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Applications of Machine Learning for Geoscientists – Permian Basin

Applications of Machine Learning for Geoscientists – Permian Basin

By Carrie Laudon
Published with permission: Permian Basin Geophysical Society 60th Annual Exploration Meeting
May 2019

Abstract

Over the last few years, because of the increase in low-cost computer power, individuals and companies have stepped up investigations into the use of machine learning in many areas of E&P. For the geosciences, the emphasis has been in reservoir characterization, seismic data processing, and to a lesser extent interpretation. The benefits of using machine learning (whether supervised or unsupervised) have been demonstrated throughout the literature, and yet the technology is still not a standard workflow for most seismic interpreters. This lack of uptake can be attributed to several factors, including a lack of software tools, clear and well-defined case histories and training. Fortunately, all these factors are being mitigated as the technology matures. Rather than looking at machine learning as an adjunct to the traditional interpretation methodology, machine learning techniques should be considered the first step in the interpretation workflow.

By using statistical tools such as Principal Component Analysis (PCA) and Self Organizing Maps (SOM) a multi-attribute 3D seismic volume can be “classified”. The PCA reduces a large set of seismic attributes both instantaneous and geometric, to those that are the most meaningful. The output of the PCA serves as the input to the SOM, a form of unsupervised neural network, which, when combined with a 2D color map facilitates the identification of clustering within the data volume. When the correct “recipe” is selected, the clustered or classified volume allows the interpreter to view and separate geological and geophysical features that are not observable in traditional seismic amplitude volumes. Seismic facies, detailed stratigraphy, direct hydrocarbon indicators, faulting trends, and thin beds are all features that can be enhanced by using a classified volume.

The tuning-bed thickness or vertical resolution of seismic data traditionally is based on the frequency content of the data and the associated wavelet. Seismic interpretation of thin beds routinely involves estimation of tuning thickness and the subsequent scaling of amplitude or inversion information below tuning. These traditional below-tuning-thickness estimation approaches have limitations and require assumptions that limit accuracy. The below tuning effects are a result of the interference of wavelets, which are a function of the geology as it changes vertically and laterally. However, numerous instantaneous attributes exhibit effects at and below tuning, but these are seldom incorporated in thin-bed analyses. A seismic multi-attribute approach employs self-organizing maps to identify natural clusters from combinations of attributes that exhibit below-tuning effects. These results may exhibit changes as thin as a single sample interval in thickness. Self-organizing maps employed in this fashion analyze associated seismic attributes on a sample-by-sample basis and identify the natural patterns or clusters produced by thin beds. Examples of this approach to improve stratigraphic resolution in both the Eagle Ford play, and the Niobrara reservoir of the Denver-Julesburg Basin will be used to illustrate the workflow.

Introduction

Seismic multi-attribute analysis has always held the promise of improving interpretations via the integration of attributes which respond to subsurface conditions such as stratigraphy, lithology, faulting, fracturing, fluids, pressure, etc. The benefits of using machine learning (whether supervised or unsupervised) has been demonstrated throughout the literature and yet the technology is still not a standard workflow for most seismic interpreters. This lack of uptake can be attributed to several factors, including a lack of software tools, clear and well-defined case histories, and training. This paper focuses on an unsupervised machine learning workflow utilizing Self-Organizing Maps (Kohonen, 2001) in combination with Principal Component Analysis to produce classified seismic volumes from multiple instantaneous attribute volumes. The workflow addresses several significant issues in seismic interpretation: it analyzes large amounts of data simultaneously; it determines relationships between different types of data; it is sample based and produces high-resolution results and, reveals geologic features that are difficult to see in conventional approaches.

Principal Component Analysis (PCA)

Multi-dimensional analysis and multi-attribute analysis go hand in hand. Because individuals are grounded in three-dimensional space, it is difficult to visualize what data in a higher number dimensional space looks like. Fortunately, mathematics doesn’t have this limitation and the results can be easily understood with conventional 2D and 3D viewers.

Working with multiple instantaneous or geometric seismic attributes generates tremendous volumes of data. These volumes contain huge numbers of data points which may be highly continuous, greatly redundant, and/or noisy. (Coleou et al., 2003). Principal Component Analysis (PCA) is a linear technique for data reduction which maintains the variation associated with the larger data sets (Guo and others, 2009; Haykin, 2009; Roden and others, 2015). PCA can separate attribute types by frequency, distribution, and even character. PCA technology is used to determine which attributes may be ignored due to their very low impact on neural network solutions and which attributes are most prominent in the data. Figure 1 illustrates the analysis of a data cluster in two directions, offset by 90 degrees. The first principal component (eigenvector 1) analyses the data cluster along the longest axis. The second principal component (eigenvector 2) analyses the data cluster variations perpendicular to the first principal component. As stated in the diagram, each eigenvector is associated with an eigenvalue which shows how much variance there is in the data.

