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SAARC Workshop on

Geophysical Techniques for

Exploration of
Natural Resources

18-22, October, 2010

Khalid Amin Khan

Oil & Gas Training Institute, OGDCL
Islamabad, Pakistan
This manual is a subset of my original training manual

Seismic Methods
K. A Khan, 2009

It is a supplement to

Seismic Methods, Digital Courseware Series, 2nd Edition

K. A Khan, 2009
“I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to
myself I seem to have been only a boy playing on the sea-
shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a
smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst
the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.”

Isaac Newton
Training of Professionals from SAARC Countries
Geophysical Techniques for Exploration of Natural Resources
Khalid Amin Khan, Dy.Chief Geophysicist
Oil & Gas Training Institute, OGDCL, Islamabad

• Physics and Electromagnetic Spectrum
• Imaging the Invisible
• Overview of Geophysical Methods

• Electrical Resistivity Methods

 Resistivity Meter
 Schlumberger Configuration
 Wenner Configuration
 Vertical Electrical Sounding Curves

• Gravity & Magnetic Methods
 Gravity Meter & Magnetometer
 Gravity Field Correction: Free Air and Bouguer Anomaly
 Terrain Corrections
 Regional and Residual Separation
 Gravity Modelling using Talwani Method
 Magnetic Data Processing
 2D Grid Processing

• Seismic Waves and Rock Physics

 Types of Seismic Waves
 Seismic Velocities
 Engineering Properties and Rock Physics

• Seismic Refraction Methods
 First Breaks: Direct and Refracted Waves
 Automated First Break Picking
 TX-Graphs and Layer Velocity and Depth Computation
 Low Velocity Weathered Layers and Statics Computation
 Interpolation and Gridding
 Uphole Logging Methods

• Seismic Reflection Data Acquisition

 Geophones as Transducers
 Seismic Recorder
 Multiplexing and De-multiplexing
• Seismic Noise
 Coherent and Incoherent Noise
 Geophone Arrays
 Low and High Cut Filters
 Stacking to remove Incoherent Noise

• Seismic Data Processing I
 Data Processing System Environment
 Processing Tasks and Job Control Language
 Basic Processing Flow
 Gains, Spherical Divergence
 Band Pass Filter

• Seismic Data Processing II

 Dynamic Corrections / Normal Moveout
 Velocity Analysis / Constant Velocity Stack
 Stacking: Raw, Brute Stack, Residual Statics & Migration

• Seismic Resolution
 Temporal Resolution: Frequency and Bandwidth
 Spatial Resolution: Picket Interval and Fresnel Zone
 Phase Uncertainty
 Signal to Noise Ratio

• Seismic Interpretation
 Components of a Base Map
 Seismic Section: Display Modes, Vertical and Horizontal Scales
 Components of a Petroleum System
 Marking Horizons and Faults
 Auto Tracking Horizons
 Posting Data to Base Map
 3D Seismic Cube: Inline Section, Cross-line Section & Time Slice
 Sonic and Bulk Density Logs for Synthetic Seismogram
 Seismic Modeling
 Seismic Velocities and Time to Depth Conversion
Module 1: Physics and Electromagnetic Spectrum
1.1 Basic Foundations of Physics
1.2 Imaging Principle
1.3 Imaging the Invisible
1.4 Fundamental Laws of Wave Propagation

Module 2: Electrical Resistivity Methods

2.1 Electrical Resistivity Methods
2.2 Resistivity Meter
2.3 Electrical Resistivity Surveying
2.4 Electrode Geometries
2.5 Resistivity Interpretation

Module 3: Gravity & Magnetic Methods

3.1 Gravity and Magnetic Prospecting
3.2 Gravity Method
3.3 Gravimeters
3.4 Gravity Surveying and Corrections
3.5 Regional Residual Separations
3.6 Gravity Modeling
3.7 Magnetic Method
3.8 Magnetometers
3.9 Magnetic Surveying and Corrections
3.10 2D Grid Processing

Module 4: Seismic Waves and Rock Physics

4.1 Seismic Waves
4.2 Types of Seismic Waves
4.3 Uses of Seismic Waves
4.4 Stress and Strain
4.5 Elasticity & Stiffness
4.6 Hooks Law of Elasticity
4.7 Elastic Moduli
4.8 Computing Density/Moduli from Seismic Velocities
Module 5: Seismic Refraction Methods
5.1 Snell’s Law
5.2 Seismic Refraction Method
5.3 Seismic Refraction Data Acquisition
5.4 First Breaks
5.5 Time-Distance Graphs
5.6 Statics Corrections
5.7 Limitations of Seismic Refraction Method

Module 6: Seismic Reflection Data Acquisition

6.1 Digital Sampling and Aliasing
6.2 Seismic Recorder
6.3 Seismic Sources
6.4 Fold Coverage
6.5 Geophone Spread Geometries

Module 7: Seismic Noise

7.1 Signals and Noise
7.2 Coherent Noise
7.3 Incoherent Noise
7.4 Aliased Frequencies
7.5 Multiples

Module 8: Seismic Data Processing I

8.1 Propagation of Seismic Waves through Earth
8.2 Mechanical Processes
8.3 Interactive Processes
8.4 Spherical Divergence Compensation and Gains
8.5 Band Pass Filter
8.6 Deconvolution

Module 9: Seismic Data Processing II

9.1 Seismic Data Processing Flow
9.2 Dynamic Corrections
9.3 Velocity Analysis
9.4 Residual Statics
9.5 Migration
Module 10: Seismic Resolution
10.1 Resolution
10.2 Seismic Resolution
10.3 Fresnel Zone
10.4 More on Seismic Resolution

Module 11: Seismic Interpretation

11.1 Seismic Data Display Standards
11.2 Seismic Section Display Scales
11.3 Base Map
11.4 Seismic Interpretation
11.5 Time to Depth Conversion
11.6 2D Seismic Modeling
11.7 Synthetic Seismogram
Module 1

Physics and
Electromagnetic Spectrum

At the end of this module you would be

able to understand

 Science behind Imaging the


 Basic Methodology of Geophysical

Exploration Techniques
1.1 Basic Foundations of Physics
Physics is the science of Matter and Energy. Mater and Energy are related to
each other through Einstein’s equation:

E = m c2
All Matter-Energy in the Universe has a dual nature. They exist as Particles
as well as Waves. Thus Physics is the science of Particles and Waves

The first question arises – What is the Size of Particles ?

There is a wide range of particle size, considering the universe itself as a

particle down to the elementary sub-atomic particles. Thus physics is
divided into different branches on the basis of size of the particles as shown

Accordingly Geophysics is the physics of Earth, Space and Planets. It

includes the study of solid earth, its interior, fluid envelopes (oceans) and
The second question arises – What is the Frequency of Waves ?

This includes the whole electromagnetic spectrum (EMS). If we extend

down the EMS to sound and ultra-sound waves then we have a whole range
of frequencies that exist in the universe as shown below.



If we consider our human sensors (eyes and ears), we can only receive the
sound and visible light frequencies, thus only a narrow window in the EMS
is Visible to us; the rest is totally invisible as shown.

Invisible Visible Invisible

1.2 Imaging Principle

The imaging principle considers three components; an energy source in the

form of some radiation having a band of frequencies, a set of mediums
through which the radiation passes and a sensor which can receive the given

This principle holds true in case of our eyes. We need a light source which
transmits frequencies in the visible band. These frequencies hit the surfaces
of different materials and are reflected back and finally received by our eyes
which act as sensors. This produces the sensation of vision. Each material
based on its physical properties (albedo) absorbs certain frequencies and
reflects the remaining frequencies, which generates the impression of color
on our retina.

Similarly bats have no eyes, instead they use another band of frequencies,
ultra-sounds to get vision.

Thus different parts of the electromagnetic spectrum can be used for various
types of imaging. Though most of the EMS is invisible to us, but special
tools have been developed which have sensors that can receive a certain
band of frequencies. The received radiation can be processed and translated
into some graphical form which can be viewed and interpreted by human
eye as illustrated below.

Sensor Display

This imaging the invisible is used in medical instrumentation, geophysical

methods, astrophysics and various security scanners.
1.3 Imaging the Invisible
Some common imaging the invisible instruments or techniques are
summarized below.

• Medical Instrumentation
- X-rays
- Ultra Sound
- Magnetic resonance Imaging (MRI)
- Computerized Tomography Scan (CT-Scan)

• Scanning Tunnel Microscope

• Astrophysics
- Radio Telescope
- Infrared telescope

• Geophysics
- Gravity & Magnetic
- Electrical & Electromagnetic
- Ground Penetration radar (GPR)
- Seismic

1.4 Fundamental Laws of Wave Propagation

Each imaging method is based on some contrast in a physical parameter. The
physical parameter represents a potential field and therefore occupies a
portion of the Electro Magnetic Spectrum (EMS).

As each method uses a different frequency band of EMS, two generalized

laws can be defined which can be applied to all imaging techniques.

Frequency verses Resolution

Resolution of a system or technique is defined as its ability to view the
smallest size of an object. This purely depends on the frequency used by the
system. We know the wavelength is inversely proportional to frequency.
According the smallest size that can be viewed using a frequency is 1/4th of
the wavelength of that frequency. Thus higher the frequency the higher
would be the resolution.
- High Frequency > Small Wavelength > View Small Objects
- Low Frequency > Large Wavelength > View Large Objects

Frequency versus Penetration

Another important concern is the wave penetration or imaging depth. In this
regard the frequency is inversely proportional to depth of penetration. Thus
higher the frequency the lower would be the penetration.

- High Frequency > Less Penetration

- Low Frequency > Deep Penetration

Thus increasing the frequency increases the resolution but decreases the
depth of penetration.

Considering the above two principles various imaging methods have been
devised according to their application and usage. In this regard, just consider
the following two examples.

Seismic methods use low frequencies (10-200 Hz). Thus they have low
resolution but high depth of penetration. This suits us for imaging the earth.
The thinnest layers are in order of several meters and may be few kilometers
deep. The seismic waves can propagate down to such depths and resolve
these layers.

