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AVOC A pragmatic approach to 3D AVO analysis

Anthony N. Fogg, Seismic Rock Properties (SRP) Group, Veritas DGC.

Tel: +44(0)1293-443116 Fax: +44(0)1293-443010 Email:

A reconnaissance AVO method for handling both 2D and 3D data has been presented by the
author (2000, 2001) that uses only near and far angle stacks. These are commonly generated
nowadays as a standard product in 3D processing, but the question remains as to how best to
use them. This article extends the previous work by examining synthetics to better understand
the behaviour of the AVOC method (Amplitude Versus Offset Classification) and applies an
enhanced version of the method to a 3D seismic volume in the Judd Basin, West of Shetlands.

The stacking process loses information about the change of seismic reflectivity with recorded
offset, commonly referred to as AVO (Amplitude Versus Offset) or AVA (Amplitude Versus
Angle). Near and far angle stack volumes retain partial information about the AVO effects in
the seismic data, without the expense of storing full-fold pre-stack data. Conventional AVO
analysis techniques, namely intercept (R0) versus gradient (G), cannot however be applied
effectively to the nominal two-fold pre-stack data due to the reliance on a least squares
regression of seismic amplitudes with offset and residual moveout between near and far stacks.

Therefore, simpler approaches are often used such as the pseudo-gradient stack where the
amplitude envelope of the near stack is subtracted from the amplitude envelope of the far stack.
The method is fast and robust, however it lacks resolution as the amplitude envelope transform
is dominated by frequencies in the lower part of the spectrum.

The AVOC approach combines the pseudo-gradient stack with the differential impedance
inversion of the near and far stacks. This not only improves the resolution of the seismic
volume through spectral recovery (removal of some of the band-limiting effect of the seismic
wavelet), but can also, where well ties are available, negate the effect of residual moveout that
may be present when comparing the near and far stack.

For model based impedance inversion the reflectivity is recovered from the seismic by
successive matching of the model reflectivity to that of the seismic. In the absence of well data
as a starting model for the inversion a constant value for impedance may be used. This is
equivalent to producing an inversion result without a low frequency trend and is referred to as a
Relative Acoustic Impedance section (RAI).

Subtracting the RAI of the far stack from the near stack RAI yields Impedance Versus Offset
(IVO). The IVO stack exhibits positive and negative values indicating relative increases and
decreases of impedance with offset. It is necessary to use additional information about the
variation of energy with offset in order to determine whether the seismic is exhibiting
increasing or decreasing AVO effects. The product of the IVO stack and the pseudo-gradient
yields a high resolution seismic attribute volume that clearly defines increasing and decreasing
AVO effects.
The resulting volume has been termed an AVOC volume (Fogg, 2001) meaning Amplitude
Versus Offset Classification volume. The characteristics of this volume are that it can
distinguish between different Classes (Rutherford and Williams, 1989) of anomaly. It cannot
however resolve some Class 2a anomalies where there is a phase change or Class 4 anomalies
where there is a minimal change of amplitude with offset. A schematic diagram of the standard
AVO Classification scheme is given in Figure 2 and generic seismic signature characteristics
are listed in Table 1.

Attribute / AVO Class Class 1 Class 2a / 2b Class 3 Class 4

Pseudo-gradient - 0 / + + 0
IVA + + / + + 0
AVOC - 0 / + + 0

Table 1. Polarity of seismic attribute signatures for different AVO classes of anomaly.

Figure 1. AVO anomaly classification (modified after Rutherford and Williams, 1989)

Application of AVOC technique to synthetic data

Although the AVOC method has already had proven success in the detection of hydrocarbons
(Fogg, 2001) a series of studies on simple models has been run to learn more about the
characteristic signatures of the technique. The example following looks at a 10m generic
reservoir represented as tight, brine, oil and gas prone. Offset synthetic seismograms have been
generated using a zero phase 45Hz Ricker wavelet where a peak corresponds to an increase in
acoustic p-impedance.

Figure 2 indicates that the tight reservoir yields a weak Class I, the brine fill a Class IIb and the
oil and gas cases Class III anomalies. Top and base reservoir seismic events interfere.
Figure 2. Offset synthetics seismograms for a 10m generic reservoir with different fluid fills.

Figure 3. Offset synthetics represented as pseudo-gradient and AVOC stacks.

Although the AVOC stack is a qualitative indicator of the presence of increasing and decreasing
AVO effects the synthetics amply demonstrate that relative amplitudes are preserved in the
stack allowing discrimination of brine, oil and gas. The AVOC attribute is significantly higher
resolution than the pseudo-gradient, but a limitation of the stack is that residual side lobe energy
can sometimes accompany the main central anomaly. In order to simplify matters, the AVOC
volume can be manipulated to reveal all increasing AVO effects as positive events and all
decreasing AVO effects as negative events. Figure 4 demonstrates this applied to synthetics.
This recent development significantly advances the interpretability of the AVOC volume.

Figure 4. Offset synthetics represented as pseudo-gradient and enhanced AVOC stacks.

Application of the AVOC technique to 3D seismic volume over the Foinaven field
The Foinaven field exhibits a Class 2b oil sand response at the 204/24a-2 well. The pay zone is
divided in to an upper (12m) and lower (44m) sand. The pseudo-gradient stack does not resolve
the two sands independently, but the enhanced AVOC stack clearly defines the two sands as
indicated by the well tie. Additionally the bright up-dip event may correspond to a gas cap.

Figure 5. Pseudo-gradient stack over Foinaven field. Increasing AVO observed, but this
conventional reconnaissance attribute is low resolution.

Figure 6. The enhanced AVOC stack distinctly resolves the upper and lower oil sands.
The AVOC method produces a high resolution AVO volume without the need for full-fold pre-
stack data. The technique extends the usage of near and far stack seismic volumes that are
commonly produced during seismic processing and provides a dataset that is immediately
useful to the interpreter. It has been demonstrated both with synthetic models and field data that
the technique can distinguish brine and hydrocarbons for sequences exhibiting increasing AVO.
Fogg, A.N., 2000, Seismic attribute characterisation and suitability for petro-seismic classification: Land
Seismic Imaging Forum, Bahrain.

Fogg, A.N., 2001, Amplitude Versus Offset Classification (AVOC) using Relative Acoustic Impedance
(RAI) data: 63rd EAGE, Amsterdam.

Rutherford, S.R., and Williams, R.H., 1989, Amplitude-versus-offset variations in gas sands: Geophysics,
54, 680-688.