Overview Defining Survey Objectives This presentation provides an introduction to the seismic acquisition method.

When faced with the need for more seismic data it is easy to rush ahead with a survey without considering all the factors. It is most important to carefully review in detail the objectives of the survey. For example, in a new exploration play in a gas-prone province having thin reservoirs, it is clear that the exploration target must be large to be of any economic interest. In this case, one might choose a seismic survey with widely spaced lines of sources and receivers. Alternatively, the objective might be to determine the fluid content of the reservoir; in which case, it might be necessary to use long offset data for amplitude versus angle of incidence analysis, or even multi-component acquisition. There are thousands of possible combinations of acquisition parameters and methods; the optimal selection of which must be driven by the objectives of the survey, balanced against economic constraints. The objective most common to all surveys is to obtain clean reflections free of interference from noise, other wave types and multiple events. Review of Historical Information After carefully defining the survey objectives, the next step is to review previously existing information. This may include geologic information and logs from wells, previous seismic data, reports from geologic surface surveys, gravity information and operations reports. The subsurface information will assist in setting the resolution criteria for the survey – an important economic factor. Previous seismic data will assist in identifying the noise problems to be encountered. It can be reprocessed and analyzed to provide estimates of attenuation, potential bandwidth, sampling requirements etc. Surface geology will provide information on near-surface dips, the likelihood of static correction problems and also the type of shot hole drilling equipment that may be needed. Gravity data may give dip and depth estimates. Operations reports will provide information on conditions and problems previously encountered; hopefully, they can be avoided in the new operations. Operational and environmental factors have a huge impact on the techniques used and the costs involved. Acquisition requires many different types of equipment, to be deployed depending on the environment. Clearly, with such a range of environments and equipment, no one individual or training module is sufficient to design and plan a seismic survey. However, this presentation will enable the geophysicist to understand the impact that historical information may have on the project and should promote the effective communication and coordination with the acquisition team. Accounting for Noise In this presentation, we will also discuss noise as it affects the seismic survey. Ambient Noise The vibrations from a seismic source are always in competition with naturally occurring vibrations. These vibrations are called ambient noise. The noise may be highly local to the geophone, for example, a leaf brushing the case of the geophone, or a grain of windblown sand striking it. Such noise is called incoherent or uncorrelated. If the ambient noise is ground-borne or airborne (for example, from a distant tractor), the noise will arrive at two closely spaced geophones at the same time and is said to be correlated. An intermediate situation occurs in the jungle or forest; the noise is generated in the tops of the trees but communicated to the geophones through the trunk and root system. The correlation distance may be determined by deploying geophones at a number of different

distances and recording the ambient noise. The data may then be analyzed to find the cross-correlation coefficient. Coherent Noise As discussed earlier, ambient noise can sometimes be coherent, depending on the distance between receivers. However, most coherent noise is generated by the seismic source. It includes the surface wave, known as ground roll on land ( Figure 1:An illustrative record.

Figure 1

Frame ‘a' shows a wiggle-trace, from Antsey, 1981; reprinted by permission of Gebruder Borntraeger. Frame ‘b' shows an interpretation of the wiggle-trace.) and the trapped normal modes at sea ( Figure 2:Water wave), multiple events, out of plane events, and air waves. In land seismic, ground roll is commonly the most significant problem. In marine seismic it is more likely to be multiple reflections.

Figure 2

With the introduction of recording systems capable of acquiring more channels of data, more powerful marine sources and the 3-D method, coherent noise has become a more significant problem than ambient noise in most surveys. Scattered Noise Scattered noise is a term generally given to surface waves or trapped waves, which have been reflected back to the receivers by discontinuities in the near-surface, Figure 3 (Plan view of source-generated scattered noise reflected back to the line by a surface irregularity).

Figure 3

On land, the responsible wave is likely to be ground roll or head waves; in the marine realm, it is likely to be a wave trapped between the surface and the first strong acoustic boundary. A simple example would be a reflection from an oil platform during a marine survey. This would appear as a hyperbolic event on the cross-section. However, there may be many discontinuities in the near surface, and they may be randomly located. This leads to the appearance of a large number of randomly placed diffractions on the seismic record. The superposition of many coherent diffraction events causes the scattered noise to masquerade as random noise by its incoherent appearance on a seismic record. For this reason, only recently has scattered noise been recognized as a significant problem. Survey Methods The following section provides an overview of seismic acquisition methods. 2-D Seismic Method Most seismic work (and particularly reconnaissance work) is conducted along lines. Such work is often called 2-D (two-dimensional, since the final output approximates to a twodimensional section through the earth). However, it is important to remember that only the final result is an approximation to a two-dimensional section through the earth. The actual acquisition process is three-dimensional. Each seismic source propagates energy in a three dimensional earth and each seismic receiver receives energy in a three dimensional manner. The signal and the noise propagate in three dimensions; it is only the analysis, processing and display which are two-dimensional. The objective is to work along a line to produce a vertical section which best represents the parameters of the earth that are of interest to the interpreter. Conceptually, one might achieve this in the same manner as a ship uses an echo sounder (

Figure 4 : Basic single channel recording of reflection times along a 2-D line); coincident sources and receivers would record data at regular intervals along a line, usually a straight line.