Ultrasound uses comparatively higher frequencies (> 20 KHz). This
increases the resolution to millimeters but decreases the depth of penetration
to less than a meter. It can be used successfully to image small tissues in the
human body. Thus there is no need for deeper penetration.
Module 2

Electrical Resistivity

At the end of this module you would be

able to understand

 Resistivity Meter

 Schlumberger and Wenner


 Vertical Electrical Sounding

2.1 Electrical Resistivity Methods
The electrical resistivity method is based on resistivity (opposite of
conductivity) contrast. Thus it involves measuring the apparent resistivity of
soils and rock as a function of depth or position. The resistivity of soils is a
complicated function of porosity, permeability, ionic content of the pore
fluids, and clay mineralization. The unit of resistivity is ohm-meter.

The most common electrical methods used in mineral exploration,

hydrogeologic and environmental investigations are vertical electrical
soundings (VES) (resistivity soundings) and resistivity profiling.

The VES techniques are used to determine depth to groundwater, map clay
aquitards, saltwater intrusion and vertical extent of certain types of soil and
groundwater contamination, characterize subsurface hydrogeology,
determine depth to bedrock/overburden thickness, map stratigraphy and
estimate landfill thickness

The resistivity profiling techniques are used to map lateral extent of

conductive contaminant plumes, explore for sand and gravel and delineate
disposal areas.

Resistivities of some common rocks and mineral are given below in ohm-

- Igneous and Metamorphic Rocks

Granite 5x103 – 106
Basalt 103 – 106
Slate 6x102 - 4x107
Marble 102 - 2.5x108
Quartzite 102 - 2x108
- Sedimentary Rocks
Sandstone 8 - 4x103
Shale 20 - 2x103
Limestone 50 - 4x102
- Soils and waters
Clay 1 - 100
Alluvium 10 - 800
Groundwater (fresh) 10 - 100
Sea water 0.2
2.2 Resistivity Meter
The instrument used to carry out electrical resistivity surveys is called
resistivity meter. It consists of the following two main units:

It includes the battery and an ammeter and sends out well defined regulated
current to the ground through the current electrodes. The current can be
direct current or low frequency alternating current.

The receiver consists of a voltmeter and detects the transmitted signal
current by measuring the potential developed between the two potential

Modern digital instruments also contain an analog to digital converter and a

microprocessor which quickly takes multiple readings and averages them to
get reliable results.

The working of a resistivity meter is shown in the following figure. Here C1

and C2 are current electrodes, P1 and P2 are potential electrodes, A is
ammeter and V is voltmeter.
2.3 Electrical Resistivity Surveying
During a resistivity survey, current is injected into the earth through a pair of
current electrodes, and the potential difference is measured between a pair of
potential electrodes. The current and potential electrodes are generally
arranged in a linear array. Common arrays include the Wenner array,
Schlumberger array, dipole-dipole array and pole-Dipole array. The apparent
resistivity is the bulk average resistivity of all soils and rock influencing the
current. It is calculated by dividing the measured potential difference by the
input current and multiplying by a geometric factor specific to the array used
and electrode spacing as given below;

where ∆V is the potential difference, I is the current and k is a geometric
factor depending on the geometry of the array.

In vertical electrical soundings, the distance between the current electrodes

and the potential electrodes is systematically increased, thereby yielding
information on subsurface resistivity from successively greater depths. The
variation of resistivity with depth is modeled using forward and inverse
modeling computer software. Thus this technique provides a 1D vertical
model of the subsurface.

In resistivity profiling, the electrode spacing is fixed and measurements are

taken at successive intervals by moving the entire array along a profile. This
gives some information about lateral changes in the subsurface resistivity,
but it cannot detect vertical changes in the resistivity. Data are generally
presented as cross-section profiles or contour maps and interpreted

2.4 Electrode Geometries

Some common electrode geometries are illustrated in the next figure along
with their geometric factors. The depth of penetration of most of these
configurations is half the geometry spread length.
Among these geometries Schlumberger and Wenner are the most widely
used configurations. Each geometry has advantages and disadvantages.
Advantages of Wenner array as compared to Schlumberger array include;
large potential electrode spacing places less demand on instrument
sensitivity and simplicity in geometric factor equation due to equally spaced
electrodes. The main disadvantages of Wenner array are that in an
expanding array all electrodes must be moved for each reading which is not
the case with Schlumberger array and secondly it is more sensitive to local
near-surface lateral variations.

2.5 Resistivity Interpretation

Resistivity data is interpreted in the following way;

Qualitative Interpretation
In this type of interpretation the apparent resistivity values are directly used.
For a random or gridded distribution of resistivity stations, iso-resistivity
contour maps are generated for a particular depth to show the general
distribution of resistivity at the given depths. Similarly resistivity stations
are joined along a profile and cross-sections of apparent resistivity are
generated. Such sections are also generated for resistivity profiling
techniques. These sections show the cross-sectional variation of resistivity as
illustrated in the next figure.
Quantitative Interpretation
The main task in quantitative interpretation is to identify the subsurface
layers and get their true resistivities, which in turn are translated into
geological formations. The measured apparent resistivity values for 1D VES
are normally plotted on a log-log graph paper. To interpret the data from
such a survey, it is normally assumed that the subsurface consists of
horizontal layers. In this case, the subsurface resistivity changes only with
depth, but does not change in the horizontal direction. The true resistivities
are obtained through a manual procedure of matching segments of field
resistivity curves with a set of 2 layer master. Two layer master curves are
illustrated below.

Several reverse and forward modeling techniques are also available that can
interpret the apparent resistivity field curves into true resistivities and depths
data as illustrated in the next figure.
Module 3

Gravity & Magnetic


At the end of this module you would be

able to understand

 Gravimeter & Magnetometer

 Gravity Field Correction: Free Air

and Bouguer Anomaly

 Terrain Corrections

 Regional and Residual Separation

 Gravity Modeling

 Magnetic Data Processing

 2D Grid Processing
3.1 Gravity and Magnetic Prospecting
Gravity and magnetic prospecting techniques involves measuring passive
potential fields of the Earth. In both these methods the measured signal is a
composite contribution from all depths. On the other hand, seismic
prospecting can give a detailed picture of Earth structure with different
subsurface components resolved. Thus seismic method has much higher
resolution as compared to these methods.

Gravity and magnetic methods can be carried out on land or sea using
different techniques and equipment. In addition aero-gravity and magnetic
surveys can also be conducted.

3.2 Gravity Method

In all gravity surveys the vertical component of g is measured. Gravity
prospecting can be used where density contrasts are present in a geological
structure, and the usual approach is to measure differences in gravity from
place to place. In gravity prospecting we are mostly interested in lateral
variations in Earth structure which in turn create lateral variations in density.
Gravity method was first applied for prospecting salt domes in the Gulf of
Mexico, and later for looking anticlines in continental areas. Gravity cannot
detect oil directly, but if the oil is of low density and accumulated in a trap,
it can give a gravity low that can be detected by gravity prospecting.
Anticlines can also give gravity anomalies as they cause high or low density
beds to be brought closer to the surface. Nowadays in the petroleum
industry, gravity method is used for regional studies to identify large and
thick enough sedimentary basins, as sedimentary rocks have lower densities
than basement rocks. Gravity prospecting can also be used for mineral
exploration if substantial density contrasts are expected, such as, chromite
bodies have very high densities, buried channels which may contain gold or
uranium can be detected because they have relatively low density.

The unit of gravity is Gal, after Galileo, where 1 Gal = 1 cm/sec2. Thus g at
the surface of the Earth is approximately 103 Gals. Gravity anomalies are
measured in units of milliGals, where 1 mGal = 10-3 Gals = 10-5 m/sec2.
The densities of few common minerals in g/cm2 are given below
- Quartz 2.65
- Felspar 2.6
- Biotite mica 2.9
- Calcite 2.6 – 2.7

3.3 Gravimeters
Gravity meters, usually called gravimeters, are sensitive to 0.01 mGal = 10-8
of the Earth’s total value. Thus the specifications of gravimeters are amongst
the most difficult to meet in any measuring device. It would be impossible to
get the accuracy required in absolute gravity measurements quickly with any
device, and thus field gravity surveying is done using relative gravimeters.

There are two basic types of gravimeters:

Stable Gravimeters
These work on the principle of a force balancing the force of gravity on a
mass, such as the Gulf gravimeter. These gravimeters take a long time to
measure each point. The Gulf gravimeter comprises a flat spring wound in a
helix, with a weight suspended from the lower end. An increase in g causes
the mass to lower and rotate. A mirror on the mass thus rotates and it is this
rotation that is measured. The sensitivity of these gravimeters is ~ 0.1 mGal.
They are now obsolete, but a lot of data exist that were measured with such
instruments and it is important to know that such data are not as accurate as
data gathered with more modern instruments

Unstable Gravimeters
These are virtually universally used now. They are well devised mechanical
devices where increase in g causes extension of a spring, but the extension is
magnified by mechanical geometry. An example is the Wordon gravimeter,
which has a sensitivity of 0.01 mGal, and is quite commonly used. Wordon
gravimeter is shown in the next figure. It is housed in a thermos flask for
temperature stability, but it also incorporates a mechanical temperature
compensation device. It is evacuated to eliminate errors due to changes in
barometric pressure. It weighs about 3 kg and the mass weighs 5 mg.
Vertical movement of the mass causes rotation of a beam, and equilibrium is
restored by increasing the tension of torsion fibers.

Another commonly used gravity instrument is LaCost-Romberg gravimeter.

The latest gravimeters are completely electronic with a software controlled
interface and a built-in GPS. They directly store data on a media floppy,
which can be downloaded to a computer for further processing.

3.4 Gravity Surveying and Corrections

Gravity field procedure involves measurement on a base station followed by
measurements on a number of stations and finally repeating the base station.
For larger surveys base station must be repeated approximately every two

During the survey, at each station the following information is recorded:

- Time at which the measurement is taken.
- Reading of the Gravity Meter in scale readings
- Navigation Data: Latitude, longitude and elevation of the station.

A set of corrections are applied to the observed gravity data which are
discussed below.

