Quantification of uncertainty in 3-D seismic interpretation: Implications for deterministic and stochastic geomodeling and machine learning

Alexander Schaaf, Clare E Bond

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28 Citations (Scopus)
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In recent years uncertainty has been widely recognized in geosciences, leading to an increased need for its quantification. Predicting the subsurface is an especially uncertain effort, as our information either comes from spatially highly limited direct (1-D boreholes) or indirect 2-D and 3-D sources (e.g. seismic). And while uncertainty in seismic interpretation has been explored in 2-D, we currently lack both qualitatitive and quantitative understanding of how interpretational uncertainties of 3-D datasets are distributed. In this work we analyze 78 seismic interpretations done by final year undergraduate (BSc) students of a 3-D seismic dataset from the Gullfaks field located in the northern North Sea. The students used Petrel to interpret multiple (interlinked) faults and to pick the Base Cretaceous Unconformity and Top Ness horizon (part of the Mid-Jurassic Brent Group). We have developed open-source Python tools to explore and visualize the spatial uncertainty of the students fault stick interpretations, the subsequent variation in fault plane orientation and the uncertainty in fault network topology. The Top Ness horizon picks were used to analyze fault offset variations across the dataset and interpretations, with implications for fault throw. We investigate how this interpretational uncertainty interlinks with seismic data quality and the possible use of seismic data quality attributes as a proxy for interpretational uncertainty. Our work provides a first quantification of fault and horizon uncertainties in 3-D seismic interpretation, providing valuable insights into the influence of seismic image quality on 3-D interpretation, with implications for deterministic and stochastic geomodelling and machine learning.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1049-1061
Number of pages13
JournalSolid earth
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jul 2019

Bibliographical note

Alexander Schaaf was supported by Total GRC UK research funding, with Clare E. Bond supported by a Royal Society of Edinburgh research sabbatical grant.


  • uncertainty
  • 3D seismic
  • Interpretation


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