Figure 4

However, the echo sounder only produces a vertical cross-section of the sea bottom by making the assumption that the sea floor is horizontal in a direction perpendicular to the traverse of the vessel. Additionally, the echo sounder is only working in one simple layer - the water. It is relatively easy to convert the travel time of the echo sounder into the water depth in such a situation. In the seismic case, the earth has variable velocity. Also, interfaces generate many different seismic waves. These waves may cause interference with the objectives or may be useful, for example, in the case of converted energy in multi-component techniques. This makes it necessary to modify the simple single shot – single receiver method to achieve the objective. Multiple versions of the reflection information are always recorded, trying to keep constant the desired component of the geophone signal (usually the primary compression reflections), and to introduce some kind of variability into the undesired components (everything else). Then, the multiple versions are added together, in hope that the desired reflections will reinforce coherently, while the undesired components will add less coherently (or even cancel). This method also provides the ability to estimate velocity within the earth, which allows the travel time to be converted into a more useful parameter to the Explorationist – depth. 3-D Seismic Method The previous section stated that the 2-D method is an attempt to produce a vertical cross-section within a three dimensional world. Increasingly, data is collected over a grid of sources and receivers. These two dimensions at the surface, together with the estimations of depth in the subsurface lead to this technique to be termed ‘threedimensional seismic'. This technique frees the geophysicist from the assumption that the subsurface is flat in a direction perpendicular to the seismic line. It has many other advantages including improved resolution and better signal to noise potential. This presentation will introduce most concepts using a two-dimensional approach, since this leads to an easier understanding; however, the concepts can readily be extended to

Multi-component seismic (MCS) uses detectors orientated in three directions at each receiver point. permeability. A complete list of authors and papers is given in the Reference section of this presentation. In most circumstances. Recording seismic data before and during production may provide valuable information by showing differences between the images. The main advantages of MCS are the improved ability to predict fluid type. especially marine. 1998. ‘92. while only the pressure component is measured at sea. it may identify unswept pockets of oil.three dimensions. for a comparison of interpretations from 2-D and 3D surveys. 2-D or 3-D? A properly designed 3-D survey will always provide a better image than a 2-D survey. — extensive faulting. Before recording a time lapse survey. it is important to model the reservoir to determine whether the production will create a measurable effect . as it attempts to measure the magnitude and direction of particle motion in three dimensions. Frequently a 2-D survey does not solve the exploration problem and will be repeated with closer line spacing. Factors which sway the decision towards 3-D are — structural complexity. This allows the simultaneous recording of both Pressure and Shear waves. MCS might better be called vector seismic. but only the vertical component of these waves is measured on land. for example. Time Lapse (4D) Seismic The production of hydrocarbons from a reservoir may in some cases affect the seismic image. Both ambient and coherent noise is better attenuated and out of plane reflections are properly positioned. lithology and fractures.) Multi-Component Seismic Conventional seismic generates both Pressure and Shear waves. the economics favor an early acquisition of 3-D data (see Aylor. and — high cost of exploration failure. — need for improved spatial resolution. A simple example of this is the upward movement of the oil-water contact as the oil is produced. The repeated surveys will then be followed by a 3-D survey. And see Aylor. and also sometimes to provide a better structural image. 1995). The presentation will introduce the concepts of the three-dimensional seismic method. for a discussion of the improvement in exploration success using 3-D. (See Nestvold & Nelson. but more detailed explanations will be found in other presentation. These repeats are expensive and involve lengthy delays.

on the seismic image." whatever they are. It is also necessary to examine the cost benefits of such a survey. in weight. A shot hole rig drills the shot hole. and a booster is added at the top if necessary. Most shooters continue to call their explosives "dynamite.) The effects of production are likely to be very subtle. The cylinders are coupled together to make larger charges.20 lb. 1999. but changes in equipment and techniques make this unlikely.). The assembly of a charge is shown in Figure 1 (Assembling charge). Some of these are safe to the degree that the charge must include a booster. R N Anderson. the acquisition parameters should be identical for all surveys in the time lapse experiment. 60 cm (2 ft) in length and 1 kg or 2 lb. The explosive is typically supplied in cylinders 6 cm (2 in) in diameter. For this reason.C Uden. charges are in the range 1-10 kg (2 . the explosive is high-velocity gelatin dynamite. some old-timers still call them "powder. Figure 1 This charge is usually loaded into a shot hole for both safety and to provide a better source pulse. Then an electric detonator (usually called a cap) is added. Traditionally. Explosive Sources Dynamite An explosive charge is a popular seismic source because it is a compact and light source of acoustic energy. This rig consists primarily of a rotary drill — a scaled-down version of an oil-drilling rig — mounted on a truck ( . Increasingly. (See R. it is important to consider the potential need for a later time lapse survey during the design of the very first survey over a field. Biondi. and the cap wires are secured to the charge." Generally. Ideally. of greater sensitivity. however. 1998. and which have fewer restrictions on transport and storage replace dynamite. before it can be detonated. which are safer to handle. various branded explosives. Mavko et al.

