reversed. Multiplying the samples in a trace by a constant (for example -1 to polarity reverse it) is reversible (and hence linear) unless the multiplying factor is zero (once we've killed a trace, we can't bring it back, or 1/0 = ?). Correlation is non-linear unless we keep one of the two inputs as well as the output, we can then reverse it. Convolution is the same, and both of these can suffer from the "1/0" syndrome shown above - if we completely filter-out a certain frequency or frequencies then we cannot bring them back.

Autocorrelation is non-linear since it looses all of the phase information in a trace. We'll look at some more examples of this later, but think about each process in terms of its linearity.

Processing order
One classic example of process ordering is the Correlation and summation mentioned above for Vibroseis data. If the sweeps used for a series of shots (in one position) were all identical, then we could sum the data and then correlate it. 189

In practice each Vibroseis truck has different physical characteristics and the sweep is recorded for every shot for every vibrator. As these can be quite different it's usually necessary to apply the Correlation before the summation.

This is another thing we have to think about in the processing sequence - just what order to apply things in!

Initial Statics
For the initial stages of processing, which may rely on the precise positions of shots and receivers, it is important to correct the data so that the timing corresponds to the time from the shot to the reflector and back to the surface again. For marine data this will normally be relatively simple, we'll simply need to apply a static correction (a fixed amount for each trace - normally for the whole survey!) to correct for any delays in the recording system.

This time of correction is often referred to as a Start-Of-Data (S.O.D) correction. Even on marine data it's often possible to check this from the data itself.

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This shows the "front-end" of a modern 240 channel field record, after some initial gain correction (which we'll discuss later). If you look very carefully, you should be able to see the very first arrivals of energy (travelling directly along the streamer), starting on the first trace at about 30 ms and moving diagonally across the spread (the timing lines are 100 ms apart).

Here's a straight line fitted to the above first arrivals. This changes by 233 ms between traces 1 and 15 on the record. Since the recording groups are 25 m apart, we can calculate the velocity of this direct energy as (14 x 25) 0.233 or almost exactly 1500 metres per second - the velocity of sound in water. We have been told on the Observers Logs that the near trace offset is 40 m, and we can time the arrival on the first trace (27 ms) to check this - 1500 x 0.027 = 40 (and a bit).

If the above timing did not correspond to the expected offset, and if we were sure that we were picking the very first arrival on each trace, then we could estimate the recording delay by this method. Any calculated delay should, of course, agree with the value for the delay in the Observers Logs or ancillary field information. As this delay is typically 120 - 140 ms, it should be obvious, and should probably be zero (no delay) on most modern data.

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Things get a lot messier when we are processing land data!

You should remember our previous discussions regarding the calculation of static corrections by picking the early refractions on land data. By picking the horizontal velocities apparent within the first-breaks, we are able to establish estimates of the shallow velocities and depths necessary for the initial static corrections.

Picking the first breaks is the geophysical equivalent of banging your head against a wall - it's nice when you stop! Unfortunately, despite some advances in automatic picking, almost all of the picking still has to be done (or at least checked and modified) by hand for EVERY trace on EVERY shot of EVERY line. (At times like these it's difficult to know who's in charge you or the computer!)

One of the nice things about picking the first breaks is that, provided you're reasonably consistent in what you pick, you don't have to pick exactly the same part of the "break" on every single trace. It's the time difference between successive traces that's important and any random errors in absolute timing should cancel out in the complex calculations done on the results.

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If we plot the picked values in their correct spatial position (using each shot and geophone position obtained from the navigation data supplied from the field) we can check the consistency of the slopes we are picking. This plot shows very clearly an area of low velocity corresponding to a buried channel of loose material near the surface - it is exactly this type of anomaly that this technique can identify.

Datums
A datum is defined in Sheriff's Encyclopedic Dictionary of Exploration Geophysics as a reference value to which other measurements are referred, or an arbitrary reference surface, reduction to which minimises local topographic and near-surface effects. For the initial stages of the processing we need to be sure that the times on our seismic records are referenced to the time at which the shot was fired. For marine data this simply means applying the S.O.D correction mentioned above - our "datum" in this case is now the shot and streamer position, a few metres below sea level (and hopefully pretty constant). We will make the final adjustments to (normally) sea level at the very end of the processing. For land data our shots and receivers can be at almost any depth. In this case it is common to use a floating datum - a smooth line that follows the general elevation trends along our line, but removes any rapid shot-to-shot and receiver-to-receiver variation along the line. Once again, the correction to final datum (which can be almost any fixed value for land data) will be done at the end.

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The floating datum may be above or below the actual shot or geophone position and the resultant statics may be positive (adding to the time and moving the data downwards) or negative (subtracting from the time and moving the data up towards time zero).

In this diagram, where the floating datum is below the shot datum (at either end) we need to take time off the events so a negative static correction is applied. It's positive when the floating datum is above the shot datum.

Signature Deconvolution (1)


Signature Deconvolution is normally applied early on in the processing to change the "source wavelet" present on every reflection in the data set into something more desirable. The name "deconvolution" should give a clue to one of the methods used - we need to find the convolution filter that will accomplish our desired transformation.

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If we can change the wavelet from something "long" into something "short" (and preferably minimum phase) as shown in the top of the above diagram, then the image of that wavelet on every reflection will be shortened (as show the bottom of the diagram), and individual reflections will be visible. We've already seen a similar process in the correlation of a Vibroseis sweep with the data - the sweep is reduced to the autocorrelation of the sweep (unfortunately zero-phase in this case).

This photograph of a familiar landscape has been modified in a similar way to the distortion that occurs when long source wavelets are used. Every dot in the picture has been replaced with a spread of values (in a pyramid shape). Click on the second button to "remove" the effects of the long "signature".

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Here's the time function, amplitude spectrum and phase spectrum of a typical marine sleeve-gun signature. It has a pretty good range of frequencies, but there are some undesirable secondary pulses after the main pulse caused by bubble oscillations as the air moves towards the sea surface. The signature looks to be (and is) fairly minimum phase, but the phase spectrum gets very inaccurate at the high frequencies because the amplitudes are so small.

Here's a slightly better wavelet. The frequency range has been limited to the frequencies required for our seismic data, and the phase spectrum has been computed to give an exact minimum-phase wavelet. If we could change the signature shown above into this, we would improve the resolution of the seismic data (individual reflections would be more visible). So, how do we do this?

Frequency Domain Signature Deconvolution


One way of doing this deconvolution is in the frequency domain:-

We take the spectra of the desired output wavelet ...

... and the spectra of the input wavelet ...

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... divide the two amplitude spectra (top bottom), and subtract the two phase spectra (top - bottom) to give the necessary filter in the frequency domain.

Although the spectra look a bit weird, this will perform the transform we require. To check the filter, we'll transform the final spectrum back into the time domain to give:-

This doesn't look too good does it! Why is it dominated by high frequencies? This is a common problem with frequency division. When the input amplitude spectrum and desired amplitude spectrum are about the same, then the output filter spectrum will be around "1". When the input spectrum gets very small (at the high frequencies) we could be dividing 0.001 by 0.000001 very small numbers, but the answer is 1000!

Before leaping to any conclusions, let's check this filter by applying it to the input signature - this shows the result. The output looks pretty close to the desired output (except for some "wobble" at the high frequencies where the division gets prone to error). So, is there any problem?

Well ..., it all works O.K. if the input trace is perfect - it has no noise! To see what happens when there

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is some noise, let's add a single "spike" of noise to the input trace and run the filter through it again:-

Input with spike "noise", convolve d with filter

give s

YES, THERE IS A PROBLEM! Any noise in the input trace (unrelated to the original source signature) will be overlaid with an image of the deconvolution filter (or operator). In this case the high frequency noise generated by this has wiped out much of the information on the preceding reflection!

Although frequency domain division is often used for final shaping of the spectra at the end of the processing sequence (and, of course, we will come back to this) we must always be aware that any frequency domain process can introduce unwanted anomalies in the time domain. To resolve this problem we go for an "approximate" filter of a fixed length - time domain deconvolution!

Signature Deconvolution (2)


Can we design a filter in the time domain, of a fixed length, that will perform the same kind of inverse filtering as that done in the frequency domain without the unwanted side effects? Since we use Convolution to filter in the time domain, this problem reduces to:-

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All we need to do is find out what "?" is!

We'll take the simplest possible example, a three-point input trace (with values "a", "b" and "c"), convolved with a three-point filter ("x", "y", "z") to give a three-point desired output ("p", "q", "r"). Cycle through the buttons in the following display to show the complete convolution process:-

Each individual multiply & add yields one equation, so we have 5 equations for 3 unknowns (x,y & z). We can (approximately) solve this using the Least-Squares technique outlined in Chapter 1. If you want to see the full derivation then click here, here's the final three equations arrange by variable:a2+b2+c2 x + ab+bc y +
2 2 2

ac
2 2 2

z = ap+bq+cr aq+br ar

ab+bc x + a +b +c y + ab+bc z = ac x + ab+bc y + a +b +c z =

The coefficients are highlighted in yellow, the right hand side in red. Note the symmetry of the coefficients. In mathematical terms this is a Hermitian Toeplitz matrix, which can be solved by an iterative process (the Wiener-Levinson algorithm) which is much faster than a conventional solution. Are the terms on the left hand side familiar? On page 4 of this Chapter we looked at correlation, in particular the autocorrelation of the sequence "a, b, c" came out as "ac, ab+bc, a2+b2+c2, ab+bc, ac" which are the coefficients in the above equation. The right hand side is the cross-correlation of the input with the desired out (a,b,c cross p,q,r). So the above equation (in matrix form) reduces to:-

Let's try some examples on the next page ...

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Signature Deconvolution (3)


O.K., here's the same example using a time-limited convolution filter to change our wavelet. Given, once again, that:-

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The input signature looked like this ...

... and the desired output looked like this ...

... then, after autocorrelating the input, and crosscorrelating the input and desired output, and solving all the equations, we get this convolution filter. This still, of necessity, has some high frequencies in it, but is only the length that we specify - the deconvolution process does "the best it can" to change the input to the desired output under these constraints. We'll apply it to the input to see how well it performs:-

The input signature convolved with the filter (or operator as it's sometimes called) gives us ...

... which compares very favourably with the desired output.

If we now apply this filter to the data with the erroneous "spike" in it, although the output has stretched the spike, the time-limiting of the filter has prevented it obscuring the reflector.

In calculating the operator to apply to our data, it may only be necessary to perform the actual deconvolution calculation once for a whole survey. If the signature is reasonably consistent from shot to shot (as in modern marine surveys), we may only have one "typical" signature recorded for the whole survey. We design an inverse operator (or deconvolution filter) on this signature to give a filter than can be applied (by convolution) to every single trace in the survey.
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It's obviously important to get this right! The most common errors associated with signature deconvolution are usually in the timing of the data. If we specify the start time of our desired output to be very different to the start time of the actual signature, then we will introduce an unwanted time shift in all of our data. (Remember that a time shift is simply a linear phase shift which the deconvolution will try to correct.) We also need to ensure that our filter length and start time are optimal for a given filter design - a filter with only positive time values, for example, can only shift the energy in each reflector "down" (to a later time).

Here's a particularly gruesome "signature", its autocorrelation, and its amplitude spectrum (on a dB scale):-

We can see from both the autocorrelation (it's nice and "sharp"), and the amplitude spectrum that, although the phase spectrum must be really awful, the signature contains a good range of frequencies and will respond well to signature deconvolution. We need to specify a "window" on the signature (usually called the design gate) over which the autocorrelation is computed and the deconvolution operates. What happens if we get this wrong? Here's the same "signature" again, but this time both the autocorrelation and spectrum are only computed over the part shaded blue:-

It should be obvious that, in this case, the errors introduced into the autocorrelation and spectrum will result in a "bad" signature deconvolution - the deconvolution operator will only work on the part of the signature that it can "see". The same criterion applies to the window used on the desired output, and the positioning of the input with the desired output (often referred to as the lag of the filter). We'll go on to look at some "live" examples now to show the problems.

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Signature Deconvolution (4)


Here's a "live" example of Signature Deconvolution! The top two displays show 300 ms of input "signature" and minimum-phase "desired output". The bottom displays show the
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filter (the centre of this display is time "zero" for the filter), and the filtered output. To start with, leave the design gates as they are and try changing the filter length to see how a shorter filter effects the actual output - the blue line on the lower right plot shows the desired output.

Try changing the input and output "windows" (the grey lines are every 50 ms), and see how this effects the output. The "windowed" button shows the filter applied to the selected input window, the "Full" button applies the filter to the whole input signature (including the bits that the design window doesn't reach!). Note that, like most processing systems, the design windows are specified in milliseconds, but are converted to the nearest 4 ms sample by the program. The filter length is assumed to be inclusive so that 8 ms (the smallest value you can specify) implies a "3-point" filter (0, 4 and 8 ms samples). In some cases (particularly where the input and desired output window lengths are very different) the filter cannot do anything useful - it doesn't have enough "length" to perform an optimum calculation.

There's a lot of computation going on behind the scenes in the above example. Although we can specify the filter length, we don't specify the time range of the filter relative to the input and output windows. This time shift (often known as the lag of the filter - the time at which it starts) is calculated by the program by trying all possible lags, and finding the "best" one. For example, when you specify a 51 point filter (200 ms), the program starts with the filter starting 25 samples before time zero and then computes 50 different filters (up to a start 25 samples after zero). The results of all of these trials are applied back to the input window, and the difference between this and the desired output is squared and summed. The position corresponding to the minimum error is finally selected and applied again to the input. This is known as an optimum lag filter. Depending of the computer you're running this on the computations listed above should happen almost instantly. When digital processing first started (in the 1960's) the cost of computing just one deconvolution operator was such that contractors could charge something like 0.50 ($0.80) for the computation of one operator. Allowing for inflation, one run of the example shown above (more than 50 operators are computed) should cost you about 250 ($400), and would probably take several hours to run! We very often use signature deconvolution just to modify the phase of a wavelet (not
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changing its amplitude spectrum). Any attempt to change the bandwidth of the signature (the overall frequency range) will lead us back into problems with in trying to enhance frequencies that simply are not present. It's very common just to design an operator that will convert the signature to minimum phase, and to apply this to all the data from that source. This is a common technique where the source is correlated Vibroseis data which, hopefully you'll remember, is zero phase. We'll come back to other forms of deconvolution and inverse filtering in due course, but for now we'll look at one more stage of the very initial processing, gain recovery!

Gain Recovery
Imagine a sphere of energy expanding from the seismic shot in all directions (click on the
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image to stop it!):-

All of the energy initially contained in the shot is spread out over a larger and larger area as time passes. This causes one of the possible losses of energy on a field record, and is generally referred to as spherical divergence. The surface area of a sphere (the area over which the energy is spread) is 4/3 pi times the radius squared (I had to go and look that up, which just shows how long ago I was in school!). We can calculate the radius as the distance the wavefront travels in a given time, which is equal to the time (T) multiplied by the average velocity over that time interval (V). We would expect, therefore, that the energy loss due to spherical divergence would be proportional to (VT)2.

Another cause of energy loss is known as inelastic attenuation. This is simply the energy lost due to the particles of earth through which the wave travels not being perfectly elastic - some of the energy is absorbed and permanently alters the position of the particles. Other more complex forms of energy loss (some of which are frequency dependent) include that caused by the friction of particles moving against each other, and losses at each interface through which the wave travels and is refracted. (Some of the energy in the original seismic P-wave is converted into an S-wave at each interface and not recorded - more on this later!) In all cases this generates a total loss of signal that decreases with time, which approximates to:-

where r is the radius of the wavefront and x is an absorption coefficient.

Accurate determination of the inverse of this energy loss, the gain function that we need to apply to the data is difficult. We've already seen that the radius of the expanding sphere depends on the velocity of the medium through which it has travelled, and, as yet, we have no idea what that velocity is. We could attempt to use the data itself to establish a function,
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but how do we (at this stage) distinguish between primary and multiple reflectors and random noise (all of which will have different decay functions)? The solution is (as so often in seismic processing) to make some educated(?) guesses, and choose the "best" result by looking at the data. Here's part of a single (marine) shot record with different gain functions applied. Flick through the various functions and choose the one that gives the best overall balance to the data at all times (time is shown in seconds):-

The left-hand scale of the upper plot is in dB, and this plot shows the function that was applied to the data. We tried some straightforward logarithmic scaling of 3, 6 and 9 dB per second, two functions based on time and velocity, and two exotic functions based on an approximation of the inelastic losses (the e0.002TV function), and a complex function which applies a different correction to every trace in the record depending on its offset (distance) from the shot. The example with 6dB/second is reasonable, as is the simple T2 curve. The examples using "V" (particularly the last one) are good, but, as I said above, we don't yet know the velocities for this shot (I cheated in this case!). The exponential function (e0.002TV) is obviously much too strong. Out of all of these, one of the simplest (and reasonable) functions is the T2 curve. This is simple to apply (multiply each sample by its time-squared) and has the advantage that we can remove it later in the sequence (when we have velocity information) and apply a better approximation. Removal of the function simply requires division by time-squared. Although a "dB/sec" type function causes less distortion within the data, in practice a T2 curve is generally sufficient to balance the data over the time range. If there is excessive noise at the bottom of the record (later time), we may need to stop applying the function at some time (keeping it constant from then on). This is best determined, once again, by testing. We should expect the gain function to be pretty constant over a given area (provided the source and recording conditions remain similar).

Trace editing
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Once upon a time it was necessary to examine every trace of every shot record on paper displays to establish the traces within the seismic line that were "bad". With improvements in data acquisition, and the increased used of advanced computer techniques, such detailed examination may not be necessary, but the processing geophysicist is wise to examine at least a smattering of records from each line. In some cases it may still be necessary to look at every shot, but at least this can now be done on a VDU. We need to find those traces that contain spikes or noise trains that are unrelated to the "true" seismic data, and to spot any traces with the incorrect polarity. In marine data, as the recording instruments move with the shot, we should find that any "bad" channels are consistent from shot-to-shot. For example, trace 163 may be badly connected and hence needs to be removed from every shot on a line. If we're lucky the report from the field may mention this! For land data the problem is more complex. Firstly a bad recording group will affect different traces on different shots. By examining the geometry we should be able to spot the logical progression of the bad trace through a sequence of records. 50 or 60 Hertz noise is common on land data recorded near power lines. We don't normally kill these traces, but use a notch filter to remove the offending frequency. This is simply a frequency domain filter that simply wipes out the appropriate frequency. Land data may also contain noise from the shot itself. This noise that travels through the very near surface is usually referred to as ground roll, and we'll remove this with other forms of filtering that we will discuss later. Some fairly sophisticated processing techniques can be used to "automatically" remove spikes and noise trains, but these need to be used with caution and careful testing. Any anomalous data samples in just one trace may go right through the processing, being spread in both time and space by the various filters we use. We also need to identify any complete shots that need to be removed. These may be due to some kind of "mis-fire" in the field (uncommon these days) or a mis-reading of the data from tape (such as the sync errors we mentioned earlier). Once again a brief look at a selection of data (and careful examination of the computer output "listing" from the

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process that read the tape) should spot this.

This shows the last second or so of part of a 240 trace marine record. We can see some "noisy" traces in the data set, particularly the forth trace from the left. This display was scaled so that each trace was displayed with its own "gain" - any trace to trace variations have been lost in the display.

Here's the same piece of record with the display now set to display the entire screen with one gain - the true trace-to-trace variations are now visible. It would now appear that the forth trace is "dead", or very weak. We will need to "kill" this trace in the processing to make sure that it is really zero - some process (like the display above) may enhance the noise in this trace. We can also see some heavy noise trains on the right hand side of the record. These almost certainly correspond to the position of depth controllers on the recording streamer. The controllers are obviously generating noise. We will probably leave these alone (unless they contain any large spikes) and try to attenuate them later in the processing.

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It's obvious from the above that one recurring problem is that of "dead" traces. Although a trace may appear dead in the original recording we need to tell the processing system to zero all of the samples in the trace, or omit that trace (or traces) completely from the subsequent processing stages. The usual convention is to "zero" or "kill" the bad trace within records, but to omit any completely bad records from the following stages.

One final problem is that of polarity. By convention most modern seismic data is recorded using the standard specified by the Society of Exploration Geophysicists - SEG polarity. This clearly states that the onset from the compression wave produced by an explosive source is represented by a negative number on tape (and throughout the processing) and displayed as a negative (white) trough. We need to spot those traces within our records that have reverse polarity with respect to all other traces and check the above convention. Polarity reversal simply requires the computer to multiply every sample in the trace by -1. Once again, the logical arrangement of reversed traces will follow that discussed above for land or marine data. Do make sure that you only reverse the trace once in the processing sequence. Doing it again will put it back to the reversed state!

Chapter 8 - Processing Flows (2)


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On with the processing sequence - some more of the early stages common to all types of processing.

Page 08.02 - Resample We generally record more data than we really need for "conventional" seismic processing. With the appropriate filtering, we can throw away some of the samples in time ... Page 08.03 - Spatial Resampling ... or in space (our seismic traces). Page 08.04 - Spatial Frequencies Although we have (somewhat rigorously) discussed frequencies in time, we now need to discuss frequencies in space. Page 08.05 - Spatial filtering In the same way as we can filter our temporal frequencies (in time) we can also filter our spatial frequencies. Page 08.06 - FK Filtering One type of spatial filtering - frequency (F) vs. wavenumber (K). Page 08.07 - Linear Tau-P filtering Another type of spatial filtering which transforms our traces from time and space into time and dip. Page 08.08 - FX Deconvolution Yet another type of spatial filtering, using deconvolution techniques on the complex numbers which make up the frequency spectra of a group of traces. Page 08.09 - Spatial Filtering Examples (1) Some examples of spatial filtering on real seismic data. Page 08.10 - Spatial Filtering Examples (2)

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Some more examples. Page 08.11 - Spatial interpolation Interpolating data in the space domain - adding more traces to our seismic record or regularising data with inconsistent spatial sampling. Page 08.12 - Sorting & Gathering Sorting, gathering and displaying our seismic data in a variety of different directions. Page 08.13 - Chapter 8 - Questions Some questions to end this Chapter.

Resample
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Those of you that can remember back as far as the start of Chapter 7 will realise that I am describing the processes in a different order to that shown in the processing sequence at the start of that Chapter. This is because 1) I can't remember that far back, and 2) the processing sequence is, of course, not fixed. Think of the processing sequence as a list of items selected from a menu of many - the actual processes used, and the order in which they are applied, will vary from survey to survey. Resample, or the reduction of the data to a smaller sample rate (higher sample interval) is a typical process that is normally applied near the start of the processing but not in any particular position. If we don't have any frequencies in the original data above the new Nyquist frequency then the process is reversible, and hence linear. You may remember our earlier discussions regarding sample rates and Nyquist frequencies the highest frequencies that can be recovered from sampled data. The actual mechanics of resampling (in time) is simple. We transform the trace into the frequency domain, remove any frequencies above the (new) Nyquist frequency, and then transform back to a fewer number of samples.

2:1 resample removes half the frequencies

Why resample seismic data? For conventional (deep) seismic data we rarely see good information at frequencies greater than 100 Hertz. The bandwidth of the seismic source is usually quite limited, and the absorption and other effects in the earth rapidly attenuate the higher frequencies. Most field data is acquired at a higher sample rate than that usually used in the processing. The cost of acquisition can be enormous and, if we find that we haven't recorded quite the frequency range we require, we would have to go back and re-shoot the data (anyone with a background in accountancy should go and lie down at this point). Having acquired the data at a low sample period (typically 2 ms), we normally find that, apart from the very shallowest data, we only have frequencies that can be handled by a
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higher sample period (typically 4 ms). We therefore resample the data to this new period as soon as possible in the sequence to avoid processing twice as many numbers. Where does it come in the sequence? Field signatures are normally recorded at the same sample rate as the data and, since the first stage of reading the data has to read all of the samples from the tape, we normally apply the signature deconvolution at the recorded sample rate. After that, subject to the removal of frequencies that will alias, we can more or less do it at any stage (the sooner the better).

Why don't we simply resample all data to (for example) 8 or 10 ms and reduce the volume even further? We need to keep the high frequencies to improve the resolution of the data. Here's a single trace showing two distinct peaks progressively filtered down to lower frequencies (higher sample periods). You'll notice that the two peaks become one at the lower frequencies (on the right):-

We can see the same effect when we progressively resample a trace, with the appropriate anti-alias filter applied (the buttons show the sample period in milliseconds):-

Similar considerations also apply in the other dimension - space. We'll go on to discuss these next.

Spatial Resampling
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As we are able to reduce the amount of data in the time domain, by resampling, can we do the same in the other dimension - space? The answer is yes, provided we take the same care with the frequency content, in this case, the spatial frequencies. Assume a burst of single frequency energy (sometimes called a monochromatic signal) emanating in all directions from the shot:-

Each geophone, or group of geophones, records a different part of the waveform as it moves through the recording spread. In the same way as we have to have enough time samples to successfully record a given frequency, we must have a sufficiently small group interval to record a particular spatial frequency.

This display shows a small piece of a seismic record with a single frequency dipping at 10 milliseconds per trace upwards towards the right. By convention, as time decreases as space (trace number) increases, we will refer to this as a negative dip. In other words, 10ms/trace dip. The buttons show the frequency (in Hertz) of the dipping signal, divided by 10 ("10" = 100 Hz). Increase the frequency, and look at the apparent dip of the event:-

You should notice the first problem when the signal reaches 50 Hz. The event, in this case, could be dipping in either direction. Above 50 Hz, the signal appears to dip in the other (positive) direction, and at 100 Hz the event appears flat.

