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M a r i n e a n d o f f s h o r e t e c h n o l o g y

424 The Leading Edge April 2013


SPECIAL SECTION: M a r i n e a n d o f f s h o r e t e c h n o l o g y
Application of volumetric seismic discontinuity attribute for fault
detection: Case study using deep-water Niger Delta 3D seismic data
T
echniques for detecting faults have been applied to a 3D
seismic volume acquired in the outer fold and thrust belt
in the deep-water Niger Delta. Firstly, the dip and azimuth of
seismic traces in the data were calculated in a volume referred
to as the raw steering data. Te data were further improved
by calculating two additional generations of dip volumes
representing localized and subregional structural dips referred
to as the detailed and background steering volumes,
respectively. A multitrace similarity attribute volume was then
calculated with the reectivity and background dip-steering
data as the input. Te attribute data detected discrete zones
of dip and similarity anomalies, trending WNW-ESE, that
represented the location of discontinuities in the area. Te
anomalies may not have been seen clearly in the reectivity
and similarity data calculated without the application of
dip-steering.
Te workow demonstrates the usefulness of applying
dip-steering algorithms for fault detection and in assessing
the structural framework of large 3D seismic data prior to
detailed interpretation.
BABANGIDA W. JIBRIN, TIM J. RESTON, and GRAHAM K. WESTBROOK, University of Birmingham
Introduction
One of the most daunting tasks in the structural interpreta-
tion of seismic data is delineating seismic anomalies related to
faulting from noise, both of which may co-exist. Seismic at-
tributes have been used for many years to delineate faults and
stratigraphic features that are dicult to map using standard
amplitude seismic data. Te coherence cube (Bahorich and
Farmer, 1995) has traditionally been used to highlight discon-
tinuities along horizons tracked on seismic data. However, a
recent signicant development in seismic attribute processing
is the concept of 3D volume extraction of attributes from
seismic data guided by structural dips. In this example, we
apply volume seismic discontinuity attribute extraction tech-
niques to seismic data that image parts of the outer fold and
thrust belt in the deep-water Niger Delta using algorithms
developed by Tingdahl (2003). Perspective volume views
and time slices extracted from the structurally enhanced data
are used to illustrate results obtained from the extraction of
the volume seismic discontinuity attribute. Faults play a key
role in oil and gas exploration and production and as the
search for hydrocarbon moves to geologically complex fron-
tier deep-water settings, the need for accurate detection and
mapping of faults for subsurface structural modeling becomes
imperative. In addition, volume discontinuity seismic attri-
butes can potentially be used to predict the seismic structure
of fault zones ahead of drilling expensive oil and gas wells.
Methods
Te 3D data are a subset of a 3000-km
2
volume acquired
by Petroleum Geo-Services (PGS) in water depths ranging
from ~1300 m to ~2700 m (Figure 1). Te data image parts
of deep-water Niger Delta compressional domain described
as the outer fold and thrust belt (Corredor et al., 2005). Te
data have inline and crossline spacing of 25 and 12.5 m, re-
spectively. Te recording interval is 9 s, with a sampling rate
of 4 ms. Spectral analysis of the data volume shows that the
dominant frequency varies with depth and ranges from 40
Hz to 60 Hz in the in-
terval where most dis-
continuities are located
(36 s two-way travel-
time). A frequency of
46 Hz was used to cal-
culate the vertical reso-
lution of the data; this
frequency appears to be
the strongest in the am-
plitude spectrum plot.
Te vertical resolution
varies from ~10 m in
Figure 1. Topographic map of the Gulf of Guinea showing the study area.
Attribute Time gate (ms) Step-out Dip-steering Statistical operator
Raw steering - (1,1,1) - -
Detailed steering - (0,0,5) - -
Background steering - (5,5,0) - -
Standard similarity (24,24) - No steering Minimum
Dip-steered similarity (24,24) (1,1,1) Full steering Minimum
Table 1. Seismic attributes parameter settings.
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April 2013 The Leading Edge 425
M a r i n e a n d o f f s h o r e t e c h n o l o g y
It is mathematically the Euclidean distance in hyperspace
between vectors of the segments, normalized between 0 and
1 to the sum of the lengths of the vectors (Equation 1).
