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What fraction of the yet undiscovered hydrocarbons will ultimately be found and produced? The answer depends on our success in developing and effectively applying the seismic method. Seismic reflection technology is in its infancy, and geophysical exploration is just beginning.
We are now going after a three-dimensional quantitative subsurface image, in terms of compressional wave impedance. We are beginning to seek additional elastic properties and Q. Inference of structure from lateral variations in reflection time is being supplemented by inference of fluid content and other rock properties from "lateral" variations in impedance.
Details of seismic images should be explained in terms of subsurface geology, unless proved otherwise. If well log data disagree with seismic data, well log data are probably wrong. We have a real need for improved "ground truth" if we are to effectively evaluate and interpret the seismic image.
There are many limitations to current image quality, highly variable from one prospect to the next, and for the most part amenable to foreseeable technology improvements. In most areas, the only fundamental limitations on our ultimate seismic image quality are high frequency loss, and geologic noises--and we do not understand either one.
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