Instrument Calibration
Each instrument has a scale constant (SC), provided by the manufacturer,
that translates scale readings (SR) into mGal as given below.

gobs = SR * SC
Drift Correction
The drift correction incorporates the effects of instrument drift,
uncompensated temperature effects and the gravitational attraction of the sun
and moon. It is computed by taking two reading at the base station, one at
start and the other at end of survey. The drift rate is computed as;

g base _ start − gbase _ end

DR =
tbase _ end − tbase _ start

Now drift correction for a station is given by;

DC = DR *(tstat − tbase _ start )

Latitude Correction
This correction is needed because of the ellipticity of Earth as g is reduced at
low latitudes because of the Earth’s shape and rotation. It is given by;

LC = .0008122 Dist NS Sin 2φbase

where DistNS is North-South Distance, φbase is latitude of base.

In N-hemisphere this correction is negative if station is towards north of
base and positive if station is south of base and vise versa for southern

Free Air Correction

The correction is also called elevation correction. It is required to correct for
the variable heights of the stations above sea level, because g falls off with
height. It is given by;

FAC = k ( Estat − Ebase )

where Estat is elevation of station, Ebase is elevation of base and

k = .9406 for feet and k = .3086 for meters.

Bouguer Correction
This correction accounts for the mass of rock between the station and sea
level. It has the effect of increasing g at the station, and thus it is subtracted.
Bouguer correction is given by;

BC = k ρ ( Estat − Ebase )

where Estat is elevation of station, Ebase is elevation of base, ρ is density of the

material and k = .01276 for feet and k = .04185 for meters.

Bouguer Anomaly
The Bouguer anomaly is computed by apply all the above corrections to the
observed gravity as given by;

BA = ( g stat − g base _ start ) + DC + LC + FAC − BC

Terrain Corrections
The effect of terrain always reduces the observed g. This is true for a
mountain above or a valley below the station, both cause g to be reduced.
Previously terrain corrections were done by hand using a transparent
graticule (shown below) placed at the station, then average height of each
compartment is estimated and Hammer chart was used to obtain the
correction for the station. This chart gives the correction for a particular
distance from the station. It has been worked out assuming a block of
constant height for each compartment. This manual procedure was very
time-consuming and involved a lot of repetition. With the availability of
digital terrain models the same procedure has been computerized.
The figure below shows an observed gravity anomaly.

The following are the drift, latitude, free air and Bouguer corrections for the
above observed anomaly.

The observed anomaly after application of above corrections is shown

3.5 Regional Residual Separations
The processed gravity anomaly contains regional and residual effects. For
regional studies we are interested in regional anomaly while for local studies
we are interested in residual anomaly. There are several techniques for
separation of regional and residual trend such as graphical method, moving
average method with 3, 5 or 7 points operator and statistical best fir or
regression techniques from first to higher orders. The figure below shows
processed anomaly along with its regional and residual components.

3.6 Gravity Modeling

The observed gravity anomaly gives us the trend of gravity along a profile.
Forward modeling techniques, such as the Talwani method are used to create
a subsurface model of geological bodies each assigned with a density. The
modeling process generates a model anomaly. The shape and density of
subsurface bodies are changed in such a way that the model anomaly
matches the observed anomaly. Previously this was done manually through a
tedious process. Currently interactive applications are available that can
quickly create and fit the model.

The next figure shows a subsurface regional model with its model curve
fitted to the regional trend of gravity.
3.7 Magnetic Method
In magnetic prospecting precise magnetic field is measured to locate
geological structures and man-made objects in the ground or under the sea.
The number of possible applications of magnetic exploration is unlimited
and include; oil and gas exploration, mineral exploration such as iron ore,
underground pipeline detection, buried unexploded ordnance detection, and
archeological prospecting. All these objects are detected as they posses an
extremely weak magnetic field of their own, which is a measureable local
disturbance in the Earth’s magnetic field. Such disturbance is called a
magnetic anomaly. This contrast in magnetic field is called susceptibility. It
is measurement in Gammas.

3.8 Magnetometers
A device that measures the magnetic fields is called a magnetometer. There
are several types of magnetometers among which the two most common
types are;

Proton Precession Magnetometer

Proton precession magnetometers, also known as proton magnetometers,
measure the resonance frequency of protons (hydrogen nuclei) in the
magnetic field to be measured, due to nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR).
As the precession frequency depends only on atomic constants and the
strength of the ambient magnetic field, the accuracy of this type of
magnetometer is very good thus it is widely used in magnetic prospecting.
This magnetometer measure the total intensity (T) of the magnetic field.

Fluxgate Magnetometer
A fluxgate magnetometer consists of a small, magnetically susceptible, core
wrapped by two coils of wire. An alternating electrical current is passed
through one coil, driving the core through an alternating cycle of magnetic
saturation; i.e., magnetised, unmagnetised, inversely magnetised,
unmagnetised, magnetised, etc. This constantly changing field induces an
electrical current in the second coil, and this output current is measured by a
detector. In a magnetically neutral background, the input and output currents
will match. However, when the core is exposed to a background field, it will
be more easily saturated in alignment with that field and less easily saturated
in opposition to it. Hence the alternating magnetic field, and the induced
output current, will be out of step with the input current. The extent to which
the input and output currents are out of step, will depend on the strength of
the background magnetic field. Often, the current in the output coil is
integrated, yielding an output analog voltage, proportional to the magnetic
field. This magnetometer measures the vertical component (Z) of the
magnetic field.

3.9 Magnetic Surveying and Corrections

The processing of observed magnetic data is similar to gravity data, except
the types of corrections are totally different. Only two corrections are
applied to magnetic data which are discussed below.

Diurnal Correction
The suns solar activity continuously disturbs the Earth’s magnetic field.
Thus we need to remove these effects from the observed data. These effects
can be removed in two ways. With a single magnetometer the procedure is
similar to drift correction. We start with a base station and repeat it at the
end and from the difference in the two readings we compute a drift rate
which is applied to observations of all stations. On the other hand if we have
two instruments we fix one at the base while the other takes readings at the
stations. Later the readings at the base are used as corrections that are
applied to the base stations at the corresponding times.
Normal Correction
The Earth’s magnetic field is not constant and changes with latitude and
longitude. Global magnetic anomaly maps are published annually. They are
used to apply corrections at the station locations.

3.10 2D Grid Processing

In the above sections we discussed processing of gravity and magnetic data
along a profile. If there is a set of parallel profiles they make up a grid. The
data corrections or reductions are applied individually along a profile, but
regional residual effects are separated through grid processing. In these
techniques a 3 x 3 operator moves step by step through the grid to compute
regional anomaly at the center of the operator. This technique is similar to
Griffin’s method which used a circular operator around the grid node. The
computed regional trend grid is subtracted from the input observed gravity
grid to get a residual anomaly grid as shown in the next figure.
Module 4

Seismic Waves and Rock


At the end of this module you would be

able to understand

 Types of Seismic Waves

 Stress and Strain

 Hook’s Law of Elasticity

 Seismic Velocities

 Engineering Properties and Rock

4.1 Seismic Waves
Seismic waves travel through the Earth, as the result of a tectonic earthquake
or an explosion. They propagate through a medium similar to sound waves.
They are also called Elastic Waves.

4.2 Types of Seismic Waves

Seismic waves are classified into the following types:

• Body Waves
- P-Waves
- S-Waves

• Surface Waves
- Rayleigh Waves
- Love Waves

Body Waves
Body waves travel through the interior of the Earth. They follow ray-paths
bent by the varying density and modulus (stiffness) of the Earth's interior.
Body waves are further classified into P and S waves.

P means Primary Waves as they are fast and arrive first. They are also
called longitudinal or compressional waves, as particle motion is parallel to
wave propagation. The ground is alternately compressed and dilated in the
direction of propagation. These waves can travel through any type of
material. P-waves have the following velocities in different mediums.

- Air 330 m/s (Take the form of sound waves, thus travel at the speed of sound)
- Water 1450 m/s
- Granite 5000 m/s (In Solids twice as fast as S Waves)

When generated by an earthquake they are less destructive than the S waves
and surface waves that follow them, due to their smaller amplitudes

P Wave propagation is analogous to sound waves as shown.

S means Secondary Waves as they arrive after the P Waves. They are also
called transverse or shear waves, as particle motion is perpendicular to wave
propagation. The ground is displaced perpendicularly to the direction of
propagation. In the case of horizontally polarized S waves, the ground
moves alternately to one side and then the other. They travel only through
solids, as fluids (liquids and gases) do not support shear stresses

Their speed is about 60% of that of P waves in a given material

S waves are several times larger in amplitude than P waves for earthquake

S wave propagation is analogous to Light as shown below.

Surface Waves
Surface waves are analogous to water waves and travel just under the Earth's
surface. They travel more slowly than body waves. Because of their low
frequency, long duration, and large amplitude, they can be the most
destructive type of seismic wave.
Rayleigh Waves
They travel only under the Earth’s surface. They are in the form of ripples,
similar to those on the surface of water. Rayleigh waves are also called
ground roll in seismic exploration data. Their speed is about 70% of that of S
waves. Their existence was predicted by John William Strutt, Lord Rayleigh,
in 1885.

Rayleigh wave propagation is analogous to Ocean surface as shown below.

Love Waves
They travel only under the Earth’s surface. They cause horizontal shearing
of the ground.

Their speed is about 90% of that of S waves, slightly faster than Rayleigh

Named after A.E.H. Love, a British mathematician who created their

mathematical model in 1911

Love wave propagation is analogous to movement of Snake or Shaken Rope

as shown below.
Seismic energy released during an earthquake can be recorded on a
seismogram as shown below.

0 10 20 30 40 50

Surface waves


‘Primary’ (first to ‘Surface’ (last to arrive)

arrive) ‘Secondary’ (second to arrive)

4.3 Uses of Seismic Waves

• P Waves are commonly used in Oil & Gas Exploration

• Special 3 component (3C: P, SH, SV) Surveys are also carried out for
rock physics and reservoir analysis.

• P & S Waves are used to determine the engineering properties of ground.

• Earth’s liquid outer core was discovered due to the fact that shear waves
cannot pass through liquids (as demonstrated by Richard Dixon Oldham)
4.4 Stress and Strain
Stress: The force causing the deformation in a material. Stress can be of two

Normal stress is applied perpendicular to the face of material.