A high similarity (maximum of 1) means the trace seg-
ments are similar in waveform and amplitude. If the two
traces show a lot of dissimilarity (minimum of 0), the sim-
ilarity is interpreted to be low and may be due to locally
displaced/disrupted strata usually at the location of faults.
Similarity is thus a seismic discontinuity attribute, as shown
in Equation 1.
shallower sections but decreases to ~18 m in deeper sections
of the data based on the downward increase in interval veloc-
ity. Te horizontal resolution is ~100 m based on the width
of the Fresnel zone.
Dip-steering. Te rst stage of the workow (Figure 2) is
the 3D extraction of the dip and azimuth of the seismic trac-
es. In extracting the data, attributes are conceptually guided
along a 3D surface on which the seismic phase is approxi-
mately the same, thus creating a virtual horizon at each posi-
tion along the dip/azimuth from trace-to-trace (Figure 3a). A
seismic event is followed from the central position by track-
ing the position of the local dip and azimuth in the data.
Trace segments are aligned horizontally without the applica-
tion of dip-steering (Figure 3b); however, the application of
full steering ensures the location and azimuth of the traces is
updated at every trace location, thereby enhancing the con-
trast and resolution of multitrace seismic attributes in the
presence of structural dips (Figure 3c).
Te rst dip-steering data were calculated using the BG
Fast Steering lter and referred to as raw steering volume.
Te lter is based on the analysis of the vertical and hori-
zontal gradient of amplitude data to calculate estimates of
reector dips.
From the raw steering data, two structurally enhanced vol-
umes were calculated by applying structure-oriented lters
and referred to as detailed and background steering vol-
umes. Te detailed steering volume contains the localized dip
of the seismic traces, while the background dip-steering vol-
ume was calculated by applying a lateral lter to the detailed
steering data (i.e., dip is averaged). Te steering data were
then batch processed and stored in 3D volumes. Detailed de-
scription of the mathematics of dip and azimuth processing
applied to the seismic data used in this study is discussed in
Tingdahl (2003), Tingdahl and de Groot (2003), Tingdahl
and de Rooij (2005).
Similarity attribute. Te concept of similarity applied to
fault detection in seismic data was developed by Tingdahl
(2003). Similarity (S) is calculated by measuring wave-
form similarity of adjacent trace pairs and the time dier-
ence between the traces interpreted as vectors (Figure 4a).
Figure 2. Workow for volume fault detection techniques applied to
the seismic data.
Figure 3. 3D schematic illustration of the concept of dip-steering.
Te arrows indicate the steering directions (a). (b) and (c) are a 2D
schematic illustration of dip-steering. In (b) no steering is applied to
the data and the trace segments are aligned horizontally. However, in
(c) the application of full steering correction ensures the location and
azimuth of the traces are updated at every trace location.
Figure 4. Schematic illustration of the similarity between two trace
segments and the eect of dip on trace similarity computation. Te
similarity between the two trace pairs is mathematically the Euclidean
distance between vectors of the segments normalized to the sum
of the lengths of the vectors (a). In (b) trace segments A and B are
dierent when compared horizontally. A has high values when B has
low; however, if the dip is considered, trace B is shifted downward
s milliseconds before the comparison and the two segments will be
similar, thereby ensuring minimal eects of dipping reectors on
similarity calculations.
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426 The Leading Edge April 2013
M a r i n e a n d o f f s h o r e t e c h n o l o g y
S = 1
|v| + |u|
|trace segment 1 trace segment 2|
|trace segment 1 + trace segment 2|
i.e. (1)
f (t
1
, x
v
, y
v
) f (t
1
, x
u
, y
u
)
f (t
1
+ d
t
, x
v
, y
v
) f (t
1
+ d
t
, x
u
, y
u
)
v = . , u = .
. .
f (t
2
+ d
t
, x
v
, y
v
) f (t
2
+ d
t
, x
u
, y
u
)
f (t
2
, x
v
, y
v
) f (t
2
+ d
t
, x
u
, y
u
)
t is the time-depth of investigation, d
t
is the sampling interval,
t
1
and t
2
are the limits of the time gate, (x
v
, y
v
) and (x
u
, y
u
) are
the two trace positions that are compared and f is the ampli-
tude value.