Figure 2 : Elements of a shot-hole rig). Figure 2 or on a marsh buggy ( Figure 3 : Shot-hole rig in marshland) Figure 3 .

a small rig ( Figure 5 : Portable shot-hole rig) may be configured for transport by man or by helicopter.or on a tracked vehicle ( Figure 4 : Track-mounted rig) . or in environmentally sensitive areas. Figure 4 For terrain that is generally impenetrable to vehicles. Figure 5 .

For drilling very soft ground.For drilling shallow holes. Figure 6 The shot hole is typically drilled with a 12-cm (4 -in) bit — a fish-tail bit for soft and unconsolidated materials. the hole can be jetted rather than drilled ( Figure 6 : Jetting operation). Typical values range from 3 m (10 ft) to 30 m (100 ft). the water table. shooting formation (See the presentation entitled THE SEISMIC PULSE – ITS GENERATION AND TRANSMISSION). the practical choice of depth is discussed in the presentation on CHOOSING THE FIELD VARIABLES. . the rotary capability may not be necessary. an airgun may be sufficient. air or a combination of both. one or more water tankers are required ( Figure 7 : Shot-hole rig and tanker) (or dozens of workers will need to be employed to carry water cans on their heads). The drilling fluid may be water. If it is water. or a rock bit for hard materials. and ghost reflections. The depth of the shot hole is a compromise between considerations of cost.

. which requires the addition of bentonite to form a drilling mud. it may be necessary to case the hole. and interlock to form a rod by which the charge may be pushed down the hole ( Figure 8 : The loading operation). then loaded to the bottom of the hole by the shooter. the driller may preload it. After the hole is drilled. In serious cases. For this he uses a heavy weight. these poles are typically 3 m or 10 ft in length. Under favorable conditions.Figure 7 The drill may encounter lost circulation. a small shot-hole rig might drill 30 shot holes (to 15 m or 50 ft) in a day. we shall discuss ways of tackling this problem. and it may be worth salvaging and reusing any undamaged casing. Under unfavorable conditions. or those requiring greater depths. where the hole is subject to collapse. several large rigs might be needed — and may still get less production. this process is expensive. or loading poles of wood or aluminum. by the use of surface sources. Alternatively. in some places it is the dominant part of the cost. the explosive charge is assembled. Later. It is almost always true that shot hole drilling represents a significant part of the cost of seismic fieldwork.

However. The Manual of Safety prepared by the International Association of Geophysical Contractors sets out these practices. we have the situation of Figure 9 (Charge in hole). Our lives are at stake — so read it!!! With the charge loaded. . A copy should be available on every crew. this is possible only by the observance of sensible safety practices.Figure 8 The handling and loading of explosives is routinely and safely carried out on hundreds of seismic crews every day.

worse still. is also acceptable. When the shot is fired. A thump followed by a whoosh and a big plume of water. But if the shot blows out with a sharp crack like a gun (or. if it is so shallow that it craters). Figure 10 (Shot plume) . but our ears should hear only a thud. soil or sand may be loaded down the hole to tamp the charge.Figure 9 If there is a good head of water above the charge. and the energy has been wasted upwards. this is sufficient. if not. our feet should feel a good thump. this indicates good tamping — the energy has gone into the ground. the tamping is not sufficient.

Figure 12 . which sends a pulse of electric current through the cap wires to the cap. Figure 11 (Blow out from shallow shot) does not.Figure 10 looks like a good shot. Figure 11 The blaster ( Figure 12 : Firing the charge) fires the charge.

