Seismic imaging in the Krafla high-temperature geothermal field, NE Iceland, using zero- and far-offset vertical seismic profiling (VSP) data

Felix Kästner* (Corresponding Author), Rüdiger Giese, Sverre Planke, John M. Millett, Ólafur G. Flóvenz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
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Among geothermal exploration methods, active surface seismic methods have played only a minor role to date. Especially in high-temperature volcanic systems, reflection seismic data often reveal poor delineation of volcanic features, due to the internal heterogeneity of volcanic sequences. To enhance the vertical resolution, one possibility is the application of downhole seismic methods like vertical seismic profiling (VSP). A test experiment was carried out in the Krafla high-temperature geothermal field, NE-Iceland, to assess the ability of VSP to image subsurface structures, such as fractures, zones of high permeability, magmatic bodies, and zones of supercritical fluids and steam. Logging in such hostile environments is technical challenging in many aspects, but mainly due to the high temperature impact on the downhole electronic components of the measuring equipment. This requires a thorough pre-examination and implementation of the measurement, especially to avoid delays and tool failures. This paper presents results of zero- and far-offset VSP data from the K-18 borehole from within the Krafla caldera, which reveal good correlation with the surrounding lithology. The raw three-component seismic data display a good signal-to-noise ratio and dominant signal frequencies between 20 and 40 Hz, down to c. 2200 m depth, for air gun and explosive sources, respectively. A zero-offset source comparison was also conducted to assess the use of different impulsive sources for future VSP surveys in similar settings. By applying a standard VSP processing, we identified stratigraphic boundaries between lavas, hyaloclastites, and intrusions, which are in good agreement with existing well data. For the zero-offset VSP, both P- and S-wave velocity models were calculated and a depth-converted corridor stack was determined. In addition, multicomponent Kirchhoff depth migration and Fresnel volume migration were tested around the borehole. The 3D results are promising, but the specific shape and lateral extent of the reflectors could not be determined due to the restriction to only two sources and the insufficient spatial coverage (aperture). Our study demonstrates that vertical seismic profiles can clearly detect variations in the subsurface volcanic stratigraphy in high-temperature geothermal fields. A more detailed reservoir characterization can be achieved by further data integration, enhanced survey design including more source positions, and improved processing and imaging techniques, such as full-waveform inversion.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106315
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research
Early online date21 Feb 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2020

Bibliographical note

The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Community's Seventh Framework Program under grant agreement No. 608553 (Project IMAGE). We thank Landsvirkjun, the operator of the Krafla geothermal field, for technical and logistical support during the survey. We also thank the Operational Support Group of the International Continental Scientific Drilling Program (ICDP) for their technical support. We further acknowledge the support from the Research Council of Norway through its Centres of Excellence funding scheme, project 22372 (SP).


  • Geothermal
  • High-temperature
  • Iceland
  • Krafla
  • Vertical seismic profiling
  • WELL


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