Te similarity attribute was calculated using user-dened
parameters based on the quality, frequency, sampling rate,
and bin size. Other factors include the desired wavelength
of structures to be detected, size of the data and comput-
ing hardware capabilities. Te time-gate operator determines
the desired wavelength of structures to be detected. For this
study, a time gate of +24 ms and 24
ms, equivalent to the average seis-
mic wavelength within the window
of investigation, was used to calcu-
late the similarity of seismic traces
in the data. Te step-out denes the
radius of investigation (in the inline,
crossline, and sample format) and
determines the sampling size. A step-
out of 1,1,1 implies that the sampling
was along every inline and crossline.
Similarity is sensitive to amplitude
dierences between trace segments
in addition to wave shape. Te dif-
ferences in the response of attributes
at fault locations depend on the dip
of the traces such that background
similarity will be low while the con-
trast between discontinuities and the
background will be high. Te steer-
ing algorithm determines the direc-
tivity of the attribute extraction such
that the application of full steering
mode ensures that the attributes are
calculated from trace-to-trace along
structural dips.
Te trace segments used are shift-
ed upward or downward so that they
have the same phase as the central
position of investigation. Te posi-
tion returned from the analysis is
determined by the output statistical
operator because the operation in-
volves the comparison of more than
one trace segment. Te position of
the minimum similarity was selected
as the output statistical operator for
the similarity attribute calculation in
this article.
For fault detection, the appli-
cation of dip-steering reduces the
sensitivity of similarity to dipping
reectors (that may not be due to
discontinuities) by aligning adja-
cent trace segments with a lag time.
Te result is that background noise
is attenuated and the detectability
Figure 5. Perspective views of seismic amplitude volume (a), raw steering volume (b), detailed
steering volume (c), and background steering volume (d) from 3 to 6 s two-way traveltime. Note
the enhanced imaging of discrete zones of dip anomalies in the detailed and background steering
data indicated by the red arrows in (c) and (d). Te red outline indicates the location of time slices
extracted from the data at 4 s two-way traveltime and shown in Figure 5. Vertical exaggeration is ~3x.
Figure 6. Time slices sampled at 4 s two-way traveltime through the seismic amplitude volume
(a), raw steering volume (b), detailed steering volume (c), and background steering volume (d). Te
red arrows show zones with extreme negative dip values in a predominantly WNW-ESE orientation
(highlighted in the dip-steering data). Extreme positive dip values (green arrows) represent structural
highs (regions of folding) related to thrusting. Te red arrows show the locations of discontinuities.
Where,
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April 2013 The Leading Edge 427
M a r i n e a n d o f f s h o r e t e c h n o l o g y
Figure 7. Seismic amplitude volume (a) and similarity volume (b) from 3 to 6.0 s two-way
time. Te red and green arrows highlight good correlation between high similarity and strong
reectivity and low similarity and a weak pattern of reectivity, respectively. Te red outline
indicates the locations of time slices extracted at 4 s from the data and shown in (c) and (d).
Vertical exaggeration is ~3. Note the well dened pattern of discontinuities trending WNW-ESE
(red arrows) and the EW-trending zone of intense disruption (green arrows), clearly seen on the
similarity time slice.
Figure 8. Similarity attribute volume calculated without dip-steering (a) and with dip-steering
(b) from 3 to 6 s two-way traveltime. Vertical exaggeration is ~3x after two-way traveltime. Te
red outline indicates the locations of time slices extracted at 4 s from the nonsteered (c) and dip-
steered similarity attribute volumes (d). Compared to nonsteered similarity data, the dip-steered
similarity attribute has enhanced the sharpness of the WNW-ESE trending zones of low-similarity,
structures related to fault interaction (red arrows) and the arcuate zone of intense disruption (green
arrows).
of discontinuities is enhanced due
to the dissimilarity of the trace seg-
ments (Figure 4b). Te similarity
attribute volume presented in this
article was calculated using back-
ground steering and seismic reec-
tion data as the input.
Previous work has shown that
similarity calculated with steering
data representative of a regional dip
(background steering data) provides
the best similarity of seismic traces
(Brouwer, 2007; Brouwer and Huck,
2011). Once the parameters are test-
ed and optimal values selected, the
attributes are extracted on-the-y
and evaluated prior to multi-trace
volume batch processing. Te data
can then be exported for interpreta-
tion in SEG-Y compatible formats.