Shear stress is applied parallel or tangential to the face of a material.

Strain: The amount by which a material body is deformed. Strain is also of

two types.

Normal strain acts perpendicular to the face of a material that it is acting on.

Shear strain acts parallel to the face of a material that it is acting on.

4.5 Elasticity & Stiffness

Elasticity: A material is said to be elastic if it deforms under stress (applied
force), but returns its original shape when the stress is removed. The amount
of deformation is called the strain.

Stiffness is the resistance of an elastic body to deflection or deformation by

an applied force.

Stress-Strain relation of rock deformation is illustrated in the following

Each material has an elastic limit and a fracture point. Stress applied within
the elastic limits will cause strain that will be recovered when the stress is
removed. Stress greater than the elastic limit, but below the fracture point
will cause a permanent strain, which will not recover when the stress is
removed. If the stress is increased to or above the fracture point the material
will break up.

On the basis of stress stain analysis, there can be two types of deformation:

Elastic Deformation: A temporary change in shape or size that is recovered

when the applied stress is removed.

Ductile (Plastic) Deformation: A permanent change in shape or size that is

not recovered when the applied stress is removed.

4.6 Hooks Law of Elasticity

The amount by which a material body is deformed (the strain) is linearly
related to the force causing the deformation (the stress)

X is the distance the material is stretched or compressed away from
equilibrium position (Meter)
F is the restoring force exerted by the material (Newton)
K is Spring Constant (Newton/Meter)

Hook’s law is illustrated in the following figure.

4.7 Elastic Moduli

Elastic moduli for homogeneous and isotropic materials are discussed


Bulk Modulus
The bulk modulus (K) of a substance measures the substance's resistance to
uniform compression. It is the ratio of volume stress to volume strain. It is
defined as the pressure increase needed to affect a given relative decrease in
volume. It describes the material's response to uniform pressure. For a fluid,
only the bulk modulus is meaningful.

Young’s Modulus
Young's modulus or modulus of elasticity (E) is a measure of the stiffness of
an isotropic elastic material. It is the ratio of the uniaxial stress over the
uniaxial strain in the range of stress in which Hooke's Law holds. It
describes the material's response to linear strain.

Lame’s Constant
The Lame’s Constant (λ) has no physical interpretation, but it serves to
simplify the stiffness matrix in Hooke's law. It is also called Lame’s First

Shear Modulus
Shear modulus or modulus of rigidity (µ), is defined as the ratio of shear
stress to the shear strain (angle of deformation). It is concerned with the
deformation of a solid when it experiences a force parallel to one of its
surfaces while its opposite face experiences an opposing force (such as
friction). It describes the material's response to shearing strains.
Poisson’s Ratio
Poisson's ratio (σ) is the ratio of transverse strain (normal to the applied
load) to longitudinal strain (in the direction of the applied load). When a
sample of material is stretched in one direction, it tends to contract (or
rarely, expand) in the other two directions. Conversely, when a sample of
material is compressed in one direction, it tends to expand (or rarely,
contract) in the other two directions. Poisson's ratio is a measure of this

P-Wave Modulus
P-wave modulus (M) or longitudinal modulus is the ratio of axial stress to
axial strain in a uniaxial strain state.

4.8 Computing Density/Moduli from Seismic Velocities

A seismic survey provides velocity information about sub-surface layers.
Once the P or S wave velocity of a material is determined, its density and all
moduli can be computed. This determination of such parameters is termed as
Rock Physics or Engineering Properties.
A set of rock physics equations are listed below.

P-Wave Velocity V p = 1.16 * Vs + 1.36

S-Wave Velocity Vs = (V p − 1.36) /1.16

Density ρ = 0.31*V p.25

Vp Vs Ratio
K 4
VpVsRatio = +
µ 3

Bulk Modulus K = ρ (V p 2 − 43 Vs 2 )

Young’s Modulus 9K µ
3K + µ

Lame’s Constant 2µ

Shear Modulus µ = ρVs 2

Poisson’s Ratio σ = 0.5(V p 2 − 2Vs 2 ) / (V p 2 − Vs 2 )

P Wave Modulus 4µ
M =K+
Module 5

Seismic Refraction Methods

At the end of this module you would be

able to understand

 First Breaks: Direct and Refracted


 Automated First Break Picking

 TX-Graphs, Layer Velocity and

Depth Computation

 Low Velocity Weathered Layers

and Statics Computation
5.1 Snell’s Law
Snell’s law was originally developed for light waves, but it can be equally
applied to sound and seismic waves. Accordingly when a wave enters from a
less dense medium (ρ1) to a denser medium ((ρ2), it bends away from the
normal. Thus the angle of incidence (i) is less than angle of refraction (r). If
we keep on increasing angle i, angle r will also increase, until it becomes
90º. The angle i for which angle r is 90º is called critical angle (ic).If angle i
become greater than ic , the wave is reflected back into the same medium. In
case of seismic the angle i increases with offset, the distance between source
and receiver. Thus on the basis of angle i seismic wave is split into three
components as shown below. The transmitted wave acts as a secondary
source and is again split into three components at the next interface. This
continues as the waves move down into deeper layers and forms the basis of
seismic refraction and reflection methods.

Reflection ρ1
i > ic
i = ic ρ2
i < ic
ρ 2 > ρ2

It must be noted that the transmission, refraction and reflection of seismic

waves only takes place when the velocity of each underlying layer is higher
than that of above it. In Earth the general trend is increase of velocity with
depth. As we move down towards deeper layers the overburden pressure
increases, which increases the density and hence the velocity also increases.
5.2 Seismic Refraction Method
After gravity method, seismic refraction method was developed for
exploration of hydrocarbons. In 1924 it was first used for delineation of
shallow salt domes. Due to some limitations it was soon replaced with
seismic reflection method, which continues to be the main technique for
exploration of hydrocarbons and imaging deep structures. Today the seismic
refraction method is widely used to delineate the Low-Velocity Weathered
Layers for computation of Statics corrections that are applied to the main
reflection data. In addition it is considered as a valuable tool for near-surface
geophysics & engineering, such as delineation of bed rock or basement and
determining the engineering properties of ground. In the following sections
the complete workflow of refraction method is discussed.

5.3 Seismic Refraction Data Acquisition

A seismic refraction recorder usually consists of 24 channels each of which
is connected to a geophone. The geophones are placed along a profile with
variable geophone intervals. Two shots are taken at both ends of the profile,
the first near geophone # 1 is called forward shooting while the second near
geophone # 24 is called reverse shooting. This results in two seismic
monitors each with 24 seismograms (traces) as shown below.

Forward Shooting Reverse Shooting

1 24
5.4 First Breaks
First breaks are the events that reach first at a geophone and are also called
First Arrivals. They are the first prominent wave amplitude on a seismogram
(trace) as shown below.

In seismic refraction techniques, we need to pick the first breaks times from
the seismic traces. This time can be picked in four different modes as shown.

Zero Crossing Positive Slope

Zero Crossing Negative Slope

First Breaks must be picked in any one of the four modes, but the selected
mode must be used for the whole project. It must be noted that within a
project two different modes cannot be used.

Initially the seismic monitors were in the form of papers, thus first breaks
were marked with a pen and their arrival times were noted. This is referred a
hand picking. With the advent of digital data and computers, interactive
software became available which provided a computer aided environment
for picking first breaks using the mouse. This is referred as manual picking.
With the increased usage of artificial intelligence in geosciences, several
neural-network based techniques have been developed for automated
picking of first breaks.
A seismic monitor with artificial intelligence based first break picks is
shown below.

Let’s consider a three layer earth model with velocities Vo, V1 and V2
respectively and a seismic refraction spread as shown below. Now at near
offset geophones the direct waves representing Vo .reach first, then at the
next few geophones the refracted waves from top of V1 reach first and
finally at the far offset geophones refracted waves from top of V2 reach first.
The point at which the direct and refracted waves reach at the same time is
called crossover distance.


Time x1,t1 S = dt/dx = (t2-t1)/(x2-x1)

V = 1/S = (x2-x1)/(t2-t1)

ρ0 V0

Refracted ρ V1

Refracted ρ V2
Crossover Distance Waves
5.5 Time-Distance Graphs
The picked first break arrival times, for both forward and reverse shooting,
are plotted on a graph paper against their offsets as shown below.

Time Time

Distance (X) Distance (X)

Forward Shooting Reverse
For both forward and reverse shooting data, best-fit lines are passed through
each segment of data, representing a subsurface layer as shown below.

V1 V1

Time Vo Vo

Cross Over Distance

The velocities of best-fit lines (Vo, V1) are computed from their respective
slope. Similarly the crossover distance (Xc), intercept time (Ti) and total time
(Tt) are marked on the graph as shown on the pervious figure.

The thickness of the first layer (Ho) can be computed by any one of the
following equations. The first uses intercept time while the other uses
crossover distance.

Ti VoV1
Ho =
2 V12 − Vo 2

Xc V1 − Vo
Ho =
2 V1 + Vo

Thus using the refraction method the velocities and thicknesses of near
surface weathered layers are determined which are used for computation of
statics corrections, for application to seismic reflection data.

5.6 Statics Corrections

The Earth’s near surface is made up of weathered and sub-weathered low-
velocity layers composed of unconsolidated material. These layers induce a
delay in seismic reflection data events which distort the continuity in
subsurface layers geometry as seen in seismic sections.

Statics are corrections applied to seismic reflection data to remove the effect
of weathered layers and elevation. These corrections are applied by reducing
the data with respect to a Datum Plane.

The following figure illustrates the effect of weathered layers in imaging a

horizontal sub-surface reflector on a seismic section. Due to variations in
weather layer thickness and/or velocity, each recorded trace experiences a
different delay time. Thus the horizontal reflector attains the shape of the
weathered layer.
More Less Delay More
Delay Delay
Low Velocity


Similarly topographic (elevation) variations also affect the shape of the sub-
surface reflectors in seismic data, due to variable wave travel paths. Thus the
horizontal sub-surface reflector appears as an inverted image of the
topography on a seismic section as shown below.