two attribute data set

Figure 1. Two attribute data set illustrating the concept of PCA

The next step in PCA analysis is to review the eigen spectrum to select the most prominent attributes in a data set. The following example is taken from a suite of instantaneous attributes over the Niobrara formation within the Denver­ Julesburg Basin. Results for eigenvectors 1 are shown with three attributes: sweetness, envelope and relative acoustic impedance being the most prominent.

two attribute data set

Figure 2. Results from PCA for first eigenvector in a seismic attribute data set

Utilizing a cutoff of 60% in this example, attributes were selected from PCA for input to the neural network classification. For the Niobrara, eight instantaneous attributes from the four of the first six eigenvectors were chosen and are shown in Table 1. The PCA allowed identification of the most significant attributes from an initial group of 19 attributes.

Results from PCA for Niobrara Interval

Table 1: Results from PCA for Niobrara Interval shows which instantaneous attributes will be used in a Self-Organizing Map (SOM).

Self-Organizing Maps

Teuvo Kohonen, a Finnish mathematician, invented the concepts of Self-Organizing Maps (SOM) in 1982 (Kohonen, T., 2001). Self-Organizing Maps employ the use of unsupervised neural networks to reduce very high dimensions of data to a classification volume that can be easily visualized (Roden and others, 2015). Another important aspect of SOMs is that every seismic sample is used as input to classification as opposed to wavelet-based classification.

Figure 3 diagrams the SOM concept for 10 attributes derived from a 3D seismic amplitude volume. Within the 3D seismic survey, samples are first organized into attribute points with similar properties called natural clusters in attribute space. Within each cluster new, empty, multi-attribute samples, named neurons, are introduced. The SOM neurons will seek out natural clusters of like characteristics in the seismic data and produce a 2D mesh that can be illustrated with a two- dimensional color map. In other words, the neurons “learn” the characteristics of a data cluster through an iterative process (epochs) of cooperative than competitive training. When the learning is completed each unique cluster is assigned to a neuron number and each seismic sample is now classified (Smith, 2016).

two attribute data set

Figure 3. Illustration of the concept of a Self-Organizing Map

Figures 4 and 5 show a simple example using 2 attributes, amplitude, and Hilbert transform on a synthetic example. Synthetic reflection coefficients are convolved with a simple wavelet, 100 traces created, and noise added. When the attributes are cross plotted, clusters of points can be seen in the cross plot. The colored cross plot shows the attributes after SOM classification into 64 neurons with random colors assigned. In Figure 5, the individual clusters are identified and mapped back to the events on the synthetic. The SOM has correctly distinguished each event in the synthetic.

Two attribute synthetic example of a Self-Organizing Map

Figure 4. Two attribute synthetic example of a Self-Organizing Map. The amplitude and Hilbert transform are cross plotted. The colored cross plot shows the attributes after classification into 64 neurons by SOM.

Synthetic SOM example

Figure 5. Synthetic SOM example with neurons identified by number and mapped back to the original synthetic data

Results for Niobrara and Eagle Ford

In 2018, Geophysical Insights conducted a proof of concept on 100 square miles of multi-client 3D data jointly owned by Geophysical Pursuit, Inc. (GPI) and Fairfield Geotechnologies (FFG) in the Denver¬ Julesburg Basin (DJ). The purpose of the study is to evaluate the effectiveness of a machine learning workflow to improve resolution within the reservoir intervals of the Niobrara and Codell formations, the primary targets for development in this portion of the basin. An amplitude volume was resampled from 2 ms to 1 ms and along with horizons, loaded into the Paradise® machine learning application and attributes generated. PCA was used to identify which attributes were most significant in the data, and these were used in a SOM to evaluate the interval Top Niobrara to Greenhorn (Laudon and others, 2019).

Figure 6 shows results of an 8X8 SOM classification of 8 instantaneous attributes over the Niobrara interval along with the original amplitude data. Figure 7 is the same results with a well composite focused on the B chalk, the best section of the reservoir, which is difficult to resolve with individual seismic attributes. The SOM classification has resolved the chalk bench as well as other stratigraphic features within the interval.

North-South Inline showing the original amplitude data (upper) and the 8X8 SOM result (lower) from Top Niobrara

Figure 6. North-South Inline showing the original amplitude data (upper) and the 8X8 SOM result (lower) from Top Niobrara through Greenhorn horizons. Seismic data is shown courtesy of GPI and FFG.

