5 Tips for Seismic Interpretation

Sometimes seismic interpretation seems like the Holy Grail. There are many decisions to make and many traps that may result in a dry well, costing millions. Getting some practice with pickthis.io seems like time well spent. Here are some personal tips how to become a better interpreter.

1. Don’t get fooled by the Next Big Thing

There’s always a next big thing. You can have direct hydrocarbon indicators (DHI). You can have a Bottom-simulating Reflector (BSR). Finding these within your data is neat, but there is published material of interpreters mistaking a seafloor multiple for a flat or a BSR. A costly mistake, no one wants to explain to their manager.

Don’t get me wrong, DHI exist, but they’re advanced material. It should only be checked, when every other opportunity from the basics, like multiples, is exhausted.

2. Change your mindset

Sometimes a change of perspective may be just what you need. Instead of trying to prove a play is indicated within your seismic, try to find proof against it.

Make sure it’s actually is a trap imaged in your data. Remember that from 2D data you are missing an entire dimension. That anticline may not be a trap after all.

Is there an indication for seepage, like amplitude effects or collapse structures? Exhaust the possibilities that what you’re seeing is actually what you’re looking for.

3. Take a break

Sometimes looking at a duck too long, may result in you seeing a rabbit.

Sometimes looking at a vase too long may result in seeing faces.

Sometimes looking at chaotic structures too long, will make you see something that is not there.

Be careful, searching for certain structures and horizons may be misleading. Drink a coffee, have a chat with the others and return fresh, to see the last picks may have been the result of an overly active imagination.

4. Work in teams

Always interpret in teams. At least have someone double check your conclusion. You can always discard that opinion later, but the exchange is essential in getting the best result possible.

There’s a reason teamwork is such an important soft skill in getting hired.

5. Know your scale

It’s something I stole from the geologists and here’s my article about it. Having a photo of a rock does you no good if you don’t have something for scale next to it.

The same is true for Seismic interpretation. Know your wavelength, so you can even assume the thickness resolvable within your data. Keep an eye on your vertical exaggeration (VE) of the data. Usually, the vertical scale does not match the horizontal scale. A seismic profile is usually longer than the depth recorded. Especially when looking at different data sets, make sure the VE coincides or take it into account when making qualitative interpretations based on the correlation of those data sets.

If you have borehole data to tie your seismic into, use it to scale your data to a reliable depth model. However, seismic well ties have their own complication.

Bonus: Eat your carrots

880E970E55Okay, I meant this more as a joke…
Carrots are full of Vitamin A which is beneficial to your eyesight.

However, if you need glasses, get them and wear them. Don’t let vanity get in the way of interpreting your data.

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... is a geophysicist by heart. He works at the intersection of machine learning and geoscience. He is the founder of The Way of the Geophysicist and a deep learning enthusiast. Writing mostly about computational geoscience and interesting bits and pieces relevant to post-grad life.

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