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version 1.0 released 29/1/99

Definition of Terms and Assumptions
Types of Deconvolution
Prestack applications - Signature Deconvolution, DBS
Post-Stack applications - DAS

Deconvolution is a filtering process which removes a wavelet from the recorded
seismic trace by reversing the process of convolution. The commonest way to perform
deconvolution is to design a Wiener filter to transform one wavelet into another
wavelet in a least-squares sense. By far the most important application is predictive
deconvolution in which a repeating signal (e.g. primaries and multiples) is shaped to
one which doesn't repeat (primaries only). Predictive deconvolution suppresses
multiple reflections and optionally alters the spectrum of the input data to increase
resolution. It is almost always applied at least once to marine seismic data.

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The mathematical assumptions of predictive deconvolution are that:

1. The primary reflection series is random (beware cyclotherms).

2. The source wavelet is minimum phase and is doesn't vary though the earth
3. The noise is random and is of minimal level.
4. The multiple period is fixed (stationary).
5. The data are zero offset and dip is ignored.
While these assumptions are not satisfied by typical seismic data, extensive practical
experience has shown that gapped predictive deconvolution can be very effective at
suppressing multiple reflections with periods of less than around 300ms. The level of
noise in the data can significantly affect deconvolution results. The following figure
summarises deconvolution parameters and results using a simple synthetic example
which consists of a water bottom reflection and series of multiple reflections. The
objective of deconvolution would be to suppress the multiple reflections.

The mathematics of predictive deconvolution require that the autocorrelation of the

source wavelet is known. Since this is rarely true in practice the autocorrelation of the
seismic trace is used as an approximation instead. The autocorrelation function is
critical in picking the deconvolution parameters of gap (also called minimum
autocorrelation lag) and operator length (sometimes called maximum autocorrelation
lag). Some contractors refer to the total operator length as the length of the gap plus
the operator length, others refer (ambiguously) to this as the operator length.
These parameters
are summarised in
the adjacent figure
(a) and are usually
defined in ms as
multiples of the
sample interval.
Sometimes they
are defined by the
number of times
that the
crosses over the
zero-line (zero-
crossing). In the
figure (a) the gap
indicated would
be the 3rd zero-
crossing. The
operator basically
attempts to
produce a trace
with zero
between the gap
and operator
length (b). There
are no firm
rules restricting
the gap and operator length parameters, they are usually tested extensively and the
processor and interpreter use their experience and judgement to pick the most pleasing
section. As previously discussed a certain percentage of white noise is also required to
stabilise the deconvolution calculations. For deconvolution to perform effectively the
autocorrelation function of the trace used should be representative of the wavelet
within the data. Extraneous noise and amplitude variations which may bias the
autocorrelation should therefore be omitted from the computation. This is
accomplished by choosing a design window for the autocorrelation function.
Sometimes the wavelet varies sufficiently down the trace to require different
deconvolution operators for the shallower and deeper parts of the section (multi-
window deconvolution). An example from the North Sea would be to design one
operator for the Tertiary section and one for the deeper Cretaceous/Jurassic section
with the merge zone being selected above the Base Cretaceous reflector. This should
be expected since we know higher frequencies are progressively removed from the
wavelet as it travels though the earth by the processes of attenuation and absorption.

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Gapped or Predictive Deconvolution is the commonest type of deconvolution. The

method tries to estimate and then remove the predictable parts of a seismic trace
(usually multiples). Predictive deconvolution can also be used to increase resolution
by altering wavelet shape and amplitude spectrum. Spiking deconvolution is a special
case where the gap is set to one sample and the resulting phase spectrum is zero.


Waveshaping deconvolution is designed to convert one wavelet into another.

Examples include signature deconvolution where a mixed phase source signature is
converted to it's minimum phase equivalent) and zero-phase conversion.


