Donald Herron, contributor to the new AAPG-SEG journal, Interpretation, and a presenter at the forthcoming AAPG-SPE Geosciences Technology Workshop on Deepwater Reservoirs (January 28-29, Houston), talks to us about the work of an interpreter.
We tend to talk a lot about seismic interpretation, but what exactly does an interpreter do?
A seismic interpreter’s primary tasks are tying wells to seismic and picking horizons and faults. But in a philosophical sense:
“Interpretation is telling the geologic story contained in seismic data. It is correlating the features we see in seismic data with elements of geology as we know them. The story is read from a book having many chapters, some of which are either illegible or unintelligible, and others are lost or yet to be written. And although the story doesn’t always have a happy ending, only in its telling do we expand our knowledge.”
What are some of the challenges in depth imaging?
Knowing and understanding how a depth migration velocity model is built, how different migration algorithms address different imaging concerns and complexities, how to decide in any given setting which imaging approach provides the most accurate picture of true subsurface geology, how to effectively integrate interpretations based on different imaging approaches, and, as is always ultimately the case for any interpretation, how to assess uncertainty.
You’ll be presenting at the AAPG Geosciences Technology Workshop on Deepwater Reservoirs, which will include geologists, engineers, and geophysicists. What is the name of your talk?
Observations on interpreting depth-imaged data in the Jurassic Norphlet play, deepwater eastern Gulf of Mexico.
How are the techniques and processes you describe valuable to each of the groups?
Perhaps the most important concern in evaluating the Norphlet play, and I see this from the perspective of a geoscientist working for a seismic contractor and not for an oil company, is accurate resolution and characterization of the pay interval. My concern is based only on having worked with 3D data over a limited portion of the greater Norphlet play in the eastern Gulf, specifically in the vicinity of Shell’s Shiloh and Antietam wells in Desoto Canyon, and cannot generalize outside of that area. The seismic response to the Norphlet interval, which occurs at depths greater than 7000 m subsea in these wells, is obscured by the response to a 100-meter thick layer of very high impedance Smackover Limestone immediately above the Norphlet. Sorting out these responses directly affects how to estimate recoverable oil and how to manage the reservoir.
You’ve also been involved in the new journal, Interpretation. What is the main value of the new publication?
The new peer-reviewed journal, which is jointly sponsored by the SEG and AAPG, is designed to serve the entire interpretation community without making any distinction between geologists and geophysicists.
Finally, what advice would you give young geologists and geophysicists?
Be curious and skeptical.
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