Modern practice requires that the moment of application of this pulse can be taken as the moment of detonation of the charge — there must be no significant delay. This is achieved by using "seismograph caps" — not blasting caps — and by using a sufficiently large firing current. but fired remotely from the recording instruments. In some operations. Obviously. the initial output of this geophone is sent by radio to the recording instruments. . Figure 13 As noted previously. with the instant of firing — the time-break — being transmitted to the recording instruments by radio (or by wire). Also shown in Figure 13 (Charge in hole) is the up-hole geophone. the interval between the timebreak and the uphole arrival represents the travel time up the hole. the blaster is fired manually by the shooter on the instruction of the observer. and this allows us to convert our reflection times to be surface-to-surface times. and is recorded for later use. the blaster is made ready and "enabled" by the shooter. More often. usually placed within 3 m or 10 ft of the shot hole. It also provides a useful measure of the velocity of the near-surface materials — provided that the geophone has not been kicked over during the loading operation.

and to press on to the next. 1982). just like a larger loudspeaker. and finally. firing the charge in consolidated clay will give a much sharper pulse than in a dry unconsolidated conglomerate. the larger source provides a larger shock wavefront that. the observer calls for a second shot in the hole — possibly at a different depth. The bandwidth of the dynamite source is inversely proportional to. for special or test purposes.Occasionally. Before doing so. the urge is to shoot only one shot in each hole. The shooter loads this in the same way. generates low frequencies more efficiently. This may be likened to the behavior of a loudspeaker. Figure 14 . and tamps the soil back on top. First. The size of the explosive charge must be carefully chosen. and the amplitude directly proportional to. while the recording operation waits. The driller must keep good records of the formations encountered and attempt to load the charge consistently in the same formation. the plow continuously cuts the furrow. it must be sufficiently small that it does not create a safety hazard. 1/4-3/8 in) is laid in a furrow cut by a vibrating plow ( Figure 14 : Three-furrow primacord plow). second. it must be large enough to compete with the ambient noise. the cord (69 mm in diameter. and to restore the surface. In general. D. the cube root of the charge mass (see Sixta.. The charge depth must also be carefully chosen. Other Explosives Dynamite can also be packaged into an explosive cord.P. With explosive cord. feeds in the cord. the shooter is usually required to seal the shot hole. it must be small enough that it has a broad enough amplitude spectrum. however.

but it has its own hazards.Typically the cord is laid in lengths of 25 meters. and it requires the drilling of expensive shot holes. As a result. . Another explosive seismic source is the shotgun. with a movable diaphragm in contact with the ground ( Figure 16 : Dinoseis truck). fired by a cap at one end. a number of alternatives have been devised. a mixture of propane and oxygen is contained in a truck-mounted bell. a projectile is accelerated to strike a baseplate. it would be most unsuitable. Gas Gun In a gas gun. since detonation is by a spark plug. by a shotgun shell ( Figure 15 : Shotgun source). multiple units can be fired simultaneously at each position across a source array. With a shotgun. in contact with the ground. Clearly. which is typically only used for shallow work as it has low energy. such as the middle of town or during a period of civil unrest. or even fired directly into the ground. the cord is thus its own source array. Figure 15 Dynamite is an extremely effective way of transporting very large quantities of energy. in some situations.

and then dropped.Figure 16 An air gun is a variant on the gas gun. . A volume of air at high pressure is discharged abruptly into water contained in a truck-mounted bell ( Figure 17 : Land air gun). A large weight is carried at the back of a truck ( Figure 1 : Weight-drop truck showing weight just prior to impact). much work has been done by the Thumper or weight-drop method. Figure 17 Non-Explosive Sources Weight Drop In desert areas. it is raised. the operation of air guns is described more fully later in this presentation.

16 times at each shot-point. By contrast. the efficiency of the explosive in generating compressional waves — despite the benefit of being down a hole. Vibrator An alternative to these short impulsive sources discussed above is the vibrator. Figure 2 (Vibroseis truck) shows a typical vibrator. so that although the vibrator generates relatively low power compared with dynamite. Probably. One of the interesting features of the weight-drop system is the ease with which we can calculate the energy employed. a mass of 2000 kg is dropped from a height of 3 m. as the technique is known. thus sufficient input energy is built up over a source array. a few percent of this appears in the compressional seismic wave. The time-break is obtained from an inertial switch that is actuated as the weight hits the ground. a 10 kg charge of explosive releases some 30 MJ. This method utilizes the principle of spreading the source energy out over time. The source may be small and mounted on a tractor for use in populated or environmentally sensitive areas. for example. with the truck moving a few meters between drops. the energy employed is about 1 MJ. The source array is important. or may be large and mounted in huge trucks for use in the desert. Vibroseis. because ground roll is much more troublesome with a surface source (see the module entitled THE SEISMIC PULSE – ITS GENERATION AND TRANSMISSION). If.Figure 1 Many drops are made at each shot-point. in intimate contact with the earth — is probably about one-tenth of one percent. and the vertical stacking is carried out with reference to this time-break. is by far the most important of the surface seismic sources. the total useful energy may be comparable. . If we say that the seismic results are comparable.

Figure 2 Figure 3 (Vibrator system diagram)shows a sketch of a typical vibrator. Figure 3 .

