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A vertical seismic profile (VSP)

Seismologists always welcome the additional information from a vertical seismic profile
(VSP). A VSP is some collection of seismograms recorded from the surface to a borehole.
Routine well-based measurements such as rock cuttings and electric logs record local
information, often ust centimeters from the well. !t is nice to think of the earth as
hori"ontal strata, but this ideali"ation fails at some unknown distance from the well.
Surface reflection seismology, although it is further from the ##ground truth$$ of well-bore
measurements, %ro&ides the needed information about lateral continuity. 'ut surface
reflection data has resol&ing-%ower limitations as well as other uncertainties. (he VSP
%ro&ides information at an intermediate scale and also %ro&ides a calibration of the
surface seismic method. )nfortunately, VSPs are costly and we rarely ha&e them.
(he subect of VSP occu%ies se&eral books and many research %a%ers. (See *al$%erin
+,-./0 and 'alch et al +,-120). 3ere we will ust look at a single VSP to get some idea of
source wa&eforms and multi%le reflections. (he VSP shown in 4igure / is from a ty%ical
land area.

vspl
Figure 4 Vertical seismic %rofile. (he source is at the earth$s surface near the borehole.
(he hori"ontal a5is is the recei&er de%th. (he &ertical a5is is tra&el time from "ero to one
second. Am%litudes are scaled by t
1.5
. (AR67)
(he multi%le reflections are not so se&ere as with the marine data shown elsewhere in this
cha%ter. (he earliest arri&al in 4igure / is the %rimary downgoing wa&e. 8owngoing
wa&es increase their tra&el time with de%th, the slo%e of the arri&al cur&e gi&ing the
downward com%onent of &elocity. After the first downgoing wa&es arri&e, you can see
more downgoing wa&es with the same &elocity. )%going wa&es ha&e the o%%osite slo%e
of the downgoing wa&es. (hese are also &isible in 4igure /.
Since late echoes are weaker than early ones, seismic data is normally scaled u%wards
with time before being dis%layed. (here is no uni&ersal agreement in either theory or
%ractice of what scaling is best. ! ha&e usually found t
2
scaling to be satisfactory for
reflection data. 4igure / shows that t
1.5
scaling kee%s the first arri&al at about a constant
am%litude on the VSP.
Viewing 4igure / from the side shows that the downgoing %ulse is followed by a
wa&eform that is somewhat consistent from de%th to de%th. (he degree of consistency is
not easy to see because of interference with the u%coming wa&e. As far as ! can tell from
the figure, the downgoing wa&e at the greatest de%th is e9ual to that at the shallowest
de%th.
4igure : shows the same data augmented by some shallow recei&ers.

vsp2
Figure 5 (he data of 4igure / augmented with shallower recei&ers. Am%litudes are scaled
by t
1.5
. (AR67)
;ou will notice that the downgoing wa&e no longer seems to be inde%endent of de%th. So
we can conclude that, as a %ractical matter, the downgoing wa&eform seems to be mainly
a result of near-surface re&erberation.
(he energy in the first burst in 4igure / is roughly com%arable to the remaining energy.
(he remaining energy would be less if the VSP were dis%layed without t
1.5
scaling, but
since the surface reflection data is normally dis%layed with some such scaling (often t
2
), it
makes more sense statistically to s%eak of the energy on the scaled data. So the
re&erberating energy is roughly com%arable to the first arri&ing energy.
'elow the near-surface region, the downgoing wa&e changes slowly with de%th. <ow we
should ask how much the downgoing wa&e would change if the e5%eriment were mo&ed
laterally. 7b&iously the borehole will not mo&e laterally and we will be limited to data
where only the surface source mo&es laterally. Since near-surface &ariations often change
ra%idly in the lateral direction, we may fear that the downgoing wa&eform also changes
ra%idly with shot location. (he re&erberation near a shot is re%eated similarly near any
surface recei&er. (he resulting com%osite re&erberation is the con&olution of near-shot
re&erberation and near-geo%hone re&erberation. So to get the information needed to
decon&ol&e surface seismic data, the VSP should be recorded with many surface source
locations.
)nfortunately such offset VSP data is rarely a&ailable. =hen %etroleum %roduction
declines and e5%ensi&e secondary reco&ery methods are contem%lated, the cost of VSP
will not seem so high. (he %roduction lost during VSP ac9uisition may be more easily
weighed against future gains.
Again we should think about the meaning of ##bad$$ data. Seismic data is generally
re%eatable whene&er it is abo&e the le&el of the ambient microseismic noise. 'ut often the
signals make no sense. (he s%atial correlations mean nothing to us. >ost data at late
times fits this descri%tion. Perha%s what is ha%%ening is this? (,) (he downgoing
wa&eform is getting a long trail@ (2) the trail is a chaotic function of the surface location@
and (A) the energy in the trail e5ceeds the energy in the first %ulse. So, with so much
randomness in the downgoing wa&e, the u%coming wa&e is necessarily incom%rehensible

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