Impact of seismic image quality on fault interpretation uncertainty

Juan Alcalde, Clare E. Bond, Gareth Johnson, Jennifer F. Ellis, Robert W. H. Butler

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Uncertainty in the geological interpretation of a seismic image is affected by image quality. Using quantitative image analysis techniques, we have mapped differences in image contrast and reflection continuity for two different representations of the same grayscale seismic image, one in two-way-time (TWT) and one in depth. The contrast and reflection continuity of the depth image is lower than that of the TWT image. We compare the results of 196 interpretations of a single fault with the quality of the seismic image. Low contrast and continuity areas correspond to a greater range of interpreted fault geometries, resulting in a broader spread of fault interpretations in the depth image. Subtle differences in interpreted fault geometries introduce changes in fault characteristics (e.g., throw, heave) that are critical for understanding crustal and lithospheric processes. Seismic image quality impacts interpretation certainty, as evidenced by the increased range in fault interpretations. Quantitative assessments of image quality could inform: (1) whether model-based interpretation (e.g., fault geometry prediction at depth) is more robust than a subjective interpretation; and (2) uncertainty assessments of fault interpretations used to predict tectonic processes such as crustal extension.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4-10
Number of pages7
JournalGSA Today
Issue number2
Early online date9 Jan 2017
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2017

Bibliographical note

BP/GUPCO are acknowledged for providing data from the Gulf of Suez. The authors acknowledge the support of MVE and use of Move software 2015.2 for this work. Ruediger Kilian is acknowledged for his kind help with the ImageJ code. Dr. Juan Alcalde is funded by NERC grant NE/M007251/1, on interpretational uncertainty. The work could not have been completed without the support of individuals within the geoscience community who took part in the interpretation experiment.


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