Introduction Figure 1 illustrates a classic exploration target-a simple anticlinal structure. along the line of section. Figure 1 This structure can be defined. . by making measurements of the depth of the reservoir below datum ( Figure 2 ).

.Figure 2 These values of depth can be posted at the corresponding shot-points on a shot-point location map ( Figure 3 ).

.Figure 3 The same operations can be done on another line ( Figure 4 and Figure 5 ).

Figure 4 .

Figure 5 Finally the map is fully posted ( Figure 6 ) .

it can then be contoured ( Figure 7 ).Figure 6 . .

.Figure 7 The maximum hydrocarbon content is then defined by the spill-point contour (OWC of Figure 8 ).

. in almost all cases. — The reflection time is an expression of the depth and dip of a geological surface. locally approximates the surface of the solid earth at some time in the past. where the truth about the subsurface environment becomes evident only to the person who accepts a continuum between the two.Figure 8 The closure and the maximum area of pay can be read from the map. — Reflections evident on a seismic section have a time and a character. There are several important principles related to the geological message in the seismic trace. geological properties can be obtained only by inference. Seismic interpretation is the meeting-place of geology and geophysics. thus it may be a bedding plane (rep resenting a one-time surface of deposition) or a local portion of an unconformity (representing a one-time surface of erosion or non-deposition). and of the velocity to it. That surface. The seismic method measures only physical properties and their changes.

our prime concern is with studies of reflection time. We must become expert in recognizing such structures. Further. we seldom or never find classical anticlines with simple four-way closure. is that the fault has greater potential to form a trap (Figure 1 ). from these. they allow us to see patterns of surfaces. and so to recognize truncation and erosion. — Studies of reflection character allow us to map variations in the nature of the rocks. The importance of the fault. they allow us to see angular unconformity between two surfaces.— Studies of reflection time allow us to see the folding and faulting of a geological surface. Further again. of course. and of interference between reflections from closely-spaced reflecting surfaces. we usually call it a fracture. and with the correct representation of geological surfaces. Conduits and Seals Where a crack occurs in the earth. and to its implications for stratigraphic traps. — The reflection character is an amalgam of amplitude. and so to supplement our inferences about their type and condition. Where the rock layers are displaced across the fracture. Nowadays. . All those structures have been found long ago. we can make inferences about facies. With respect to basic seismic interpretation. our standard fare consists of structures bounded in part by dip and in part by faults. INTRODUCTION Today. as distinct from the fracture. This is of paramount importance. to the location of structural traps. and so to recognize structural traps. in mature petroleum provinces. waveform and polarity. It is an expression of the physical properties above and below the reflecting surface. Thereafter we may pay more and more attention to reflection character. and so to recognize certain depositional mechanisms. in turn. we usually call it a fault. and in deciding whether or not they have potential as hydrocarbon traps.

we have nothing. For the fault to form a trap. An attractive situation arises where a fault is a conduit in its lower reaches. we need faults to act as seals. if it does. And our constant enemy is the breach of a fault seal by reactivation of the fault. is that the seal may be broken by later reactivation of the fault. and a seal in its upper reaches. depends on the thickness and offset of the cap rock. the spill point. C. This may happen. and the conditions of chemistry and temperature cause the minerals to precipitate out of solution as the water rises in the fault. if the conduit formed by the crack allows the escape of mineral-rich waters from below. But we also depend on a fault seal at B. of course. therefore.we depend on the fault to act as a conduit. however.Figure 1 At the time of cracking. we need faults to act as conduits. to charge the reservoir from the deep source rock. In Figure 1. it provides a conduit. . In other situations. If this seal does not exist. allowing the charge of a reservoir from a deep source. the fault must provide a seal. If a seal forms just above a faulted reservoir we have a trap. We depend on the offset cap rock at A to provide an updip barrier. while if the conduit remains open below the reservoir we have a path by which the reservoir may be charged from deep source rock. for example. The danger in a fault trap. so that the hydrocarbons are lost. Sometimes. the fault is likely to provide an escape for water (and possibly hydrocarbons) contained in the rocks below.

then. the critical decisions we must make in fault interpretation. .with a thicker cap rock. Others point to the large number of proven fields having just these conditions. perhaps at D. and can represent only hydrocarbons generated since the resealing. we do not need the fault seal at B. and fault traps always carry an additional element of risk.In Figure 2. should we expect oil or gas? In general. If the fault has been reactivated as suggested at F. the drilling decision should be based on a reasoned assessment of potential reward and potential risk. or traps where faults can be seen extending to the surface. will not drill downthrown fault traps. As always. Is it possible for the fault trap to be sourced? Does the fault plane seal? Did the seal develop before or after the generation and migration of the hydrocarbons? Where the thickness and offset of the cap rock imply a spill point. there are uncertainties in our answers. Figure 2 If it is not present by E. any charge depends on the subsequent sealing of this breach. the trap cannot be charged unless both the unconformity surface and its overlying rocks are impermeable-and then only after the development of this impermeability. Some decision-makers. as a matter of principle. We see. is the trapped volume sufficient to warrant drilling? Has the fault been reactivated? Is it likely to have resealed? When? Were hydrocarbons still migrating after this time? Having regard to the burial history. but it must be present higher in the section.