Table 1 summarizes the seismic at-
tribute extraction parameter setting.
Results
Figure 5 shows the input seismic re-
ection volume and the three genera-
tions of dip-steering data spanning
36 s two-way traveltime. Te red
arrows in Figure 5b, Figure 5c, and
Figure 5d show discrete zones of
dip anomalies dicult to see in the
seismic reection data in Figure 5a.
Figure 6 shows time slices extracted
at 4 s from the seismic reectivity
and steering volumes, respectively.
Te detailed and background steer-
ing data show a clear pattern of zones
of dip anomalies, trending WNW-
ESE, that are interpreted to represent
the location of major discontinuities
in the area.
Extreme values of dip (dark and
light shades) represent zones of high
dipping events and discontinuities
(red arrows) are detected at the loca-
tion of extreme negative dips while
the light shades represent zones of
extreme positive structural dips re-
lated to folding adjacent to the dis-
continuities (green arrows).
Figure 7 is a volumetric com-
parison between seismic reectivity
(Figure 7a) and similarity attribute
volumes (Figure 7b) spanning 36 s
two-way traveltime. Comparison of
the two data sets shows good correla-
tion between the pattern of seismic
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428 The Leading Edge April 2013
M a r i n e a n d o f f s h o r e t e c h n o l o g y
reectivity and similarity. Te red arrows show a region of
high similarity that matches a strong pattern of reectivity. Te
green arrow shows an arcuate zone of low similarity and weak
reectivity in the two volumes. In Figure 7c and Figure 7d, we
compare seismic amplitude and similarity time slices extracted
from the data at 4 s. Te similarity attribute data show the edges
of the large discontinuities with high contrast and also highlight
structures that may be due to fault growth and interaction (red
arrows). Te interpretability of the arcuate zone of complex dis-
ruption characterized by low similarity (green arrows) has also
been improved.
In Figure 8, we demonstrate the usefulness of applying
dip-steering for similarity calculation. In Figure 8a, similarity
was calculated without the application of dip-steering; in Figure
8b, dip-steering was applied to calculate the similarity attribute
data. Time slices extracted at 4 s from the two data sets show
that discontinuities in the dip-steered data can easily be recog-
nized with improved imaging of the complex zone of disruption
indicated by the green arrows (Figure 8c and Figure 8d).
Te sharpness of the edges of the discontinuities has also been
improved signicantly (red arrows). In contrast, the nonsteered
similarity attribute has a lower contrast at the location of the
zone of discontinuities trending WNW-ESE.
Conclusion
We have presented a workow for volumetric detection of faults
in the deep-water Niger Delta using dip-steering and similari-
ty attribute data. Perspective 3D views and time slices extracted
from the data show how subtle structural details that may not
be clearly seen or missed in standard similarity and seismic re-
ectivity data or when tracked along a horizon can be detected
in the improved data. Te structurally enhanced data detected
discrete zones of dip anomalies and discontinuities representing
the location of thrust faults in the outer fold and thrust belt in
the deep-water Niger Delta.
References
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stratigraphic features: Te Leading Edge, 14, no. 10, 10531058.
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Brouwer, F., 1997, Creating a good steering cube: Opendtect.
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continuity attributes for imaging of faults: Presented at 31st Annual
Conference of GCSSEPM, Attributes: New views on seismic imag-
ingTeir use in exploration and production.
Chopra, S. and K. Marfurt, 2011, Coherence and curvature attributes on
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tional attributes, in M. Nikravesh, L. Zadeh, and F. Aminzadeh, eds,
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Acknowledgments: Te authors thank PGS (Exploration) for providing
the 3D seismic data and permission to use the data for this study. We thank
dGBE Earth Sciences for donating OpendTect software for academic use at
the University of Birmingham. Saleh Al-Dossary (Saudi Aramco) and Ar-
naud Huck (dGB Earth Sciences) are thanked for reviewing early drafts
of the manuscript and for providing useful suggestions that improved
the quality of the work. Te study is part of Jibrins doctoral research
at the University of Birmingham sponsored by the Nigerian Petroleum
Technology Development Fund (PTDF).
Corresponding author: bjibrin@gmail.com
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