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If we plot the apparent dip for each of the above frequencies, we get the plot shown here. A signal of 50 Hz can appear as either plus or minus 10 ms/trace, and higher frequencies appear at the wrong dip. The data has aliased in space in the same way as a signal trace can alias temporal frequencies when we use the wrong sample rate.

In order to understand the aliasing, we need to define a few terms:The dipping event has a horizontal velocity that is defined simply as the distance divided by the time. We'll be specifying our dips in milliseconds per trace, hence the multiplier of 1000. The wavelength, or distance between successive peaks of the waveform will be measured in distance units (metres?) and is defined here. Substituting the first equation in the second, we get wavelength in term of dip and frequency. The wavenumber, the equivalent of frequency in the time domain, is defined (normally) as "cycles per 1000 distance units" (i.e. cycles per km). Our final substitution relates wavenumber (cycles per km) to temporal frequency (Hz), dip (ms/trace) and trace interval (m).

Let's assume a trace interval of 25 metres in the above example, and compute the wavenumbers at each frequency using the above equations:Freq. App. Dip H.Vel. Wavelength Wavenumber 10 -10 -2500
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-250

-4

20 30 40 50 50 60 70 80 90 100

-10 -10 -10 -10 10 6.67 2.5 1.11 0

-2500 -2500 -2500 -2500 2500 3750 10000 22500 Inf.

-125 -83.33 -62.5 -50 50 62.5 83.33 125 250 Inf.

-8 -12 -16 -20 20 16 12 8 4 0

4.29 5833.33

We can now plot the temporal frequency (along the bottom) against the wavenumber. This clearly shows the aliasing at 50 Hz, and the "folding-back" of the higher wavenumbers into the recordable range. If our group interval is 25 metres, then the maximum wavenumber we can record is (just like the time domain Nyquist frequency) 500/25 or 20 cycles per kilometre. Here's an attempt to show the maximum dips it's possible to record, which (in ms/trace) is quite simply 500/(the temporal frequency). We can record almost any dip, but only at the lower (temporal) frequencies. The dip in milliseconds per trace will translate into higher "true" dips as the trace interval is reduced. In other words, if we want to record high spatial and temporal frequencies we need to use a small group interval.

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Spatial Frequencies
We can analyse spatial frequencies in the same way as we analyse temporal frequencies by using the Fourier Transform. (I'll try to use the term "frequency" when referring to frequencies in time (Hz), and "spatial frequencies" or "wavenumbers" when referring to those in space.) All recording systems, using as they do arrays of geophones or hydrophones, introduce some form of spatial filtering in the recorded signal. Here's a typical array of geophones (11 in all) spaced 2 metres apart to cover 80% of the 25 metres between one geophone "station" and the next:-

These geophones would typically be arranged "in-line" with the shot, so that the energy from the shot (and reflections) would be arriving from either the left or right edge of the picture. This energy will arrive at slightly different times at each 'phone, and the results from all of the receivers will be combined together in the recording truck. This summation introduces some form of spatial filtering to the data. If we compute the Fourier transform of this array (using wavenumbers instead of frequencies, and distances instead of time) we can predict the spatial frequency response of this array:-

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The vertical scale shows the amplitude of the recorded signal (as usual in decibels), and the horizontal scale now shows spatial frequency (or wavenumbers) in cycles per kilometre. We should recognise (once again) a sync type function, common to any equally spaced, equal set of numbers. The lower spatial frequencies, up to about 30 cycles per kilometre (in both directions) will be recorded with no attenuation, but frequencies above this will be attenuated by more than 10 dB. This prevents the recording of very high wavenumbers (or dips) that will spatially alias across the shot record. Unfortunately, this array only fully attenuates these higher frequencies for energy arriving from the direction of the shot (along the line of geophones). Most of the energy will, of course, come this way, but some (possibly reflected from shallow structures "off" the seismic line) may arrive from other directions. What's the directional response of this array? The following plot shows wavenumbers on a circular axis coming from the centre of the plot, and moving around the circles to a different "direction", gives the response in that direction:-

If you look along the "East-West" line across the centre of the plot (through the numbers) you will see the same wavenumber response as that shown in the plot above - red represents high values, down through yellow, green and blue for the low values. Now look along a line from the "South-West" to the "North-East". Any energy arriving from these directions will not be as greatly attenuated as that along the centre line. Data from top-to-bottom (at right angles to the array) will arrive at all geophones at the same time, and not be attenuated at all. Button "2" shows how we can introduce some directivity into the array by adding another string of geophones (with the same spacing) just two metres away from (and parallel to) the original string. The other buttons show the response for spacings of 4 and 8 metres.

It's also possible to design shot arrays to improve directivity, you'll remember from Chapter 2 the discussion on arrays of air guns (of different sizes) used for most modern marine surveys. I was able to compute the frequency / directivity response of one such array by computing the Fourier Transform of the appropriate wavenumbers and then converting these to temporal frequency by using the equation "wavenumber = 1000 x
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frequency velocity". This was derived from the equations on the previous page, and, for marine data, we can use a water velocity of about 1500 m/s.

This is one of the pretty pictures from Chapter 2, showing the response from below a typical marine source array. If you draw a line through the centre of the red "peaks" (at right angles to the grey line, and around the outside of the hemisphere), you should be able to visualise a similar sync function to those shown above. This response is complicated by the fact that the air guns are not all of the same size.

Once again, given the high cost of acquisition, it may be advisable to record more spatial data than is strictly necessary for an initial seismic section. We can spatially resample our seismic data in many ways, the most common being by combining pairs of traces from each shot and so reducing the number of traces per shot by a factor of two. This trace mixing can be performed after applying time-shifts to each of the traces. This slant-stack will bias the mix towards enhancing certain "dips" in the data and is sometimes known as beam-steering. There is a slight problem associated with trace mixing, caused by the fact that the two traces we are summing together are at different offsets from the shot. We will address this problem during our discussions on seismic velocities. How do we decide how much data to process? We could do some fancy calculations involving dips and wavenumbers, or we could (more usefully) see what sort of parameters gave good results in this (or a similar) area before. If all else fails we may need to process a small part of line with different spatial sampling to establish the cost / quality relationship within our data.

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An old (low fold) example of marine data processed with different combinations of trace & shot summation and omission. Although the finer spatial sampling (without summing) looks slightly better, the section on the extreme right only contains of the data of that on the extreme left. Nowadays, the cost of processing is such that we routinely process all of the data that was shot.

The arrays of shots and geophones, and any trace mixing we do in the processing, introduce some form of spatial filtering on our data. We can also apply other forms of spatial filtering as part of our data enhancement techniques. We'll go on to discuss these next.

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Spatial filtering
In order to understand the effects of various forms of spatial filtering, we need to look at a 2-dimensional spectra of both the temporal and spatial frequencies within a seismic record. There is a great deal of equality between the time/frequency domains and the space/wavenumber domains. Consider a simple "triangular" filter, with sample values 1,2,3,2,1. In the time domain it (and its amplitude spectra) look like this:-

The time samples (every 4 ms apart) transform into a "sync-like" function in the frequency domain. Now consider the same function in space:-

Apart from the scales, and the fact that in space we consider both negative and positive wavenumbers, the two plots are identical.

In order to examine both the temporal and spatial frequencies at the same time, a type of analysis, known as a FK analysis (F = temporal frequency, K =spatial frequency or wavenumber), is used throughout the processing to design some types of spatial filters (usually FK filters).
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The transformation of a block of traces from time and space into "F" and "K" is mathematically simple (or relatively so!), but time consuming. Each trace is Fourier Transformed from time to frequency, and then every frequency component (a complex term) is Fourier Transformed across all of the traces to give an FK spectrum.

This display shows a couple of seconds of a (believe it or not!) synthetic seismic record which contains just one frequency dipping from left to right at a constant dip. If we look down one trace in this display, we (and the computed amplitude spectra) will see just one frequency. If we look across the traces (for example, along the timing line) we will see an arrangement of peaks and troughs that again represent just one (spatial) frequency). Here's the FK spectrum of the record above. The vertical scale goes from 0 to 125 Hz (our data is recorded at 4 ms sample period). The horizontal scale goes from -20 to +20 cycles per kilometre (our traces are 25 m apart). The colours represent amplitude, with all of the data from the above record compressed in the single tiny "spike" shown in yellow. Since this plot attempts to show a 3D surface in just 2D, you'll have to imagine that the
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yellow spike comes out of the screen towards you!

If we were to remove the spike from the FK spectrum (just by editing it out), when we transformed back into time & space, we would have dead traces! Note that we don't normally look at the phase part of the FK spectrum (although it is, of course, computed). We generally assume that any FK editing we do will leave the (very complex) phases unchanged. Let's go on to look at some more FK examples.

FK Filtering
Yet another synthetic record, this time looking a little more complicated. In fact, this just consists of two different temporal frequencies (two cosine waves) dipping with two different dips, added together.
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As we might hope, the FK spectrum shows both frequenci es and dips as separate points in the FK spectrum If we "surgically" remove the area inside the red circle in the above transform, and then transform back to the time/space domains, we'll totally remove the cosine wave with positive dip (down to the right). All that we are left with is the slightly higher (temporal) frequency event with negative dip (up towards the right). Remember that our dip convention of increasing time with increasing distance means that on this "record" I have assumed that distance increases to the right.

A slightly more reasonable synthetic! We have just one event, with a limited range of frequencies, and one dip. (I built this by adding a spike to all traces at one time, filtering (convolving) it with a single bandpass filter, and then applied statics to add the dip.)

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The FK analysis also shows a dip! Remember our equation:-

So a constant dip will give a "dipping" event in the FK space - in fact all events on the section with this frequency content and this dip will appear in this thin "slab" in FK space. You can clearly see the range of temporal frequencies present in my filter "wavelet".

For a given trace interval, we can plot lines of constant dip on our FK analysis (this is sometimes done for you). Here's a set of dips from -20 to +20 milliseconds per trace when the trace interval is 25 metres.

Any dips of more than 4 milliseconds (one time sample) per trace will alias in wavenumber. This plot attempts to show some of the potential aliasing (I included it because it looked pretty). If you follow the lowest line on the right (+20ms / trace dip) from the origin (centre), you'll notice that it "reflects" or aliases twice in the range of frequencies shown (from 0 to 125 Hertz).

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One last synthetic example - three dipping events with the FK analysis shown below it. The steepest event (with the widest frequency range) aliases rather nicely. The plot below shows the results of an inverse transform after editing out the two dips closest to zero (the two events that cross on the timing line). Note that the transform does not work correctly at the ends - the FFT's assume that the data is repeating in space and we have truncated the transform to just 64 traces. We could now subtract the traces below from the section on the right and (more or less) remove the aliased high dip.

FK filtering can be used in other ways to enhance the coherent signal within a shot record. One common way is to compute the transform, raise it to some power (typically 1.1 to 2) and transform back - this enhances any coherent dipping data. We can use the FK spectrum to limit both the temporal and spatial frequencies, any editing usually being done by marking part of the spectrum for removal, and transforming back into our normal seismic record. We can use FK filtering at the end of the processing sequence to remove other sorts of noise
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(particularly diffracted noise), and we'll come back to it again when we talk about multiple attenuation. For now, let's discuss some other forms of "dip" filtering.

Linear Tau-P filtering


When we transform data into the FK domain, dipping events (in time/space) become dipping events (in frequency/wavenumber). The Tau-P transform is yet another way of looking at our data that transforms dips into (effectively) single points. We can then edit the data in this "dip" domain and transform back into the time domain.

Here's a problem of the type normally encountered in IQ tests and the like. Given the total prices (in whatever currency you like) of various rows and columns, can you fill in the missing ones? (I won't insult your intelligence by supplying the answer to this one!)

This is simply a graphical representation of 4 simultaneous equations for three unknowns. The equations are all internally consistent, so there is only one possible answer. If the "11" at the bottom of the diagram was changed to something else ("12" for example), the equations would be internally inconsistent, and we'd have to resort to a "least-squares" solution to get an approximate answer.
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We get a similar problem if we sum seismic traces along lines of constant dip. Here, for example, is a set of three samples from three seismic traces summed for a particular dip (-2 samples per trace). The summations of the sample values are shown as equations on the left, and, by clicking on the buttons, you can see the summation for other dips. From the above we have fifteen different equations (covering 5 different dips) for 9 unknowns. If we compute (as usual) a least-squares solution to these equations, we end up with the following 9 equations to solve:-

Solving this (computers have their uses!) gives the answers:- a=6, b=-1, c=1, d=-9, e=-4, f=3, g=7, h=-8 & i=1 - which are the numbers that I started with! The results of summing along the original lines of "dip" gives us some estimate of the coherent data along that dip. The ability to reconstruct the original data from these "dipstacks" enables us to transform to and from this "dip" domain. We define the slope, or dip, of the line along which the summation is performed as "p", and the intercept time (the time where this dip crosses some reference point) as "Tau". For this reason, this type of transform (summing along linear "dips") is usually referred to as the linear Tau-P transform.

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As usual, a synthetic record to demonstrate! This "field record" (one shot) has three dipping events extending from the low offsets (on the left) towards the high offsets (on the right). The traces are 25m apart and the timing lines are 500 ms apart. Our "events" can be described as follows:Horizontal Velocity Even ms/trac Trace Int. = t e 25m A -10 = 25/0.01 2500 0 B -4 = 25/0.00 6250 4 C 2 25/0.00 = 1250 2 0 Dip

Slowness (s/km) = -0.4 1000/2500 = 1000/6250 0.1 6 1000/1250 = 0.0 0 8

The "horizontal velocity" shown above is simply the velocity at which the "event" moves across the recording spread, the trace interval divided by the dip. Slowness (a term often used in Tau-P transforms) is simply the reciprocal of this velocity (usually measured in seconds per kilometre). Here's the linear Tau-P transform of the above record. The colours in the background correspond to the dips of the three coloured events shown above. The time of these "bow-ties" is the time at zero-offset (roughly three traces to the left of the record shown above - the near trace offset is about 75m). I have used about three times as many traces in the transform as are present in the original record. This is a good idea, as it provides more statistics for the inverse transform.

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We now have a display that shows time (vertically) against dip (horizontally). Each of our events has collapsed (more or less) into a small "spot" on the Tau-P transform, and are easily separable in this domain. In order to keep the editing in this domain simple (in practice we can "cut-out" any areas we wish), I simply transformed back into the time domain using only the negative dips in the above transform (I removed everything to the right of the blue/green area - 0 dip). I haven't bothered to colour this display, but it should be obvious that I have (more or less) removed the one event (C) that had positive dip ("down" towards the right). There are a few remnants of this event left on the end traces. This "edge-effect" is common in all types of spatial filtering the filter has no data beyond this to continue its computations. In order to minimise some of the errors involved in Tau-P filtering we often transform back that which we wish to remove (for example, the two negative dipping events shown above) and then subtract this from the original record. Any "smoothing" inherent in the transforms is then less obvious. We will look at some real examples of Tau-P filtering (and some other techniques in the Tau-P domain) in a couple of pages time. We will also come back to another form of Tau-P filtering when we look at multiple removal. For now, however, we'll look at yet another example of spatial filtering - FX Deconvolution!

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FX Deconvolution
FX Deconvolution is another spatial filtering process that enhances coherent data (regardless of dip) across a group of traces. Like many of the techniques used in seismic processing, it's reasonably simple to describe, but complicated to implement - not the sort of calculation that you would do without a computer!

We'll start with a formal definition of FX Deconvolution:If we transform seismic data from time(t) and distance(x) to frequency (f) and distance (x), a time slice is converted into a frequency slice, each sample in the transformed data being a complex number with both real and imaginary components. Events with similar dips appear as a sinusoidal complex signal (cos wt + i sin wt) along a given frequency slice, and are therefore predictable. A complex (deconvolution) prediction filter is used to predict the signal one trace ahead, across the frequency slice. Any difference between the predicted waveform and the actual one can be classified as noise, and removed. The computed prediction filter is run in one direction across the traces, and then run again in the opposite direction. The resulting predictions are averaged, in order to reduce prediction errors.

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Here's a simple example of five traces showing three events, each with a constant dip across the five traces.

This plot shows the real component of the Fourier Transform of each of the traces in the "section" above. The horizontal scale is now frequency, and the vertical scale is "space" (the original trace numbers). Predictable trends are clearly visible in this "frequency-space" domain related to the dipping events in the original "timespace" domain. The same plot again, this time showing the imaginary component of the Fourier Transform. Once again, a trend is clearly visible. (These two plots should really be plotted as complex numbers on just one plot. This requires a four-dimensional plot, however, something beyond my drawing capabilities!)

In practice, we normally select a series of overlapping windows in both time and space on our original seismic data, and the process works on each of these windows in turn. The data is transformed (trace by trace) into the frequency domain. For each frequency in the transforms, an optimum deconvolution operator is designed that will "predict" the next trace in the sequence. This operator is designed in the same way as that used in signature deconvolution:-

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In this case, however, every term in the above equation is a complex number, and the solution is a complex filter! Each trace is then "predicted" based on the traces before and after it (the filter is designed and applied in both directions) and the output spectrum is based on the averaging of these results. The resultant filtered spectrum is transformed back into the time domain to give our output trace. Typically a group of 10 or so traces is used at one time, with a filter of about 5 traces in length. Overlapping time windows (1000 ms gates are typical) are used to keep the dips within one gate fairly constant. FX deconvolution is a very robust process - even widely varying parameter choices will produce similar results. We'll look at some of these results (together with the other types of spatial filtering) on the next page.

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Spatial Filtering Examples (1)


In order to demonstrate some of the spatial filtering techniques we've discussed, here's a high resolution land shot record that we saw earlier. I've applied some initial corrections to the data (including statics), and the panel on the right shows the part of the data highlighted in (very light) red.

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The offsets in the above section increment by 25 m, giving a spatial range of (500/25) 20 cycles per kilometre. Here then is the FK analysis of the above shot, temporal frequencies from bottom to top, and spatial frequencies across the top. The amplitude scale is in dB, from white through blue to yellow and red. You can see the (temporal) band limited nature of this data (from about 10 to 90 Hz), some strong dips (probably the first breaks) and even some spatial aliasing (the yellow line ending at the "W" of "Wavenumber".

The same FK analysis after a heavy "dip" or "fan" filter. We have removed all events with dips in excess of 2.6 ms per trace (a horizontal velocity of 25/0.0026 = 9615 m/s).

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Here's what the above filter looks like in three dimensions - a wedge shaped filter (these filters are sometimes called "pieslices") with sharp edges. In practice we would normally smooth the edges a little to avoid sharp changes in the frequency domain - these introduce long anomalies in the time domain.

The inverse transform of the filtered FK spectrum. We have removed all of the high dips (especially the ground roll), but the data now has a slightly "wormy" appearance (it lacks spatial detail) indicating that we've probably overdone the spatial filtering.

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One common way of reducing the effects of a heavy FK filter is to "mix-back" some of the original (unfiltered) data with the output. We are generally allowed to make this mix-back time and space variant, which allows us to modify the filter response for different parts of the record. We determine this, as usual, by testing! We can also look at the time domain response of our FK filter (the wedge shown above). Imagine this filter convolved (in both directions - remember all those multiplies and adds?) with our original seismic record. The result would be the same as our transform-wedge filtertransform sequence shown above. Many computer based graphic programs allow the 2-dimensional filter of images some even provide FK transforms!

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Another copy of our FK analysis, this time we have raised each point in the FK spectrum to its "1.3" power. This FK power exponent enhances the high values in the spectrum (the consistent dips) at the expense of the lower values. For example, 21.3 equals about 2.46 while 41.3 equals about 6.06, increasing the difference from 2:1 to about 2.46:1.

Once again, the result of the inverse transform. A "light" coherency enhancement just slightly enhancing all the coherent data (including the ground roll). Once again, a fairly robust process that will provide some data enhancement.

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Spatial Filtering Examples (2)

For reference, I've reproduced the picture from the top of the previous picture, showing the input to all of our filtering examples.

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Once again (for reference) the FK spectrum of the above data. We could (usually by "drawing" on the computer screen) mark all kinds of shapes on the FK spectrum for zones of "accept" or "reject". Being lazy, I'll use my "fan" filter again, but this time in reverse.

So now I'm removing all of the low dips, and keeping just the data with dips above 2.6 ms/trace. Note that some parts of the aliased data mentioned earlier (the reddish line moving upwards from the "c" of "Frequency") will be removed at the higher frequencies.

The transformed back high dip section. In theory we could add this to the low dip section from the previous page and reproduce our original record. We could also subtract this
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record from our original record to remove the high dips.

Now for a Tau-P transform of the record shown at the top of this page (time vs. space to time vs. dip). You can see (as we would expect) a lot of events "lining-up" around zero dip, and also the steep dips of the first breaks and the ground roll (which is spatially aliased).

A simple edit in the Tau-P domain! I've removed any data with dips greater than 5 ms per trace (less severe than the FK example on the previous page). We could, of course, make these edits in Tau-P space as complicated as we like picking parts of the data that we wish to retain. This type of careful editing can also be done on FK transforms - we can select polygons of data to pass or reject.

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The transform back from the (now limited) Tau-P dataset shows just the low dips. Although not as severe as the FK example shown on the previous page, we might still want to mixback some of the original data into this output to lessen its effects. Finally, an example using FX Deconvolution. The design and filtering was done using a 5 point (complex) filter on sets of 10 traces across the record. I used 250 ms time windows (with a 25 ms overlap). As usual, a "clean" data enhancement that doesn't overcook things!

We can normally be fairly conservative in our choice of filtering on pre-stack seismic data. The stacking process itself (when we sum maybe 120 individual traces together) is an excellent spatial filter that will remove much of the noise in the original field data.
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We may need to use fairly heavy filtering techniques, however, if we intend to extract some information from the unstacked data - we'll come back to this later. Once we've avoided any problems of spatial aliasing, with the application of the appropriate spatial filter, we may want to reduce the total volume of data by trace summing (or shot summing) or alternate trace (or shot) processing. We may also (for numerous reasons) wish to improve the (apparent) spatial sampling by inserting more data into our records - we'll look at this next.

Spatial interpolation
We can interpolate data spatially in much the same we as we resample data in the time domain:-

A few chapters back, we saw that, subject to aliasing considerations, we could "fill-in" the missing values between time samples by the use of "sync" functions. We can use similar techniques in the spatial domain to interpolate traces in our seismic data. We can resample in both time and space by using a modified FK transform.

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Here's the FK transform from the last couple of pages, "padded-out" to twice the frequency in both time and space. If our original data were at 4 ms sample period, and 25 m trace spacing, we could fill all of the areas outside the original FK spectrum with zeroes, and transform back. We'd now have traces with a 2 ms sample period, and 12.5 m trace spacing. This "FK-interpolation" (which is normally only done in the spatial domain the lower half of this diagram) doesn't introduce any new data, it simply interpolates (or averages) the existing data together to yield the new traces. Doing it in the FK domain, however, effectively interpolates along every dip present in the data.

Why should we need to interpolate data? Some processes perform best when the input data is evenly sampled in both space and time. The temporal sample period is normally fixed, so why isn't the spatial? One possible problem occurs if the data is shot with irregular geophone spacing:-

This diagram shows a marine acquisition system popular at one time, that is still used on rare occasions. The "mini-streamer", at the front of the main streamer, has one-half of the group interval of the main streamer. This is designed to give better spatial sampling of the shallow seismic data recorded by the groups nearest the shot. For conventional processing, it's common to simply omit every other channel from the mini-streamer, giving a constant "conventional" seismic record. In some cases, however, we may want to retain as much spatial resolution as possible by interpolating the main streamer data to the finer trace interval, and processing twice as much data as the "conventional" approach.

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Another problem with spatial sampling occurs in 3D surveys and 2D crooked line surveys. Here's a typical gather of all of the traces within one "bin" of a crooked line (or 3D) survey. The traces are arranged in offset order, and many are obviously missing. In order to provide a "well-ordered" dataset for subsequent processing stages, we'll interpolate these missing traces using the Tau-P transform that we discussed earlier.

The linear Tau-P transform of the above data (the horizontal scale is now dip) shows mostly zero dip (horizontal events). The transform uses the correct offsets in computing the dip response, effectively ignoring the missing traces.

Now we transform back into time/space, but asking for a set of regularly spaced offsets covering the range of our original data. Although the results look a little "wormy", we haven't created any new data by this technique - simply spread the existing data out over a regular set of offsets.

We can (and do) apply spatial filtering and resampling/interpolation using many different trace orders. Having decided on exactly which traces we are going to process, we now need to provide the necessary geometry information to the computer to enable us to address our
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traces in any number of different directions.

Just as early cave dwellers became gatherers and hunters, it's time for us to become gatherers and sorters!

Sorting & Gathering


As we have said so many times before, the position of every seismic trace within our survey must be entered into the computer at an early stage of the processing. This "geometry" may be simple (for example, regular 2D marine data), or extremely complex (a land 3D survey shot over sand dunes). For the more complex 2D and 3D surveys, it may be necessary to plot numerous statistics to check that the initial geometry is correct.

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Once all of the geometric information has been input and checked, it may be stored in a separate database, or in the headers of each seismic trace (or both). This information allows us to sort, gather and view the data in many different "directions" through the seismic dataset.