Today. every such break was a fault. we cannot afford to dismiss fault traps. we resist this. • In the regrettable days when geologists and geophysicists were kept apart. Another is that fault interpretation is jeopardized whenever a 2-D line is . and to discover pockets of oil never tapped by the drill. One reason for this is that 2-D lines are seldom sufficiently close to give definite fault correlations from line to line. however. 2-D versus 3-D Seismic Data Fault interpretation on 2-D seismic data is much less safe than on 3-D data. Similarly. Some of the reasons for this are understandable. Past & Present In the past. we search first for faults that show the tectonic message most clearly. in which any fault displacement could be absorbed? Thus. and insist on an interpretation that satisfies both the seismic measurement and the geological generalizations. many geophysicists did not even know what the geologists knew about the nature of faulting. from the faults. Where the salt or shale layer is thin. while regarding the geological input as mere generalization. Here we put ourselves into an interpretive loop: we cannot pick the faults until we know the tectonic history. a great deal of seismic fault interpretation has been grossly in error. All in all. • There is always a temptation to give the seismic data the weight of a measurement. and we go back into all the faults until a coherent pattern emerges. Interpretation. One of the cheapest ways to find oil today is to reinterpret the old fault maps over producing oil fields in the light of present geological knowledge. Perhaps the clearest example of this is that we would no longer accept any fault interpretation. a thick overpressured shale is often seen to absorb quite major faulting. we make regional and local inferences about the history. • What explorationists know about basin dynamics and fault generation has increased enormously in the last decade. because of the silt layer). So no fault can be picked in isolation. however "obvious." if it did not satisfy conservation of mass before and after faulting. the presence of thick salt above the unconformity in Figure 2would virtually remove any risk from fault reactivation (though in Figure 1 it might not.One other seismic decision is very relevant to the assessment of risk: is there evidence of any mobile rock above the trap. reflection continuity was often interrupted by seismic artifacts-changes in surface conditions. • With the poorer quality of old data. Round and Round In modern practice. incorrect statics. therefore. the fault may be transmitted. then we face the judgment of whether it is likely to be sealed by flowage of the mobile material into the fault zone. therefore. but working with them will often intensify our problems-and occasionally cause us sorrow. but we learn the tectonic history. we are much concerned with establishing the tectonic regime of the area-and how that regime has changed over time-before we attempt final picks on the faults. very largely. refraction blind spots. To a person raised among mountains.

we also remember the possibility that mere compaction. Further. Above the fault we are always vigilant for evidence of reactivation (possibly in the opposite direction). even with fair record quality. The use of 3-D data has allowed us to see the details of structure along and near the fault planes. we must still be ready to do the best we can on 2-D data. where we mapped a few long continuous faults using 2-D data. particularly in shales. Fault interpretation on 3-D data has given us new insight into the geometry. discontinuous faults separated by some sort of transfer zone. However. or disappears. fault interpretation can sometimes be extremely problematical. we are looking for additional messages. it shows us that. continuing the pick upwards and downwards until the faulting becomes mere flexure. General Issues in Interpretation Figure 1illustrates the fault-picking operation at a simple level. distribution and behavior of faulting. mapping around faults has changed. we now see more numerous short. But even in this simple case. because such reactivation may have broken a seal. Simple enough. We have learned that structural contours at the faults are not necessarily the smooth and flowing artistic lines that so many of us were taught in the past. Once. Figure 1 We join the apparent breaks or steps in the reflections with a geologically plausible fault trace. However.not perpendicular to the fault. Figure 2goes to an opposite extreme. Similarly. . can suggest minor reactivation of a fault where none has occurred. the figure illustrates that either type of movement can produce significant local changes in stratigraphy above a fault zone.

or of different type and the same age (problematical)? As we have agreed earlier. Figure 3 is a fairly simple illustration of this. This problem is made worse by the fact that many areas have been subjected to several tectonic episodes. many of the problems of fault interpretation on 2-D data arise because the lines are not at right angles to the faults. Are the other faults of compatible type and the same age (acceptable). or of different type and different age (acceptable). with a system of curved extensional faults crossed by a system of vertical strike-slip faults.Figure 2 In the face of the changing intervals between major reflections. each generating a system of subparallel faults-but at different orientations. we have to satisfy ourselves that other faulting is compatible with that interpretation. . whatever picks we make. the requirement for geological plausibility becomes the key. we must have an explanation for them. Just joining the reflection breaks in some arbitrary manner will not do. Even when the fault interpretation appears simple.