ADAPTIVE DECONVOLUTION: is a type of deconvolution where the gap

and operator are automatically allowed to vary sample by sample down the
trace according to variations in the previous deconvolution performance. This
dangerous process is now rarely applied.
HOMOMORPHIC deconvolution transforms the data to the cepstrum domain
where wavelet and earth reflectivity can be separated.
MAXIMUM ENTROPY or BURG deconvolution uses an entropy criterion to
produce the predictable and random elements of the data and is a strong
spectral balance.
MINIMUM ENTROPY deconvolution attempts to reduce the disorder of a
signal and performs a zero-phase conversion called Phase Deconvolution in
DIP DEPENDANT: In areas of strong dip and structure the multiple period is
not stationary along the trace but may be stationary in other dip directions.
Most usually the data are composed into several dip limited sections by FK dip
filtering, the deconvolution is applied to each dip component and the resulting
sections are added together.
TAU-P: deconvolution is an emerging process in which some dip and non-
stationary elements are removed from the data prior to deconvolution by
transformation into the tau-p domain.
SURFACE-CONSISTENT: deconvolution is commonly applied to land
seismic data and in AVO processing. The technique ensures that traces from
the same surface source and receiver location (or CMP, offset in addition) have
the same, consistent, operator applied.
SPACE-AVERAGE: or ensemble deconvolution in PROMAX is used to
apply a single deconvolution operator to a group of traces such as a shot record.
Conventional deconvolution will apply a different operator for each trace.

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Since gapped predictive deconvolution requires a minimum phase input it is common

to attempt to convert the data to minimum phase before further deconvolution is
attempted. If the source wavelet were known or measured then this would be a trivial
problem. In practise the source components are usually measured in the near field
- that is very close to the airgun array. These measurements are sometimes included
as auxiliary traces. What is required during processing is the signature recorded at the
hydrophone - the so-called far-field signature. The far-field signature can be measured
by a fixed hydrophone in deep water such as a facility in a Norwegian Fjord owned by
PGS. The far-field signature can also be calculated from the near-field signature by a
variety of methods mostly patented by GECO-PRAKLA. A number of software
packages are available which can model the far-field signature from a given array of
guns. In practice it has been shown (by contractors with vested interests) that
modelled signatures compare favourably with those measured. Modelling is far
cheaper than measurement. Therefore what is usually done is to obtain a modelled
signature at the correct source depth and recorded sampling interval (this will be
provided free by the acquisition contractor) and design an operator to convert this
wavelet to minimum phase. This operator is then applied to the recorded seismic data
prior to deconvolution. Note that this procedure does not take account of frequency
losses as the wavelet travels through the earth. Modern seismic sources often consist
of many airguns and since the input signature is approximately minimum phase the
signature deconvolution stage rarely significantly changes the data. Nevertheless it
should still be applied. For older source types such as vibroseis (land) or waterguns
the signature deconvolution is an essential part of the data processing since the source
is of mixed phase.

Note that a process used historically by GSI (then called HGS now called Western)
called DESIG used to statistically extract a wavelet from each shot record and convert
this to a zero-phase wavelet called "standard marine wavelet 6". They claimed to
apply a zero-phase predictive deconvolution following this process so the resulting
data would be approximately zero-phase (not minimum as standard). This type of
process should be avoided since the results are unpredictable.


Predictive deconvolution applied prestack has historically been aimed at multiple

suppression rather than wavelet compression. This is slightly strange since the
multiple period is only fixed at zero-offset which is never recorded. In practice the
deconvolution is applied trace by trace with a slightly different operator chosen for
each trace. The method is referred to as DBS (deconvolution before stack). The
amplitude relationships of the multiples should also be preserved prior to DBS by
application of a geometrical spreading correction that does not use a primary velocity
function. Theoretically the effects of attenuation (Q) should also be removed prior to
deconvolution although the use of multi-windowed deconvolution should help to
account for attenuation processes. It is important to remove as much noise as possible
prior to deconvolution. The DBS often performs best after multiple suppression (e.g.
RADON demultiple) and DMO which removes noise from the data. The order of DBS
should therefore be tested. Transforming data to the tau-p domain will make the
multiple period stationary, suppresses dipping noise and generally leads to improved
DBS results.