This diagram shows a few shots in the middle of a regular 2D seismic line, together with all of the possible ray paths for one reflector. Note that I have only shown 12 receiver channels for each shot (240 got a bit messy!), and that I have staggered the shots vertically (for marine data these would all overlap). Remember from previous Chapters, that if the shotpoint interval is an exact multiple of one-half of the group interval, then we can compute:CMPINT = GINT / 2 NFOLD = ( NCHAN * GINT ) / (2 * SPINT ) No. CMPs = ( NCHAN / NFOLD ) * ( No. Sps - 1 ) + NCHAN

Anything more complicated (or irregular) than this requires a computer!

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We're now looking at all of the ray paths recorded by one shot. This normally corresponds to the initial "sort" of our data we process shot records through the initial stages of the processing. One shot will provide a short "slice" of the sub-surface geology, but distorted by the fact that each successive trace comes from a different receiver group offset by a different distance from the shot. We will address these distortions in the next Chapter when we examine velocities. If we take every N'th shot along our line (where N is the CMP fold), we will obtain a continuous representation of the geology along the line (subject to the distortions mentioned above). This type of section, often referred as a 100% section, can be used for QC purposes, but has now generally been superseded by an initial CMP/CDP stack of the data.

The first three seconds of a modern 240 trace marine shot record. If our trace numbers increase from left to right, it should be obvious that the shot is positioned off of trace (or channel) 240. The data has been processed through the initial stages of editing, gain recovery and SOD statics.

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All of the ray paths recorded by receivers that are at a constant offset from each shot - a common offset gather. For regular (marine) data this will also correspond to a "common channel gather", all channels 240 for example. For land or 3D data we may not actually have a consistent range of offsets. In these cases a "binning" technique is used, taking all traces with, for example, an offset of 100m plus or minus 25m. When, as in this case, we gather together the traces from the recording channels nearest to the shot, we usually refer to the gather as a near trace gather. This NTG section provides another continuous coverage (or 100%) section of the sub-surface without the offset distortions mentioned above.

The near trace gather for many shots from our 2D marine line. We can see that, in this case, the water is sufficiently deep to provide a clear "water-bottom" reflection at about 200ms of two-way time. We can also see the first-order multiple of this reflector at twice this time (the energy bounces twice in the water layer). Deeper in the section we get our first hint of the geology with some evidence of continuous reflectors.

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Another common offset section, this time from channel 200 (40 channels offset from the shot). The increased offset adds some time to all of our reflections so that the water-bottom reflector now appears at about 500 ms. This section also provides a continuous picture of the geology, and is one of 80 sections (this line has a CDP fold of 80) that cover the same sub-surface.

All of the ray paths recorded at one (surface) receiver position. Not of great importance for marine data, but, on land, all of these traces will contain information about the response of this particular geophone group (and any static corrections). On the right are the traces from one receiver position on our marine line.

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Probably the most important gathering order! All of the traces from one Common Mid-Point (CMP). These traces contain (distorted by offset) information from the same sub-surface point for horizontal reflectors. Often referred to as a Common Depth Point (CDP), this is really incorrect (as we will see) for dipping events. In common with the rest of the industry, I will use the terms interchangeably (I probably have already)!

If our data processing system stores all of our data on disc, then we can select and display data from any dataset using any of these (or other) criteria. If the data is stored on tape it may be necessary to physically sort the data into the order required for any subsequent stages of processing. It's quite common to sort the data several times during a processing sequence. Data in the common offset domain (each gather representing one view of the sub-surface) responds well to some forms of spatial filtering, and it is necessary to have data in this order for some of the following stages. Data in CDP order is necessary for our final stack where, after making the necessary corrections of the offset distortion, we will sum all of the traces from one CDP together. These CDP stacked traces will be displayed side-by-side to provide our final stack section.

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Chapter 9 - Processing Flows (3)


The processing sequence continues - NMO, velocities and DMO.

Page 09.02 - Dynamic corrections Why and how our seismic reflections are curved on our CDP gathers - NMO. Page 09.03 - NMO and Velocities How the NMO is related (albeit only just) to the true velocities of sound within the earth ... Page 09.04 - Seismic Velocities

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... and what (if anything) these "seismic velocities" might mean. Page 09.05 - Picking Velocities (1) Some of the methods used to estimate the velocities required to "flatten" our seismic events. Page 09.06 - Picking Velocities (2) More velocity picking (something you'll just have to get used to!). Page 09.07 - Velocity problems Possible problems, including primary and multiple reflectors. Page 09.08 - Velocity QC How we can check the consistency of our velocity picking .. Page 09.09 - Other velocity analyses and QC ... and how this QC extends to 3D data and other types of velocity analysis. Page 09.10 - DMO (1) Dip Moveout corrections - required when events are dipping. Page 09.11 - DMO (2) More on DMO, which continues onto ... Page 09.12 - DMO (3) ... yet even more on DMO! Page 09.13 - Chapter 9 - Questions Finally, the questions to end this Chapter.

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Dynamic corrections
For all sorts of reasons, the ideal seismic section would consist of a series of traces shot with the shot and receiver in the same position. This would produce a true zero-offset or normal-incidence section where, for a horizontal reflector, the incident rays would be at right angles. In practical terms, placing the recording instruments on top of the shot is not a viable proposition!

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So, in the real world, our shot and receiver are always some distance (or offset) apart, and our reflections will include some distortion due to the increased travel-time of the raypath to the longer offsets. We can determine the magnitude of the correction required by using the Pythagorean theorem on the triangle highlighted in yellow.

The three sides of our triangle are:-

Across the top of the triangle.

The vertical distance from the centre of the shot and receiver to the horizon.

The hypotenuse, or the distorted distance due to the offset.

Putting these together we get:

or

Which, solving for TX gives us:

An equation that gives us the time at offset "X" (TX) as a function of the zero-offset time (TV) and the velocity (V). We often express the difference between this time and the zero offset time:-

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If we plot the TX function shown above, it looks like this. Each reflection in our CDP gather appears as a hyperbola. To correct for this distortion we need to move the sample at time TX up to time T0 so that each reflector is horizontal on our CDP.

The velocities determined from these hyperbolas are some kind of average velocity through all of the layers down to the horizon we're considering. The actual relationship between this velocity and the true interval velocities (the velocities in each rock layer) is complex, and we'll be looking at this over the next few pages. Because the rock velocities generally increase with depth (more pressure = more compaction = higher velocities), we would expect our velocity function (a plot of velocity vs. time) to also increase. Here's a typical velocity function from somewhere in the middle of the North Sea. As this is marine data, we can safely assume that the function will start off at the velocity of water (about 1500 m/s), and remain constant throughout the water layer. Beyond this the velocities of other rocks effect this "average", and the function gradually increases. Note the sharp "break" at about 2 seconds where we reach the base of the Tertiary rocks in this area. Below this reflector the individual velocities suddenly get much higher, and the average increases fairly rapidly. This "function" applies to just one position on our seismic line, and we must use the data itself to determine the suite of velocity functions that cover the whole line. Much more on this later!

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Here's a plot constructed from the above velocity function. I have created a "reflection" every 100 ms down the record, and computed the arrival times for each offset out to 6 km from the shot. The shallowest events are grossly distorted, with the "curved" distortion decreasing as we move further down the record. This is simply because the difference between the zero-offset and far-offset times decrease as we move deeper into the earth. The correction changes with time (hence sometimes called a dynamic correction). This hyperbolic distortion of events is known as moveout or normal moveout (NMO) and we'll discuss this in some detail over the next few pages

NMO and Velocities

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Here's the velocity function from the previous page once again, this time with a synthetic record constructed from the move-out hyperbolas computed from the function every 100 ms. I've put a wideband zero-phase wavelet on each synthetic "event".

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This is the same record processed through Normal Moveout Correction (sometimes also known just as NMO). This process, using the velocity function shown above, calculates the arrival time of the NMO hyperbola at every time for every offset. It then shifts each sample back to the true "zero-offset" time. There are obviously some problems with the shallow data. As the NMO curves overlap and cross-over in this region, the computer is trying to stretch the data back to the correct time. At some point this amount of stretch becomes infinite, and the trace is zeroed above this point. This is known as NMO-Stretch, and is discussed below. Note also that there is no data available for the far offsets at times close to 5 seconds (the end of our recording).

We can illustrate this "stretching" by considering two events on the far trace (offset = 6000 m). Time (s) Vel (m/s) NMO T6000 0.160 3.500 1490 3.870 4.030 3003 0.530 4.030

This table shows two events, their time and "average" velocity, and the computed moveout and time for a trace with an offset of 6000 metres. Both of these events arrive at the same time at this offset, even though their true "zerooffset" times are almost 3 seconds apart! This means that the sample at time 4.03 seconds on this trace would have to be stretched over the entire range from .16 to 3.5 seconds!

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The plot on the right shows (for our "typical" function) the amount of stretch necessary for each sample. The data in red is relatively unharmed, but the other colours show various degrees of stretch up to the purple region which corresponds to the infinite stretch region mentioned above. This stretch causes a lowering of all of the frequencies in the data and regions of high stretch (which also correspond to the region of shallow refractions - the first-breaks) will have to be omitted from subsequent processing stages. This is done by applying a front-end mute to the traces (which, as usual, we'll come back to).

The only way that we can really examine the precise rock velocities within the earth is to drill and hole, and lower a tool down the hole that measures the exact velocity of each rock layer at very small intervals.

If we plot these very detailed velocities, we see all of the minute changes that will cause reflections in our dataset. For NMO purposes, we will see some sort of average function (the blue line?) down to each reflector that represents the average of all the layers above that reflection. We'll go on now to examine just what this "average" represents.

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Seismic Velocities
So what do our seismic velocities measure? Even assuming horizontal reflectors, the velocity calculated from the moveout hyperbolas doesn't correspond to the true average velocity. This first model shows just five layers with an increasing interval velocity in each layer. The velocity computed from the moveout hyperbolas is always faster than the actual average velocity down to each layer. The plot of the left is scaled in depth (4000 m), whilst the right-hand velocity plot is scaled in time (4s).

If we add a sharp break in the interval velocity (I've made them much faster in this model), the difference between the two functions becomes even more extreme.

Even with an inversion in interval velocities (the green layer is slower than that above it), the velocities that we would pick from the seismic data are still faster than the true averages.

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Can we use the velocities determined from the moveout curves for anything? Well, with some fairly gross assumptions, we can use the formula derived by the American Geophysicist C. Hewitt Dix. This formula (known funnily enough as the Dix Formula) gives us an approximation of the interval velocity between any two points on our time/velocity graph established from the hyperbolas.

Taking V1 and V2 respectively as the velocities at times T1 and T2, VI is the interval velocity between these layers. This is an approximation, however, and works best for horizontal layers and small offsets. This table shows the first few points in a velocity function, and the calculation of interval velocity using the formula Time shown above. 0 The time is (typically) shown 129 in milliseconds, and the "Vel" 342 column shows the velocity that we have established for 496 one particular location - the velocity that best "flattens" 653 the moveout hyperbolas. 770 The VI column shows the computed interval velocity between each point and the next, and the plot of the far right shows the complete sequence of interval velocities for the whole function.

Vel

VI

1490 1490 1490 1802 1691 1987 1788 1976 1835 2143 1885 2117

975 1936 2162 ... ... ...

In general we can only use the interval velocities derived from the Dix formula as a rough guide. Under conditions of steeply dipping events or complex geology, the velocities we derive are not much more meaningful than just a set of numbers that "best-correct" the moveout hyperbola.
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Now we've established what these velocities mean, how do we measure them?

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Picking Velocities (1)


In order to establish the velocity field for our seismic line, we must determine the parameters necessary to correct the moveout hyperbolas within our data at every time and position in the seismic line. In practice this means that we need to determine a suite of velocity functions at discrete positions along our line.

The earliest forms of velocity analysis relied on the direct measurement of the moveout hyperbola on selected CDPs along the line. This was, of course, extremely difficult in areas of poor signalto-noise ratio, and relied entirely on the visual ability of the geophysicist. Although we are still trying to measure the moveout for each hyperbola down the record, we can now use some computing power to help us to establish these velocities. The simplest form of "computer-aided" velocity analysis is generated by applying a whole series of different velocities to a CDP, and establishing (by eye) the best velocity at each time. This display shows one CDP from a seismic line, processed through NMO correction with a series of constant velocities. We can use this constant velocity gather (or CVG) to determine the appropriate velocity at various times down the record by simply seeing which velocity best "flattens" each event. You should be able to see how the "best" velocity increases with time.

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Another variation of the velocity gather the velocity fan. Here I've applied a (very bad) "guess" velocity function to the record marked "0%", and modified this function by the percentages shown for the other records. Although this type of display shows NMO stretch better than the constant velocity gather, it's more difficult to interpret (particularly when our first guess is a long way off!). Where the data quality is not so good, or the geology is complex, we can take advantage of the fact that all of our traces within one CDP gather come from the same (nominal) point in the sub-surface. Here I've taken a group of CDPs, applied the same constant velocity sequence, and then summed or stacked the traces together. This constant velocity stack (CVS) shows how our final section will look for any given velocity - once again we must determine the time/velocity function. Finally, the same stack process applied to the velocity fan. You can now quite clearly see the "S" shape of the optimum stack - my initial function was initially too fast, but too slow at 2.5 seconds. This is probably one of the best "semimanual" ways of picking velocities and can be used (with very small percentage increments) to fine-tune a function for very accurate picking.

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The first attempts at automatic velocity picking made use of a "moveout-scan". The vertical scale on this display is still time, but the horizontal scale now shows moveout - the time difference between the hyperbola at the trace farthest from the shot and zero-offset. This scale is in milliseconds. The technique used here (which we will come back to later) is equivalent to the "Tau-P" transform discussed earlier. Instead of summing the traces for constant dips, we've summed the data along constant parabolas (which approximate the hyperbolas). This "parabolic Tau-P transform", often referred to as a Radon transform, reaches a peak where the stacking parabola matches that of the data. Here's the same display again, with my very rough "guess" velocity function converted to moveout and plotted on the display. We could apply this function to the data, and re-run the transform "around" our chosen function. This would enable us to measure the residual moveout between our function and the seismic data. After applying our function we're left with moveout errors that are both positive and negative. The drift to the right at the top of the function is where my function was too fast (not enough moveout applied), and the drift the other way (at about 2.5 seconds) is where my function was too slow. Using an initial function, and measuring the differences, is more difficult to interpret, but avoids problems caused by
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approximating the moveout hyperbolas to parabolas!

With the computational power now available, it's possible to combine the best of all of the above techniques into one display. These "composite" methods of velocity analysis, possibly using some forms of automatic picking of the results, are now commonplace. We'll go on to look at some of these, and a "live" example of velocity analysis.

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Picking Velocities (2)


Modern computer-aided velocity analysis makes use of all of the techniques that were discussed on the previous page. As well as displaying gathers and stacks, the hyperbolas are picked by the computer using a series of constant velocity or velocity fan stacks and comparing the input to the stack against the output - a semblance display.

The semblance of a small window of stacked data is effectively a measure of how well the stack compares to the individual components going into the stack. Here's two examples:Trace 1 Trace 2 Trace 3 Time | v -263 1886 -847 -802 -497 -164 -988 1998 753 -20 79 815 307 2497 154 Stack This table shows just 5 time samples from -116 three traces, and their stack (sum divided 571 by 3). A dipping event (which could be part of a moveout hyperbola with the 486 wrong velocity) is shown in grey. 816 -121 The average sum of the amplitudes squared (before stack) is divided into the sum of the amplitudes squared after stack to give the 1256190 semblance value. This value is always between 0 (no match) and 1 (perfect 0.211 match). A semblance of 21% indicates a poor match (the data does not "line-up").

Sum 5233787 5562453 7023440 Sq. Average 5939893

Trace 1 Trace 2 Trace 3 Time | v 650 -62 2049 437 -592 189 657 2131 736 997 16 -352 1274 723 660

Stack A similar calculation for a flat (corrected) 285 event. The semblance value here (82%) indicates an excellent line up. 81 1818 We can exaggerate the differences between 632 these "bad" and "good" values by raising the calculated semblance to some power. 355 For example:SEMB SEMB1.1 SEMB1.5 21% 18% 10% 82% 80% 74%

Sum 5166178 6544236 2705565 3918359 Sq. Average 4805326 0.815


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Ratio

3.9

4.4

7.6

If we plot the computed semblance against velocity, together with a gather and stack that are continually updated, and a suite of stacked velocity fans, we have a very powerful tool for analysing velocities. We simply need to "pick" (probably with a mouse) the semblance peaks that provide the best stack at a series of times down the record. Although a rapid process, remember that we may have to repeat this process every 500 metres throughout a 1,000 km survey!

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Despite the most comprehensive software, some data can be extremely difficult! This display of semblance, gather and CVS's shows just how awful some data can be. Static problems and very poor quality data can make the picking of velocities very time consuming.

Once again, it's a question of who's in charge - you or the computer !

Now comes your chance to pick some velocities! You had better get used to this - if you start processing data, you'll probably be doing a lot of this! The display on the left shows the computed semblance as a function of time and velocity. The display on the right shows the corresponding part of the CDP gather. Click the left mouse button inside the semblance display to add a velocity "pick". Use the right button to delete a pick. Try picking the correct semblance "peaks" (in red), but also try picking some erroneous points to see the effect on the gather (and the NMO stretch).

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Velocity problems
The picking of seismic velocities is one of the most boring, routine and important jobs still left firmly in the hands of the processing geophysicist. In the past, velocities would be picked on paper displays, and then entered by hand into the computer for the next stage of processing. Although this has largely been superseded by direct picking of the velocities on a computer screen, we still need to check the spatial consistency of our functions, and be aware of some of the potential problems in velocity picking. In the dim distant past of this course, we discussed some of the possible raypaths for multiple reflections. These multiples will appear on our velocity analysis as spurious semblance peaks alongside our genuine primary reflection peaks. What criteria can we use to distinguish the multiples from the primaries? Consider two events appearing on our velocity analysis at the same time, one a primary reflector, and the other a strong multiple reflector. The multiple reflector must be generated by some shallower primary reflector (or reflectors) and would have spent more time travelling through the shallower parts of the section than the primary.

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As the rock velocities generally increase with depth, we can make the general statement that multiple reflections will have slower velocities than primary reflectors at the same time. For this reason we would normally ensure that we pick the higher range of velocity peaks on our semblance display. Unfortunately, in a few areas of the world, velocity inversions in the shallow section give the multiple reflections faster velocities than the primaries. Where there is also very little dip difference in primaries and multiples, the picking of velocities requires a very detailed knowledge of the geology. We also, of course, have to deal with other forms of coherent and random noise within our data. One way of improving the apparent signal-to-noise ratio of our data (and increasing the number of traces in our CDP gather) is to examine several CDPs at once in our analysis. CDP Channels This technique, normally referred to as a super gather, is based on the fact that if, for example, we are shooting 80 fold data with 240 recording groups, each set of three CDPs contains all possible offsets. In this case a super gather may be formed by taking 3 or 6 CDPs and merging traces together and summing identical channel numbers. This resultant 240 trace "gather" actually covers 3 or 6 adjacent sub-surface points but the advantages we gain in signal improvement outweigh the disadvantages of "smearing" the analysis across more than 1 CDP. Decisions on the use of super gathers must consider the likelihood of steep dips and/or rapid horizontal velocity changes in the area. X 1,4,7,10 ... 238

X+1 2,5,8,11 ... } Super 239 Gather X+2 3,6,9,12 ... } 240 X+3 1,4,7,10 ... } 238 X+4 2,5,8,11 ... } 239 X+5 3,6,9,12 ... } 240 X+6 1,4,7,10 ... } 238 X+7 2,5,8,11 ... 239

We'll be discussing some of the problems caused by dipping events in a couple of pages time, other problems involving static correction errors, or shallow velocity anomalies, we'll come back to later.

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If we pick the wrong velocity for our primary event, when we come to add all of the traces together from one CDP (the stack), we will attenuate some of the primary reflection. Here's an example of just how much attenuation we can expect from (for example) a 60 fold stack:-

The horizontal scale on this graph is "Frequency times Moveout". Imagine a reflector with a dominant frequency of 30 Hz and a residual moveout of 330 ms (0.33 seconds) on the far trace. Frequency time Moveout equals 30 x 0.33, or about 1. Looking down the scale at this point reveals that the stack will attenuate this event by about 12 dB - a factor of 4:1. Higher frequencies will be attenuated even more. We'll now move on to some of the ways in which we can "Quality Control" our velocity picks.

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Velocity QC

Once we've picked all of the velocity functions for one line, we need to find some convenient way to check the consistency of our velocities - to quality control (QC) our picking. We may have picked a new function at evenly spaced positions along our line (or throughout a 3D survey), or tried to position our velocity analyses at key geological positions on the data (by looking at, for example, a near trace gather). Either way, except in cases of very extreme structures, we would expect our velocities to vary smoothly in both space and time (following the "geology"). One of the more common methods of spatial checking is by examining IsoVelocity contours along the line. The axes here are the same as our seismic section (space and time), and the colours represent the interpolated value of our velocity functions at discrete intervals throughout the section. In this case, red represents low velocities and purple the high values - the velocities here are very smooth and we would not expect to see much in the way of structural variations on the section.

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We could also compute interval velocities from out functions (using Dix's equation over small intervals), and plot these as a function of time and space. Once again, these show a smooth set of functions, with an obvious break from slow to fast interval velocities about halfway down the section. Since our reflection coefficients are dependent on changes in interval velocity (and density), we would expect to see a major reflection in the middle of our section.

In some cases we need to be aware of exactly how the computer interpolates the velocities between our picked functions. Unless we are very careful and track each event from analysis to analysis using an initial stack or NTG (near trace gather), we are unlikely to pick exactly the same events on each analysis. The processing software has to make some decisions as to how to interpolate the values between the CDPs analysed.

This diagram shows one of the problems common in seismic data from the North Sea. The Base Tertiary reflector is very strong and causes a sudden "break" in our velocity function. If, as shown here, we picked velocities at CDPs 500 and 700, and the Base Tertiary dips strongly between these locations, an interpolation error can occur. The function generated by interpolating our functions over constant time intervals (sometimes known as IsoTime interpolation) gives the black function at CDP 600. The true function should follow the blue line.
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Depending on the magnitude of the error, the simplest solution is usually to simply add more functions - to analyse additional CDPs.

A gross error will usually show up fairly easily on an Iso-Velocity display. In this case the velocities were input from a previously processed paper section, and the typist has been dealt with!

Before finishing our long discussion on velocities, let's look at some more exotic forms of analysis and QC.

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Other velocity analyses and QC


Many other methods have been (and are still being) used to both pick and QC seismic velocities. With careful picking and analysis of stacking velocities and modelling, it's possible to establish quite a good interval velocity field from the seismic data itself. It is common to examine a near trace gather, or initial stack of the CDP prior to picking the final set of velocity functions. If we make some geological interpretation of our seismic section, identifying the major reflections throughout the survey (or even just along one line) we can attempt to pick the same set of horizons on every analysis - sometimes known as "kneeconsistent" velocities (there are the same number of turning points or "knees" in each function). We can even make use of these picked horizons to make detailed analyses of the velocities along each horizon. Instead of computing velocity semblance plots for selected CDPs over the whole time range, we produce displays for every CDP over a limited time interval around each horizon.

Although time-consuming (and costly) in both computer and man time this technique can provide detailed information concerning the interval between two reflectors.

With 3D seismic data the QC possibility are endless!

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This shows part of a 3D survey, rotated from its true position, with the blue dots representing the velocity analysis locations used during the processing. You can see from this that there are:1. an awful lot of velocity functions to pick! 2. many ways in which the resultant functions can be checked for consistency Basically, we use the picked functions to build a 3D volume of velocities (a velocity field), and can examine this in any direction. One way of QC'ing these velocities is by examining the normal Iso-Velocity contours for a series of lines to check consistency. Use the buttons to switch between the velocity contours for different parallel lines in the survey. We could, of course, equally well examine the "North-South" lines in our 3D volume. Another way of checking for consistency is in another dimension. We can take all of the velocities for one picked horizon, or a constant time, and plot these as a function of space. Although normally plotted as a map, these colours really represent the highs and lows of velocities shown on the right.

We may need to pick (and QC) our velocities several times during the processing sequence. To explain why, and to look at one of the fundamental geometric distortions present in all seismic data, we'll examine the technique known as Dip-Moveout, or DMO.

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DMO (1)
Seismic data suffers from the same problem as a bad holiday choice. It's always in the wrong place at the wrong time! Anytime we have dipping events within our seismic section (i.e. ALWAYS!) our seismic data will not be recorded at the correct spatial position and the assumption that a Common Mid Point is the same as a Common Depth Point breaks down. The problem varies with offset and is generally handled in two stages. DMO or Dip-Moveout correction before stack (to correct the CDP/CMP mis-match), and Migration (generally after stack) to correctly position the data in space and time. This diagram shows one reflector in a medium with a constant velocity of 2000 m/s. The black line shows a "normal-incidence" ray at right angles to the reflector and the blue and red lines show reflections for two different offsets. Click on the buttons below the image to see the reflections (and apparent velocity) of events with 10, 20 and 30 degrees of dip (or slope). Note that not only do the reflection points move "up-dip", away from the nominal "CDP" in the centre of the diagram, but that the actual points being recorded are different for different offsets. The apparent velocity (obtained from common mid-point gathers) is also incorrect. For events with constant dip the velocity will be wrong by a factor equal to 1 / Cosine(Dip). Dip (Deg) Cos. 1/Cos. Velocity 2000 2031 2128 2309

0 1.0000 1.0000 10 0.9848 1.0154 20 0.9397 1.0642 30 0.8660 1.1547

We obviously need to do something about this problem! Until the early 1980's this effect was largely ignored, but, work by a number of geophysicists led to an understanding of the
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problem and various approaches to solutions. The solutions are generally rather complex, but try to correct everything to it's true zero-offset position so that a) the velocities are no longer dependent on dip, and b) the data will stack together correctly. We'll use a synthetic data set to show the principles of DMO.