.Figure 3 If we lay out a rectangular grid of 2-D lines over such an area. Figure 4illustrates fault picking at a basin edge. some or all of the lines must be at unfavorable angles.

However. and the picking is straightforward. Figure 5 .Figure 4 We can see very readily the likely geological development. and sometimes our courage is taxed ( Figure 5 . the earth is also capable of some exceedingly grotesque contortions.

and Figure 7 ). Figure 7 .Figure 6.

Figure 6 In some cases. Thus. of neutral subsidence. situations that would otherwise tax our courage are eased when we can recognize the presence of mobile rocks such as salt or overpressured shale. Figure 8 An essential step in fault interpretation is the recognition of episodes of extension. Thus. and of compression. we recognize an orderly subsidence at the edge of a rift basin. and the repeated reactivation and adjustment of the main basin-bounding fault. the major salt-induced fault in Figure 8 gives us few problems. . in Figure 9.

before the filling of the basin. Figure 10shows the formation of a major left-tilted faulted block as a consequence of extension at rift time. may represent attractive petroleum targets. of course. such blocks. Figure 10 .Figure 9 On the other side of the basin.

We would also read extension (followed by stable subsidence) into the tilted fault blocks of Figure 11. Figure 11. and confirmed by the mountainous nature of the surface. the associated rollover can yield a very important structural trap. this may be fairly clear. Occasionally we may even see such thrust situations at prospect scale (Figure 12 ). It is equally important that we recognize the evidence for compression. . At a regional scale.

Figure 12 A more complex example. involving both compression and extension. is given in Figure 13. .

Many petroleum provinces have been subject to episodes of both extension and compression. some sideways movements and adjustments occur. When these do not act in the same direction. both in plan and in section. when we are working in such provinces.Figure 13. Figure 14 braces us for the difficult decisions that we shall have to make. . and these create distinctive fault patterns.

the intent of which is to simulate and analyze the process and effects of deformation.Figure 14 Rock Strength A substantial amount of literature exists with regard to experimental rock mechanics in the laboratory. These stages are defined by the behavior of the deformed material. 1950). scientists have determined that deformation generally progresses through three main stages (Nadai. . core-like samples. Studies are usually performed on cylindrical. From these studies. which are subjected to compressive or tensile stresses in a chamber whose pressure and temperature are regulated. and are most clearly and simply shown by the use of stress-strain diagrams ( Figure 1 ).

Rupture With continued increase of stress. Beyond this limit. If stress is removed. 2. as shown in Figure 2 . . Elastic strain can also end in rupture. the stress-strain relationship is linear. strain is said to be completely reversible ( Figure 1 . segment B). a material simply fails without having undergone any measurable deformation. Elastic During this initial stage. the three stages are as follows: 1. material is said to behave plastically: any increase in stress brings a corresponding increase in deformation ( Figure 1 . the body reverts to its original dimensions. No deformation (permanent strain) results. 3. the body will eventually fracture. or yield stress. point C).Figure 1 In order. rupture or fault ( Figure 1. segment A). This is termed the elastic limit. it will eventually reach some limit beyond which the body suffers permanent strain. Plastic As stress continues to increase. Models of Deformation These three stages through which deformation normally progresses are idealized as the behavior of three hypothetical "bodies" that are subjected to stress.

Figure 2 Figure 3 . (b) St. and Figure 4(Stress/strain relationships for several ideal materials: (a) Hookean (elastic) body. Figure 3 .

(c) Newtonian (viscous) body). then. called a Newtonian body or. . This type of behavior is approximated by a weight that is pulled across some surface by an attached spring. sometimes. shows elastic strain up to a yield stress and then deforms indefinitely by shear strain at that same stress. Venant body. in contrast. A St. Strain Hardening These three types of ideal bodies help describe the components in progressive deformation when it is caused by increasing amounts of stress. Newtonian liquid. The last example. In Figure 4. Figure 4 Each style of behavior is denoted by the name of a well-known mathematician and should be apparent from the stress-strain graphs shown. with the total strain being directly proportional to the amount of elapsed time. A Hookean body knows only elastic strain before rupture. It deforms by what is called viscous strain. which describe two generalized stress/strain relationships for known materials. We might compare them to the graphs shown in Figure 5 . has no shear strength at all and therefore exhibits no elastic strain.Venant (plastic) body. A Newtonian body. and is approximated by a simple elastic spring attached to a fixed body. this type of body is represented as a porous piston pulled through a fluid-filled cylinder. the spring stretches elastically up to the point where friction on the table top is overcome and the weight begins to slide. will deform indefinitely in response to any shear stress.