In practise the DBS chosen is usually fairly conservative. This is because the job can
largely be done by the DAS at a later stage in the processing where it is cheaper and
easier to redo if the wrong parameters are chosen.

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In many areas (e.g. the North Sea) a post-stack predictive deconvolution DAS
(deconvolution after stack) is often applied in addition to that already applied prestack
because the DBS does not attenuate multiples sufficiently well. Additionally the DAS
can be used to perform any spectral enhancement which may have been undesirable
prestack based on the premise that it is better to do these things later rather than earlier
in the sequence. Post-stack the data should represent the near offset trace and the
period of the multiple should be stable (ignoring alterations by the stacking process
itself) and noise levels should be reduced. These features may enhance the
effectiveness of deconvolution. The DAS is almost always applied before migration
since the migration process itself may alter the period of the multiple reflections.
However, sometimes the deconvolution is applied after migration (DAM). This would
usually be because the DAS parameters could not be decided within the timeframe
allowed. If the wrong parameters are chosen it is better to do it after an expensive
process such as migration has already been applied. Sometimes the DAM is more
effective because the migration reduces noise in the data. This route also may be
preferred if target oriented multiple suppression routines such as SPLAT are to be
applied. On some data, particularly in deep water where heavy multiple suppression
routes have been attempted, the use of DAS may not be required and should be
replaced by spectral whitening methods.


Unfortunately there are few easy guidelines here.

1. The design window should include the target zone and omit any high
amplitudes or noise levels. It is common to omit the seabed, any coherent noise,
and first multiple bounce from the design window e.g. start the design window
at 200ms for a seabed at 80ms. The PROMAX deconvolution includes a fudge
factor to allow the inclusion of the first multiple bounce.
2. Longer design windows are statistically more valid than shorter ones (assuming
they don't just contain noise). Generally a design window 10 times the operator
length should be chosen. This would usually be around 2s for a 200ms total
operator (commonly used in the North Sea).
3. If a two-window design is chosen then application windows and window
overlap (where the deconvolution zones merge) will also have to be selected.
Merge zones should not be chosen over principal areas of interest and are
usually chosen in areas where there are few reflectors. When choosing zones it
is essential to remember any strong lateral changes in geology in the survey
area. It is possible to make the zone windows follow geological horizons
(common for a dipping seabed, but otherwise rare), but this is not
recommended unless absolutely required since it may lead to unpredictable
results and confuse the interpreter at a later stage.
4. In areas of high noise a multi-channel DAS may be tested in which the
autocorrelation functions from several adjacent traces are averaged in order to
design the DAS operator. This often results in milder or less effective


The appropriate DAS parameters should be selected by trials usually established by

the contractor. Previous experience in the data area is also useful since usually the
trials are designed around some initial guess at the final parameters. A section, or
more usually a portion of section of 500 traces, would be taken and run through a
series of trials displayed side by side at fixed gain level. If a bandpass filter or AGC is
applied following the trials then an ungained or raw version should also be displayed
for reference. The autocorrelation functions associated with the deconvolution
parameters should also be displayed. The following figures show examples of DAS
trials. The processor and interpreter would use their skill and judgement to pick the
optimum parameters for the data. It is also sensible to note that if the data is required
to tie other vintages then it is wise to check the parameters applied to these vintages
since a mis-match could result in change of character of a target event which could
conceivably lead to mis-interpretation.