Path Shorter Longer
Path Path

From the above discussion it is clear that statics corrections must be
computed in order to remove the effects of weathered layers and topography
as shown below.

Ho/Vo Topography
Vo Weathered
H1/V1 Sub-Weathered
(Elevation - Datum) / Replacement Velocity

H o H1 H E−D
Statics = −[ + + ... + n −1 + ]*1000
Vo V1 Vn −1 VR
n −1
Statics = −[∑ i + ]*1000
i =1 V i V R

Weathered Layer Elevation

Statics Statics

It can be seen from the above equation that statics correction has two
components; weathered layer and elevation statics. For the weathered layer
statics velocity and thickness of weathered layers is provided by the
refraction method. For the elevation (E) statics, we get the elevation from
navigation data, the replacement velocity (VR) is selected above the highest
sub-weathered velocity. Its value can be selected somewhere above 2000
m/sec and it must be kept constant throughout the project. The selection of
datum (D) is arbitrary; it can be selected above or below the weathered
layers. The figures below show a seismic section without (left) and with
(right) statics corrections.
5.7 Limitations of Seismic Refraction Method
Some limitations of refraction method are summarized below:

The refraction method requires the velocity of sub-surface layers must

increase with depth. If a low velocity layer under a high velocity layer is
encountered, it cannot be detected by refraction method.

Similarly blind zones cannot be detected by this method. If thickness of a

layer is less as compared to the layers above and below it and/or the velocity
contrast between it and the layer that underlies it is inadequate, such layer
cannot be delineated by this method.

Refraction method requires a larger spread length as compared to reflection

method, for mapping the same interface (at the same depth). Thus for
imaging deeper layers refraction method needs a much longer spread, which
makes it impractical for such applications.
Module 6

Seismic Reflection Data


At the end of this module you would be

able to understand

 Digital Sampling

 Seismic Sensors: Geophones as


 Seismic Recorder and


 Seismic Sources: Dynamite and


 Spread Geometries & Fold

6.1 Digital Sampling and Aliasing
The initial seismic instruments recorded data on a moving paper, the next
generation instruments recorded analog seismic data on magnetic tapes.
With the advent of computers and digital systems, the seismic data was
recorded in digital form in some standard format. Today all processing and
interpretation is performed on digital seismic data, thus it is necessary to
understand the difference between analog and digital data and the sampling

Let’s consider an analog representation of a sinusoidal function as shown

below. In this form the variation of amplitude with time is recorded

Now the same sinusoidal function can be represented in digital form as

shown below. It can be seen that discrete samples of amplitude values are
taken after fixed interval of time called sampling interval. Joining these
samples the sinusoidal function can be reconstructed.
If t is in milliseconds the Sampling frequency i.e. the number of samples
per second, is given by;

fS =

Now the Nyquist frequency, which is the highest recoverable signal

frequency for the given sampling frequency is given by;

f S 1000
fN = =
2 2∆t

Thus for a given sampling interval, the recorded signal frequencies must not
be greater than Nyquist frequency, otherwise they will appear as low
frequencies. This is called Aliasing Effect, caused by coarse sampling
(under-sampling), as shown below.
The high signal frequencies that are greater than the Nyquist frequency
appear as low frequencies are called Alias frequencies given by;

f a = 2 f N − f Signal
In seismic recording systems an anti-aliasing filter (fA) having a high-cut
frequency equal to half of Nyquist Frequency is applied to avoid aliasing
fA =
6.2 Seismic Recorder
Seismic Recorder picks seismic signals (vibrations) from geophone sensors
and records them on magnetic media in a digital format. It consists of
multiple channels, each connected to a geophone group. It is similar to an
audio tape recorder which picks audio signals from microphone and records
them on a magnetic tape (cassette).

A geophone is a transducer which transforms mechanical energy (seismic

vibration) into electrical energy. It consists of a moving coil and a stationary
magnet. The movement of the coil due to vibration creates electromagnetic
flux proportional to the magnitude of vibration.

The block diagram of a digital seismic recorder is given below followed by

description of all main modules.
Preamplifier receives weak signals from geophones and amplifies them.

Filters pass a certain range of frequencies and attenuate the rest. A seismic
recorder has three types of filters.

- Low Cut filter attenuates all frequencies below the cutoff frequency and
passes all frequencies above it. In a seismic recorder it is set to 8-12 Hz
to remove low frequency surface waves called ground roll.

- Notch filter removes only a single frequency and passes all other
frequencies. In seismic it is used to remove 50/60 Hz electric power lines

- High Cut filter attenuates all frequencies above the cutoff frequency and
passes all frequencies below it. In a recorder it is called Antialias filter,
so that all unwanted high frequencies (above 125 Hz) are removed to
avoid aliasing during analog to digital conversion.

Amplifier further amplifies the signal after filtering unwanted frequencies.

It enhances the gain level of the signal in decibels (db). It must be noted that
the signals received from the geophone and subsequently passing through
preamplifier to amplifier stages are in analog form. After final amplification
the signals will be digitized.
Multiplexer: A seismic recorder consists of several channels (24 to several
hundreds). Each channel is connected to a geophone and comprises of
preamplifier to amplifier stages. Now the signals from all channels need to
be digitized, but the recorder has a single analog to digital converter. Thus a
multiplexer is used to switch one channel at a time. If a recorder has 100
channels and sampling rate is set to 2 milliseconds then the multiplexer must
switch 100 channels within 2 milliseconds to get the first sample of each
channel and be ready to get the next samples. The time available to scan a
channel is called Skew rate given by;

Skew Rate = Sampling Rate / Number of Channels

The working of a multiplexer for a four channel recorder (channels labeled

as A to D) is shown below. Note the multiplexer connects one channel at a
time to the analog to digital converter (ADC).


A Filters / Amp


B Filters / Amp

Geophone ADC / Write

C Filters / Amp

Geophone Multiplexed Data

A1 B1 C1 D1 SC A2 B2 C2 D2 SC A3 B3 C3 D3 SC …
D Filters / Amp
SC is Scan Code after each time slice.


Analog to Digital Converter (ADC) converts the analog signals into digital
form according to the specified sampling interval. The digital signal consists
of discrete samples represented by a series of amplitude values as a function
of time, called time series.

Formatter/Writer arranges the data samples according to an industry

standard format and writes it to a storage media such as tape, cartridge or
6.3 Seismic Sources
A seismic source releases energy in the form of elastic waves which
propagate through the earth’s medium. This energy has an amplitude and
phase over a frequency band.

Various types of seismic sources are classified below:

• Land Sources: Used in Land Surveys

- Dynamite: Several Kilograms of dynamite used to generate a short

duration, high energy impulse containing a wide range of frequencies.
Dynamite based seismic data is minimum phase.

- Vibroseis: A truck with a base plate driven by a hydraulic system to

generate a long duration, low energy sweep of defined frequency range.
The vibroseis data needs to be correlated with the pilot sweep. Vibroseis
based seismic data is zero phase.

- Buried Primacord: Explosive extruded into rope-like form having

length of several 100 ft and plowed into ground at 2-3 ft depth. When
detonated at one end or center, the explosive disturbance propagates at
22,000 ft/sec, much higher than seismic velocity in near surface layer.

- In addition there are several other land seismic sources such as weight
dropping, hammer, wooden log hit from side to generate S waves.

• Marine Sources: Used in Offshore Surveys

Explosive Sources using Dynamite

- Flexotir: Small pellet of dynamite embedded in a plastic cartridge. This

charge is detonated at the center of a cast-iron spherical shell towed
behind the ship at 40 ft depth. It pumps out water under high pressure.

- MaxiPulse: Charge packed in a can, injected into the water at 40 ft depth

by a delivery device trailed from the ship. On detonation it forms a
Non-Explosive Sources

- Sparker: Sudden discharge of current between electrodes in water

generates seismic waves.

- Boomer: Current passes through Coil which moves a plate against water.

- Air Gun: High pressure bubble released in water.

- Aqua Pulse: Enclosed underwater chamber (elongated heavy-rubber

cylinder) filled with propane and oxygen. It is detonated by electric
spark. The explosion causes ballooning of the chamber which introduces
a pressure pulse in water.

6.4 Fold Coverage

We know that in reflection surveys the seismic waves hit the subsurface
depth point and are reflected back. During multiple shots with various shot
receiver combinations the same depth point may be hit multiple times and is
therefore referred as common depth point (CDP). Thus for a given spread of
geophones, the maximum number of times a CDP is hit by waves is called
fold coverage and is computed as follows;

1 ∆x ∆x
Fold = C
2 ∆g ∆s
Where C = Number of Channels
∆x=Picket Interval
∆g=Geophone Group Interval
∆s=Source Interval

6.5 Geophone Spread Geometries

The positioning of geophones along a 2D seismic profile with respect to the
source point is called the spread geometry. During acquisition the spread
moves one or multiple picket intervals along the seismic profile. Two
common spread geometries are discussed considering an 8 channel recorder.
Split Shooting
In this spread the shot is at the middle with equal number of geophones at
both sides. This spread remains symmetric throughout the acquisition profile
as shown below along with its stacking chart and fold coverage.

According to the figure the equidistance surface points where geophones or

source is placed are called pickets and the sub-surface points where the
waves hit are called CDPs. It can be seen that the CDP interval is half the
picket interval at the surface.

End-on Shooting
This spread starts in asymmetric form with the source at start of profile,
followed with half number of geophones at the forward side. As the spread
moves forward a geophone is added at the backward side. This is called roll-
in and it continues until the spread becomes symmetric. The spread
continues to move forward in symmetric form until the end of the profile is
reached. Finally at the end a geophone is removed from the forward side
with each forward step. This is called roll-out which continues until the
source reaches the end of the profile. The end-on shooting spread after roll-
out is shown, in the following figure along with its stacking chart.
A comparison of fold build-up, along a profile for both the above mentioned
shooting geometries is illustrated below. From the figure it is clear that end-
one shooting provides a better fold coverage along a profile.
Module 7

Seismic Noise

At the end of this module you would be

able to understand

 Difference between Signals and


 Coherent and Incoherent Noise

 Geophone Arrays

 Low and High Cut Filters

 Stacking to remove Incoherent

7.1 Signals and Noise
All events of interest are called signals while rest is called noise. Signals and
Noise are relative terms as in a certain set of analysis an event may be
considered as signal, while in another analysis it is considered as noise. In
seismic acquisition and processing our major emphasis is to enhance the
signals and suppress the noise. Thus our aim is to increase the Signal to
Noise Ratio (S/N). There can be multiple sources of noise. Noise may be due
to some other source or due to the same source responsible for the signals.