On the left is a simple syncline at a depth of about 2000 metres. Once again I have assumed a constant velocity of 2000 m/s above this reflector. The diagram on the right shows some of the normalincidence (zerooffset) reflections from this model. Note how, at the surface, they cluster together around the centre of the model. The dip angle computed from the model above. The dip starts at zero (horizontal), increases to a maximum of about 6 degrees in one direction, goes back through zero (in the centre of the structure) and increases to slightly more than 6 degrees in the other direction before returning, once again, to zero.

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Time sections computed from this model. The blue line shows the theoretical model converted to time vertically. The red line shows the best-possible recording that could be made with coincident source and receivers (zerooffset), and the green line shows the (NMO corrected) times for an offset of 2000 metres. Not only are the red and green reflections in the wrong place, they are also not coincident. Applying NMO to this data with the correct velocity of 2000 m/s will result in an overcorrection of the gathers in the region of dip. You'll note from the above that the image we get of the syncline is compressed (the red line). In general un-corrected (un-migrated) seismic data will compress all synclines and expand all anticlines. Close to the centre of the syncline reflections from the right of the structure may appear on the left of our section (and vice-versa). This is rather like the reflections from any concave surface (like the inside of a spoon) - the curvature can reverse the order of reflections. We'll see more of this when we look at the seismic data from this model on the following page.

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DMO (2)
Here's 161 CDPs covering the 2 km of model shown on the previous page. This section is a common-offset-gather from the traces nearest to each shot (as you'll remember, also known as a near trace gather). The data in the centre of the syncline just "bow-ties" - reflections from either side of the structure just cross over. The change of dip (curvature) in this region causes this cross-over, and will be corrected by our migration process after the data has been stacked. As usual, we'll discuss this later. The same CDPs, but this time a commonoffset-gather of the farthest trace (an offset of 2000 m). I have applied NMO to the data (with a velocity of 2000 m/s) to correct for the offset distortion. Because these reflections generally come from more "up-dip" than the near traces, the "bow-tie" effect is exaggerated. Some of the CDPs close to the centre of the structure now have at least two reflections on them - one from each side of the structure. Comparing the two sections above you can see that we will have problems stacking the data in the centre - in fact all of the dipping data will "mis-stack" with our model velocity.

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This display shows 5 complete CDP gathers from along the line, NMO corrected with the (theoretical) model velocity of 2000 m/s. As you can see, most of the events are over-corrected (they curve upwards, implying a velocity that is too slow). At CDP 81 we have two events (with different apparent velocites) from opposite sides of the syncline, note how the deeper event only appears on the far offsets - causing the larger "bow-tie" on the stacked display above. If the velocity were directly dependent on the dip of the model, then we could expect the velocities to follow the line shown in purple. Because the events are curved, different offset traces "see" different dips and the velocity errors are more exaggerated (shown in red).

This is a stack of the model, with velocities picked from the model itself. As might be expected, the events can be pretty much "flattened" with some velocity ('though not the correct one) and we can produce a "reasonable" stacked section.

Let's apply DMO to this data, and see what effect it has on the velocities and the stack.

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DMO (3)
DMO computes the necessary data "movements" in a number of ways. We can use modified approximations to the horribly complex "wave equation" (a partial differential equation), or methods that rely on convolutions in odd domains. None of the "routine" methods of DMO require any knowledge of dip. The various algorithms move the data for each offset "plane" into all possible zero-offset positions. Believe it or not, the signal within the data combines correctly whilst the noise (and the data that is in the wrong place) cancels out. One of the most robust methods, using a Fourier transform technique, sometimes known (incorrectly) as FK DMO, goes through a complex transformation. Each offset plane is first transformed horizontally into "K" (spatial frequencies), and the time scale is stretched logarithmically. Spatial convolution is then applied to this transform to perform the DMO and the data is transformed back into normal "T-X" data. I do not propose to explain the mathematics behind this or other methods in detail as it's probably beyond the scope of this course. If you're desperate to find out then look at any of the massive amount of technical papers available on DMO in the geophysical periodicals.

As a reminder of the need for DMO, here's a horizontal reflector beneath a high velocity contrast dipping reflector. Even though the bottom event is horizontal, DMO is still required because of the raypath distortion caused by the shallower dipping event. This is an example of a horizontal reflector with mid-point dispersion.

Allowing ourselves the privilege of considering DMO as a "black-box" process, let's examine the processing route required, and it's effects on our model data set.

All of the normal DMO methods generally require that we process the data in a particular order:1 Apply some pre-processing to our data (data enhancement)
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2 3 4 5 6 7 8

Pick a widely spaced set of velocities along our line Apply NMO to the data to "more-or-less" correct the data Mute the first-break noise in the data Sort the data into common-offset planes (see below) Apply DMO to the data Remove the NMO applied in stage 3 (inverse NMO) Re-pick our velocities at the final interval

All of which generally requires at least three runs on the computer, and (as usual) lots of velocity picking. We need to ensure a "good" spatial sampling within each offset plane. For this reason we may need to combine several offset planes together into one for DMO, adding a pseudo offset (a constant) to each plane. Even on regular 2D data, we may have the odd numbered channels in one CDP, and the even numbered in the next. We would normally combine the two sets together giving each offset plane the correct CDP interval by using a DMO offset increment of twice our group interval (and using the average offset for the "plane"). For crooked line land processing, or 3D processing, we may have a continually varying set of offsets in each CDP "bin". We need to group these together into a regular set of offset planes for the DMO process (we use the true offsets etc. for all other processing). In 3D data we may also need to apply "3D-DMO" to correctly allow for those traces that are displaced "sideways" from our desired bin-line. Some of these algorithms are complex and require a full 3D velocity field before DMO.

Here's the CDPs and stack shown previously, only now as they appear after DMO. The CDPs all have had NMO applied with a velocity of 2000 m/s. This now appears to be the correct velocity for each event. Although the stack still shows the "bowtie" effect (this is, after all, a "real" event on a reflection section), the events are much sharper and the background noise has been reduced by the DMO process.

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Perhaps more importantly the velocities are now correct. This display shows a semblance velocity analysis before and after DMO from the centre of our model. Before DMO the velocity is wrong, because of the dip, and "spread-out" over a possible range of velocities (note the "tail" on the red contour). After DMO the velocity is spot on our model velocity of 2000 m/s, and the pick is better defined. DMO is now a standard part of almost every processing sequence. We should expect some noise attenuation in the DMO itself, but much better stacks because of the stabilisation of the velocities, and the correction from CMP to CDP. After DMO we really can refer to "CDPs" with confidence.

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Here, finally, is the effects of DMO on some real data. This shows about 700 ms of stacked data before and after DMO (each section having its own set of velocities). The differences are not enormous, but you can see the random noise reduction and the enhancement of some of the fine detail in the section after DMO. The velocities are, of course, much more "reasonable" (and smooth) after DMO.

We mentioned above some data enhancement techniques that are required before DMO. In the true tradition of putting the cart before the horse, we'll go on in the next Chapter to discuss the most important ones connected with (among other things) multiple removal. There's a few more thoughts on seismic velocities and DMO in a published paper by the author of this course. Click here to read the article on "Seismic Velocities", otherwise just click below as usual to move on to the questions for this Chapter.

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Chapter 10 - Processing Flows (4)


Finally moving (almost) onto the CDP stack stage, let's talk about multiples (and their removal) and some more static corrections.

Page 10.02 - Multiples - Again! A tuneful reprisal of some of the important characteristics of multiples, and how we may try to remove them. Page 10.03 - Deconvolution (1) Statistical deconvolution - designing inverse filters from the seismic trace to try to normalise the frequency content, and/or remove short period multiples. Page 10.04 - Deconvolution (2) A discussion on the differences between spiking and predictive deconvolution. Page 10.05 - Deconvolution (3) The addition of "white-noise" to stabilise the deconvolution equations. Page 10.06 - Deconvolution (4) A final summary of the important parameters for deconvolution, and some "live" examples. Page 10.07 - De-Multiple (1) Some of the methods for removing longer period multiples ... Page 10.08 - De-Multiple (2) ... and yet more de-multiple techniques. Page 10.09 - Residual Statics (1) Tidying up the statics problem. Using the seismic data to determine the final statics corrections.

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Page 10.10 - Residual Statics (2) Some of the techniques used to determine the residual statics from the mass of statistics obtained from the seismic data. Page 10.11 - Other Statics (1) Other problems requiring static solutions. Near-surface anomalies requiring replacement statics ... Page 10.12 - Other Statics (2) ... and tidal corrections for high-resolution marine data. Page 10.13 - Chapter 10 - Questions The inevitable questions to end this Chapter!

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Multiples - Again!
We now move on to one of the areas in which seismic processing software writers spend a lot of their time - multiple removal! You'll remember from previous Chapters that multiple reflections occur whenever the energy from our shot reflects more than once in any one layer. These multiples can obscure our primary reflectors, and make the final interpretation of the seismic section very difficult. On marine data the most obvious multiple generator is the water layer itself but, of course, any pair of strong reflectors can generate inter-bed multiples that will also cause problems. We normally distinguish between those multiples with a short period, and those with longer periods. If your system supports it here, once again, is a "sound" example of short and long period multiples! Here's a short piece of "music" in it's original form. Then with a short period reverberation added - the kind of effect common in a large concert hall. The period of this "multiple" is short enough to actually modify the individual notes - it adds a spatial quality to the music. On seismic data, short period multiples will modify the spectra of the data, adding unwanted information to the fine detail in each primary reflector.

Long period multiples, or "echo" in the case of sounds, generate additional reflections at a later time in the record. The primary and it's "echo" appear as separate events.

The removal of multiples generally relies on either or both of two recognisable characteristics.

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1. Multiples will generally go on and on (rather like this course), repeating with the same time interval and gradually decreasing in amplitude (think of repeated "bounces" of energy in a water layer). 2. Multiples will generally appear on our CDP gathers with a velocity slower than the primary velocity. They will have larger moveout values (more curvature).

Note the use of the word generally above - anything's possible with the right combination of geometry and geology. One class of internal multiples that causes apparent signal enhancement (and modifies the spectrum) occurs when we have a series of cyclic beds with alternate high and low acoustic impedance (velocity times density). The reflection coefficients at each interface (shown by the blue signs) actually increases the apparent amount of energy going down to deeper layers. The same thing happens on the return path to the surface. Such repetitive bedding of the type shown above occurs quite regularly within nature, causing an apparent increase in seismic energy below the "cyclic" section. All of the above considerations give us some clues as to how we can remove multiples. Short period (and those generated by cyclic bedding) will modify the frequency spectrum in some way, longer period multiples will have a regular period, and a low velocity (relative to primaries).

Let's attack the frequency components first by looking at statistical deconvolution!

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Deconvolution (1)
We've discussed Deconvolution before, in the section on Signature Deconvolution (Chapter 7, pages 7-10), and the section on FX Deconvolution (Chapter 8, page 8). If you use either of these links to go back to previous pages, use the "Back" button on your browser to return to this page. Both of these methods used the same principles - finding a limited-length convolution filter that either 1. changes a specified input wavelet into a more suitable output wavelet, or 2. uses the filter to predict another waveform from the input. Either technique can be applied directly to a seismic trace, with the appropriate values derived statistically from the trace itself. For this reason it's (logically) known as statistical deconvolution, or, since it was the first use of these techniques, just deconvolution (without the preceding "signature" or "FX").

Here's an example of one of the things that deconvolution is useful for - removing shortperiod multiples (or reverberations) from the seismic trace. You may remember from previous examples the classic response of the water layer to a seismic source. The energy repeatedly bounces between the seabed and the sea surface, producing the sort of time response shown here. In this case the reverberations are produced from about 88 metres of water. This gives a two-way time of about 0.117s (2 x 88 1500), and a frequency spectrum (shown here in dB) with a repetitive frequency peak every 8.5 Hz (1 0.117). This multiple sequence will be superimposed on every reflection within our seismic
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section (as will any other multiples generated by other shallow layers). If we could change the reverberating waveform shown above into a single spike, we would remove the multiple from every reflection in the section. The spectrum of the spike looks like this (remember that a spike contains "all" frequencies) so we are really trying to invert the spectrum from the spiky thing shown above into this constant value. Remember these last two pictures when we discuss spiking deconvolution below!

Is it likely that we could successfully design a limited-length filter that could collapse an effectively infinite length reverberating waveform into a spike?

Here's the input reverberating waveform (in blue) with an amplitude ratio of "-R" from peak to peak. The filter (red), which you'll remember is time reversed, just consists of the two samples "1" and "R" with the exact reverberation time period between them. Flipping through the buttons shows some of the convolution multiply and add products everything except the first point comes out as zero! The first 3 convolution results are:1x1=1 1xR-Rx1=0 1 x R2 - R x R = 0 etc.

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This technique was one of the first approaches used for multiple removal in the days before digital processing. The seismic trace (recorded as a variable voltage) was delayed (using capacitors) by the multiple period, scaled by the primary/multiple amplitude ratio (our "R" above) and added back into the original trace. If the timing and scaling were exactly correct, the multiple would be removed. Unfortunately if the timing was wrong, not only would the multiple remain, but the subtraction would introduce another multiple-like anomaly into the data!

Let's move on to see how we can determine the correct timing and scaling from the data itself!

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Deconvolution (2)
Remember our much-repeated formulation of the equations used in deconvolution?

For statistical deconvolution we use the trace itself to provide an estimate of the reverberations and other nastiness associated with every reflection on the trace. Since the autocorrelation removes all of the phase information from the trace (makes it zero) we can imagine that the central zero-lag of the autocorrelation represents every primary reflection on the trace (which we hope are randomly spaced) and any repetitive signal present on the autocorrelation must be present throughout the trace (or the part of the trace we are examining - the design window). In the same way as the previously mentioned types of deconvolution we now have two options as to how we specify the key part of the right-hand side of the above equation - the desired output:1. for spiking deconvolution we specify our desired output as a spike, and try to convert the entire trace into a single spike. This cannot be done exactly by a time-limited filter but has the effect of equalising the frequencies within the trace (trying to get to a "flat" spectrum). 2. for predictive deconvolution we use a later part of the trace as the desired output and try to design a filter that will make the trace look like a time-shifted version of itself. Subtracting this "model" from the actual trace is exactly equivalent to the analogue process discussed on the previous page, but with the time-shift and scaling automatically designed.

Here, once again, is the principle of predictive deconvolution. If we can successfully predict the necessary time-shift and scaling values from the data itself then subtracting the scaled time-shifted trace from itself will remove all of the multiple reflections. In practice, the whole process of both spiking or predictive deconvolution is controlled by just four parameters:-

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1. The filter length. Sometimes specified in milliseconds, sometimes in "number of samples" this should be long enough to include at least two "bounces" of the maximum reverberation time we are trying to remove. 2. The gap (again in ms or samples). A gap is inserted into the filter that prevents the filter from changing the data close to every reflector. A gap of 1 sample or less implies spiking deconvolution, any higher gap implies predictive deconvolution. The gaps normally used extend from 2-10 samples of data and cause less spectral whitening (and associated noise). High gaps of say 90% of the reverberation period may be used for just removing certain multiples. 3. The design gate (see below). This should include only the regions of signal in our data (omitting the first breaks) and may have to be specified as a function of trace offset. For optimum results a design gate should be at least ten times the total filter length (filter length plus gap). This may limit the effectiveness of long-period multiple removal by deconvolution. 4. A "White-Noise" level. This is discussed in some detail on the next page.

Here's a display of some seismic data before and after stack. When we are using deconvolution before stack (DBS), designed on either a shot record or a CDP (or other) gather, we need to limit the design gate to the part of the data containing the best signal (and multiples). We normally use a design gate that depends on the trace offset, omitting the "first-breaks" and the later noise. After stack (or, for example, on a commonoffset gather) we can generally use a larger window but may still need to limit the design gate to the area of best signal. If our frequency content changes rapidly with time (and we can meet the "ten times" rule mentioned above), we may want to use time-variant deconvolution. We simply design different filters over different windows and apply then in the same way as other time-variant filters (more on this later). Deconvolution after stack is usually abbreviated to "DAS". In areas of very complex structure (for example, a line shot off the edge of a continental shelf into very deep water), we may need to vary our time gates in space along the line. Logically this is known as time and space variant deconvolution!
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Deconvolution (3)
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Remembering that the left-hand side of our deconvolution is the autocorrelation of the trace, what happens if (mathematically) we can't solve the equations? Here's a simple enough equation - imagine we're trying to design a two 3a-3b=20 point deconvolution filter and that the "3,-3" terms are the first two values -3a+3b=-21 in our autocorrelation. This cannot be solved! We must make some adjustment in order to reach an approximate solution. 3.003a3b=20 The same equation with the diagonal values on the left increased by 1/10th of -3a+3.003b=- 1 percent. Now the equation can be solved ... 21 3a-3b=20.49 ... giving these solutions for "a" and "b" which we can plug back into the original equations to see how our "adjustment" -3a+3b=effects the results. 20.49

a=-163.25 b=-170.08

The value that we need to add to the diagonal by is usually of the order of 0.1 to 1 percent, and is usually referred to as the white-noise level. To see why we'll have to delve once more into the frequency domain.

On the left is the amplitude spectrum of a seismic trace (or wavelet) that we wish to deconvolve to a "spike". Since a spike contains all frequencies we need to scale each frequency by it's inverse - we multiply each frequency by the values shown on the right. If some frequencies are missing from our input spectrum - the inverse goes mad. We have a problem because 10 gives infinity!

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We can fix this (and get an approximate answer) by adding a "pedestal" (shown in yellow) to all frequencies before the inversion. Since this pedestal contains all frequencies it is known as white noise. White noise addition reduces the effectiveness of the deconvolution at other frequencies but allows us to solve the equations. This pedestal addition is achieved by adding a small amount to the zero-lag value of the autocorrelation, exactly the same as that shown in the equations above. For all normal purposes, the white noise level should be kept as small as possible whilst still giving a solution to the equations.

Having briefly discussed the choice of design gate and white noise levels, we'll now move on to the two most important parameters, the filter and gap lengths!

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Deconvolution (4)
Let's start this last page on deconvolution by re-iterating the points made before concerning parameters.

We need to make our total filter length long enough to "see" the multiple period preferably at least two bounces. We should keep the gap fairly small (or even zero - spiking deconvolution) unless we are specifically aiming the deconvolution at just one multiple. In that case we can make the gap about 90% of the multiple period. We should, whenever possible, obey the 10% rule. The total filter length should not be more than 10% of the design window length. Only use the white noise level to "help" the deconvolution. Only in very exceptional circumstances should this parameter be changed from the "default" value suggested by the program. Use a design window (or windows) that contain just the data for deconvolution. Deconvolution is a minimum-phase process. Whenever possible ensure that your input data is minimum-phase, if there is any doubt, use longer gaps. Test everything, and look at both filtered and un-filtered results from each test.

So, keeping that lot in mind, here's a single trace "live" deconvolution example. About 1200ms of seismic trace is shown in red, with its autocorrelation in blue, and its amplitude spectra in magenta (or pink if you prefer!). The multiple period is very obvious on the autocorrelation and is exactly 117ms. Use the parameters to check their effects, especially when the filter/gap combination "misses" the multiple. Notice that increasing the gap reduces the amount of "whitening" in the spectrum, and leaves the autocorrelation unchanged close to the zero-lag value.

You should see how longer filters and shorter gaps increase the apparent amount of noise in the trace, and that increasing the white noise level decreases the effectiveness of the filter. A white noise of "0" uses the smallest necessary to successfully perform the mathematics.

Deconvolution is one of the processes tested extensively for any new processing. The following is an example deconvolution trial from somewhere in the North Sea. The parameters on the right show the filter length / gap combinations (in milliseconds). The display shows unfiltered and filtered sections (we've already discussed the principles of filtering - but see the next Chapter), and an autocorrelation OVER THE SAME DESIGN WINDOW AS THE DECONVOLUTION (this is important). The autocorrelation is
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plotted at twice the vertical scale so that you can really see the multiples. Choose your favourite deconvolution! A - None B - 200/0 C - 400/0 D - 200/12 E - 200/24 F - 400/12 G - 400/24 H - 260/140

We'll come to deconvolution yet again when we look at DAS (deconvolution after stack). I'll also try to mention some of the more esoteric forms of decon (as it's affectionately known) at that time. In the meantime just one last item - where do we do our deconvolution in the processing sequence? We would like to generally perform decon as early as possible in the sequence to stabilise the frequency content (and remove multiples) prior to velocity analysis etc. Here's a "shot record" (offsets across the top, time down the side) showing a series of water-bottom reverberations from a primary at 2 seconds. The moveout differences at the far offset mean that the time differences (in blue) between the multiples are not constant. In signal processing terms it is a non-stationary period. If we apply deconvolution before NMO, the filter design will not "see" the true period and the decon will be ineffective. If we apply NMO first (decon after NMO), the stretch caused by the NMO will distort the wavelet differently on different "bounces". Once again the filter design will have problems. This is one of those situations where you can't win! In most cases deconvolution before or after NMO won't matter too much but, in some cases, it can be critical. If in doubt, test it! A general (short) decon before NMO may "clean-up" shot-to-shot variations in the amplitude spectra, but you may need another (after NMO) to remove the multiples.

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De-Multiple (1)
We're now ready to start attacking the longer period multiples on our section. For these, we rely on the fact that the multiples will almost always have a slower velocity than the primaries - we use this velocity discrimination to remove them!

I'm going to use this model to demonstrate come of the more common methods of demultiple. On the left is a velocity plot showing the primary velocity function (red) and multiples generated by the single interface at about 1.2 seconds. The plot on the right shows a theoretical CDP gather, with the multiples marked in red. Note that these always have more moveout (curvature) than the primaries. Here's a synthetic gather for the model shown above, before and after NMO correction (using the model primary velocity function). Note that the corrected data has been muted because of the NMO stretch in some regions, and also note that the multiples are all under-corrected. It is this differential moveout between the primaries and multiples that will help us to remove them.
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I've reproduced the corrected gather again here (on the left). The plot on the right shows a CDP stack of a series of CDP gathers along our synthetic "line". We've simply summed all of the traces for each CDP together. Note that, although they appear weaker than the primaries, the multiples still come through very clearly on the stack. With just the stacked section to examine, and the sort of amplitude variations that occur on "real" data, could you spot the multiples?

The problem above is obviously related to the energy on the near traces (those traces closest to the shot). Although the far traces have sufficient residual moveout to mis-stack (and so attenuate), the multiples are pretty flat on the near traces and so stack fairly well. Can we reduce the effects of the near traces? Here's a gather and stack where the traces have been weighted by offset - a weighted stack. Each trace is simply multiplied by a scalar proportional to its offset, so that the near traces contribute less to the summation. Although this greatly reduces the amplitude of the multiples, this (very cheap) technique does destroy any information concerning the variation of trace amplitude with offset. We will see later that the analysis of Amplitude Versus Offset effects (AVO) can give us insights into rock properties and is therefore important to retain.

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Another form of trace weighting - a near trace mute. The near traces have been removed below a selected time with a mute similar to that used to remove the first break noise (at the front). We'll look into the mechanics of muting shortly, but, once again, this technique is quite useful at removing the multiples from the stack. This near trace muting is quite commonly used (possibly in conjunction with other methods) and retains more of our AVO information. Again, it's a cheap process.

These two methods, or variations thereof, provide the first steps in multiple attenuation. If these techniques are unsuccessful, then we must move on to more sophisticated approaches!

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De-Multiple (2)
Here, once again, is our synthetic gather with, on the right, a gather that has had NMO applied using a velocity function that lies between the primary and multiple velocity functions. That over-corrects our primaries, and under-corrects the multiples. Or, to put it another way, events dipping upwards (towards the right) are primaries whilst those dipping downwards are multiples we can now use a dip filter to remove them. Remember our FK analyses from Chapter 8? This display shows wavenumbers across the top and temporal frequencies up the side (as usual). Events from our gather dipping downwards (multiples) now appear in the mess on the right-hand side of the display, and those dipping upwards (primaries) on the left. We can now use a FK filter to remove the positive dips and transform back into the normal time-offset domain. The resultant CDP (on the right) has the positive dips removed.

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We now remove the NMO applied before (reverse NMO), apply the correct primary velocity function, and stack the data. We have attenuated the multiples somewhat but, because, once again, the near traces are pretty much un-affected by the FK filter, the result is still not perfect. If (as is typically done) we combine this FK multiple attenuation with the neartrace mute seen earlier, the results can be very dramatic.

