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Salt Anisotropy

Hydrocarbons in the vicinity of salt structures continue to be somewhat elusive exploration targets. It is not uncommon, even in mature areas, for wells to miss sub-salt targets by wide margins. Part of the difficulty is associated with the highly three-dimensional nature of salt bodies and the large velocity contrasts between the salt and surrounding sedimentary layers. Although salt has very high seismic velocities, it is very buoyant and deformable which allows it to flow upwards and laterally with ease. An important consequence of such flow is that the constituent crystals within the salt body can align, thereby generating an effective seismic anisotropy. In this research we consider the potential for such anisotropy, attempt to quantify the levels of anisotropy in a large salt body in the Gulf of Mexico and, finally, assess the ramifications of neglecting such anisotropy in seismic processing. Our approach links numerical modelling of salt deformation and anisotropy with seismic modelling to assess to consequences of such anisotropy. We have also looked for these effects in a variety of seismic datasets acquired in salt environments.

Industry Collaboration

  • Shell International Exploration and Production - Rijswijk, Netherlands
  • Total GRC - UK
  • BP - Houston, Texas; Stavenger, Norway.