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AAPG Bulletin


AAPG Bulletin, V. 106, No. 2 (February 2022), P. 243-265.

Copyright ©2022. The American Association of Petroleum Geologists. All rights reserved.

DOI: 10.1306/08102119268

A new methodology using seismic data to differentiate shallow-water carbonate deposits from similar, noncarbonate structures

M. Badalì,1 J. Hsieh,2 and S. D’Annibale3

1Repsol E&P Technical Services, Madrid, Spain; present address: Seismic Carbonates Independent Consultant, Fiano Romano, Italy; [email protected]
2Repsol E&P Technical Services, The Woodlands, Texas; present address Sedimentary Geology Consultants, Calgary, Alberta, Canada; [email protected]
3Department of the Earth Sciences, University of Rome “La Sapienza,” Rome, Italy; [email protected]


We present here a new methodology for helping to recognize shallow-water carbonate deposits in seismic data, implementing a quantitative tool, developed in a spreadsheet format, or table, that allows us to score shallow-water carbonate deposits against six specific types of similar, noncarbonate structures. We can score 15 parameters for each structure type. The table contains a description for each combination of structure type and parameter. The final result helps to distinguish noncarbonate structures from shallow-water carbonate deposits.

 Noncarbonate structures include arc volcanoes, other kinds of volcanoes, mobilized salt, shale, and mud structures, compressional tectonic features, basement highs, and erosional remnants. We have grouped diagnostic parameters in four categories, which include morphology, regional scale parameters, seismic response, and growth patterns.

 Testing, performed on 214 internal, multiclient, and published images from different ages and locations, has shown a positive match in 90% of the cases, 6% as negative matches, and 4% as uncertain results. The addition of new assessment criteria to previously published indicators, the strategy of scoring noncarbonate structures along with shallow-water carbonate deposits, and the attempt of building this methodology for the use of nonspecialist geoscientists are the main elements of novelty with respect to previous assessment techniques.

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