Seismic Noise is classified into the following two main types;

- Coherent Noise
- Incoherent Noise

7.2 Coherent Noise

It has a periodic pattern which can be followed at substantial distances along
the receiving profile. During seismic data acquisition the most common type
of coherent noise is Ground Roll.

Ground Roll
These are surface waves primarily Rayleigh waves, having low-velocity and
low-frequency with relatively higher amplitude. They override the useful
reflections. In addition, refracted waves multi-reflected in a surface layer
and shear refractions are also encountered.

During acquisition ground roll is suppressed by two methods. As ground roll

has low frequency, usually below 10 Hz and our signals are above this
frequency, a low cut filter of 10-12 Hz is applied to suppress the ground roll.
In addition a group of geophones spaced at half the wavelength of the noise
and connected to a single channel also suppress ground roll as shown below.
Power Lines Induction
If a seismic line crosses or passes close to a power line, then 50 or 60 Hz
coherent noise is induced into the nearby geophone channels. This noise can
be removed during recording by applying a notch filter.

7.3 Incoherent Noise

It has a random pattern and therefore also called Random Noise. There can
be multiple sources of random noise such as;

- Scattering from near-surface irregularities.

- Commonly occur when the shot point overlies or is close to gravels,
boulders or vuggy limestone all of which can cause scattering of waves.
- When stream banks and surface irregularities diffract energy.

Incoherent noise observed at one point on the surface is entirely unrelated to

that at another point. Similarly signals collected at the same point at different
times contain the same signal but different random noise. Thus, addition or
stacking of signals containing incoherent noise results in noise cancellation
as shown below.

+ + + =

7.4 Aliased Frequencies

If the analog signal contains frequencies higher than the Nyquist frequency
then such frequencies are aliased and appear as low frequencies after
digitization. Thus an anti-aliasing high cut filter of 125 Hz or above is
applied before analog to digital conversion.
7.5 Multiples
Sometimes seismic energy may be trapped by to and fro reflection between
interfaces. Thus a reflector appears twice in a seismic section, the second
time as a multiple at a greater time. The interference due to multiple
reflections appears similar to primary reflections and therefore sometimes
difficult to identify. Multiples are removed by predictive deconvolution. The
multiples have the same stacking velocity as the primary reflections, but
appear at a greater time. Thus they can be removed by avoiding them during
velocity picking.

There are several types of multiples as illustrated below:

First Second
Primary Order Order


First Second
Order Order

Module 8

Seismic Data Processing I

At the end of this module you would be

able to understand

 Wave propagation through Earth

 Mechanical Processes

 Interactive Processes

 Gains, Spherical Divergence

 Band Pass Filter

8.1 Propagation of Seismic Waves through Earth

When Seismic waves propagate through Earth’s material they undergo

changes in their signature (waveform) due to the following phenomenon.

Geometric Spreading
Energy contained in a wave is proportional to the square of its amplitude. As
body waves propagate outward from a point source they spread spherically
with a constant energy. As the spherical wave front expands, the energy per
unit area must decrease as rapidly as the total area of the spherical surface

It follows Newton’s Inverse Square Law which states:

“The power per unit area in the direction of propagation, of a spherical wave
front varies inversely as the square of the distance from the source, assuming
there are no losses caused by absorption or scattering.”

Absorption & Attenuation: Convolution

There is also loss of amplitude due to absorption caused by frictional
dissipation of the elastic energy into heat. This loss from the source is found
to be exponential with distance as shown below. This absorption of energy is
called attenuation. Attenuation is directly proportional to frequency and
therefore higher frequencies are attenuated more than the low frequencies.
Thus low frequencies can penetrate further into the Earth.
Seismic energy may be absorbed due to several reasons some of which are
listed below:
- Crystal phase change
- Compaction of porous media
- Fracturing within the medium
- Friction due to relative motions of different parts of the same rock
- Viscous losses through fluid flow in a porous medium
- Temperature change through compression and dilation of the medium.
When a Seismic Wave propagates through Earth’s material it undergoes
convolution. Convolution is the term given to the mathematical technique
for determining a system output given an input signal and the system
impulse response.

Noise Addition
As a Seismic Waves from a desired source (Signal) propagate through the
Earth they may get mixed with waves from other undesired sources (Noise).
In addition undesired events from the desired source are also encountered.

Thus the recorded seismic traces undergo the following changes, which are
also illustrated below;

• Amplitude decay with distance, both horizontal (offset) as well as

vertical (depth)
• High frequencies absorbed
• Noise & unwanted events added

In seismic data processing, the main task is to enhance the amplitudes by

applying suitable gains, recover the lost high frequencies through
deconvolution and suppress different types of noise through band bass filter,
stacking and a number of other techniques. Thus our aim is to improve the
signal to noise ratio.
8.2 Mechanical Processes
Seismic data processing consists of several steps among which three
important steps called mechanical processes are always applied to the
seismic data. They are called mechanical processes as they change the
structure or form of seismic data, rather than performing some analysis to
change the amplitude, frequency or phase of the data. These processes along
with their input and resultant datasets are shown below.

We know that seismic recorder stores data in multiplexed form, where first
samples of all traces are stored first followed by second samples of all traces
and so on. Samples of all traces at a constant time make a time slice. Thus
the multiplexed data is in time slice order and we need to convert it into
trace sequential order, i.e. all samples of first trace followed by second trace
and so on. The demultiplexing of seismic data is illustrated below.
It can be seen from the previous figure that demultiplexing is simply
arranging the seismic data matrix from row (time slice) to column (trace
sequential) order. It must be noted that both multiplexed as well as
demultiplexed data are shot ordered and all traces belong to the same shot as
shown below. Modern recorders have field data units each with their own
analog to digital converter, instead of the conventional centralized recording
system. These systems store data in trace sequential order and thus there is
no need to apply demultiplexing to such data.

After performing some initial processing, the data needs to be sorted from
shot order to common depth point (CDP) order. In this process traces from
different shot receiver combinations that hit the same CDP are grouped
together thus forming a CDP ordered data as shown below. Again it can be
seen that this process is simply arrangement of data from one form to
The number of traces in a CDP group depends on its fold coverage. For a 30
fold data the CDP order data will have 30 traces per group. After applying
dynamic corrections all traces in a CDP group are stacked (added) into a
single trace as shown below. This removes the random noise and enhances
the reflected events. Thus stacking changes the data form, but it is not purely
a mechanical process as it also improves the signal to noise ratio. It must be
noted that after stacking the data volume is considerably reduced. For a 30
fold dataset the data volume is reduced 30 times.

+ + + =

8.3 Interactive Processes

The seismic data processing workflow also includes some interactive
processes, which require a lot of human interaction. With the advancements
in graphics technology, computer aided interactive tools have been
developed to carryout these processes. The figure below shows the sequence
of these processes along with their usage application.
Trace Editing
This processing step is basically quality control of the input field data. The
input data may contain bad traces, reverse polarity traces and completely bad
and blowout records. Using an interactive environment, the data is viewed
record by record. All bad traces are muted (zeros), reverse polarity traces are
converted to normal polarity and bad records are killed. Thus all bad data is
removed before proceeding with further processing.

First Break Picking

In seismic refraction module, we discussed interactive and automated first
break picking for statics correction. The statics computed from field
refraction survey are referred as field statics. To further refine the data a
second set of statics corrections is applied to the data by interactively
picking refracted arrivals from all reflection records. This is referred as
refraction statics.

Velocity Picking
To stack the CDP ordered data dynamic corrections or normal moveout is
applied to the data. To apply dynamic corrections we need velocity
information for each reflector so that they are stacked properly. As velocity
changes laterally as well as vertically, velocity functions are interactively
picked at selected CDP groups. The picked velocity functions are
interpolated to apply dynamic corrections to all CDPs. More details about
velocity analysis procedure are given in the next module.

We now discuss some common processes which improve the recorded signal

8.4 Spherical Divergence Compensation and Gains

We know that as seismic wave front moves forward it experiences decay in
amplitude. This decay takes place in all directions, both laterally with offset
and vertically with depth as shown below.
In processing, the lost amplitudes must be recovered by applying some
spherical diversion compensation gain and other types of time variant and
trace balancing gains.

Time Variant Gain (TVG)

A time variant gain compensates the decay of amplitude with depth. Usually
a time variant function is computed and multiplied with the corresponding
samples of seismic trace.

It can be a linear gain function as shown below (left). The amplitudes of the
lower events have improved but they are still weaker than the top events.
The slope (m) and the intercept (C) can be adjusted to get better results.
Similarly we can have an exponential gain function shown below (right).
Here again the value of C must be optimized to get good results otherwise
for a large value of C we may get a bell-bottom type of trace with large gain
applied to deeper events.

TVG compensates the vertical decay of amplitude within each trace but it
does not take care of lateral decay of amplitude from near to far offset traces
as shown in the next figure. It can be seen in the figure that TVG has
enhanced the amplitudes of both near and far offset traces but the relative
difference in amplitudes of the near and far offset traces remains the same.
Trace Balancing
Certain applications, such as first break picking, require the maximum
amplitudes of all near to far offset traces to be balanced at a user defined
RMS amplitude (ARMS) level. This is achieved through trace balancing which
compensates for lateral decay of amplitudes. Thus trace balancing is a time
invariant type of gain. The procedure and application of trace balancing is
illustrated in the following figure.
The following figure shows the application of trace balancing to near and far
offset traces. It can be seen that the maximum amplitude of near and fat
offset traces in brought to the same level.

