School of GeoSciences

Seismic Data Processing

The computational analysis of recorded data to create a subsurface image and estimate the distribution of properties is called data processing.

Seismic Image

Imaging the subsurface is almost exactly like standing beside a rugged cliff, clapping your hands, and trying to work out the shape of the cliff face from the echoes that you and your companions hear. The only difference is that the 'sound' waves in seismics propagate downwards, and recorded echoes are from interfaces and heterogeneities below the surface.

Subsurface property estimation is like using the echoes to try to work out what type of rock is at each point in the cliff face. Properties may be anisotropic and may vary over time (e.g., from stress or pore fluid canges). Data processing focusses on analysing seismic data to estimate images and properties.

Anisotropy is the term used to describe variation of observed rock properties depending on the orientation from which you view them. This can be indicative of a prevailing fracture direction, layering of rock strata, or alignment of mineral structures within the rock. In this case the 'viewing' is done mainly with seismic waves, and the goal is to detect key directionalities in subsurface rock properties that would affect exploration or production of Earth resources.

Time-lapse seismics involves listening to echoes from the subsurface at different epochs and estimating how subsurface properties and geometries change with time. This is a key ability as it allows the flow of fluids in a subsurface reservoir to be monitored during production.

ESR research into data processing includes:
  • Anisotropy and Time-Lapse Seismic - ESR includes these two world-leading industrial consortia
  • Seismic Interferometry - novel methods allow 'virtual' sources to be constructed from sensors
  • Tomography & Imaging - using primary and multiple-bouncing waves

For further information about any of this research, contact Dr. Andrew Curtis.