--> Detecting Vertical Hydrocarbon Expulsion from Source Rock in Seismic Data, David L. Connolly, #40331 (2008)

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Detecting Vertical Hydrocarbon Expulsion from Source Rock in Seismic Data*


David L. Connolly1


Search and Discovery Article #40331 (2008)

Posted October 15, 2008


*Adapted from oral presentation at AAPG Annual Convention, San Antonio, TX, April 20-23, 2008


1dGB USA, Sugar Land, TX. ([email protected])




Modeling petroleum systems accurately in a basin requires a good understanding of the areal distribution of source rocks, the stratigraphic intervals in which source rocks occur, and their thermal maturity. These models have depended on assumptions about source rock presence based on regional outcrop information or limited well information because wells are rarely drilled in the hydrocarbon kitchen lows. These models also must be based on assumptions about regional heat flow which have a high degree of uncertainty. Direct detection of vertical hydrocarbon expulsion from source rock in seismic data is a promising approach to constrain geologic models. The methodology involves detecting vertically aligned low-energy chaotic zones in the seismic data (gas chimneys) through a supervised, multi-attribute, neural network approach. By determining the origin of these chimneys, we can infer both the stratigraphic interval from which the hydrocarbons originate, the distribution of source prone facies, and the distribution of thermally mature source rock. The chimney information can also be used to show migration pathways into potential reservoir intervals and possible leakage via faults or top seal failure from these reservoirs. This information can then be input into the basin model to constrain model inputs. Similarly basin models can constrain the results of chimney processing. Case studies are shown from the North Sea, South Atlantic, and Gulf of Mexico.


Selected Figures








































Chimney detection methodology.


Chimney interpretation: validating results.


Distinguishing leaking versus sealing faults.


Hydrocarbon migration related to faulting.

Detecting source rock expulsion.



Applications for exploration:

·         Provide valuable input into basin models:

§  Stratigraphic intervals showing evidence of expelled hydrocarbons.

§  Areas with mature source rock.

§  Areas with rich source rock.

·         Highlight vertical migration pathways.

·         Risk hydrocarbon charge for prospects.




·         Harold Ligtenberg (Shell)

·         Renee Thomsen (Maersk)

·         Friso Brouwer (dGB)

·         IES

·         Fred Aminzadeh (dGB)


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