Automatic Gain Control (AGC)

The ultimate gain is a combination of TVG and trace balancing. Instead of
scanning the complete trace to get AMAX , the trace is scanned within a sliding
time window (operator length). Thus several gain factors (GF) are computed
at the center of each window and joining them gives a time variant gain
function as shown. It is called automatic gain control as no coefficient needs
to set and gain factors are automatically set according to the amplitudes in a
time window.
8.5 Band Pass Filter
Seismic data is band limited which may range from 10 - 125 Hz. Usually
the dominant frequency is 35 - 45 Hz, thus a band pass filter (BPF) of 10-80
Hz can be applied to the data to pass all useful signal frequencies and
suppress the remaining frequencies.

A BPF can be considered as a combination of low-cut and high-cut filters to

pass a band of frequencies. Thus a BPF allows all frequencies between the
low and high cut off frequencies as shown below.

The working of BPF is given in the following block diagram. A filter

operator wavelet is generated according to the low-cut (fL) and high-cut
frequencies (fH). The resulting wavelet contains all frequencies within these
limits. This wavelet is convolved with the input trace to get the output
filtered trace.
8.6 Deconvolution
When seismic signals convolve with the Earth’s material, high frequencies
are absorbed. These lost high frequencies are necessary for improving the
temporal resolution, thus they must be recovered. Deconvolution is a
mathematical process used to reverse the effects of convolution on recorded
data. It is exactly what it sounds like: the undoing of undesired convolution.
During convolution high frequencies are attenuated. In deconvolution we try
to re-introduce these lost frequencies. Thus deconvolution can be considered
as an inverse filter. Some common types of deconvolution are spiking
deconvolution, predictive deconvolution and surface consistent

The working of deconvolution is given in the following bock diagram. The

input trace is converted into frequency domain using Fast Fourier transform.
The inverse of amplitude spectrum is computed. Then pre-whitening is
added to the inverse spectrum to avoid zeros. This is done by adding one to
the amplitude of all frequencies in the spectrum. The phase spectrum is set
to zero, this makes the resultant wavelet operator as zero phase. The final
amplitude and phase spectrum are transformed back to time domain by using
Inverse Fourier transform to get the inverse wavelet operator. Finally this
operator is convolved with the input trace to get the output deconvolved
Module 9

Seismic Data Processing II

At the end of this module you would be

able to understand

 Velocity Analysis / Constant

Velocity Stack

 Dynamic Corrections / Normal


 Stacking: Raw, Brute Stack

 Residual Statics and Final Stack

9.1 Seismic Data Processing Flow
In the preceding module we discussed some mechanical, interactive and
basic processing operations. In this module we will focus on some other
important processing functions and consider the complete seismic data
processing sequence. A generalized seismic data processing flow is given in
the following block diagram. It also shows the mechanical, interactive and
basic processing functions already discussed.

The field data is demultiplexed followed by geometry setup, where spread

layout, navigation data and field statics are updated to seismic data headers.
Then trace editing is performed and all basic processing such as geometric
spreading compensation, filters and deconvolution are applied before sorting
the data to CDP order. A copy of the geometry applied data is sub-sampled
to 8 milliseconds for first break picking. Refraction statics are computed and
can be applied to pre or post sorted data. Then normal moveout correction
(NMO) is applied by using a regional velocity function and the data is
stacked to get a raw stack. In the next stage velocity analysis comprising of
constant velocity stack (CVS) and velocity picking at selected CDP
locations is performed and the picked velocity functions are used in the
NMO to get a Brute stack. In the final go the velocities may be further
revised and residual statics are applied to get the final stack. The structures
in the final stack are migrated to their true positions to get the migrated

9.2 Dynamic Corrections

Dynamic corrections or Normal Moveout (NMO) are corrections applied to
CDP ordered data to reduce all source receiver slant travel times (Tx) into
zero offset vertical times (To) as shown below.

It can be seen in the figure, as the offset increases Tx also increases. Thus the
CDP family traces represent a hyperbolic travel time curve for a reflector.
As we need to stack these traces the slant travel times must be aligned along
a straight line by reducing them to vertical times. Thus the NMO correction
is simply reducing the data to zero offset, given by;
∆TNMO = Tx − To

In the above figure Tx, To and offset x, make up a triangle. Now the problem
is that two sides of the triangle have units of time while the third side, the
offset, has units of distance. To solve this triangle we need to convert x into
time. For this we need velocity of the reflector, called NMO velocity (VNMO),
which is obtained from velocity analysis. Thus from the Pythagorean
Theorem we have;
Tx 2 = To 2 + V x2
Now the NMO correction becomes;
∆TNMO = To 2 + V x2 − To

After applying these corrections, all CDP traces are aligned and can be
stacked. Like static corrections, the dynamic corrections are also in the form
of a time shift. In static corrections a constant time shift is applied to all
samples of a trace, thus the whole trace is moved up or down along time
axis, but the relative time gap between events remains static. On the other
hand, dynamic corrections are computed and applied to each reflector. As
the velocity of each reflector varies, its NMO correction also varies and
therefore each reflector is moved at a different rate. Thus there is a
stretching or shrinking of time gap between events, therefore these
corrections are called dynamic corrections.

Let’s consider a reflector with NMO velocity 2250 M/Sc. If the appropriate
NMO velocity is used the events are aligned, if a lower velocity is used the
events in CDP gathers (traces) are stretched up, called over-corrected and if
a higher velocity is used the events remain under corrected, as shown below.

9.3 Velocity Analysis

From the preceding section, we know that NMO corrections require velocity
information. In seismic data processing velocity analysis is an important step
in which velocities are picked from seismic data at selected CDP locations.
The CDP should not be selected at uniform intervals. Suitable locations are
the crests and troughs of a folded area. Zones of poor signal to noise ratio,
faults and near-surface anomalies must be avoided for velocity analysis as
shown below.

Constant Velocity Stack (CVS)

In real Earth, the velocity generally increases with depth, thus each reflector
will have a different velocity. In velocity analysis out task is to determine
the appropriate velocity of each reflector. As velocity also changes laterally,
we need to select several CDP locations where velocity analysis is to be
performed. To view the continuity of reflectors we need a group of CDPs,
thus the number of CDPs on both sides of the selected CDP location is
specified. If 10 CDPs are specified on both sides, the selected location will
have a group of 21 CDPs. Finally we also need to specify the minimum and
maximum velocity range we expect in the region, and a velocity increment.
Typical values can be 1500-5000 M/Sec with an increment of 100 M/Sec.
The CVS method uses a constant velocity in NMO and stacks all CDP
traces. The constant velocity is iterated from minimum to maximum range
with the specified increment. In this way we get velocity panels for each
selected CDP location, showing CDP group traces stacked with a range of
velocities as shown in the next figure. From NMO we know that each
reflector will stack with strong amplitude if its appropriate velocity is used.
Higher or lower velocities will not stack the reflector properly. As velocity
increases with depth the shallow reflectors will stack well at lower velocities
while the deeper reflectors at increasing velocities. Thus on a velocity panel
we mark a point for each reflector where it is best stacked. These points are
velocity-time pairs and joining them gives us a velocity function which
increases with time.
In this way we pick velocity functions for each selected CDP location. The
picked velocity functions are interpolated for in between CDPs and used in
NMO corrections to get a Brute stack. These velocities are referred as root
mean square (RMS), NMO or Stacking velocities, as all three types have
approximately same values. It must be noted that NMO/Stacking velocities
can be successful if they vary within ±20% of their true value.

9.4 Residual Statics

If our main horizon of interest does not show a good continuity in the Brute
stack, we may need to apply residual statics. In this technique we need to
mark a point on the horizon and specify its minimum and maximum times in
the section. It correlates the horizon events in all traces and generates a
smooth trend of the horizon. It applies a plus-minus shift to all traces, so that
the horizon events are aligned according to the smooth trend. Now the
horizon shows a continuous trend. It must be noted that by using this
technique our horizon of interest becomes continuous while other horizons
may get disturbed.
9.5 Migration
The final seismic section does not represent the true geometry of the
reflectors, thus migration is applied to the final stack with the following
main objectives.

Move Dipping reflectors to their true position

Corrects for the geometric displacement of data from a dipping reflector
and/or lateral velocity changes and places them in their true spatial position
rather than at an assumed point in depth between the source and the receiver.

Collapse Diffraction Patterns

Eliminate the signal interference caused by point diffractors.

To understand why seismic expression does not show the true position of
events, consider the following figures.
At the surface the common mid point (CMP) lies at the middle of shot and
receiver positions. For a horizontal bed the common depth point (CDP) lies
exactly below the CMP.

Now for a dipping bed the CDP does not lie below the CMP as shown.

The seismic section will still show the CDP below the CMP, thus we need to
shift it to its true position.
Thus an anticline will appear larger with wider flanks in seismic as shown.

Similarly a syncline will appear as a bow-tie in seismic as shown.

Migration is an extremely compute intensive process. Several migration

algorithms have been developed, some common types are listed below:
- Kirchhoff’s Migration
- Finite Difference (FD) Migration
- Frequency Wave number (FK) Migration
- Reverse Time Migration
- Stolt Migration

With the availability of large computing power, migration can also be

applied to pre-stack data in one of the following forms:
- Pre Stack Time Migration (PSTM)
- Pre Stack Depth Migration (PSDM)
Module 10

Seismic Resolution

At the end of this module you would be

able to understand

 Temporal Resolution: Frequency

and Bandwidth

 Spatial Resolution: Picket Interval

and Fresnel Zone

 Phase Uncertainty

 Signal to Noise Ratio

10.1 Resolution
The smallest object that can be imaged or resolved by a system or technique
is called the resolution of the system. Such as telescopes and microscopes
have resolving power which decides the smallest object that can be view by
these instruments.

In Earth sciences resolution implies to the vertical thickness and lateral

extent of a subsurface geological body that can be delineated with a
geophysical method.

10.2 Seismic Resolution

Seismic resolution refers to the ability of the seismic method to image the
thinnest and smallest subsurface objects. Seismic resolution is of two types;

Temporal Resolution
It is the vertical resolution which accounts for the thickness of sub-surface
beds that can be resolved. It depends on frequency of seismic waves and is
1/4th of the wavelength. Thus higher the frequency, the smaller will be the
wavelength and ultimately we get a higher resolution as shown below.

