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AAPG Bulletin


(Begin page 1645)

AAPG Bulletin, V. 85, No. 9 (September 2001), P. 1645-1659.

Copyright ©2001. The American Association of Petroleum Geologists. All rights reserved.

The development of seismic Previous HitreflectionTop sandbox modeling

Donald H. Sherlock,1 Brian J. Evans2

1Department of Exploration Geophysics, Curtin University of Technology, P. O. Box U1987, Perth, 6845, Western Australia; email: [email protected]
2Department of Exploration Geophysics, Curtin University of Technology, P. O. Box U1987, Perth, 6845, Western Australia; email: [email protected]


Don Sherlock graduated with a B.Sc. (hons) degree in geology from the University of Western Australia in 1995 and subsequently completed a Ph.D. in geophysics from Curtin University of Technology in Perth, Australia, in 1999. He is currently a research fellow in geophysics with CSIRO Petroleum in Perth, where he is collaborating with reservoir engineers and geophysicists from Curtin University to develop a physical modeling facility for seismic monitoring of hydrocarbon reservoir production.

Brian Evans is an associate professor at Curtin University of Technology. He graduated from Liverpool as an electrical engineer in 1969 and has since completed an M.Sc. degree and Ph.D. in geophysics at Curtin University. Brian has worked on seismic operations throughout the world as both a staff geophysicist and geophysical consultant and is the author of the Society of Exploration Geophysicists book Seismic Data Acquisition in Exploration. Since 1985, Brian has lectured at Curtin University and is responsible for establishing new research projects.


This study was made possible through the financial support of Petroleum Geo-Services.


Analog sandbox models provide cheap, concise data and allow the evolution of geological structures to be observed under controlled laboratory conditions. Seismic physical modeling is used to study the effects of seismic wave propagation in isotropic and anisotropic media, and to improve methods of data acquisition, processing, and interpretation. By combining these two independent modeling techniques, the potential exists to expand the benefits of each method. For seismic physical modeling, the main advantages are that the seismic data collected from these models contain natural variations that cannot be built into conventional solid models, which are machined with predetermined structures. In addition, the cost and construction time to build these models is significantly reduced. For sandbox modeling, the ability to record three-dimensional (3-D) seismic images before the model is manually sectioned for conventional two-dimensional (2-D) structural interpretation allows far more detailed study of subtle 3-D structures than previously possible.

In the past other workers have attempted to use unconsolidated sands for seismic physical models, but these attempts have been unsuccessful because of the lack of control or understanding of the natural variations that occur throughout the models. The aim of our research has been to overcome such problems and to develop techniques to alter the acoustic impedance of sand layers, thereby allowing the subsequent ultrasonic seismic recording of 3-D fault systems in sand analog geological models.

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