temperature and pressure) being equal. We can envision it on one level as being due to the compaction and realignment of particles during progressive deformation. or even recrystallization. lower curve). Lithologies such as salt and gypsum-anhydrite may behave this way under certain conditions.. All other conditions (e. strain hardening can occur up to some ultimate strength. We expect certain clastic lithologies to respond in this manner. Such hardening is often the result of complex readjustment. and Figure 4 ) and reality ( Figure 5 ) lies in the behavior known as strain hardening. greater and greater amounts of stress become necessary to impose the same increment of deformation ( Figure 5. Figure 3 . this will increase rock strength-that is. On the other hand. upper curve). stress concentrations along grain boundaries result in extensive grain fracturing and dissolution. we are able to characterize the general response of materials as either brittle or ductile. In sandstones. of the material suffering strain.g. This causes the progressive filling of pore space with grain fragments and recrystallized quartz.Figure 5 The principal difference between the ideal ( Figure 2. for example. after which the stress necessary to cause a given strain decreases continually ( Figure 5. . Brittleness and Ductility On the basis of the differences between elastic and plastic behavior.

In every situation. It is. Figure 6. In contrast. . material is described as ductile if it is able to undergo a large amount of plastic deformation before failing.Brittle materials rupture before any significant plastic deformation occurs. These are not necessarily faults or fractures visible to the unaided eye. Figure 6 Figure 7 . or that ductility inevitably leads to folding. relatively meaningless to speak of the true "strength" of a rock without reference to these parameters. Such behavior in rocks is marked by the development of breakage discontinuities along the planes that represent maximum shear strain. in fact. It should not be assumed that brittleness guarantees faulting. strain rate and anisotropy. temperature. whether a rock responds in a brittle or ductile manner depends on several parameters-composition. but may take place between individual grains or within crystal lattices. effective confining pressure.

.Figure 7 and Figure 8 .

temperature (b). and strain rate (Figure 8 ). most geologic deformation occurs at strain rates of 10-14per sec) indicate how laboratory analysis has shown deformation to vary as a function of pressure (a). With growing overburden. Note for ( Figure 8): a strain rate of 10-7per sec is roughly equivalent to 1 year of time. however. But given normal rates of tectonic deformation. on rock deformation on homogeneous (Solenhofen) limestone. rock will tend to act in a more brittle manner. the element of time is crucial. such as basalt. only those lithologies with very low resistance to shear. there is some transitional depth range over which the response of a particular rock type will grade from dominantly brittle to ductile. which increases both pressure and temperature. ductility generally increases. If small amounts of stress are applied over sufficiently long periods of time. as determined by laboratory tests. at low temperatures and pressures. temperature (Figure 7 ). Figure 9is a schematic representation of the spectrum from brittle to ductile behavior in limestone. At the same time. .Figure 8 (A series of stress/strain diagrams showing the effects of confining pressure (Figure 6 ). may not. These laboratory tests tell us that near the surface. almost any rock will deform plastically. and strain rate (c) on homogeneous limestone.

.Figure 9 Such testing applies a uniaxial stress (either compression or tension) to a cylindrical sample that is sealed within a chamber whose temperature and confining pressure can be regulated. in one sense. since these lithologies are more isotropic than clastic rock types. Limestone and marble have been favored as samples. In addition to pressure. the other factor that determines a rock's response to stress is. temperature and strain rate. the most obvious-its composition. Figure 10 is a diagram derived by Handin et al.

shows the tightest range of permanent strain before rupture. while slightly more ductile than quartzite at depths below two kilometers. however. Due to its mineral structure. Since both engineers and geoscientists make use of the terms compressive strength. two major points should be made in relation to these qualities.Figure 10 (1963) from extensive lab experiments on natural rock. One interesting point made by this diagram is that. but a relative response. with only one kilometer of burial. And second. Shown are measured ductilities for four common sedimentary lithologies in a water-saturated condition. First. We might also note that dolomite. determined by a specific set of immediate environmental conditions. almost all materials are weaker under tension than compression ( Table 1). This is partly the result of pore pressure effects that strongly reduce ultimate strength. which allows for significant intracrystalline gliding. Average crushing Tensile Shearing . The same trend of ductility increase is true for sandstones. it is very often the shearing strength of materials that determines when and how they will fail. marked differences in ductility already exist between limestone and other lithologies. tensile strength and shear strength. directly related to the mineral structure of calcite." then. even at moderate pressures and temperatures. is not a fixed property. and is often aided by pore pressure effects. dolomite does not deform readily by intracrystalline gliding. It is also. What is normally referred to as "rock strength.

strength Sandstone 740 Limestone 960 Quartzite 2020 Granite 1480 Basalt 2500 strength 10-30 30-60 30-90 30-50 - strength 100-200 150-250 150-250 150-300 50-150 Table 1: Measured strength of various rock types at standard temperature and pressure .

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