FK multiple attenuation (or FK de-multiple) is sometimes quite effective in removing multiples. If the problem is really severe, however, we have one more trick up our sleeve radon de-multiple. On the left is our gather with the correct (primary) velocity function applied. The right hand display shows a parabolic radon transform (or parabolic Tau-P transform) of the type we mentioned briefly in the last Chapter on velocity analysis. This section is produced by summing the input gather along constant parabolas. The leftmost trace represents about -80ms of total moveout, and the right about +400ms. These limits are shown on the gather as the red and blue lines. The parabolic transform nicely "splits" the primaries and multiples. The primaries "lineup" close to zero moveout whilst the multiples appear as the "event" at higher moveouts. To avoid problems with any non-parabolic data (which appears as the "noise" on the lefthand traces) we remove the primaries from this display, transform back (the multiples), and subtract them from the original record.

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On the left is the gather (and it's associated stack) after the sequence shown above:1. Transform into the parabolic TauP domain. 2. Remove the values close to (and below) zero - these are the primaries. 3. Transform back into T-X. 4. Subtract from the original gather. Very effective (in this case) on both the gather and the stack - we have removed the multiples!

Radon (or Tau-P) de-multiple is generally very effective (but quite expensive). It preserves any AVO effects and works pretty well on real data as well as synthetics!

This display shows a (real) CDP gather corrected (believe it or not!) for primaries. The centre panel shows the multiples extracted via Tau-P, and the right-hand panel shows the resultant primaries (after the subtraction). As usual the stack (shown below) is not quite so dramatic but you can see the dipping primaries coming through on the right-hand panel (after de-multiple).

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There are many other methods used for multiple attenuation, including, for example, using the wave equation to predict multiples from the primaries and then subtract them from the input. Other methods can be used where the dip of the multiple is very different to that of any primary information, but these can be quite dangerous. So we'll leave the world of de-multiple for now and move on to another important prestack process - residual statics!

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Residual Statics (1)

We've already looked in some detail at methods for computing static corrections from field data. The problem is that these are never perfectly correct - we need some method of refining these static corrections during the processing of the data. We use the seismic data itself to determine these residual statics. (IRS = Inspector of Residual Statics, a newly invented abbreviation!)

This table shows a few CDPs from a simple 12-channel, 6-fold regular data set. Down the left are CDP numbers, with a trace count across the top. Clicking on the buttons will show you the:

trace offsets original shot numbers original receiver positions

Note that the traces from one particular shot or receiver position follow a regular pattern in the table (either up or down towards the right). Although the pattern is complicated by the 12-channel, 6-fold arrangement, any shooting geometry will yield a similar pattern - we can relate our traces back to the original shot and receiver positions. In a modern high-fold data set, the number of traces recorded from one shot, or into one receiver position are very high. We can make use of this data redundancy by assuming that all traces recorded from one shot will have a consistent "shot-static", and those recorded into the same receiver group will have the same "receiver-static".

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Here's part of a stacked seismic section with, as before, the part lightly shaded red enlarged on the right. Although this is a "reasonable" section, showing a nice "bow-tie" in the deeper section, the frequency content is poor (low), and the events look a little "ragged". As this is land data, we can expect that there are some residual statics still present in the data set that cause the inferior quality stack.

In order to establish the values of these residual statics, we need some estimate of what the final section should look like - a sort of idealised final result. We pick one (or more) reflections across our section (the red event here follows a strong peak on the data), and use the data around this horizon (or horizons) to build a "pilot" section - the idealised final result.

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I've taken a window of a few hundred milliseconds around this one event (now marked in blue), and we will use the data in this window to determine our residual static corrections. To build our pilot traces, the computer simply takes the event we have picked and sums together a large number of traces (usually 20 or more) following the event. This "smash" of traces together yields a very "smooth" section (shown with its enlargement below).

This doesn't look very seismic, but it does contain the major structural elements of the original data (in a somewhat simplified form). Now we will go back to the data before stack and compare the individual traces for every CDP against the pilot traces to try to establish a set of surface-consistent residual statics.

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Residual Statics (2)


In statistics, we use the term "correlation" as a measure of the similarity of two data sets. In the same way we can use the correlation of two waveforms to establish their similarity and their time difference.

Here's a little bit of seismic data together with its amplitude and phase spectra (the good 'ol Fourier transform!). Another piece of data, very like the first, but with a slight timeshift (or static) applied. The amplitude spectrum is unchanged, but the phase spectrum shows a different shape. The result of correlating these two together. Unlike convolution (which involves a time reversal) correlation multiplies the amplitude spectra together and subtracts the phase spectra. In the time domain we have a correlation peak that is shifted from time zero. We can use this technique to compare our individual input traces against the ideal pilot traces, measure time differences (by picking the peaks) and then try to rationalise these as one value for each shot and one for each receiver position.

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On the left of this display are all of the traces going into the stack that come from the same shot - we've re-gathered the data back into the shot domain. The centre panel shows the pilot traces corresponding to the individual shot traces, and the right-hand panel (at an enlarged scale) shows the correlations between the pairs of traces. The peak correlation values (around the centre of the right-hand display) show the individual time differences between the input traces and the pilot.

A similar display for traces from one receiver position. Once again the right-hand panel clearly shows the individual time shifts of each trace. If there were no residual statics present, the correlation peaks would lineup on the central timing line.

These are plots of the picked correlation peak times from the above displays. Although there's quite a lot of scatter, you can see some overall bias to the
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values for this shot and this receiver. To resolve these statics in a surface consistent manner, the computer goes through the following steps:1. Average together all of the results for one shot - apply this "shot-static" to the values. 2. Average together all of the results for one receiver - apply this "receiver-static" to the values. 3. Iterate through steps 1 and 2 for either a predetermined number of steps or until the results stop changing.

Here's the original stack once again (at the top) together with the improved "residual statics stack" at the bottom. The frequency content is much better, and the events are
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more continuous even outside of the window we used for the pilot. This is a good indication that our residual statics are correct. Static corrections are just what they say they are - static! That is corrections (or shifts) to the data that are time invariant - they don't vary with time. This will, of course, add confusion when we are trying to determine our dynamic corrections (to pick our velocities). In practice this may mean going through a cycle of residual statics and velocity picking until we're sure we're about right (or until things get really bad and we start again!). Some residual static programs attempt to pick errors in residual moveout at the same time as resolving the statics, but this is not always very successful. While in a static mood, let's examine some other static requirements in our processing sequence.

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Other Statics (1)


Static errors occur anywhere we have a "near-surface" anomaly - they are not just restricted to data recorded onshore. We'll look at just two examples that can affect marine data.

Replacement Statics

Here's a piece of reasonable quality marine data (with a different colour scheme) after stack. Some of the events, particularly the shallow ones, appear "broken-up", and there is obviously some sort of shallow anomaly causing the inverted "V" patterns in the shallow section.

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If we examine a near-trace gather (from the data going into the stack), we can see that something is happening to the very shallowest reflector - the water bottom itself appears "lumpy".

A "stretched" version of the NTG shows the problem. There are reefs on the seabed which distort the raypaths passing through them (note the wonderful multiple reflectors!). The lines drawn on this section show the top of the reefs, and (what is assumed to be) the smooth "seabed" going underneath them. As is common with most systems that are designed for "event-picking", these lines have been "snapped" to the nearest peak or trough of the seismic data in order to give an accurate 318

representation of the anomalies caused by the reefs.

Here's the model constructed from the "picks" made on the NTG section above. We can assume that, this close to the surface, most of the energy is travelling vertical down from the shot (and back to the receiver). We'll use the region marked with the blue arrow to illustrate how we determine the time differences (or static corrections) associated with these reefs for every shot and receiver.

The reef is about 40 m thick at the point marked by the blue arrow. We can estimate the interval velocity of the rocks just below the surface from our conventional velocity analysis. These, together with published estimates of velocities within reefs, seem to imply an interval velocity of about 2500 m/s. The two-way time for the seismic energy travelling through the reef is 2 x 40 2500, or about 32 milliseconds. If the reef was not there, the wave would be travelling through water with a velocity of about 1500 m/s, giving a two-way time of 2 x 40 1500 or 53 ms. The time difference between these two (53-32) is about 21 ms, in other words the time difference we would get if we could replace the reef with water. Since any data travelling through the reefs will arrive earlier than expected, we apply this static as a positive value - shifting the seismic data down. We compute these statics for every shot and receiver that lies over one of the reefs. The spread length shown in the diagram above indicates to us that some of our shots will partially or completely "straddled" some of the reefs - the raypaths in these regions will be very distorted.

Once we've computed and applied these replacement statics, we re-stack the data to give this section:-

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To avoid trying to compare this with the one at the top of the page, the next page shows a detailed comparison!

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Other Statics (2)


Replacement Statics (continued)
As promised, here's a detailed comparison of:1. The original stack 2. The stack with replacement statics 3. The stack with both replacement and residual statics (We can quite legitimately run surface-consistent residual statics after the replacement statics since the reef problem is entirely surface-consistent.) You'll note that the replacement statics "flatten" some of the deeper events as well as improving overall continuity. They remove the apparent "pull-ups" on the events due to the high velocities in the reefs (remember that this is a time section). The residual static corrections "fine-tune" our original statics and improve the high frequency content (and continuity) of our final stack section.

Tidal Statics
Anyone who's tried to process seismic data onboard a seismic vessel in a gale will appreciate the effects that tides and weather can have on seismic recording. Although we try to keep our shots and receivers at fixed depths in the water, these are always relative to the sea surface - if the surface is changing then so is our true elevation. Some parts of Canada have tidal ranges in excess of 15 m. This could cause "mis-ties" on our seismic data of 20 ms or more.

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For "normal" 2D seismic data the effects of tides can generally be ignored - they, after all, vary very slowly and will hardly be noticeable along our seismic lines. For high resolution seismic data however, and, more especially, for 3D data, they can be significant.

This is a fully processed stacked section extracted from a 3D volume of high resolution seismic data. It's what's known in 3D terms as a "crossline" - a line made up of 3D bins at right angles to the direction in which the data were shot. Each trace on this section comes from a different original line, shot at a different time (and possibly in a different direction) from the adjacent traces. The original seismic lines were shot from your viewing position "into" the screen of your monitor (or vice-versa). You'll notice the "jitters" in the above section - high (spatial) frequency static errors from trace to trace caused by tidal differences.

We can calculate the necessary corrections from published tidal information or by placing tide gauges within our survey area. The corrections we apply (to mean sea level MSL) are computed from these tides as a function of shot position and data and time of shooting. The tidal ranges shown here (from "somewhere in Southeast Asia!") show the 12 hr 25 min cycles caused by the Moon, overlaid with other cycles caused by Sun/Moon interactions.

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There's possibly something to do with "neap" and "ebb" in here, but I have no idea what they mean!

Once we've made these adjustments, we can re-display our data:-

Now we have much better continuity, and the data is correctly positioned for any processing we need to do in the crossline direction. If we want to run some form of residual statics after this, we need an approach that uses time-differences between adjacent traces as a basic input - the results are not surface-consistent.

There is one other type of residual static correction that is sometimes used as a final "clean-up". It can use the initial approach of correlations against a pilot used in our residual statics discussion, but make no assumptions about surface-consistency - it just applies individual computed statics to individual traces. The technique, known as trim statics or CDP statics, can provide additional data improvements but is inherently dangerous! Applying arbitrary large static corrections may change the apparent structure on our final section and are better solved by other surface-consistent approaches (for example recomputing the initial statics by re-picking the first breaks on every shot).

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Chapter 11 - Processing Flows (5)


We finally get to stack our data, and move on to the final stages of the "regular" processing sequence. Page 11.02 - Trace muting Front-end, back-end and surgical muting. Removing all of the nasty bits from our seismic traces. Page 11.03 - CDP Stack Nothing more complex than simply adding all of the traces from one CDP together - with a few variations. Page 11.04 - Filtering (1) The practical aspects of digital filtering. How we specify our filters ... Page 11.05 - Filtering (2) ... and how we choose the filters (as usual, lots of testing). Page 11.06 - Equalisation & AGC If we don't need to retain the "true" amplitudes within our data, we can use equalisation and AGC to tidy-up the data both before and after stack. Page 11.07 - Migration (1) Finally moving the data to its correct spatial position. We start by looking at some theoretical stack responses for simple structures ... Page 11.08 - Migration (2) ... move on to some of the techniques used to migrate the data ... Page 11.09 - Migration (3) ... and extend them to 3D and pre-stack data. Page 11.10 - Other Post-Stack Processes / Display

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A quick discussion of some of the other Post-Stack processes we may use, and a look at the types of final displays that we might use. Page 11.11 - Display (2) Other displays, 3D displays, and the final section. Page 11.12 - What happens next? Once we've finished the processing, what happens next? Page 11.13 - Chapter 11 - Questions As usual, some questions to finish this Chapter.

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Trace muting
On the left is a CDP gather (with, hopefully, the correct NMO applied) showing the stretch introduced by the NMO and the "first-break" noise present on all the longer offsets. Before we stack this data we need to remove this early noise by muting the data out in this region. The conventional approach to this is to "pick" a mute (as shown on the right) ...

... and apply a ramp to the data starting at our picked time. This "top" mute can also be known as ramping or tapering the data, and typically zeroes everything above the line we pick, and then slowly ramps (over say 30-120 ms.) the data to full contribution.

The computer normally uses a linear ramp to multiply with the data to avoid any nasty edge effects caused by an abrupt break in the data.

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We could, equally well, pick our mute before NMO. We need to do this anyway prior to any velocity analysis. Picking the mute post-NMO is usually safer, however, as it allows us to remove any additional noise introduced by the stretching in NMO.

If the mute is difficult to establish, or we would like to include as much data as possible without introducing noise, we can, as usual, test it! This display, sometimes known as a mute-scan, shows a stack of a small portion of our line with different CDP fold (and no muting). The left-hand panel is just one fold (an NTG), with subsequent panels gradually including larger offsets until the last panel contains all 60 fold. You can clearly see the noise from the first breaks in the later panels. We can pick this (much like a CVS for velocity analysis) to determine the minimum time for each fold (and hence the mute). Note also the improvement in the deeper data due to the increase in stack fold.

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We saw in our discussions in the last Chapter on multiple attenuation, how we can use a near trace (or "bottom") mute to remove the near traces and so improve the multiple cancelling properties of the stack. Yet another type of muting is the surgical mute, a "taperoff" and "taper-on" over a small region of the trace to remove spikes and noise bursts etc. You can see that, even using a computer screen, it would be quite arduous to mark every spike on this record (and every other on the line) for surgical muting!

Luckily, we usually have at our disposal some fancy software to automatically edit spikes within our seismic datasets. The display on the left is the record from above processed through an automatic spike edit (with parameters determined by testing). The right hand record has had an additional pass of interpolation (using linear Tau-P) to "fill-in" most of the missing data - anything roughly correct is probably better than a hole in our data!

Before (at long last) we finally get to stack our data, just one small digression. Although we normally only use linear tapers in the mutes for stack, there are some other shapes of mutes commonly used for the tapering of windows used for statistical (or spectral) analysis and the like. These are shown below, as usual use the buttons to switch between them. 1. A Linear taper - normally used for top, bottom and surgical muting of traces.
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2. A Hanning function (sometimes called COS-Squared). Named after Julius von Hann. 3. A Hamming function, really just a Hanning function on a pedestal. Named (confusingly) after R. W. Hamming, and no real connection with Hanning! The last two functions are suitable for the ramping of the ends of short time windows they don't introduce spurious frequency effects.

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CDP Stack

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We're finally ready to handle one of the simplest, but most important, stages of the seismic processing sequence - the CDP stack. (Although it should more correctly be called a CMP stack Common Mid-Point, we'll stick to the conventional name!) Let's review all of the geometric processes applied to our data so far. The data from different shots and receiver groups (and, for 3D data, different lines) is gathered together into the groups of traces that share one common mid-point - the CMP gather (usually called the Common Depth Point gather which isn't true for dipping events).

We've applied static corrections (and residual statics for land data), to effectively move our shots and geophones to a fixed (or floating) datum.

We've picked our velocities, and applied the necessary dynamic corrections (NMO) to correct our data to zero-offset. We still don't really have CMPs however, and the recorded data is clearly not below the mid-point for dipping data.

We've applied a Dip Moveout correction (DMO) to correct everything to a "true" common depth point, but it's still not in the correct spatial position (we'll deal with that later). We can now simply sum together all of the 331 traces from this "CDP" into one final stacked trace (just as the traces on the left have been summed).

We typically have up to 120 or more traces to sum together for each CMP, and, if we wish to maintain the "relative-amplitude" of the data, we should divide the sum by the number of traces. We have to make allowances in the mute-zone, however, because of the reduced fold in this region. This shows the mutes over the first second of a "12-fold" CDP. The red lines show the mute function for each trace (shortest offset at the bottom), and the blue curve shows the total number of "live" traces being summed at any one time (it finally reaches 12). Dividing by "N" (the fold) in this region generally over amplifies the noise on the short offset traces and we need to make some allowance for this in conventional processing. Way back at the beginning of the processing sequence (shot summing) we mentioned that purely random noise is attenuated by a factor equal to the square-root of the fold of stack. For this reason (it's the random noise we're trying to attenuate), we normally use a scalar equal to the square-root of the fold rather that the fold itself. This type of scaling (sometimes known as root-N scaling) only effects the relative amplitudes in the mute zone once we're into full-fold data it just represents an overall (constant) scale factor.

Here's a fully processed seismic section showing clearly the "taper-on" at the beginning of the line. In this region we only have long offset traces contributing to the stack so we always get to see the mute as the fold gradually increases. You may see some signal degradation at the other end as the fold decreases down to zero - we only have near traces at this end and would see any near-trace
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(bottom) mutes here. It's quite common to plot the total fold along the line for lines that may not generally have constant fold (typically 3D or 2D crooked lines). This data actually comes from a conventional 2D marine line with tape problems! The fold (supposed to be 60) never gets above 59. Once again, you can see the taper-on and off at the ends.

There are many possible variations in the stacking process, most of which are now rarely used. Here's a list of some of the more esoteric options:

Weighted Stack - We saw this in action in our discussion on multiple attenuation. Although a valid technique it does obliterate any AVO effects and is perhaps better replaced by a near trace mute (which is, after all, an extreme form of weighting). Median & Min/Max Stacks - Either computes the mathematical median of the data or eliminates the highest and/or lowest amplitudes from the stack before summing. I guess this could be useful to eliminate spikes, but is now generally handled by other techniques. Diversity stack - The traces are equalised over small windows prior to stack (see a few pages time for equalisation) and the average equalisation is removed after stack. Basically knocks down high amplitudes and pushes up low amplitudes. Much conventional processing now uses a full equalisation before stack, so this process is unnecessary. Inversity stack - The opposite of diversity! High amplitude traces are boosted, and lower amplitude traces are further attenuated. Probably better just to (once again) equalise the data before stack.

Most of these techniques are not now generally in use, but may be necessary to solve some obscure problems. If in doubt (as usual) test it!

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Before finishing with stack, I'll just mention one occasion where we may need to mute the data after stack. This is the first three seconds of a stacked data set (at a very high display gain). The first major event (at about 2.2 seconds) is the seabed, we've obviously moved off the continental shelf! The noise visible above this first (valid) reflector is generated from previous shots and instruments (and, I suppose, reflections from giant squids and the like). We need to remove this after stack by picking the water bottom reflection and using space-variant muting parameters that follow these picks. In practice, many of our processing parameters (design gates etc.) may also need to be "tied-in" to the picked water bottom, and varied along every line.

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Filtering (1)
Way back in the dim distant past of this course (Chapter 6), we discussed the theory behind digital filtering. We use frequency filters at numerous points during the processing sequence - any time that we need to remove some of the background "noise". Filters are almost always applied, however, at the end of the sequence to tidy-up the final stacked section and/or migration. We briefly mentioned DAS (deconvolution after stack) in the last Chapter, and it is this process that, more than any other, requires some filtering to reduce the unwanted frequencies enhanced by the deconvolution.

We've seen many examples of filtering before - here's an example of a low-pass filter (only passing the low frequencies) applied to a photograph. In this case the filter is applied in both directions (across and down) but, having discussed spatial filtering in some detail earlier, we are now looking at the "down" direction filtering in the time domain. You'll see in what follows that filtering is one subject that is littered with names. We'll mention Ormsby, Bartlett, Hanning, Butterworth and others! Assuming that we have some idea of the frequencies we wish to "pass" through to our final section, how do we design these filters? We could simply decide (by testing) on the frequencies we want, and then simply apply a filter in the frequency domain that just passes those filters. For example we might apply a 20-50 Hz filter which passes only the frequencies from 20 to 50 Hz. The problem with this is the sharp cut-offs at 20 and 50 Hz. The resultant filter (in the time domain) is roughly equivalent to the difference in two of the sync functions we mentioned earlier - a pretty messy wavelet!

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To avoid the "edge-effects" associated with sharp cut-offs, we usually use filters that slope on and off in the frequency domain. The first of these, sometimes known as Ormsby or trapezoidal filters, uses four frequencies to define the slopes. All frequencies below F0 and above F3 are removed, whilst those from F1 to F2 are fully passed. The amplitudes are tapered on from F0 to F1 and off from F2 to F3. When we use linear slopes (as shown here) they are sometimes known as Bartlett tapers. Although these slopes greatly reduce any undesirable "wobbles" in the time domain, the sharp corners can cause problems (especially when the overall passband is narrow). One solution to this is to use the Hanning tapers discussed earlier (sometimes called CosSquared) to "smooth-out" the slopes. This tends to improve the time response but still has one major problem - the frequencies outside F0 to F3 are completely removed, they're gone forever! In fact we can achieve the sharp cut-offs mentioned above (and the other effects) by making F0 equal to F1, and F2 equal to F3. So we might want to use Butterworth filters, a leftover from electronic filtering that provide a different approach to the design (again, using four parameters). For these filters we specify the low and high cut-off points (FA & FB), which will be reduced by 3dB (70%) by the filter, and slopes (in dB/Octave) at either end. Typical slopes vary from 6 to 72 dB/Octave. What type of design do we use, Ormsby or Butterworth? In general, if the seismic data is of high quality, it doesn't matter very much and Butterworth filters are probably slightly easier to use. Ormsby filters require that we are careful in our choice of "cornerfrequencies" (F0, F1, F2 & F3) so that we don't introduce "ringy" wavelets into our data,
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but have the advantage that they do remove certain frequencies. As usual, if in doubt, test it!

Before the age of Fast-Fourier-Transforms, it was necessary to design and apply filters in the time domain (by convolution). The Martin-Graham technique uses an approximation (assuming that our data is continuos, not sampled), to design Ormsby filters (with linear tapers) directly in the time domain. The equation is surprisingly simple:-

Butterworth filters, on the other hand, must be designed in the frequency domain. Here's the amplitude spectrum for a Butterworth filter:-

O.K., putting all that lot into practice, the following program designs zero-phase Ormsby filters by three methods. The time domain equation derived by Martin & Graham (with the filter truncated to the 200 ms displayed), and frequency domain designs using linear and Hanning tapers. In each case the amplitude spectrum is displayed in blue below the time function. The "reject" option produces a filter that removes the frequencies you specify. It's simply produced by subtracting the bandpass filter from a white spectrum (a "1" in the middle). Remember that F0 <= F1 <= F2 <= F3, and that all frequencies are less than or equal to 125 (I've assumed 4ms data).

You should notice that the time domain design is much "noisier" in both time and amplitude, and that the Hanning tapers give a slightly better result than the linear tapers.

Here's a similar display for Butterworth filters. Remember that SA and SB are slopes (in dB/Octave).

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Once again you should see that low slopes give the smoothest time function. We'll now move on to choosing filters (testing as usual) and see how we can vary them in both time and space.

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Filtering (2)
So here we go with our filter trials! We would expect that the frequency content of our signal will become lower as we move to deeper times (the higher frequencies are absorbed), so we are looking for the "optimum" filter at various times down the section - time variant filters. We'll start by looking at part of a stacked seismic line with a series of exclusive filters applied. These were all applied as Ormsby filters with slopes of about half an octave on each end (for example, 7-10-20-28). The key on the right gives the passband for each filter (section "A" is unfiltered). Look for the point at which 1) the low-cut removes signal, or 2) the high-cut no longer enhances the signal content. A Unf. B 0-10 C 10-20 D 20-30 E 30-40 F 40-50 G 50-60 Not easy is it? You can see the reduction in high frequencies at later times (towards the right), but it's quite difficult to establish exact passbands at different times.

Let's try a different technique. This time we've used a set of filters of equal "length" - one octave. Each filter overlaps by half an octave with the previous! See if this is any easier to interpret! A Unf. B 0-10 C 7-14 D 10-20 E 14-28 F 20-40 G 28-56 H 40-80
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Perhaps a little bit easier to interpret, but still difficult!

Let's try the brute force approach - all the likely filters that we might use! A Unf. B 5-30 C 5-40 D 5-50 E 10-30 F 10-40 G 10-50 H 10-60 I 15-30 J 15-40 K 15-50 L 15-60 M 20-40 N 20-50 O 20-60

Although we now have a lot to look at (and we probably need to look at this at a large scale on paper), this approach is probably the easiest to interpret. With the small running times on modern machines, such a trial is not significant and we may save the more valuable personnel time by running lots of filters in (maybe) several places in our survey. Once we've decided on our filters, we should plot the selected passbands as a function of time and establish a smooth time variant filter pattern. In areas of strong structure (or, for example, deep water) it may be necessary to vary the filter times based on some interpreted reflections on the section. We might, for example, use a filter that "follows" the main reflector across the whole area. Here's the above stacked section again, this time with a selected time-variant filter pattern. The final selected filters vary from 10-90 at time zero to 7-40 at the final section time.