8X8 Instantaneous SOM through Rotharmel 11-33 with well log composite

Figure 7. 8X8 Instantaneous SOM through Rotharmel 11-33 with well log composite. The B bench, highlighted in green on the wellbore, ties the yellow-red-yellow sequence of neurons. Seismic data is shown courtesy of GPI and FFG

 

8X8 SOM results through the Eagle Ford

Figure 8. 8X8 SOM results through the Eagle Ford. The primary target, the Lower Eagle Ford shale had 16 neuron classes over 14-29 milliseconds of data. Seismic data shown courtesy of Seitel.

The results shown in Figure 9 reveal non-layer cake facies bands that include details in the Eagle )RUG,v basal clay-rich shale, high resistivity and low resistivity Eagle Ford shale objectives, the Eagle Ford ash, and the upper Eagle Ford marl, which are overlain disconformably by the Austin Chalk.

Eagle Ford SOM classification shown with well results

Figure 9. Eagle Ford SOM classification shown with well results. The SOM resolves a high resistivity interval, overlain by a thin ash layer and finally a low resistivity layer. The SOM also resolves complex 3-dimensional relationships between these facies

Convolutional Neural Networks (CNN)

A promising development in machine learning is supervised classification via the applications of convolutional neural networks (CNNs). Supervised methods have, in the past, not been efficient due to the laborious task of training the neural network. CNN is a deep learning seismic classification. We apply CNN to fault detection on seismic data. The examples that follow show CNN fault detection results which did not require any interpreter picked faults for training, rather the network was trained using synthetic data. Two results are shown, one from the North Sea, Figure 10, and one from the Great South Basin, New Zealand, Figure 11.

Side by side comparison of coherence attribute to CNN fault probability attribute, North Sea

Figure 10. Side by side comparison of coherence attribute to CNN fault probability attribute, North Sea

Side by side comparison of coherence attribute to CNN fault probability attribute, North Sea

Figure 11. Comparison of Coherence to CNN fault probability attribute, New Zealand

Conclusions

Advances in compute power and algorithms are making the use of machine learning available on the desktop to seismic interpreters to augment their interpretation workflow. Taking advantage of today’s computing technology, visualization techniques, and an understanding of machine learning as applied to seismic data, PCA combined with SOMs efficiently distill multiple seismic attributes into classification volumes. When applied on a multi-attribute seismic sample basis, SOM is a powerful nonlinear cluster analysis and pattern recognition machine learning approach that helps interpreters identify geologic patterns in the data and has been able to reveal stratigraphy well below conventional tuning thickness.

In the fault interpretation domain, recent development of a Convolutional Neural Network that works directly on amplitude data shows promise to efficiently create fault probability volumes without the requirement of a labor-intensive training effort.

References

Coleou, T., M. Poupon, and A. Kostia, 2003, Unsupervised seismic facies classification: A review and comparison of techniques and implementation: The Leading Edge, 22, 942–953, doi: 10.1190/1.1623635.

Guo, H., K. J. Marfurt, and J. Liu, 2009, Principal component spectral analysis: Geophysics, 74, no. 4, 35–43.

Haykin, S., 2009. Neural networks and learning machines, 3rd ed.: Pearson

Kohonen, T., 2001,Self organizing maps: Third extended addition, Springer, Series in Information Services, Vol. 30.

Laudon, C., Stanley, S., and Santogrossi, P., 2019, Machine Leaming Applied to 3D Seismic Data from the Denver-Julesburg Basin Improves Stratigraphic Resolution in the Niobrara, URTeC 337, in press

Roden, R., and Santogrossi, P., 2017, Significant Advancements in Seismic Reservoir Characterization with Machine Learning, The First, v. 3, p. 14-19

Roden, R., Smith, T., and Sacrey, D., 2015, Geologic pattern recognition from seismic attributes: Principal component analysis and self-organizing maps, Interpretation, Vol. 3, No. 4, p. SAE59-SAE83.

Santogrossi, P., 2017, Classification/Corroboration of Facies Architecture in the Eagle Ford Group: A Case Study in Thin Bed Resolution, URTeC 2696775, doi 10.15530-urtec-2017-<2696775>.

Significant Advancements in Seismic Reservoir Characterization with Machine Learning

Significant Advancements in Seismic Reservoir Characterization with Machine Learning

By: Rocky Roden and Patricia Santogrossi
Published with permission: The First – SPE Norway Magazine
Volume 3 September 2017

The application of machine learning to classify seismic attributes at single sample resolution is producing results that reveal more reservoir characterization information than is available from traditional interpretation methods. Two consequences of applying machine learning with several appropriately chosen seismic attributes include the discrimination of thin beds that are below conventional seismic tuning and the identification of Direct Hydrocarbon Indicators (DHIs). These capabilities enable a higher resolution interpretation of reservoirs and stratigraphy. An explanation of the machine learning methodology and its application to thin beds and DHIs is described briefly in this paper.