The deconvolution gap probably has the most effect on the final appearance of the
deconvolved data. It must be remembered that the choice of gap will effect the
resulting amplitude spectrum of the data. A shorter gap will cause more wavelet
compression or spectral whitening and will boost any high and lower frequency noise
present. The spike deconvolution affords maximum resolution, is often too noisy, but
should always be tested, even if only as a reference section. Some schools of thought
prefer to choose a different DAS gap to that used for the DBS to avoid too much
spectral alteration of the same frequency bands.
The adjacent figure compares (left to right) gaps of 4ms
(spike), 12ms, 16ms, 24ms and raw. Click here to enlarge
the figure. The upper display shows the deconvolved
results and the lower display shows the associated enlarged
autocorrelation functions. When using PROMAX (as in
many processing systems) two jobs must be run and the
displays merged. Some contractors may be lazy on this,
but it is essential to display the autocorrelation functions.
The autocorrelation of the wavelet is seen to be around
20ms on panel 5. The spike deconvolution and the 12ms
gap are seen to undesirably boost low frequency noise in
the shallower part of the section. The 16ms and 24ms gap produce very similar
results. The 16ms gap would probably be the optimum compromise between spectral
enhancement and boosting noise. For deeper targets a 24ms or 32ms gap is probably
the commonest used in the North Sea. After stack the high frequency noise has
generally been reduced so if the data are whitened too much then generally it is the
lower frequencies which are observed (panels 1 & 2). In this case it may be more
desirable to apply a bandpass filter following deconvolution.


Deconvolution operator length will have the most effect on the degree of multiple
suppression performed by the predictive deconvolution. Assuming that the dominant
multiple period is the seabed multiple then operator lengths less than the water bottom
(e.g. 100ms) will generally just perform spectral whitening/wavelet compression.
Longer operator lengths (e.g. water bottom + 60ms) will generally be effective at
multiple suppression. Operators longer than this may start to deconvolve geology.
Deconvolution will generally have a poor performance on multiples with periods
greater than 300ms.

The adjacent figure uses a 16ms gap and from left to right the
following operator lengths 80ms, 120ms, 160ms, 240ms and
no DAS. Click here to display an enlarged figure. The upper
display shows the deconvolved data and the lower panel the
associated autocorrelation functions. Both panels have been
reduced slightly in size in order to create the figure. The
autocorrelation from panel 5 shows that the dominant multiple
period is around 110ms. Panel 1 provides just wavelet
compression and no multiple suppression. Panels 2 and 3 are
very similar in results for multiple suppression. It is noted that
the residual multiple is not particularly strong on this data

The adjacent figure shows the effects of varying white noise

percentage on the chosen deconvolution parameters of 16ms
gap, 160ms operator. Click here for an enlarged display.
Parameters tested are (left to right) 0.1%, 0.5%, 2%, 5% and
no DAS. As shown in these displays (and generally found)
the white noise percentage does not significantly alter the
effectiveness of the deconvolution. 0.1% to 1% is the
commonest used. For noisy data an increased percentage of
white noise can be used to improve the deconvolution results.


As noted above, the application of a bandpass filter

following deconvolution may sometimes help to reduce
the low and high frequency noise boosted by short gap
deconvolution whilst maintaining the extra resolution
obtained from the signal. The adjacent figure
(click here for an enlargement) shows the filtered spiking
deconvolution, the raw 16ms gap and the filtered 16ms
gap deconvolution. The filtering is seen to reduce the low
frequency noise in the upper part of the section and the
resolution afforded by the spike is seen, in this case not to
be superior to that of the filtered 16ms gap (c). Indeed while the latter deconvolution
has better signal content in the deeper section the spike deconvolution (a) generally is
richer in lower frequencies. The optimum deconvolution and filter choices are, as
ever, a matter of personal preference and will ultimately be decided by the interpreter
and processor in conjunction. Note that there is a phase difference between the spike
(which is zero-phase) and the gap (minimum phase) deconvolution results. There are
some schools of thought which state that the migration will perform better if the input
data has had spike deconvolution applied but there is little theoretical background for
this. Generally in the North Sea data is too noisy for spike deconvolution to be
effective even when followed by bandpass filtering.


Occasionally a deconvolution operator and gap may be designed to attenuate a
particular multiple period within the data only. This technique might be used for very
deep water. Typically a long gap e.g. water bottom -60ms would be used with an
operator length of water bottom + 60ms. The results of this procedure can be quite
unpredictable and should be avoided if possible. This method is commonly used as a
DBS in the processing of site survey data when preceded by an NMO correction at
water velocity in order to stabilise the multiple period.