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A New Era in Seismic Sequence Stratigraphy: Computational Seismic Stratigraphy in the Undergraduate Classroom

Wolak, Jeannette; Ochoa, Jesus; Pelissier, Michael; Hemstra, Nanne

For more than 40 years, chronostratigraphy has been taught using 2-D datasets. Traditional exercises rely on correlation examples from outcrops, wireline logs and 2-D seismic lines. Technology to interpret 3-D seismic is generally unavailable to students, cost-prohibitive for most universities or requires extensive training. Moreover, developing 3-D seismic interpretation skills takes time and detracts from the curricula goal - - learning the fundamentals of chronostratigraphic correlation.

Recent advances in computational seismic stratigraphy have changed the educational landscape such that students now have access to 3-D datasets and open source software for interpretation. Computational methods are available to track horizons throughout a 3-D volume; tedious manual interpretation is no longer a requirement. The result is that students are able to focus on correlating in three dimensions; thus, they may observe lateral and vertical variations in sequences.

At Tennessee Tech University, students use dGB's OpendTect software to learn seismic sequence stratigraphy as part of the required Sedimentation and Stratigraphy course (GEOL 4410). Students work with a publicly available dataset from the North Sea, which is characterized by textbook-quality sequence boundaries, maximum flooding surfaces and prograding clinoforms that occur within the Pliocene interval. The 3-D nature of the dataset generates student discussion about progradation, sea level rise and fall, eustasy and tectonics. Students frequently observe the impact of lateral sediment transport, a key component often overlooked in traditional 2-D exercises. Finally, students develop their own seismic sequence stratigraphic interpretation. Well data is used as an exciting test of student hypotheses.

This example illustrates a fundamental change in stratigraphy education for undergraduates. No longer limited to 2-D visualization, students learn seismic sequence stratigraphy in 3-D.


AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90163©2013AAPG 2013 Annual Convention and Exhibition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, May 19-22, 2013