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Fault Interpretation Science: Developing Structural Interpretation Skills

Krantz, Bob *1
(1) Subsurface Technology, ConocoPhillips, Houston, TX.

Fault geometries are often complex, and the 3D relations among multiple faults and offset stratigraphic horizons present interpretation challenges. Good quality 3D seismic volumes can reveal much of the fault framework, but details may remain obscure. Poor quality 3D, and 2D seismic, present additional challenges. Ultimately, the skill of the interpreter determines the efficiency and accuracy of the final product, and the confidence of further analysis based on the structural framework.

At ConocoPhillips, we have recognized the importance of spatial cognitive skills and 3D thinking in the interpretation process. Academic researchers have characterized fundamental spatial skills and developed assessment methods; high skill levels generally correlate to performance in many applied fields. Geoscience educators have applied spatial skill science to student groups in basic and advanced geology, and developed refined teaching methods that improve student success. Our structural and seismic interpretation training builds on these efforts by deliberately discussing the role of spatial thinking, and includes components that target and enhance applied spatial skills.

Our core interpreter training curriculum includes a course that offers an integrated field and work station experience. Over a week, participants develop 3D structural geometric concepts and models while walking through a trap-scale fault system, and each day re-interpret the same structures in a synthetic seismic volume using standard industry software. Woven into the experience are sessions on spatial cognitive skills and interactive discussions about how participants perceive and visualize the 3D geometries. Students evaluate both gross and detailed fault geometry and then generate the same relations in the seismic framework.

Early results are very encouraging, and feedback from participants indicates dramatic improvements in both visualization and interpretation skills. Most importantly, all participants have succeeded in generating high quality interpretation frameworks of a complex fault system.


AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90142 © 2012 AAPG Annual Convention and Exhibition, April 22-25, 2012, Long Beach, California