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Seismic modeling techniques are attempts to mathematically and geometrically represent subsurface geology and to depict the seismic response of that geology to a propagating wavefront. In this context, modeling has become an important exploration tool (1) to test the mappability of a geologic concept, (2) to analyze the impact of expected geologic variability (porosity, thickness, etc.) on the seismic response, and (3) to evaluate the significance of event reflectivity changes, or anomalies, on uncalibrated seismic data.
Traditionally seismic data were used to identify events to map subsurface structure (faults, folds, noses) or large scale depositional geometries (pinnacle reefs, unconformities). To accomplish this, it was important to strengthen weak seismic events during processing of the recorded signals. Therefore, variations in signal strength (true amplitude) were purposely eliminated to accentuate event visibility.
Today one realizes that valuable geologic information is encoded into the shape, polarity, and true amplitude of the reflection. Where calibrated, it is possible to deduce important rock-fluid information from true amplitude seismic data. The information may be lithology changes indicating the reservoir boundary (and thus the trap), or fluid changes directly indicating the actual hydrocarbon accumulation. For the explorationist, this becomes another measurement tool and one with significant predictive value. The predictive value is vastly improved where subsurface response can be calibrated to rock-fluid data, preferably logs and rock samples. Modeling becomes an important vehicle to establish this calibration.
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