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McBride, J. H., H. E. Leetaru, R. W. Keach II, and W. J. Nelson, 2009, Subtle discontinuity detection and mapping for carbon sequestration assessment in the Illinois Basin, in M. Grobe, J. C. Pashin, and R. L. Dodge, eds., Carbon dioxide sequestration in geological media—State of the science: AAPG Studies in Geology 59, p. 365377.


Copyright copy2009 by The American Association of Petroleum Geologists.

Subtle Discontinuity Detection and Mapping for Carbon Sequestration Assessment in the Illinois Basin

J. H. McBride,1 R. W. Keach II,2 H. E. Leetaru,3 W. J. Nelson4

1Department of Geological Sciences, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, U.S.A.
2Department of Geological Sciences, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, U.S.A.; Also at: Energy and Geosciences Institute, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S.A.
3Illinois State Geological Survey, Champaign, Illinois, U.S.A.
4Illinois State Geological Survey, Champaign, Illinois, U.S.A.


This work was supported in part by a contract with the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Fossil Energy, Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership Program (subcontract between the Illinois State Geological Survey [University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign] and Brigham Young University) under contract DE-FC26-05NT42588 and the Illinois Office of Coal Development with the participation of Illinois State, Indiana, and Kentucky Geological Surveys. The authors gratefully acknowledge software grants from the Landmark (Halliburton) University Grant Program (GeoProbe™, SeisWorks3D™, and ProMAX2D™) and from Seismic Micro-Technology (Kingdom Suite™).


Deeply buried reservoir strata in the Illinois Basin may be targeted for carbon sequestration, but only if discontinuities that may affect the reservoir and its overlying sealing strata can reliably be detected and mapped in three dimensions. Detection and mapping of subtle discontinuities (e.g., faults) are critical factors in assessing a potential carbon sequestration reservoir because such structures may affect the integrity of the reservoir seal or affect the connectivity within the reservoir itself. In this study, we apply and assess various techniques to enhance the interpretation of the deep structure of a small oil field in the Illinois Basin called the Tonti field. Techniques used include three-dimensional (3-D) spectral decomposition and semblance, combined with other seismic attributes, to demonstrate the crucial need for broad bandwidth data and continuity-based seismic attributes when dealing with the very subtle structural discontinuities that characterize the Illinois Basin. The coincident application of enhancement techniques to both two-dimensional (2-D) and 3-D seismic data from the same geological feature emphasizes the value of tracing discontinuities within 3-D seismic Previous HitattributeTop volumes as opposed to using single profiles or even a network of profiles. The results show that 3-D seismic analysis can identify discontinuities at or near the sealing horizon (base of the Cambrian–Ordovician Knox Group at or near the top of the Cambrian Mt. Simon Sandstone), whereas on conventional 2-D seismic profiles, these discontinuities are at best subtle and difficult or impossible to interpret. From the 3-D seismic data for the Tonti field, these discontinuities appear to be associated with the folding of overlying strata, although a nontectonic origin cannot be ruled out. In general, this type of analysis can focus the attention on potential problem areas for sequestration; however, the seismic data analysis alone cannot determine if reflector discontinuities necessarily imply potential leakage but can decrease the uncertainty in evaluation.

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