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Petroleum Exploration and Assessment
Recognition of Subtle Features in Geologic Maps
Structures that reflect depositional patterns in sediments can be evidence for the interpretation of stratigraphic traps. Such features may represent drape over preexisting erosional and tectonic structures or differential compaction over localized sand bodies such as beach and bar deposits. Unfortunately, the representative anomalies are small and difficult to detect, even where theoretically there is sufficient subsurface control. Regional dip, data errors, and smooth, widely spaced contours may mask the evidence.
Techniques from image processing and potential field theory can be used to detect and amplify weak but coherent signals in the presence of noise. Operators such as downward continuation, derivative, and edge detection can be applied to digital geologic maps on shallow, well-documented horizons to produce new maps that closely approximate deeper and more prospective yet untested structures. The new maps are easier to interpret because the regional gradients are eliminated and the small but coherent features are enhanced in relief and outline.
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