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# AAPG

October 1996

## Understanding the Fresnel Zone

S
(Editor’s note: The Geophysical Fresnel Zone
200

700
Corner is a feature that will regularly 2-WAY
TIME

1 300 1000

## the AAPG Geophysical Integration 1.0

FREQUENCY
4

Central Peak
Committee. This new feature will 1.5 5

h+
5
400

SECONDS
6

## discuss some of the fundamentals of Next Trough

λ/4
h 1.5
10
2
7
1500
2.5 8
geophysical technologies, integration of 2.0
500

METERS
3 10

FEET
20

## the technologies with geology and

KM/S

FT/S
HERTZ
30
3.0 4 600
2000
address the impact of geophysical 40

Center of Zone
15

Edge of Zone
5
R1 4.0 60
technology and techniques on 5.0 100
6
7
20

exploration.) 6.0 8
25
800

3000
150 10
1000

By R.E. SHERIFF
1200
“Limit of seismic resolution” usually 4000

makes us wonder, how thin a bed can Figure1 – Within a Fresnel Zone Figure 2 – The Pythagorean theorem Figure 3 – Nomogram for determining
we see? Yet seismic data is subject to a reflection contributions arrive allows one to calculate the radius of Fresnel Zone radius. A straight line
horizontal as well as a vertical coherently and thus reinforce. Outside the Fresnel Zone. connecting the two-way time and
dimension of resolution. peaks and troughs tend to cancel frequency intersects the central line at
The horizontal dimension of seismic
each other and thus make little net the same point as a line connecting
resolution is described by the “Fresnel
Zone.” contribution. the average velocity and the Fresnel
Huygen’s principle states that each Zone radius. For example, a 20-Hz
part of a wavefront is the source of a reflection at 2.0 seconds and velocity
new wave. If you’ve watched waves in a of 3.0 km/s has a Fresnel Zone radius
lake pass by a solid seawall jutting into the seismic line. Fresnel Zone will be offset by the of 470 m.
the lake, you know that the waves fill in The reflected waves will interfere constructive contribution of other zones
the water behind the seawall. Seismic constructively where their travel paths – and thus the reaction of the reflector
waves behave in a similar manner when differ by less than a half wavelength responsible for a reflection will be only
being reflected from a subsurface (see Figure 1), and the portion of the that of the First Fresnel Zone. geometry. This is shown in Figure 2 for
reflector with an anomaly on it. reflecting surface involved in these In other words, a reflection that we a plane reflector in the constant velocity
The area where the waves interfere reflections is called the First Fresnel think of as coming back to the surface case, allowing for two-way travel time.
with each other constructively is our Zone. from a point is actually being reflected Note that the Fresnel Zone radius
area of concern, called the “First Beyond this First Fresnel Zone from an area with the dimension of the depends on wavelength (itself a
Fresnel Zone.” The anomaly will be region interference will be alternatively First Fresnel Zone. The adjective “first” function of frequency and velocity). For
seen throughout this region, and this destructive and constructive. Fresnel is often dropped.
has caused dry holes to be drilled on showed that the destructive contribution The dimensions of the Fresnel Zone
anomalies that were off to the side of of some of these zones beyond the First can be calculated easily by simple continued on next page

OCTOBER 1996
AAPG

EXPLORER 19
R

Fresnel
CMP Profile
Direction

Post-migration Pre-migration
Fresnel Zone Fresnel Zone

## Figure 4 – Three-dimensional Figure 5 – A given point on a reflector

migration collapses the Fresnel Zone affects a surface region by an area
to a small circle, but 2-D migration equal to the Fresnel Zone. In migration
collapses it in only one direction. the entire Fresnel Zone must therefore
be summed over to obtain the correct
amplitude.

## seismic frequencies and the depths of changes in acoustic impedance,

interest to oil finders, the resulting porosity, hydrocarbon accumulations,
dimensions are quite large (Figure 3). lithology, porosity-thickness, etc., we
The effect of migration can be must integrate over all of the affected
thought of as lowering geophones surface in the migration process in
through the earth until they are order to get the correct relative value.
coincident with a reflector, at which time Thus, if we are to compute porosity-
the Fresnel Zone will have shrunk to a thickness correctly from a 3-D seismic
small circle. If the data and migration survey, the survey must extend for the
are two-dimensional, then the Fresnel full Fresnel-zone radius beyond the
Zone will have only shrunk in one field.
dimension and will still extend its full Because of data coming out of the
width perpendicular to the line plane on the 2-D profiles shown in the
(Figure 4). model (Figure 6), the algal mound is
Much of the improvement of 3-D seen on all profiles that are within a
over 2-D is because of this difference. 1,000-foot window. A profile only 800
Figure 2 can be turned upside down feet away looks identical to one over the
to show the portion of the surface center of the feature. Hence, any survey
affected by the reflectivity at a print on must extend beyond the area over Figure 6 – Model demonstrating out-of-the-plane imaging and Fresnel Zone
the reflector (Figure 5). If we wish to which one intends to interpret effects on data over a hypothetical reef with the specified offsets. The false image
preserve amplitudes so that we can amplitude changes by a fringe distance in this example is clearly seen 1,500 feet away (after Jackson and Hilterman,
interpret amplitude variations as required by the migration process. ❏ 1979).

OCTOBER 1996