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How are these filters applied? We can imagine each filter being tapered on and off over our time range, with each filter reaching its full effect at the time (or time range) we specify. In practice the actual application is normally done in the frequency domain so we need to consider this in our filtering parameters.

The section on the left is a synthetic example where we've tried to apply a very severe time variant filter. The Ormsby corner frequencies were:At the top of the section At the bottom 25-30-6080 0-5-20-30

Which we would expect to give us something like 12-17-40-55 in the middle. Unfortunately the modern TVF program uses a FFT technique, usually as follows:341

1. Transform the trace to the frequency domain. 2. Apply each filter to the trace. 3. Time variantly mix the filtered traces together. This gives us the mix shown on the right - the filter in the centre is roughly 0-5-60-80 at half amplitude!

The solution to this is very simple - just insert more filters into the pattern to avoid rapid passband changes. Here I've just added a 12-17-40-55 filter in the middle, which at least makes the very weak horizontal event visible! Before entering your final filter parameters into the computer, check how the program changes the filter between your key points in both time and space, and adjust your parameters accordingly!

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Equalisation & AGC


Just as there are many examples in our lives where some level of equalisation would be useful, in many cases of seismic processing some level of equalisation of the trace amplitudes may be very beneficial. If, as is often the case, we are not trying to retain the absolute relative amplitudes within our data, the equalisation of amplitudes throughout the data may improve the signal to noise ratio. Equalisation does just what it says it does - it equalises the amplitudes both from trace-totrace and down the time scale. AGC or Automatic Gain Control is a variation on this which we'll reach further down this page. It's normally applied before stack to improve the stack response and remove high amplitude noise bursts, and/or after stack to "balance" the final section. We'll use one example trace to show how it works. Here we have 3 seconds of seismic trace (either before or after stack). You'll notice the high amplitudes at the front (water bottom reflection?), the weaker portion in the centre, and the high part again at the end. This probably implies that our gain recovery correction is not absolutely correct - as we selected it for a whole area by testing this is not surprising! We have chosen to apply an equalisation to this trace with 500 ms windows. The computer first measures the rootmean-square (RMS) amplitude in each 500 ms window down the trace. The RMS is just the square root of the average amplitude-squared in the window - it gives us a measure of the overall absolute amplitudes in the window (both positive and negative).

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The inverse of these RMS values (shown in red) are positioned at the centre of each window and a "gain-curve" is interpolated between these points. This gain-curve can now be applied as a multiplier to the trace to equalise the amplitudes ... ... and here's the result. The weaker portions are amplified, and the stronger portions attenuated. We can control the extent of the equalisation by our choice of window lengths which (as usual) we may want to vary in both space and time. Instead of using discrete windows we can use a continuous process similar to the Automatic Gain Control used on some electronic equipment. The term AGC is still used for the digital version. We still use windows (or gates) - again I've used 500ms. This time the RMS is computed over every 500 ms window. After computing the first window, the window is moved by just one sample and the scalar computed again. This is repeated for every sample to give an AGC correction curve which is again multiplied by the data. The result of the AGC. For a given window length AGC is usually slightly more "severe" than equalisation but does avoid difficulties with window design. To examine the differences in more detail use the buttons on the display below for a direct comparison.

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Yet another example. This time we have a very weak trace with one major event in the centre. Although this is probably unusual, similar strong events may often occur within regions of our data.

The 500 ms AGC curve computed from the above trace. Note that the very strong event causes a low inverse over any 500ms window that includes this event.

Here's the result of the AGC. Although the weaker portions have been slightly "lifted", the strong event still dominates and there is a shadow around this event where the AGC hasn't really worked well. These shadow zones are quite common and should be looked for after AGC or equalisation! Shadow zones can be reduced by either careful window design or by more sophisticated scaling. One option is to use two windows simultaneously (one short, one long) to try to statistically predict very strong events and reduce the effects of the short-window scaling in these regions. AGC or equalisation always destroys any "true-amplitude" information within the data. In all cases the inverse scaling produces a fixed RMS on output which may be some arbitrary numerical value (in the examples shown above the direct inverse gives an output RMS of "1"). Since we, once again, usually establish our equalisation/AGC parameters by testing, here's some stacked seismic data with varying AGC length (in ms) applied. The first example, where the AGC window is equal to the trace length is the same as an equalisation of the

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same length and is often referred to as a base-level - it base levels each trace without changing the amplitudes down the time scale.

Migration (1)
Migration is the process that moves the data on our stacked seismic section into its correct position in both space and time. Even after our NMO and DMO corrections, reflections from dipping events are plotted on our stack section in the wrong place. They need to be moved "up-dip" along a hyperbolic curve in order to put them in the right place, the shape of this hyperbola depending on the velocity field. Before we start to look at some of the methods of migration, let's look at the appearance of some simple structures on our stacked section. In each of the displays below, press the buttons to switch between 1) the way the structure should look (after migration) and 2) the way it looks on our stacked section. The two boxes on the right give a description of the appearance of the structure before migration and, in the lower box (in red), the errors we can expect if our velocity field is incorrect. Remember, it's the section you see when the number 2 button is pressed that represents our stacked section - the migration process tries to correct this back to its true position (button 1). A local high, or, in geological terms, an anticline appears wider on the stack section than it should be. The amount of "stretch" depends on the dips on each flank - the higher the dips the wider the structure will appear on our stacked section. If our velocities are incorrect then the final migrated structure may be narrower or wider than the true structure - this could lead to the wrong estimate of any oil or gas reserves underneath this "high".

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The opposite of this, a syncline, appears narrower on the stack section. Where the dip changes (at the centre of the structure) there is a danger that a cross-over of raypaths will occur. Once again, incorrect velocities will lead to an incorrect shape. In the velocities are too high then the syncline will be wider than it should be after migration. Velocities that are too low will "under-migrate" the structure, leaving it too narrow.

Steep dips on the flanks of the syncline, and a rapid change of curvature at the bottom, leads to the "bow-tie" effect that we've seen before. (Remember the upside-down reflection in a spoon? The reflections from the left-hand side of the steep slope appear on the right and vice-versa.) We can over or under migrate this with the wrong velocities. In the extreme case the reflection will not be properly "focused" by the process and pieces of the "bow-tie" will remain.

An event that should appear as a single point reflector on our migrated section appears as a diffraction curve on the stack. I've had to increase the gain on the stack display because all of the energy in the original point is now spread out over the diffraction curve. The hyperbolic shape of this curve is important - it's very similar to the curves we compute from the velocities in applying NMO. A velocity error will lead to the "point" being smeared on our final migrated section. If our velocities are too high, the point will be over-migrated into a "smile". If they're too low, the under migration will leave a residual "frown" in the data.

A discrete event, that terminates abruptly, will generate diffraction curves at its ends. These curves have the same shape as those from a single point but exhibit an interesting polarity anomaly. The part of the curve "under" the actual event is polarity reversed relative to the other part of the curve (with this colour scheme, red and blue change over). Over and under migration here will mask the abrupt end of the event - it will, once again, be badly focused.
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A gap within an otherwise continuous event also generates diffractions at each break. Note, once again, the polarity reversal and the interference between the two diffractions in the centre of the gap. If our velocities are wrong in this case, the gap will be poorly imaged. In extreme cases "smiles" from over migrated data, or from random noise bursts in the data may completely hide the gap.

If we have very small "events" and "gaps" then the interference pattern becomes very complex. One way to understand some of the migration methods that follow is to realise that even a continuous event could be considered to be a series of discrete points with diffractions, but these curves interfere with each other and "cancel-out" everywhere but along the event. This "cancelling-out" relies on the velocity field being correct. If it's wrong, the events will effectively move to the wrong place (and time).

A perfectly horizontal event with a fault plane. The reflection from the fault plane (if it's not too steep to be imaged) will be recorded to the right of the fault and needs to be migrated up-dip into its correct position. If the velocity field is incorrect, the fault plane will not "move" to the correct place and the diffraction curves from the "corners" of the structure will not focus correctly.

Finally a very strange structure. If we had a perfectly parabolic event in the ground, with its centre on our CDP, we would see only one point on our stacked section - the event would be like a parabolic mirror, concentrating all of the reflected energy into one point. Our synthetic stack doesn't quite show this - the errors caused by the very steep dips in the "inverse-migration" program I used are the same as those we will encounter in the forward migration programs - they are all (to some extent) an approximation! Add a velocity error to the errors already introduced by the migration process and this will be very difficult to image. If we have a single "point" of energy in our stacked section that doesn't correspond to a "real" event (for example a spike), this will migrate into a parabolic "smile" on our migrated section.

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The equations that govern the amount of correction required for migration are relatively simple. The spatial shift (delta-X) and the new (migrated) time can be calculated by picking dips on a stacked section and using the stacking velocities. The equations are:-

Where Time is in seconds, Dip in seconds per metre and velocity in metres per second. Our normal dip convention (increasing time with increasing distance is positive) is used. You should be able to see from the above that any event will move "up-dip". The time equation is identical to that used for NMO, except that we use half the velocity (or twice the distance) in the calculation. Some more ray tracing! The top diagram shows a 5km seismic "line", with a depth scale extending down to 4km. There is one single reflector (shown in red) with the "normal incident" raypaths (in blue) drawn from this to the surface. The lower diagram shows the "stack" produced from this section (in, for a change, green). Use the scroll bar to add either a synclinal or anticlinal structure to the centre of the line and examine the stack response!

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Migration (2)
A stacked seismic data set is a little bit like the view of the world seen by someone wearing thick glasses with cracked lenses! Every velocity change in the shallow layers causes a bend in the rays entering (and leaving) the earth, distorting everything below that layer. The methods used to correct for this, and migrate the data to its correct position, rely on some of the work done by the early pioneers in optic research explaining similar effects on light rays. We can, by simple geometry, establish the equations necessary to move seismic data from its position on the stacked section to its position on the migrated section. These are the equations shown on the previous page namely:-

Assuming an event at 2 seconds two-way time with a velocity of 2000 m/s on our stack section, I've plotted these equations on the right for all possible dips. Note that, even only allowing dips up to 45 degrees, the event could actually be mis-positioned by up to 2000 metres and 2 seconds!

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If we combine the above equations, removing the dip term, we can plot all possible positions for the migrated event. This curve shows us that this single "point" at 2 seconds could (depending on its dip) migrate to any position on this curve - the shape of the curve being controlled only by the geometry and velocities.

Initial work done by Christian Huygens more than three hundred years ago, and later work done by the German physicist Gustav Robert Kirchhoff led to one of the first methods used for migration. A Kirchhoff Migration takes each point on one CDP in our stacked section and moves it (using the equations above) to all possible positions. The resultant scan of traces can cover many kilometres, and will be muted where the stretch caused by the process (identical to that caused by NMO) becomes excessive. This process is repeated for every CDP in the line, and the massively overlapping results are summed together. As if by magic (provided it's done properly), all of the data interferes destructively in areas where there are no coherent reflections, and constructively along events, the resultant sum producing a migrated section. It can be shown (but not by me!) that this approach gives an integral solution to the wave equation and, with a small phase and amplitude adjustment after the process, still provides an extremely good migration product.

All migration methods (and there are many of them) derive some (sometimes very approximate) solution to the wave equation:351

(Shown in Chapter 3 with a promise never to be shown again!)

Other methods involve some sort of differential solution to this equation, and are generally known as finite difference methods. The term finite difference arises in the way in which the differential (or slope) of a sampled curve is computed. With a course sampling interval, an estimate of the slope from the sample values (shown in green) is very inaccurate. As sampling (and computer time!) increases, the finite difference more closely approached the true slope. Other approximations in the solution lead to techniques that only work for limited dip ranges (say up to 45), and yet other methods use a transformation into either F-K or F-X domains to accomplish the migration.

Most of these wave equation methods use a technique known as downward continuation. The stacked section is divided into thin layers in time (typically 16-40ms, but dependent on dip and velocity changes), and the velocities within each layer are used to compute the effects of this layer on everything below it. It is as though we moved the shots and geophones through this layer so that they are now buried in the earth (and everything above them is fully migrated). Here's the same "model" from the last page, but this time an additional bar has been added to allow you to "move" the shots and geophones down to some time in the section. Use the lower scroll bar as before to introduce some structure, then move the upper scroll bar down progressively "migrating" the lower section. Everything above the grey line is fully migrated (the "lens" effect of the upper layers has been removed) and the deeper data is partially migrated.

Before moving on to some real examples, and the extensions of migration to 3D and prestack data, here's a brief summary of some of the more common migration methods with an indication of their effectiveness (and cost) for various conditions:Migration Name Type Dip Vel-T Vel-X Cost Criteria

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Kirchhoff Time Kirchhoff Depth Kirchhoff Depth Modified Kirchhoff Depth Explicit Phase-Shift Finite Difference Finite Difference Explicit Finite Difference Steep Dip Finite Difference Explicit, Depth FK (Stolt) Reverse-Time T-K

Time Depth Depth Depth Time Time Time Time Depth Time Time

Type Dip

Type of migration (see next page). Effectiveness for steep dips.

Vel- Handling velocity T variations in time. Vel- Handling velocity X variations in space. Cost Relative cost (computer time).

Symbol Not supported! Poor. Fair. Good. Excellent!

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Migration (3)
Both the Kirchhoff migration and variations on the other wave equation techniques can be modified to take into account the bending of the raypaths (by refraction) within a complex section. These modified techniques are usually referred to depth migrations - as well as imaging the data in the correct position they also convert the vertical time scale of our section to depth. For the sake of consistency we often convert the final depth section back into time since that's the usual scale for a seismic section.

Both time and depth migrations are only approximations when applied to 2D seismic data. Unless the 2D line runs exactly across the maximum dips in the structure (normally called a "dip" line), some of the data should be migrated out of the plane of the section in three dimensions. The only solution to this is, of course, 3D processing (and 3D migration) which we will discuss below. Let's start by looking at some real examples of migration, and some of the problems common to all migration programs.

This section shows the bottom two seconds of a seismic line that was processed to four seconds through wave equation migration.

The buttons show the time (in seconds) of the "downward continuation" computed by the approximation to the wave equation above that point. 0 is unmigrated (the stack) and 4 (representing 4 seconds) is fully migrated. Note how the complex unconformity at the bottom of this section gradually becomes imaged as the wavefront effectively moves down the section.

If you are running this course on a fairly fast standalone system, or over a fast network, you may wish to look at an animation of the complete migration of the above line - if you're running on a slow machine I would not recommend this!

All migration algorithms suffer when the spatial sampling of the data is not enough to properly image any steep dips in the section.

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Here's a small piece of line migrated at its original 12 metre CDP interval, and then (by simply processing every other trace) at a 25 metre interval. You can clearly see the migration "noise" introduced by the under-sampling (or spatial aliasing). Spatial aliasing of this sort can be reduced by some form of interpolation on the original data. Just as we can reduce the sample period of our data in the time domain by interpolating samples between those already there*, we can use FFT or Tau-P transforms on our stacked section to interpolate the traces to a finer spatial interval before migration. Almost any interpolation is better then none!

* Using, of course, sync functions!


The other problem, of course, is velocity.

We normally use our stacking velocities as a basis for building a "velocity-field" for migration. We have already seen how inaccurate these velocities can be (in a geological sense) and we may need to smooth them and adjust them (typically adding a few per cent to them) prior to migration. Small errors in velocity are difficult to spot but, as we mentioned a couple of pages back, the wrong velocities can produce the "wrong" structure. In cases of extreme structure the velocity field should itself be migrated prior to migrating the data. This requires an interpretation of the stacked section and velocities picked on each horizon. We then use the local dip to migrate each velocity and rebuild our velocity field. As an extreme example this section was processed with the "correct" velocities (or what we believed were "about right"!) and then much lower (less 25%) and higher (+25%).

Some structures are impossible to stack correctly without migrating the data before stack. Pre-Stack Time and Pre-Stack Depth migrations are now becoming commonplace and use all of the data (usually in common-offset planes) as input to the migration process. Even with a relatively simple pre-stack time migration we have the opportunity to re-pick our velocities after migration (with the events now in the correct position) and re-iterate through the whole process combining NMO, DMO, Migration and Depth Conversion into one (expensive!) single process.

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A pre-stack depth migration of a complex (and very steep) structure can produce a very accurate migration.

The initial velocity field for these data were modified (using genetic algorithms) during the processing to provide the "best" migration. The colours on the final display represent the final computed velocity field.

3D Migration
After 3D binning and stacking our 3D volume now represents a complete "volume" of 3D traces - evenly spaced (though not necessarily the same spacing) in both spatial directions (X and Y) and sampled in time in the Z direction.

For 3D data we need to migrate the data in 3D. A single point in space will appear as a paraboloid in 3 dimensions on our stacked data and we must "move" the data both along the line and across the line to its new position (the green arrow in this diagram). Note that we almost achieve the same result (the errors are probably less than our velocity errors) by moving the data in two orthogonal directions (along X and Y) and, by judicious use of Pythagorean geometry accomplish our 3D migration in two steps.
This shows a 3D surface before and after migration (imagine that this is just one reflection from our 3D dataset).

Once again every reflection point will move "up-dip", only this time the dip is not assumed
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to lie on the line - the data is migrated in 3D. You should be able to see the "tightening" of each peak, and the widening of each trough within the data set - each peak and trough moving in the direction of its own slope (or dip). Notice how the coloured grid, drawn on the original (stack) dataset, distorts into a new position after migration.
We can also perform this 3D migration as a two-step migration. Here the data is first migrated along each "inline" (the lines parallel to the direction of shooting), and the result is then migrated along the "crosslines" to complete the process. A conventional 2D migration can be used for each pass but the results are not absolutely correct (they rely on the assumption that [1+a]2 = 1+a2 when "a" is very small).

Full 3D migrations are now commonplace but even now some of these "cheat" by using wave equation migrations over thin layers in the "X" direction and then in the "Y" direction. One advantage of the older two-step processes was the opportunity to examine the data after the first pass - it's quite easy to spot positioning or acquisition errors on data that has only been migrated in one direction, the "crosslines" can show all kinds of problems. We'll look at some examples of fully migrated 3D data in a couple of pages, after we've examined some additional post-stack/post-migration processes and more conventional displays!

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Other Post-Stack Processes / Display


Other Post-Stack Processes
We're almost at the end of the processing sequence, but let's look once again at the tail end of our processing sequence - the post-stack processes:-

15 CMP Stack 16 Datum Correction 17 Final Gain Recovery

Summation of all data from one common mid-point. Final static correction to the final datum. Adjustment of the initial gain recovery to compensate for velocity changes.

18 Multichannel Filtering Additional coherency enhancement (spatially). 19 Deconvolution 20 Migration 21 Spectral Shaping 22 Bandpass filter 23 Equalisation Final frequency balancing. Re-positioning of dipping events to their correct spatial position. Adjustments to the final amplitude / phase spectrum. Limiting of frequencies to the useful signal range. Amplitude normalisation.

Final Display
We've discussed most of these processes before, but I'll just go through them briefly to highlight the post-stack parameters that we might use. Our final datum correction is simply a static correction to move the data to a fixed datum. For marine data this is simply a static to finally correct (to Mean Sea Level) for the depth of the shot and streamer ([shot depth + streamer depth]/1500 m/s - typically about 8 ms). For land data this step normally requires correcting the floating datum used in the processing to a fixed datum. This final datum could, of course, be either above or (unusually) below sea level. The final gain recovery step usually removes the Time-Squared scaling applied at the beginning of the sequence, replacing it with a "Velocity-Squared times Time" scalar which is a better approximation - we can't do this until we have our final velocities.
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The Multichannel Filtering step shown above typically includes any of the spatial filtering techniques mentioned in Chapter 8. This may be used to remove any remaining diffracted noise, or simply to improve the coherency of the data. Even a simple running mix of traces is a multichannel filter. Deconvolution, Migration, Filtering & Equalisation we have already discussed in some detail. The Spectral Shaping stage may include some kind of phase correction (which will be discussed in the next Chapter), or simply a band-limited deconvolution. This corrects the spectrum to a "smooth" shape, usually using frequency domain techniques that assume that the data is minimum-phase. There are, of course, numerous proprietary techniques applied by different processing software either before or after stack. All of these depend on the particular software being used. In all cases, however, we have to finally display the data and we're now close off the basic processing sequence by looking at types of seismic displays.

Display
Despite the fact that most processed data is now supplied to the interpreter on tape, we still need to make paper or film displays for QC purposes and for a final record of our processing. Although modern display screens can display in excess of 1000 or more "dots" across the screen, a 400 dpi (dots per inch) paper plotter output of a 10 km seismic line will use literally billions of dots. We often cannot "see" enough data on one display screen.

Let's examine some of the types of display used for seismic data ...

Seismic data is still displayed in black & white in the majority of cases. This has the advantage of being cheap to plot and reproduce and generally takes one of three forms:A) Wiggle-trace (WT) - the original method used to display seismic data and still used when we want to examine the precise details of a trace or wavelet. B) Variable Area (VA or VAR) - the first "high-tech" display used where the peaks within the data are shaded black. This highlights any events running across the

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data. C) Variable Area / Wiggle Trace (VAWT or VARWT or WTVAR etc.) - now the most common type of display combining the advantages of both those listed above. Variable Area displays can be enhanced by the addition of a "bias" to the traces:A) The original VA section shown above. B) A bias of -10% - each trace is effectively shifted 10% of its space to the left. This will highlight just the strongest events in the section. C) A bias of +10% - each trace is effectively shifted 10% of its space to the right. This will enhance the weaker events (but lose some detail on the strong events). The same technique can be applied to VARWT displays:A) The original display from the top of this section. B) VAWT with a -10% bias. C) VAWT with a +10% bias. We can, of course, change the "gain" of the display:A) The gain used above less 6dB (x 0.5). B) The gain used above less 3dB (x 0.7). C) The gain used above.

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D) The gain used above plus 3dB (x 1.4). E) The gain used above plus 6dB (x 2.0).

Note how some of the traces are "clipped" by the display system and/or quantised by the "dots" on the screen.
We can achieve a little more detail by displaying the troughs in a different shade this is sometimes called a "dual-polarity" display:A) We can display in black and white.. B) Or in any disgusting colour scheme! When we move on to full colour or Variable Density displays (unfortunately sometimes called "VD"), we have lots of options:A) We can use a "grey-scale" display going from black to white. B) We can effectively lower the gain by changing the colour table. C) Or raise the gain by moving the black and white extremes further into the table. D) We can use a Blue-White-Red colour scheme ... E) ... or anything else we fancy. One other option we have on Variable Density or colour displays is how we interpolate:A) We can either use a continuos scheme that "fills-in" the colour between traces.

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B) Or we can simply display the colours associated with each trace position. This is sometimes useful if you are looking for trace-to-trace anomalies.

Finally we can change the appearance of the whole display by the judicious (or otherwise) use of timing lines.

We, of course, need these lines to calibrate our display but should be careful when displaying data on low density devices (like a VDU screen) that the timing lines don't obscure the data.

Before finally producing our final section, let's look at some 3D displays.

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Display (2)
3D Displays
After stack and migration a 3D dataset represents a continuous volume of data sampled in 3 dimensions.

The dataset shown here is from a very high-resolution low-fold survey in deep water - you can see the water bottom reflection on the top of the "cube". (I've stripped some of the water layer off of these displays - you can, if you really want to, calculate the true zero position by spotting the very obvious water bottom multiple on some of the later displays!)
We can display data in almost any direction thorough this volume, usually referring to the orthogonal displays as:-

Inlines - those lines that are parallel to the original direction of shooting, in this volume left to right. Crosslines - those lines perpendicular to the direction of shooting (front to back). Timeslices - horizontal slices produced by taking all of the samples from every trace at a particular time.

Many other types of display are possible. For example we can interpolate a "random line" running on any path through the volume (sometimes called an Arbitary 3D line), or we can display "horizon-slices" - timeslices that follow an event picked though the volume. During data processing it's usually the three orthogonal displays we concentrate on - in each of the following examples use the buttons to switch between examples of inlines, crosslines and timeslices:363

INLINES

CROSSLINES

TIMESLICES

Note that the first and last inlines and crosslines are relatively weak. There is no data beyond these lines to migrate into their position, this reduces their overall amplitude. Note also the level of detail on the timeslices. At times a timeslice can look like a satellite photograph, or a microscope slide taken from a rock sample! In general very small details (smaller than the time sample period) can be seen to "line-up" on timeslices.

The Final Display


Final sections, plotted on film or paper, almost always follow a standard pattern.

There will be a side label containing information on the acquisition and processing, plots and annotation above and below the section, and, of course, the seismic data itself. Click on the "Key" button and examine the following explanation on the various parts of the display.
Key Red On Label Basic line details Company names, the line name and area details.

Yellow Field Parameters

Hopefully, all of the geometry information from the field. For marine data (this is a "land" line) this normally includes a boat diagram showing the overall

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layout. Green Processing Parameters Full details of the processing. This may include an enormous amount of detail, or may simply list the processes applied without going into too much detail. Many processing systems now include automatic labelling so that you can be sure that the information on the label is correct. The scale used for the display. Normally the horizontal scale is expressed in both "true" scale terms (i.e. 1:25,000) and in terms of the parameters used to plot the traces (10 traces per cm, 10 cms per second). Sometimes a location map is included (typically on 2D data) showing the position of the line on the surface.