To understand seismic resolution a three layer model, consisting of a thin

layer sandwiched between two thick layers is given in the next figure. It can
be seen that with low frequency the thin bed is not resolved, but using a
higher frequency the bed is clearly resolved.
Spatial Resolution
It is the lateral resolution which accounts for the lateral extent of subsurface
bodies that can be resolved. It depends on spacing of sensors (geophones) on
the surface. We know the CDP interval is half the picket interval. Thus the
sub-surface target object must be multiple times larger then the CDP
interval, if it is smaller than the CDP interval it will be missed out. Consider
the following example where a small lens shaped object is shown. For large
sensor spacing only one ray path hits the body and therefore its shape cannot
be delineated. If the sensor spacing is reduces the CDP interval is also
reduced and several ray paths hit the body at multiple CDPs thus its shape is
clearly identified.

10.3 Fresnel Zone

Horizontal resolution is defined in terms of Fresnel Zone which indicates
how close two adjacent points in the subsurface can be, while still being
distinguished from one another. We know that vertical resolution is 1/4th of
the wavelength of frequency. The horizontal resolution also depends on
wavelength of frequency and depth of the target. The Fresnel zone and its
relationship with horizontal resolution is illustrated in the next figure.
The figure shows two wave fronts separated apart by 1/4th wavelength of the
dominant frequency. The upper wave front is at a depth Z. Now AA/ is the
Fresnel zone and its half is the Fresnel Zone radius, which is the horizontal
resolution. Mathematically the Fresnel Zone Radius is given by;

RF = Z λ / 2

It can be seen that with the increase in depth the wave front expands and the
Fresnel zone radius also increases, thus the resolution decreases.

10.4 More on Seismic Resolution

Resolution is our ability to clearly interpret the nature of reflectors from a
limited seismic display. The resolving power of seismic data is limited by
the following:

Previously we discussed that vertical resolution depends on frequency, but in
actual it depends on bandwidth, which is a range of usable frequencies
contained in seismic data. Bandwidth is not simply the difference in
frequency from high to low limits. It is the logarithm of the ratio of the
frequency limits given by;
Bandwidth = Log 2 ( )
For base 10 we have; fh
Log10 (
Bandwidth =
Log10 (2)
The unit of bandwidth is Octave, which simply represents doubling of
frequency range.

10 Hz – 20 Hz is one Octave
20 Hz – 40 Hz is second Octave
40 Hz – 80 Hz is third Octave

Thus a signal containing all frequencies from 10 Hz to 80 Hz has a

bandwidth of 3 Octaves.

The figure below shows the effect of bandwidth on resolution. It can be seen
that with the increase of upper frequency from 60 to 140 Hz the bandwidth
increases and thus the resolution increases, but on increasing the lower
frequency from 8 to 120 Hz the bandwidth decreases and ultimately the
resolution decreases, in spite of the fact that high frequencies are present.
Thus it not only the high frequency, but a range of low to high frequency
called bandwidth, which improves the resolution. A minimum 2.5 Octaves is
required for a good seismic resolution.

Phase Uncertainty
Zero phase data provides the simplest expression of reflection events as side-
lobe interactions are minimized. For interpretation purposes the data should
be reduced to zero phase. It can be seen in the following figure that zero
phase data shows the exact position of the reflector, while in non zero phase
data we are not sure about the precise position of the reflector.
Signal to Noise Ratio (S/N)
Random Noise can seriously interfere with the resolving power of data.
Strong Noise can inhibit the ability to see major reflections. Thus for a better
resolution, the data must have a good S/N, as shown below. When S/N
decreases, the signals are masked by the noise. A S/N=1 implies that both
signal and noise amplitudes are same
Module 11

Seismic Interpretation
At the end of this module you would be able
to understand

 Seismic Section: Display Modes, Vertical

and Horizontal Scales

 Marking Horizons and Faults

 Base Map and Contouring

 Seismic Velocities and Time to Depth


 Seismic Modeling

 Sonic Log, Density Log and Synthetic

11.1 Seismic Data Display Standards
Seismic data can be displayed in a number of industry standard formats. A
sample of each display type is given below in the form of an individual trace
and a complete section.

Wiggle + Variable Area: Waveform with shaded crests

Wiggle: Only Waveform.

Variable Area: Only shaded crests

Color Attributes: Waveform with amplitude based colored crests

Colored Density: Crests in Red, Troughs in Blue (or other colors)

11.2 Seismic Section Display Scales
Seismic sections are displayed with separate horizontal and vertical scales.
Setting up of these scales is critical from interpretation point of view as
sometimes gentle dips may appear as horizontal beds by using a compressed
vertical scale. Similarly the dip may be exaggerated by using a large vertical
scale. Setting up of both these scales is discussed below along with

Horizontal Scale
The horizontal sale is described in the form of Traces per Inch (TPI).
Increasing the number of traces per inch reduces the seismic section
horizontal scale as more trace are packed within one inch as shown below.

Vertical Scale
The vertical scale is described in the form of Inches per Second (IPS). In this
case increasing inches per second enlarges the seismic section vertical scale
as shown in the next figure.

Typical setting for seismic display scales can be 24 TPI and 2.5 IPS.
11.3 Base Map
In addition to seismic sections, base map is also an important component of
interpretation, as it displays the spatial position of each picket of a seismic
section. Its also shows the spatial relationship of all seismic sections under
consideration, their tie point locations and provides the framework for
contouring. Seismic base maps have also been standardized as shown below.
The line is annotated on both sides in the direction of line, while pickets are
annotated perpendicular to the line. Picket interval and picket annotation
interval are specified before generating a map.
The base map is produced using some projection system such as Lambert
Conic projection or Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) projection. The
base map also shows grids of geographic latitude-longitudes and/or
projected grid coordinates. The base map is produced at a specified scale,
such as 1:10000, which represents the number of real Earth units that equal 1
unit on the map.

11.4 Seismic Interpretation

In interpretation our main task is to identify various reflectors or horizons as
interfaces between geological formations. For this good structural and
stratigraphic knowledge of the area is required. Thus during interpretation
we mark the horizons and faults on the seismic section. Initially
interpretation was done manually on paper sections, but with the availability
of powerful computer systems with graphics support, computer aided
interpretation systems are being used in the industry as shown below.
Like first break picking the horizons can also be marked in the following
four modes, but the selected mode must be used throughout the project.

The complete seismic interpretation workflow is given in the following

figure. Accordingly all seismic sections in the projection are interpreted by
marking horizons of interest and faults. The marked horizon and fault times
along with their CDP numbers and X,Y navigation coordinates for all
interpreted sections are output to the gridding and contour module which
generates a contour map or 3D surface of the horizon. If there is a
prospective zone, a well point is marked on the respective section and the
contour map.

A time contour map of a horizon, along with faults and seismic lines is given
in the next figure.
Using seismic velocities this time contour map is also converted into depth
11.5 Time to Depth Conversion
The interpreted seismic section is in time domain. In order to get a true
geological picture it must be converted into a depth section. This conversion
requires reliable velocity information which varies vertically as well as
horizontally. The main source of velocity information is seismic velocity
picked during data processing. More accurate velocities can be obtained
from check shots and vertical seismic profiling (VSP) surveys. Using Dix
equations, the RMS velocities, from seismic, are converted into interval and
finally average velocities. These velocities are used for time to depth
conversion as shown below. The horizon times are two way times (TWT)
therefore they are divided by two before depth conversion.

It must be noted that the vertical axis, in the above figure, is now depth in
meters. The Dix equations for conversions between RMS, interval and
average velocities are given below.

RMS to Interval Velocity

Vrmsi2Ti − Vrmsi2−1Ti −1
V int i =
Ti − Ti −1
Interval to RMS Velocity

∑V int
i =1
i (Ti − Ti −1 )
Vrmsi =

Average to Interval Velocity

VaveiTi − Vavei −1Ti −1

V int i =
Ti − Ti −1

Interval to Average Velocity

∑V int (T − T
i =1
i i i −1 )
Vavei =

11.6 2D Seismic Modeling

Sometimes we have a geological cross-section and we want to know the
seismic response of this section, which may be used for deciding parameters
in planning a new seismic survey. Similarly, we have interpreted a seismic
section in which the horizons and faults make up a geological section and we
want to move back and generate its seismic section. This is done to confirm
our interpretation. The generation of a seismic section from a geological
section is called 2D modeling. It is the reverse of seismic interpretation as
shown below.
The modeling procedure involves digital signal processing techniques. We
generate a source wavelet which mathematically represents our real sources
like dynamite or vibroseis. There are several techniques for generating
wavelets such as Ricker wavelet, Klauder wavelet and Summed wavelet.
The figure below shows a software interface to setup parameters for
generating a wavelet.

To model a geological cross-section it must be in some digital format. We

assign reflection coefficients to various horizons in the cross-section on the
basis of their velocity and density contrasts. The acoustic impedance (I) of a
layer is given by;

I =Vρ
where V is the velocity and ρ is density.

Now the reflection coefficient (RC) is given by;

Vi ρi − Vi −1 ρi −1
RC =
Vi ρi + Vi −1 ρi −1

After assigning the reflection coefficients to all horizons the section it is

convolved with the source wavelet by specifying a CDP interval. A synthetic
seismic section is generated as a result of this modeling process as shown in
the next figure.
11.7 Synthetic Seismogram
In the previous section we discussed 2D modeling, now synthetic
seismogram is basically 1D modeling. In this procedure we also generate a
source wavelet. Now instead of a 2D geological cross-section we have
petrophysical logs; Sonic (DT) and Bulk Density (RHOB) logs which
respectively provide the velocity and density information of subsurface
layers. The DT is a delay time log and its inverse gives the velocity. These
logs are acquired in the borehole. We use this velocity and density data to
compute a series of reflection coefficients called reflectivity series. This
series is convolved with the source wavelet to get a synthetic seismogram. In
this case we have performed the convolution with only one reflectivity series
(1D), thus only one seismic trace is generated. Graphically we plot multiple
copies this synthetic trace so that it appears like a stack section as shown in
the next figure. The synthetic seismogram vertical units are meters or feet
and it can be converted into time units by using its own velocity information.
Synthetic seismogram is matched with the seismic section at the well point
to correlate the succession of reflectors. It may also be used to calibrate our
seismic velocities.