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The University of Southampton
Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre Southampton

Research project: Optimising the value of near-surface seismic reflection data

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Research project focussed on the development and improvement of processing workflows for high-resolution seismic reflection data with the aim of improving both the qualitative and quantitative interpretation of the shallow subsurface.

While seismic methods to investigate depths from several hundred metres to kilometres beneath the seabed have advanced significantly over the past two decades, the techniques used to investigate the shallowest 100-200m largely remain very basic. Increasing implementation of mulit-channel Ultra-High Frequency (UHF) data by industry for geohazard assessment and site investigation has lead to a greater focus on developing suitable systems and workflows for the acquisition and processing of data for the shallow subsurface. This is further highlighted in the development and implementation of quantitative interpretation for estimating physical properties using elastic Full-Waveform Inversion (FWI). However, these seismic inversion techniques are dependent on data acquisition and processing such that the propagation of uncertainties from various sources can manifest as erroneous property characterisation.

The growing requirement for imaging approaching engineering scale during the planning, installation and decommissioning phases of offshore infrastructure as well as the adoption of quantitative methods impose key criteria with which data needs to be acquired, positioned and processed.

This project looks to tackle the imaging problems associated with imaging the shallow subsurface at sub-metre resolution by adopting conventional processing techniques and developing our own codes with the following aims:

  • Derive high quality and resolution structural images
  • Estimate physical properties through the use of FWI and quantitative interpretation techniques
  • Interpret those physical properties in terms of parameters that are relevant to offshore engineering

To do this, we look at better defining source to receiver positions by implementing a Genetic Algorithm Optimization to model shot-to-shot variability in source-receiver offsets. Knowing these are critically important to stacked imaging quality and underpin our ability to apply knowledge of the seismic wavefield during FWI. We then aim to develop a workflow to assess uncertainties in kinematic based Migration Velocity Analysis (MVA) for qualitative and quantitative interpretations before comparing with established MVA methodologies. Finally, apply both these methods and workflows to seismic inversion methods such as FWI to estimate physical properties in the shallow subsurface.

Funding dates:

September 2017 - September 2021

Funding provider:

NERC CDT in Oil & Gas

Example of an UHF seismic section acquired in the East Solent
Example of an UHF seismic section acquired in the East Solent
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