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Techniques Applied to Obtain Very High-Resolution 3-D Seismic Imaging at an Athabasca Tar Sands Thermal Pilot

Norman E. Pullin, Larry W. Matthews, W. Keith Hirsche

A high-resolution 3-D seismic survey was conducted at an Athabasca tar sands thermal pilot for the ultimate purpose of locating in-situ heat fronts. In order to obtain the required seismic expression, it is imperative that the field data have an extremely good signal-to-noise (S/N) ratio over a broad frequency band. This paper addresses the specialized acquisition and processing techniques which were used to acquire and process the 3-D data.

The geology of the pilot site is characterized by a 50-m thick section of discontinuous McMurray tar sands resting on a Devonian unconformity, approximately 240 m below the surface. Imaging of this erosional surface, so critical to the pilot, is demonstrated by various interactive displays. The seismic definition of a narrow channel emphasizes that exceptional spatial and temporal resolution can be achieved, which will be necessary for the future monitoring of the in-situ heat fronts.

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #91038©1987 AAPG Annual Convention, Los Angeles, California, June 7-10, 1987.