Light Blue

Display details

Dark Blue Key Red

Map

On Section Basic line details A repeat of the line name at the other end of the section, possibly also showing the direction of the line (either in degrees or as, for example, "NNE"). For land processing the elevations, field statics and residual statics are usually plotted on top of the section, and the floating datum is often plotted on top of the seismic data. For marine data, the water depths are usually just annotated with the Shotpoint numbers. The final velocities used to process this section are usually annotated along the line. If this is a stacked section then we normally annotate the final stacking velocities, if migrated then, of course, the migration velocities.

Yellow Statics

Green Velocities

Light Blue Dark Blue Pink

Line For 2D seismic data we mark the position of every other intersecting (or Intersections crossing) 2D line. SP/CDP numbers CDP fold The Shotpoint, Station and/or CDP numbers are annotated on either the top or bottom of the section. In many cases (particularly for land data) the CDP fold is also plotted.

There are no hard and fast rules as to "what goes where" on the section, but most modern sections are something like the above example. Before closing the "normal" processing route, we'll examine four major display parameters that still cause problems.

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Display Parameters
There are four key areas where problems still occur in plotting seismic data - here's a brief summary!

DISPLAY SCALES We're generally supplied with information regarding display scales in the form of "1:xxxx" horizontal scale, and "zzz cms (or inches) per second. The second item usually relates directly to a plotting parameter - we ask for "zzz cms per second". The first can, however, cause problems. Assume that you have a seismic line with a CDP interval of "cdpi" metres. In order to plot this at a 1:xxxx horizontal scale we need to plot (xxxx)/(100*cdpi) traces per cm. For example, with a 12.5 CDP spacing, and a 1:25,000 scale we need 25000/1250 or 20 traces per cm. So far, so good but, if we are plotting on a relatively low resolution plotter, we may need to adjust this scale slightly so as to get an exact number of dots per trace to avoid nasty looking aberrations in the display. For example, if we have a 400 dot per inch plotter, each trace from the above example will need 7.87 dots! If we change this to "8", we'll get the wrong scale (1:24,606 instead of 1:25,000) but a better looking display. POLARITY This is one subject that causes a lot of problems! The SEG (Society of Exploration Geophysicists) definition of standard polarity ("SEG standard") is:"The onset of a compressional wave from an explosive source is recorded as a negative number, and plotted on the final seismic section as a white trough." This may seem a little odd, but is based on historical data and is the convention adopted for most seismic data in the USA. Other countries (and companies) adopt the opposite convention so please ensure that you know what you should be using and PUT IT ON THE SECTION LABEL!

PLOTTING DIRECTION Again, a binary choice! We can either plot our sections from left-to-right or from right-toleft. The convention here is that North and East are always on the right of the display roughly parallel lines should be plotted in the same direction regardless of the direction in which they were shot. Traditionally anything shot from 0 (North) to 179 (almost South) is plotted left-to-right, everything else from right-to-left but the overriding criteria should be to keep roughly parallel lines plotted in the same (geographical) direction. If in doubt once again, check with the person you're doing it for! SHOTPOINT LABELLING This only really applies to 2D Marine data. Our navigation data is stored using Shotpoint numbers, and our seismic data is stored by CDP number. How do we relate these two together?

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We need to be sure just how our navigation data was recorded. Does it show the position of each shot? The position of the recording antenna? The position of the mid-point between shot and 1st receiver? All of these are possible and require some adjustment to our labelling. For example, for 240 channel, 120 fold seismic data we will have two CDPs (at say 12.5 m) for every Shotpoint (at 25m). The mid-point between the first shot and receiver corresponds to the 240th CDP on our section and, if the navigation data gives the position of this mid-point, then we should mark our first SP on the 240th CDP. If the navigation data shows some other position then we must offset our labelling by the corresponding amount AND PUT IT ON THE SECTION LABEL!

Well, I guess that we've finally finished the basic processing sequence!

Before we move on to some more esoteric processes, it might be useful to have a quick look at what happens to our seismic data once we've finished with it!

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What happens next?

Once we've finished the processing (and plotted the data) we usually need to archive the data on tape for the next stage - the interpretation of the seismic data. We normally run several archives of the data for posterity - almost always in the SEGY format covered fully in Chapter 5. Although, traditionally, archives are made of the unfiltered data after both stack and migration (so that we can change the deconvolution and filtering if necessary) we also need to archive the final fully processed data set (that which we normally plot) for loading onto the computer system used by the interpreter.

Until quite recently, most seismic data was interpreted with the aid of a pencil and (hopefully) some geological knowledge of the area being studied. This not only necessitated the manual checking of every intersection in a 2D survey to make sure that the interpretations "tied", but also required manual digitisation of the final results - reading the picked time of events at small intervals along the line and handposting these on a map for hand contouring.

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The advent of large volumes of 3D data pushed the development of CAI - Computer Aided Interpretation. Although the initial workstations were relatively slow (and difficult) to use, the advances over the last decade now provide a total environment for the analysis of seismic (and associated) data. The seismic data is loaded onto the workstation, together with all of the necessary navigation data, and the interpreter can select lines directly from a map, pick his reflections and map them.

All kinds of displays can be viewed including, on some of the latest systems, the most advanced forms of 3D visualisation (often involving the wearing of strange headsets!).

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Workstations can then be used for the complex tasks involved with drilling, testing and prospect evaluation. These tasks are traditionally left to the "Production" side of the Oil Companies staff - the initial work, including the seismic processing and analysis, being handled by the "Exploration" staff. The boundaries between "E&P" within companies are now much less rigid than they once were with the result that many of the latest interactive workstations cover absolutely all of the work involved in turning the seismic data into a viable production field.

Although we've reached the end of what is currently the "standard" processing sequence for seismic data, we'll go on in the last Chapter to discuss some of the more advanced techniques (which will probably soon be part of the "standard" sequence). Before that, of course, we have our usual end of Chapter questions!

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Chapter 12 - Advanced Processing


To conclude the course, some more advanced topics, and yet more questions! Page 12.02 - Complex Trace Analysis Using complex numbers to represent the seismic trace, and displaying other "attributes" extracted from the data. Page 12.03 - Well Log Processing Handling the data recorded by instruments lowered down a borehole. Which curves are useful to the processing Geophysicist? Page 12.04 - Data Matching Matching well logs to seismic data, or matching one seismic survey to another. Page 12.05 - Zero Phasing Once we've matched our seismic to a well log, we can produce a "true" zero-phase section. Page 12.06 - Seismic Inversion With the addition of the processing velocities (and a lot of complications) we can convert our zero-phased seismic data into Acoustic Impedance. Page 12.07 - AVO (1) The variation of amplitude with offset - how we can extract additional information from our seismic data ... Page 12.08 - AVO (2) ... and calibrate it using the physical parameters of the rocks. Page 12.09 - Scanning & Reprocessing Making use of our old data. Either scanning old paper sections or reprocessing old digital data. Page 12.10 - QC - Trials and Tribulations

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Some thoughts on parameter trials and the things that can (and do) go wrong with seismic processing. Page 12.11 - Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow A bit of history, and a brief look ahead (including all of the things not mentioned elsewhere). Page 12.12 - Chapter 12 - Questions Some questions on advanced processing ... Page 12.13 - Final Questions ... and some final questions that require your input!

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Complex Trace Analysis


There is one method of displaying seismic sections that is useful for finding small changes in the character of the data or for improving the continuity of the display. Although of particular use to the interpreter, and common on the workstations used for interpretation, we sometimes use this technique to enhance our data display during the processing sequence. To understand this technique, we need to go back to clock watching!

Long, long ago, on a page far, far away in this course (actually in Chapter 6) I showed an animation of a rotating clock, with the height of the hand plotted to give a simple cosine wave. If, as shown here, we imagine the same clock but this time with a variable rotation speed, and a variable hand length, the resultant trace (at the top of this picture) is more complicated and begins to look a little like a seismic trace. If we assume that we can always represent our seismic trace by some sort of rotating vector like this then we can also examine an alternate version of the trace - the quadrature trace formed by plotting the "width" of the hand at any time. We can obtain this quadrature trace from the original trace by a 90 degree phase shift or, as it is sometimes known, a Hilbert transform (name dropping again - David Hilbert was a German mathematician). Another way of looking at this is shown here. Imagine a thin wire rotating about an axis and spiralling off into space. If we shine two lights on this wire, the rear shadow (in green) gives us the "normal" seismic trace, whilst the bottom shadow (red) gives us the quadrature component. We can imagine that every seismic trace is the "green
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shadow" for a 3 dimensional function - a complex trace.

So what's the point of all this? Well, it gives us four other parameters (and variations thereof) that we can plot in place of the regular seismic trace. Firstly we can plot the quadrature trace itself. This is just a 90 phase-shifted version of the original trace - peaks and troughs now become zero-crossings, and what were zerocrossings become peaks and troughs. Secondly, and more importantly, we can plot some of the complex attributes of this pseudo 3D trace. The "length" of the rotating vector (the clock hand) can be plotted, and this is usually known as the trace envelope. It contains the same amplitude information as the original trace, but without any phase information.

Here's the envelope, or reflection strength, of a simple wavelet plotted (in red) as both positive and negative values (the actual computed envelope is always positive). The wavelet shown here is zero-phase, but, as you flick through the buttons the phase of the wavelet changes. The envelope, however, always remains the same and always completely "surrounds" the wavelet - regardless of phase. The envelope gives us an overall picture of the "amplitude" of a reflection. We can also plot the "speed" of the rotating vector. This is known as the instantaneous frequency of the trace, and provides useful information on the actual peak frequencies within the trace at each time sample. The position of the vector around the "clock" is known as the instantaneous phase. This removes all amplitude information from the trace, allowing us to see the weaker events.

Here's the full set of complex attributes for a small piece of seismic data. These are:1. 2. 3. 4. 5. The original traces. The Hilbert transform. The trace envelope. The instantaneous frequency. The instantaneous phase.

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Note how the different events appear in each display. The envelope shows the overall event amplitude (combining the peaks and troughs together into distinct "events"). The instantaneous frequency highlights some bursts of high (and low) frequency in the data, and the instantaneous phase removes all amplitude information - all events appear in the same colours. Although useful for improving the correlation of events across the section, these displays don't actually add anything to the data - it's just another way of looking at our seismic section. If we really want to add more information to the seismic then we have to look for other sources of information. We'll start by looking at how we can integrate information from holes in the ground!

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Well Log Processing


Except when we're dealing with reconnaissance data in a new area, much of the seismic data that we process runs close to a point of absolute calibration - a well. In established areas new seismic lines are often deliberately shot close to wells, and, of course, wells are often drilled at a position determined from seismic data so we have many instances of well information being available during the processing of the data. How is useful "geophysical" information obtained from a well? As well as the physical information obtained from core samples extracted during the drilling, it's common to run a set of measurements from tools lowered down the well after drilling. These Wireline Logs are obtained from complex sensors contained inside a "sonde" which is lowered down the hole and then pulled back as it records numerous physical parameters from the surrounding rocks. These can include acoustic measurements (the velocities in the rocks), electrical measurements (for example, resitivity), nuclear measurements (gamma ray emissions, etc.) and other measurements. The techniques used are similar to those used on space missions - 3000 metres into the earth is just as hostile an environment as the surface of Mars! This table shows some DEPTH CALI DT GR RT NPHI RHOB measurements from a typical 5000 12.2901 132.249 62.0218 0.7551 0.4025 2.209 well-log. There is always a wonderful mixture of units used 5000.5 12.2908 132.824 63.8549 0.7526 0.4065 2.1983 in these measurements, the depth 5001 12.2917 133.745 63.3572 0.7581 0.4362 2.1836 here is in feet (values are "read" 5001.5 12.2502 133.568 65.776 0.7574 0.4246 2.1738 every six inches) and some of the other values are in SI or 5002 12.2779 133.136 63.8274 0.7463 0.4058 2.1745 "English" or API (American 5002.5 12.2877 134.676 68.8113 0.7258 0.409 2.1825 Petroleum Institute) units. 5003 12.3005 135.45 67.916 0.7163 0.4197 2.1877 Here's what part of the curves
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look like:-

5003.5 12.3277 134.326 71.0099 0.7134 0.4358 2.1832 5004 12.3564 134.282 68.054 0.7114 0.445 2.1773 5004.5 12.3439 134.645 67.9841 0.7125 0.4468 2.1746 ... ... ... ... ... ... ...

I don't propose to go into a detailed discussion of all these curves - for that please consult your local well-log analyst or petrophysicist! For simple calibration of our final migrated seismic data, just two curves are necessary - the "DT" curve giving the reciprocal of the velocity (sometimes called the sonic curve), and the curve labelled "RHOB" - the density.

I've taken the DT and RHOB values from the table above, and converted DEPTH DT RHOB VEL AI RC the depths to metres (we now have a 1524 132.249 2.209 2304.75 5091.19 reading roughly every 15 cms). As the 0.00460 DT curve gives us slowness (in microseconds per foot), we can convert 1524.16 132.824 2.1983 2294.76 5044.58 this into a velocity by dividing it into 0.00681 304800 - this gives us the column 1524.31 133.745 2.1836 2278.96 4976.34 labelled "VEL". 0.00158 If we compute the acoustic impedance for each layer as the product of velocity and density, we can compute the reflection coefficient at the interface between each 6-inch layer using the equation derived way back in Chapter 3. A slight rearrangement of that equation, using AI's, gives us:AI2 RC = AI2 + AI1 The reflection coefficient (the end column) is simply the difference of impedances divided by the sum. 1525.38 134.645 2.1746 2263.73 4922.72 - AI1 1524.46 133.568 2.1738 2282.00 4960.61 0.00178 1524.61 133.136 2.1745 2289.40 4978.29 1524.77 134.676 2.1825 2263.22 4939.47 0.00391 0.00168 0.00119 0.00197 ...

1524.92 135.45 2.1877 2250.28 4922.93 0.00314 1525.07 134.326 2.1832 2269.11 4953.92 1525.22 134.282 2.1773 2269.86 4942.16

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Here then is a plot of these computed values for a 700 metre section of the well-logs:-

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We now have a set of idealised reflection coefficients for every depth interval in our well, and we need to convert these to time. We can assume that the sonic curve measures the P-wave interval velocities within each 6-inch layer, and use this to convert the depths from the well-log into time. As this involves effectively integrating the log values (and compounding any errors) we usually precisely calibrate this using another set of information from the well - check shots measured by placing geophones down the hole and shooting into them from the surface. We can now plot our reflection coefficients as a function of time (the left hand scale is now in milliseconds) and produce an ideal synthetic seismogram showing how our seismic trace would look if we could record the very high frequencies represented by this "six-inch" depth sample rate. If we consider the strong reflection shown at about 1780 ms, this corresponds to a depth of about 1740 metres, or an average velocity of 1955 metres per second. Our six-inch depth sample rate corresponds to a time interval of about 0.15 ms - about 25 times smaller than our actual 4ms recording rate! This implies a frequency of about 3000 Hertz! In order to more accurately predict how this synthetic trace will look in the "real" world (sorry, but 3000 Hertz signals won't penetrate to 1740 metres - try 30 Hz!), this display shows the effects of high-cut filters on the synthetic.
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You can see that, below about 40 Hz, even the very strong event disappears! Other events interfere with it at this low frequency. So we have to filter the synthetic down to the expected bandwidth of our seismic data before we can make any valid comparisons between them. We'll see how we can use this synthetic to precisely zero-phase our data, but first let's look at the more general case of comparing one trace with another - data matching!

Data Matching
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The matching of well synthetics to seismic data is part of the much more general problem of data matching. Imagine a Transition Zone survey shot as follows:-

We have a combination of Airguns and Vibrators as sources, and land and marine geophones for recording. All of these have their own characteristics which lead to problems in matching the final data set. Before examining some examples from this transition zone survey, let's look at some of the reasons why the data doesn't tie.

POSITIONING of the data can be a problem. With 2D data (as shown at the top), we need to be sure that the relationship we've determined to relate the CDP numbers on our stacked data with the Shotpoint numbers on the map is correct. For older vintages of data, the navigation systems themselves might be dubious! We should, whenever possible, try to match the stacks rather than the migrations. 2D migrations are (by definition) incorrect, and we should get a better tie using the stacks. For 3D data the enormous amount of data that overlaps can be a problem - we need to use some fairly sophisticated techniques to "check" the navigation data. We'll look at solutions to this on the next page. STATIC differences between two (or more) surveys or source/receiver combinations can also be a problem. In the example shown above, the Vibroseis data must be properly correct to sea level to tie with the marine data. If a static problem is all that we have, then a simple cross-correlation technique can be used to measure the time differences at a number of 2D or 3D line intersections and an "average" static correction (a fixed value) applied to one survey.

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PHASE differences can be slightly more difficult to quantify. We can determine (as we'll see on the next page) a complex phase operator to convert one dataset to another, but this can introduce dispersion (some frequencies "shift" relative to others spreading out our events). If it's possible, a simple phase shift (of "X" degrees) is the nicest correction to determine - its simple to apply and reversible! Once again we'll look at this on the next page. BANDWIDTH differences are almost impossible to correct. If one survey has much lower frequencies than another, we generally can't do much about it (you can't invent what ain't there!). Bandwidth problems can be minimised by the careful selection of deconvolution parameters for both surveys, but may be something we just have to live with. AMPLITUDE differences are probably the easiest to solve. We can measure the RMS amplitude in one or more time gates at each intersection and generate either a constant correction or a gain-curve adjustment to apply to one survey. Remember that the actual numbers on tape don't necessarily mean very much - there may be enormous amplitude differences between surveys.

Here's the processed (stacked) data from the transition zone survey shown at the top of the page. The three sections here are colour coded and correspond to:1. The marine data - airguns shooting into a marine streamer. 2. The data recorded by the land geophones - shot using both airguns and Vibroseis. 3. The Vibroseis data recorded at the top of the cliffs. The final merged stacks both before and after phase correction (my apologies for the quality of the displays - but this is very old data!). Note particularly the "join" between the airgun and Vibroseis data (Yellow to Green). The phase differences between the two different data sets are very obvious here. Here's a much clearer example - the intersection between two different vintages of marine data before and after correction.
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For matching like this to work well, we need to use as much information as possible from the two datasets. For 2D data we should use all intersections to determine the "best" match between the surveys. We may need to make some adjustments to the navigation data to optimise the "fit", but these corrections should be consistent (for example "move" survey "X" 50 metres to the NW). If we're matching multiple surveys, we need to use one survey as a "master" and match all others to it. Once we have established to necessary corrections to match survey "B" to survey "A", we can use both of these surveys to determine the corrections for survey "C", and so on. We'll now look at some of the techniques used for data matching, starting with the simplest problem - matching the synthetic data from a well to one seismic line.

Zero Phasing
What do we mean when we talk about zero-phasing a seismic section?

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We mean that we are attempting to make every reflection on our section into a symmetrical zero-phase wavelet. Any increase in acoustic impedance (velocity times density) across a reflecting boundary should produce a perfect positive zero-phase reflection. As usual, we have two polarity conventions. "Normal" polarity for zerophased sections plots a positive reflection coefficient as a positive peak - "Reverse" is obviously the opposite. Once again it doesn't really matter which you use - just make sure that it's noted on all displays! The ideal way of zero-phasing our data is by comparison with synthetic seismograms produced from well data (as mentioned a couple of pages back). This type of "datamatching" is identical to that used to match different surveys and/or source/receiver combinations together, which we'll come back to at the bottom of this page.

Data matching, whether it be matching a well synthetic to a seismic line, or matching two seismic lines together always comes down to just one basic question. Can we find an optimum filter that will consistently transform one trace into another? (You can click on the animation to stop it!)

The three black "traces" shown on the right are three CDPs from a 2D migrated line close to the nominal position of a well (determined from the navigation data). The red trace is a synthetic produced from the well data, filtered down to the same bandwidth as the seismic data (with a zero-phase) filter. It's not obvious which of the traces on the left "best-fit" the well data!

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We can mathematically determine the position of "best-fit" by the use of a technique known as cross-coherency. This effectively designs a filter to match each trace to the synthetic, applies that filter, and then compares the result with the desired output. The value of this comparison gives as some clue as to the optimal positioning of the data on our line. Here's a plot showing the cross-coherency calculations for a well synthetic against 200 CDPs on our line. The red curve (with the axis on the left) shows the cross-coherency comparison value - the peak at 35% represents quite a good match (this is close to the nominal CDP which is at 1251). The blue curve shows the time shift associated with the optimum filter - at the peak CDP it's about -4ms, very close when matching wells to seismic! When we're trying to "fit" a well to a 3D survey, or trying to find the best fit between two 2D lines, we can use the sort of spatial plot shown here. For well vs. 3D this will indicate (in red) the best 3D line and CDP position for matching. When comparing two 2D lines, this type of plot can show us how much "shift" we need to apply to each line to optimise the match. Remember that we should be comparing stacks for 2D lines to avoid migration problems. If we're comparing 2 3D surveys (and all the bins that overlap) then the migrations are probably better (3D migration is, after all, supposed to be "correct").

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Once we've determined the optimum position for the match, we can then go on to determine the actual filters. The three sections shown here are:1. The synthetic data from the well (repeated 12 times) with a fairly high filter applied. 2. The same synthetic filtered down to about 30 Hz. (which roughly matches the seismic bandwidth). 3. A group of fully processed CDPs from the seismic line - the centre one being the "optimum" position derived by our cross-coherency calculations. 1 These two plots show variations on the matching process. The traces on each plot are (from left-to-right):

All we need to do now is find the filter!

The wideband synthetic trace. A filter designed to match this to the seismic data. The seismic data from our "best" CDP (repeated 5 times). The results of filtering the synthetic with the filter - the well data filtered to match the
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seismic. The left hand plot shows the original data, the right hand one after we've applied a -147 phase shift and a 2.2ms time shift to the seismic data this gives a fairly "zero-phase" filter. Why try to match the well to the seismic when we're really trying to match the seismic to the well? It's all a question of bandwidth. The well synthetic contains very high frequencies (equivalent to the original 6-inch sampling of the well log). If we try to design a filter to convert the seismic data into this synthetic, the filter will "go mad" trying to boost frequencies that just are not present in the seismic. By designing the filter the other way we're reducing the bandwidth and get a stable result. Always try to make your filter reduce the bandwidth rather than increase it. The filter from the left-hand panel above was analysed (by Fourier Transform) and appeared to be pretty much a +147 phase shift and +2.2ms time shift filter. By applying the inverse of this to the seismic data (as numerical values) we can achieve a fairly good zero-phasing of our seismic.

Here's the final phase/static corrected seismic line on the left, with a "spliced" display on the right showing some duplicated synthetic traces spliced into the section (I've dropped the gain on this to show more detail). You can see that the match is not perfect - it's a sort of "bestfit" over the whole window. How could we improve this? We could use smaller time windows for the matching. This is sometimes difficult because we don't always have a lot of well data to start with - well logs are sometimes very short when converted to time. If we use a very small window we risk matching everything (I can quote more than one example where the wrong well was tied quite successfully to the wrong seismic!).

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Most of the time there is no perfect solution. For zero-phasing to work properly, the seismic data must:

Have a wide bandwidth - particularly at the low end. Be true amplitude. Be accurately imaged Be free of side swipe, or properly 3D migrated. Be free of multiples. Have a high signal to noise ratio.

The well data must also be of good quality and free of environmental problems and local anomalies. As all of this is pretty much unobtainable we must compromise! When we do this (by using either "optimum" filters or, as above, numerical phase and static corrections) we can get a fairly accurate zero-phasing of our data.

When well data is not available, we can achieve an approximate zero-phasing of the data from the data itself. We make an estimate of the amplitude spectrum of the signal within our data, assume that this has been recorded and processed as minimum-phase and then correct this to zero-phase. Depending on the type of spectral estimation used this can correct the data to within about 30 of "true" zero-phase.

To extend the example shown above to general data matching, replace the well synthetic with a trace from another survey and repeat the whole process for every intersection between surveys! If we can estimate phase, static and amplitude corrections at each intersection (after correcting for positioning errors) we can average these to provide a consistent set of parameters to "convert" one survey to another. Some words of warning on averaging! If you average together a whole bunch of random filters, the result almost always comes out close to zero-phase - do check that the individual filters are consistent before averaging them. Even averaging numeric phase corrections can be difficult - what is the average of 350 and 10 - it could be either 180 or 0! Now to move on beyond zero-phasing, to see how much additional information we can extract from our seismic data!
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Seismic Inversion
Once we've successfully converted our seismic data to zero-phase, by matching it to a well synthetic, is there any additional information that we can extract from the seismic? As usual, the answer's yes, we can use the information from the well log to attempt to convert our whole section back from its seismic "reflection coefficients" into the detailed acoustic impedences (or even velocities) present in our well data. This process is known as inversion or, perhaps more correctly, seismic inversion.

Let's start by reviewing the processes we got through to produce the synthetic seismic data from the well logs - our synthetic seismogram. We multiply the velocities and densities together to give the Acoustic Impedance. We (effectively) differentiate this to give our idealised reflection coefficients, and then filter this down to our seismic bandwidth. All we need to do is to reverse this
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process! So, we take our seismic data, apply an inverse filter to this to zero-phase it (so that it now represents reflection coefficients). We integrate this result (into Acoustic Impedance), and then divide this up into velocities and densities to simulate a series of well logs running along the whole section. Sounds good in theory doesn't it! There are of course some problems involved in this!

The first problem is that the seismic data doesn't contain anything like the same frequency content as the well logs. We've seen before how the seismic data lacks the very fine detail present in a well log. As well as this it's also usually very poor at the low frequency end of the spectrum - we don't usually process data much below 3 or 5 Hz because of the noise this introduces. Unfortunately these very low frequencies contain some very useful velocity information in the well logs that is missing from our seismic data. Can we use any source of low frequency velocity information? Well, we do have the velocities used to stack and/or migrate the data. Although these are only approximations to the true RMS velocities in the earth, we can use these to provide the low frequency velocity "trend" in our data set and, with appropriate scaling, add these to the results produced by integrating the zero-phase seismic data. The second problem is that the processes used in the production of the synthetic seismogram (multiplication, differentiation & convolution) and inherently more stable than their inverses (division, integration & deconvolution). For this reason, considerable care is needed during the inversion process to prevent errors creeping in, and our seismic data needs to be as "clean" as possible. Inversion is a classic "GIGO" process - garbage in garbage out!

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Here's a (believe it or not) simplified diagram showing a full sequence necessary to invert seismic data to approximate acoustic impedance (AAI). Note that the "A", "B", "C" and "D" points should be connected together! Most of the work involves ensuring that the correct scaling is applied to both the velocity functions and seismic so that when they are combined together the results are consistent. We can estimate the densities from the interval velocities by the use of the Gardner equation (named after G H F Gardner - still an active geophysicist). This equation is based on an empirical relationship (derived from lots of well logs) and states that the density is proportional to the 4th root of the velocity. In other words:density=K.Velocity0.25 Where K is 0.31 for velocities measured in metres per second, or 0.23 for velocities measured in feet per second. The density is in grams per cc. We can finally move on to an example of seismic inversion. The small piece of section shown here has been through a similar route to that shown above, and the five sections show:1. The original migrated seismic data.
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2. The integrated seismic data. 3. The seismic converted (by the appropriate scaling) into "seismic-band" acoustic impedance. 4. The interval velocities derived from the processing, converted to impedance and low-pass filtered. 5. The seismic+velocities - the AAI (Approximate Acoustic Impedance) section.

Another example of the original seismic data, and a "wideband" inversion (seismic + velocities). The "wiggles" overlaid on each section show the original seismic data and you can clearly see an acoustic anomaly (the dark red strip) running through the centre of the dark blue background. If we can identify this as, for example, an oil-filled sand in our well, we can use the inverted seismic data to delineate the extent of this sand and hence estimate our oil reserves!

Finally, a very detailed inversion from some high resolution data. The well position is clearly marked and the quality of the match between this and the inverted seismic data is phenomenal (and quite unusual!).

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We can, of course, extract even more information from the seismic data, perhaps even some physical parameters associated with different rock types. Let's move on to AVO!

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AVO (1)
Amplitude versus Offset or Amplitude Variation with Offset are both names for what is now known as AVO analysis. What is AVO? Robert Sheriff's formal definition of AVO, as taken from the 1991 edition of his Encyclopedic Dictionary of Exploration Geophysics is:"The variation in the amplitude of a seismic reflection with source-geophone distance. Depends on the velocity, density and Poisson ratio contrast. Used as a hydrocarbon indicator for gas because a large change in Poisson's ratio (as may occur when the pore fluid is a gas) tends to produce an increase in amplitude with offset." In other words, an analysis of the variation of the reflection amplitudes across the offsets within one CDP gather can give us some valuable insights into the precise physical parameters of the rocks at that interface. Let's digress for a moment and try to explain how AVO effects come about.

If, as most processing geophysicists, you spend a lot of time banging your head against a brick wall, you may like to consider just what your violence is actually doing to the wall! If you hit the wall exactly perpendicular to the wall, then all your energy will be converted into a P-wave that will pass through the wall. If, as is likely, you hit the wall some kind of "glancing" blow, then some of the energy will be converted into S-waves, causing the wall to move up and down or left to right. This is precisely what happens at every reflection in our section - Pwaves that are not exactly at right-angles to a reflector partially convert into S-waves which continue on down the section reflecting and refracting. You may like to review an early discussion we had on P and S waves in Chapter 3.

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So, now we have a whole mass of things happening at each reflection (as usual, we've greatly simplified this in the rest of this course). When an incoming P-wave strikes an interface at some angle other than 90, some of the energy is converted into an S-wave which is reflected and transmitted in the same way as the Pwave. The angles in the diagram are related by Snell's law:-

Where VP and VS are the P and S wave velocities in each layer. Up until now we've assumed that the reflection coefficient at each interface is simply the difference of the acoustic impedances divided by their sum. Way back in 1899, Knott derived formulae for reflection coefficients based on Snell's law and the continuity of displacement and stress across the interface. These were formalised into amplitude coefficients by Zoeppritz in 1919 to produce what are known as the Zoeppritz Equations. As they say on TV sports programs - if you don't want to see the result, look away now!

ARP, ARS, ATP & ATS are the P-wave and S-wave reflection and transmission coefficients, VP, VS and p are the P-wave and S-wave velocities and the density in each layer.

Can we make any useful predictions from the Zoeppritz Equations? We can simplify their calculation a bit by bringing in another parameter, an elastic constant associated with the rock - its Poisson's ratio. In terms of pure physics, Poisson's ratio is simply a measure of how much the cross-section of a rod changes when it is stretched. In a fluid, doubling the length halves the width (the volume is retained) which yields a Poisson's ratio of 0.5. A rod which never got any
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thinner, regardless of the amount of stretching applied, would have a Poisson's ratio of zero. There is a simple relationship between the P-wave velocity, the S-wave velocity and Poisson's ratio...

... and here's some typical P-wave velocities and Poisson's ratio for some specific rocks. Note particularly how the inclusion of Oil or Gas in the rock lowers its Poisson's ratio. If we can measure this on our seismic data we may have a direct hydrocarbon indicator! You'll note from the diagram above that Poisson's ratio is always between 0 and 0.5, and that the S-wave velocity can never exceed about 70% of the P-wave velocity. These plots show the variations in velocity and Poisson's ratio for some particular scenarios. We need to define a few petrophysical terms before continuing! The porosity of a particular rock is measured as the ratio of the pore (space) volume to the total volume. In other words, how much of the rock matrix is available to hold a fluid (like Oil or Gas). A porosity of 50% would be like a sponge, whilst a very low porosity
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would be a totally "solid" rock. The saturation (or more properly water saturation) is the percentage of water present in the pores. It can vary from 0% (implying that all spaces are filled with Gas or Oil) to 100% (all filled with water). On these first two charts note how any Gas presence (less than 100% water saturation) in the sand causes an abrupt change in the Pwave velocity and hence the Poisson's ratio. The other two (lower) charts show the variations in velocities and Poisson's ratio as the porosity changes. The differences here are slightly more subtle but low porosity is associated with a low Poisson's ratio. From results like these we can throw all the numbers into the Zoeppritz equations and (using a computer) solve for various incident angles. Here's an example, showing just the computer P-wave reflection amplitude (ARP) for a water-filled sand over an Oil or Gas filled sand:-

Note how the gas presence causes an increase in the amplitude of the negative "trough" as the angles (and offsets) increase.
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How can we quantify the "slope" of the AVO response curves shown above? Approximations of the Zoeppritz Equations (boy, do they need it!) by Shuey and others led to an elegant method of reducing these curves to just two parameters. If we plot the AVO response curves as a function of the "Sine of the incident angle squared", they (at least out to about 30) approximate a straight line. In other words:R(angle) = R0 + G * Sin(angle)2 Since 30 corresponds quite nicely with the maximum angle we encounter in "normal" seismic recording, we can use this approximation to determine R0 and G (the intercept and gradient) from both well logs and seismic data. Of course, it isn't quite as simple as that - let's now move on to look at the problems we may encounter, and at some real examples!

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AVO (2)
For most AVO analysis projects, the first thing we need to look at are the well logs. To estimate the theoretical AVO response we need accurate VP, VS and density curves. Direct S-wave velocities are not normally obtained from well data (though becoming more generally available through full waveform logging and 3-component VSP's etc.), but they can be estimated from a precise knowledge of the lithology associated with a particular layer. Petrophysical analysis of many of the mysterious curves we discussed a few pages back can provide enough information for a synthesis of the Swave velocities from the other curves. Once we have all of the curves, we can plug all of the values into the dreaded Zoeppritz equation, and calculate the theoretical AVO response for a CDP recorded at our well position. We can even "adjust" the well curves to remove or add different materials to the curves (for example Gas or Oil) and recompute the synthetic data for these new scenarios.

The seismic data itself needs very careful preparation. It must be very well matched to the well data (perfectly(!) zero-phased) and must be free of any "non-geological" anomalies. Here's just some of the problems that may effect our seismic data, and their (possible) solution:Data Problem Source Timing Streamer Depths (Sensitivity) Random Noise Coherent Noise Multiples Static corrections Dynamic corrections Non-hyperbolic NMO Wavelet stability Positioning Solution Shot Alignment Long gate Amplitude Correction FX Deconvolution, Common Offset Filtering, Radon Filtering Radon Filtering, FK Filtering, preferably on Common Offsets Radon De-Multiple, Tau-P Accurate Field Statics (including Tidal corrections) and Residual Statics Precision Velocity Analysis, Residual Velocity Corrections DMO, Pre-Stack Migration, Mute Statistical Estimates vs. Time/Space/Offset, Surface Consistent Deconvolution Pre-Stack Migration
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Near surface changes Shallow Gas Channels

Surface Consistent Amplitude Corrections, Replacement Statics Amplitude correction using a deep reference event

ALL pre-stack processes MUST maintain the relative offset dependent trace amplitudes (Note - nobody said that this was going to be easy!)

We can compute the angles necessary for our AVO calculations directly from the velocity field used to process the data (ideally the velocity field used to "correctly" migrate the data). Various methods can be used, the simplest being a "horizontal-layer" model where the angular changes in each small layer are computed (for different starting angles) and summed to give a time vs. offset vs. angle plot. The black lines shown here are in steps of 10 degrees. Because this data has a very large offset, most of the seismic traces are muted-out beyond about 30 degrees.

Once we have computed the angles (and fully processed the seismic data to remove any "noise"), we can "pick" the amplitudes across the spread and effectively plot these as a function of the "sine of the incident angle squared". Note here that the trough at about 1.6 seconds gets gradually stronger across the spread, and the following peak gets weaker. Remember that we keep just two values for each sample - the R0 value, or zero-offset intercept, and "G" the gradient of the amplitudes against "Sin(i)2". We can only calibrate these results (and understand them) by comparison with the results from the well synthetic. This shows a very small piece of data processed through AVO analysis. The displays are:1. 2. 3. 4. 5. The original migrated seismic data. R0. R0+G. Sign(R0) time G. R0 times G.

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Note that the "R0" section represents the amplitudes extrapolated back to zero-offset equivalent to having our geophones on top of our shots! The coloured displays show some typical combinations of R0 and G - in this case the final display really highlights this shallow gas anomaly. Not the kind of place to drill (unless, of course, it's a productive field!). These displays show two records ready for input to our AVO analysis. The record on the left is a synthetic gather produced from the log data, whilst that on the right is a "real" gather from the same position. There's still some multiple interference on the real gather, but some of the AVO effects on the synthetic are (almost) visible on the real data. Note particularly the strong "noise" on the synthetic near its end. This is where the angle calculations imply that the incoming P-wave is at a critical angle, and will not reflect. You can see this noise on the real gather (would we normally have muted this out?). AVO analysis is, at best, difficult, and, at worst, impossible! We need very good quality seismic and well data for meaningful calibrated results but, when it does work, it can reveal much more information than that (apparently) present in the migrated section. To close our AVO discussion, here's your chance to play with the Zoeppritz equations. Enter P-wave velocities for each layer (you should use metres/second for the density calculation to work), either S-wave velocities (numbers greater than 0.5) or (in the VS space) a Poisson's ratio (0 to 0.5). If you submit the density as zero, the program will use the Gardner relationship to estimate one. As before, ARP, ARS, ATP & ATS are the P-wave and S-wave reflection and transmission coefficients - if the curves stop, it's because you've reached a critical angle. The black line shows the computed R0 and G.

Time to get back to paper!

Scanning & Reprocessing


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What happens to all of the old seismic data lying around in offices around the world either on paper or tape?

One solution is to reprocess it! Data that only survives as paper copy must first be scanned (using a similar device to that attached to many home computer systems) and then converted back into (digital) seismic traces for reprocessing. Images courtesy of It's a non-trivial task to convert old paper data into digital traces. Phoenix Data Solutions Ltd. Firstly the scanned image must be corrected for any distortion present in the original and then any superfluous information must be removed. This display shows the semi-automatic removal of the timing lines from an old scanned section - the part highlighted in blue is enlarged on the right. Then the baseline position of every trace must be determined, and the trace itself extracted from the original image and interpolated through regions where either the trace is missing, or the variable area display of traces are overlapped. All of this is done with some form of "humancontrolled" automatic
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picking, with the final "traces" being filtered to remove any anomalies caused by the original display "dots". Once all of that is complete the seismic traces can be output to tape in a standard format and reprocessed to yield a "modern" seismic section. The reprocessed "after" section shown here has been processed through some relatively simple post-stack processes - those that are now commonly applied to all data. Once we have our data in a digital form (usually just post-stack or even post-migration) we can reprocess it, just as we can be asked to reprocess any previous processed data on tape (usually the field tapes). Why reprocess seismic data? Well, there are many reasons for reprocessing older seismic data. The most common being:1. Dissatisfaction with the original processing 2. New objectives - a change of target 3. New technology We should generally always be able to "improve" previously processed data, if nothing else, we should have an original section to work from which we can at least aim to improve. Aside from the continual improvements in computer hardware, and the introduction of new processing techniques, a simple reappraisal of the parameters used in the original processing, together with some new parameter trials (possibly based around the original parameters) should lead to some improvement. Always remember that following the same processing route, with different software and/or personnel, may not produce the same results as the original section! Before finally winding-up this entire course, let's have a quick look at some thoughts on parameter trials, and some of the possible problems that we may encounter in processing. Images courtesy of Phoenix Data Solutions Ltd.

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QC - Trials and Tribulations


We've discussed (and demonstrated) "trials" at various points in the processing sequence described in the previous Chapters. Here's that sequence once again, with the places where trials are generally required marked in green. I've marked the NMO correction stage in red because we need to "test" our velocity functions at numerous points along each line (the same applies to the residual static corrections on land data). How often should we run parameter trials, and how many trials? 1 Transcription 2 3 4 S.O.D Correction Signature Deconvolution Initial Gain Recovery

5 Resample
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Too many trials certainly leads to confusion! I was once involved in some deconvolution trials for a large 2D survey where the client wanted 4 deconvolutions before stack tested with 4 after at 7 different locations. Allowing for the "nodecon" panels this totalled 175 separate displays with very minor differences! The parameters originally selected by the processing geophysicist (on the basis of a few trials at one location) were eventually used! Here's a few tips on running parameter trials:-

6 Edit 7 Multichannel Filtering

8 CMP Gather 9 De-Multiple 10 Dip Moveout 11 Deconvolution 12 NMO Correction

13 Mute 14 Equalisation 15 CMP Stack 16 17 Datum Correction Final Gain Recovery Multichannel Filtering

Use the data itself to determine the initial parameter ranges (for example, on marine data, you should be able to estimate the length of deconvolution operator necessary to attenuate the water bottom multiple). In areas of complex geology or large structures it will be necessary to repeat parameter trials in several areas - select these areas with the interpreter. Attempt to choose a consistent set of parameters, if results vary considerably, a compromise is necessary. If in doubt, use a committee decision, or at least get a second or third opinion. If one trial is obviously "better" - use it! If all trials are very similar - it probably doesn't matter! If parameters vary wildly across the area:1. Establish the controlling criteria and map it. 2. Choose less sensitive parameters. 3. Modify the processing route.

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19 Deconvolution 20 Migration 21 Spectral Shaping

22 Bandpass filter 23 Equalisation

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Despite our best efforts, sooner or later a sick computer, a sick program, or a bad parameter choice will produce a "bad" section. Finding the cause can be difficult, but the following table gives a list of why we do each process, and (some of) what can happen if it goes wrong!

PROCESS

WHY DO IT?

WHEN IT GOES WRONG


Poor amplitude balance. No data -(random noise!). Poor resolution. Bad timing. Noise. Quantisation. Poor amplitude control at section top / bottom. Bad timing. Poor continuity. Bad structure. Bad timing. Poor continuity. Bad structure. Low frequencies. Aliasing. High cost. No data. Strange patterning in the near-surface. No data. Strange patterning in the near-surface. Poor offset distribution.

Transcription / Demultiplex. To put the data into a standard (demultiplexed) format. Signature Deconvolution / Wavelet Deconvolution. Amplitude Compensation. To standardise the "seismic wavelet" within the data. To correct for the spherical spreading of the seismic wavefront.

Datum (Static) Corrections. To correct the timing of the data to a standard reference. Residual Statics. To correct for near-surface variations. To reduce the total volume (and bandwidth) of the data. To collect together the traces from one common mid-point. To collect together the traces from one 3D "bin".

Resample.

CDP (CMP) Gather.

3D Binning.

DMO (Dip Moveout).

To make a Common Mid-Point a Spatial aliasing.


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Common Depth-Point. Deconvolution. To widen the bandwidth of the data. To remove short-period multiples.

Poor structural resolution. High noise content. Poor continuity. Introduction of pseudomultiples.

De-Multiple.

To remove long-period multiples. High noise content. Poor continuity. Introduction of pseudomultiples. Spatial aliasing. To dynamically correct for time / Poor continuity. space variant velocities. Poor stack response. No data. To remove the far-trace noise bands. Noise. Removal of signal. Poor stack response. Poor multiple attenuation. Poor continuity. No data. Strange patterning in the near-surface. Dipping noise bands. Spatial smearing. Spatial aliasing. Bad structure. Removal of signal. High noise content. Shadow zones of low amplitude. No amplitude discrimination between events. Meaningless results. Random noise.

NMO.

Mute.

CMP Stack.

To sum the data within one Common Mid-Point.

FK Filtering (& Mixing). Migration. Bandpass Filtering. Equalisation / AGC.

To remove (dipping) noise or multiples. To move the stacked data to its correct position. To improve the signal-to-noise ratio of the data. To normalise the amplitudes in both space and time.

Seismic Inversion. AVO Analysis. The Final Display.

To convert the seismic data to (e.g.) Acoustic Impedance.

To establish physical parameters Meaningless results. from the seismic data. To present the data to the "client". All previous stages are wasted.

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Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow


As we've now reached the last page of this course (aside from the questions), I thought that

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it would be useful to examine the past, present and future of seismic processing. Acquisition techniques have changed a little bit in the last thirty years! This picture shows the stern of a marine vessel circa 1968, with the cylinders containing 50lbs of explosive ready to be throw over the side. The orange plastic bags were used as "balloons", tied by 6 feet of string to the charge to keep it at the "correct" depth! A separate vessel recorded each shot on 21-track 1" digital tape. The late 1990's, and we now have multistreamer vessels capable of shooting numerous 3D lines at once. The source is now almost always some form of Airgun, and 24-hour operation is commonplace. Data is now recorded (by the same vessel) onto the latest digital tape format (usually some form of cartridge). (Aside from the recording techniques, and better positioning, little has changed for Land operations - explosives are still the most common source). Computer operations have changed even more! This 1960's operator's console has numerous switches for each register, and neon lights (unlike LED's, bulb replacement was common). On the right is a large CRT display. This computer (roughly the size of a football field) had about 2K of memory, with a loop of tape used for temporary storage. About as powerful as the first pocket calculators!

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Today it's far more boring! Operator's consoles are just another display screen, with all of the internal workings of the machine hidden away under layers of operating system. With the distributed systems now in use, operators themselves are a dying breed, with most of the input & output now being handled by the geophysicist. Computing power is still, of course, changing at an exponential rate. Processing speeds are now measured in Megaflops - millions of instructions per second, and the latest machines use multiple processors to implement parallel processing. The "box" shown at the top is an array processor from the 1970's, attached to your "normal" computer to rapidly process the floating-point numbers used in seismic processing. Although very fast for its time (and very expensive), it could achieve about 8 Megaflops, compared with the 4 processors each performing at about 750 Megaflops in the lower (1990's) machine. Computing "power" (however you measure it) is still doubling every one or two years.

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Tape storage has also changed. The old 21 and 9-track tapes, holding just kilobytes of data, have given way to modern cartridges holding several gigabytes of data. The story on disk storage is the same! On the left is a late 1970's suite of 470 Megabyte disks in their cabinet. On the right, a modern "box" containing some 2 Terabytes of storage (that's 2,000,000,000,000 bytes - enough to hold the entire text of the Encyclopaedia Britannica over 50,000 times, or over 500 times the storage shown on the left!). The latest news, on the use of single atoms to store binary information, seems to imply that we may "soon" be reaching the absolute limit on data storage!

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The output "plotting" of seismic data hasn't changed in principle, only in the resolutions now available. Early plotters used digital-to-analogue converters to convert the numeric values into a continuous waveform, and used optical methods to "project" this onto film. Modern plotters plot the trace directly from its digital representation, usually at anything up to 1200 dots per inch. Unfortunately, there's still a lot of paper to look at!

The actual mechanics of data processing has also changed quite a lot. In the early days it was necessary to prepare "jobs" on either punched tape or punched cards, and submit them to the computer room for processing. Depending on the urgency of the job (or your relationship with the computer operators), you could wait several weeks to see the output from one stage of the processing. It was then that you discovered that you'd applied your trace mute backwards, and had to re-submit the whole job (and wait another two weeks). Nowadays almost all processing is done via workstations. These not only provide instant access to your data for display, they also control much of the overall data management associated with data

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processing. It's interesting to note that some things have not changed. When I took these photographs (in Robertson's Swanley processing centre), almost all of the Land processing personnel were picking firstbreaks, whilst almost all of those involved in Marine 2D or 3D processing were either picking velocities, or QC'ing processing flows or outputs. There was still an awful lot of paper around, but this is not surprising given that even the most modern display screens can only display a very small quantity of seismic data in any detail.

Where is processing likely to go from here? Well, we've already seen an increase in the use of more sophisticated techniques on a routine basis - pre-stack migration is now very commonplace whereas, at one time, the running times would have made it prohibitively expensive. There is always hope that improvements in machine "intelligence" will alleviate the need to pick either first-breaks or velocities, but it will be some time before geophysicists will fully "trust" their computers to do all of the work. I'll close this section now with a look at some of the things that I haven't specifically mentioned elsewhere in this course - just to tidy things up! 3C Processing 3-component processing. By using special geophones designed to record the three orthogonal components of particle velocity, it's possible to extract both P and S waves and their directions. This technique (which requires Ocean-Bottom cables for Marine data) enables the geophysicist to produce both P and S wave sections. With an appropriate velocity field, it is possible (by simple stretching) to convert our seismic time-section into a depth-section. The process is totally dependent on the velocity field being "correct" and, as such, is best performed as part of a more complex ray-tracing process such as pre-stack depth migration. A technique that attempts to correct for the energy losses (and phase changes) that occur as a function of frequency. Compensation requires time-variant filters of a specified phase (usually minimum-phase) that apply a "lift" to the higher frequencies (usually specified as dBs/octave).
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Depth conversion

Inverse "Q" deconvolution

RAP

Relative Amplitude Processed - processing that retains the trace-to-trace and sample-to-sample relative amplitude. Essential for any advanced processing (AVO & Inversion) that relies on accurate amplitude information. Sometimes called True Amplitude Processing. Vertical Seismic Profiling. Geophones are placed down a borehole and then normal surface sources are fired into these geophones. These provide valuable additional information from the well, and can also be used to provide P and S wave sections.

VSP

O.K., on to the questions!

Final Questions
The following three questions are 1) quite hard, and 2) don't include the answers! Have a quick look at them, and then send your answer to us as shown below. We'll try and get back to you ASAP with the correct answers! Question 1: We have occasionally mentioned 4D processing in this course. Assuming that we could display it correctly (it needs a 5-dimensional display system), what would (normally) be the scales associated with each dimension? Question 2: Here's a very old seismic section (migrated, and partially interpreted). What, if anything, is wrong with it?

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Question 3: Here's three stacked sections from the same 2D line. Which one ("A", "B" or "C") is correct, and which single process is missing from the processing sequence for the other two sections (just one process is missing in each case).

To send us your answers, you might be able to Email them to us by clicking here (this, I'm afraid, depends on your Browser set-up), or you can Email them manually to us at "training@geo.robresint.co.uk". If you need to send them in writing, either fax them to (+44) (0)1322-613650, for the attention of the Training Department, or write them on a piece of paper and mail them to:The Training Department Robertson Research International Ltd. Horizon House Azalea Drive Swanley Kent BR8 8JR England Please include your name and company name and Email address (if applicable).

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Thank you for you patience! If you've got this far and read every single word then I can only congratulate you! I would like to close by thanking those people without whom this course would not have been completed, particularly those at Robertson's in Swanley who checked and commented on it's content (you know who you are, so I won't mention you!). All that remains now is to wish you many years of successful data processing, as this is really ...

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