 

Machine Learning Methodology

Taking advantage of today’s computing technology, visualization techniques, and an understanding of machine learning on seismic data, Self-Organizing Maps (SOMs) (Kohonen, 2001), efficiently distills multiple seismic attributes into classification and probability volumes (Smith and Taner, 2010). When applied on a multi-attribute seismic sample basis, SOM is a powerful nonlinear cluster analysis and pattern recognition machine learning approach that helps interpreters identify patterns in their data that can relate to inherent geologic characteristics and different aspects of their data. SOM analysis, which is an unsupervised neural network application, when properly applied has been able to reveal both thin beds and DHIs in appropriate geologic settings. Figure 1 illustrates a single seismic amplitude trace and seven different seismic attributes computed from the amplitude data. All of these traces are displayed in a wiggle-trace variable area format. This display represents 100 ms vertically and each horizontal scale line represents a sample (4 ms). Each of these attributes are at different scales and in some cases vastly different scales. It is evident from this Figure that each of the attributes measures a different component of the total acoustic energy at every sample. SOM identifies clusters where different combinations of attributes congregate to reveal significant information about the natural groupings that are difficult to view any other way. The self-organizing property of SOM identifies and classifies natural clusters.

The SOM machine learning process is graphically presented in Figure 2.  How large an area to select is dependent on the size of the geologic feature to be interpreted.  For thin beds and DHIs, usually, a relatively thin zone of 50-250 ms around the anomalies is selected over a reasonable areal extent to provide sufficient data points for the SOM analysis.  The selection of the seismic attributes is usually based on principal component analysis (PCA) and an interpreter’s knowledge of appropriate attributes for the area. Experience with SOM analysis has indicated that six to ten instantaneous seismic attributes are usually selected for thin beds and DHIs, depending on the geologic setting and data quality.  In Figure 2 ten attributes are employed and all the data points from every sample from these attributes in the zone to be analyzed are placed in attribute space where they are normalized to put on the same scale. The SOM process employs cooperative and competitive learning techniques to identify the natural patterns or clusters in the data. Each pattern is identified by a neuron that sorts through the data in attribute space during the SOM training process of self-organization. In Figure 2 after training is completed, 64 winning neurons have identified 64 patterns or clusters in attribute space with an 8X8 neuron network.  The SOM results are nonlinearly mapped back to a neuron topology map (2D colormap) where interpreters can select the winning neurons from the 2D colormap and identify in the 3D volume where the patterns and clusters occur for thin beds and DHIs.

 

wiggle trace seismic data

Figure 1. Wiggle-trace variable area display format of a 100 ms window of seismic data with the amplitude trace and seven associated traces of attributes. Each attribute trace is at a different scale and each horizontal scale line is separated by the sample interval of 4 ms. If all these traces were employed in a SOM analysis, each red circle along a timing line indicates samples that would be input as a multi-attribute sample.

SOM workflow for seismic interpretation

Figure 2. Display of SOM workflow where selected volume and data points from ten associated seismic attributes are input into Attribute Space. These data points are scaled and analyzed by the SOM process to identify 64 patterns by associated winning neurons. These neurons are nonlinearly mapped back to a 2D colormap where interpreters identify neurons and visually view the location of the patterns in the 3D survey.

 

In addition to the resultant classification volume, a probability volume is also generated which is a measure of the Euclidean distance from a data point to its associated winning neuron in attribute space (Roden et al., 2015). The winning neuron identifies a specific cluster or pattern.  It has been discovered that a low classification probability corresponds to areas that are quite anomalous as opposed to high probability zones that relate to regional and common events in the data.  Low probability anomalies identified by the SOM process are quite often associated with DHI characteristics.

 

Discriminating Thin Beds

The conventionally accepted definition of the tuning thickness (vertical resolution) is a bed that is ¼ wavelength in thickness, for which reflections from its upper and lower surfaces interfere and interference is constructive where the interface contrasts are of opposite polarity, often resulting in an exceptionally strong reflection (Sheriff, 2002). Several authors have described approaches to measure below tuning or thin beds usually employing various scaling techniques of amplitude or inversion data (MeckelandNath, 1977; Neidell and Poggiagliolmi, 1977; Schramm et al., 1977; Brown et al., 1986; and Connolly, 2007). However, these various techniques to determine thin beds have limitations and require assumptions that may not be met consistently (Simm, 2009). The application of SOM machine learning utilizing a multi-attribute classification has enabled the identification of thin beds and stratigraphy below tuning in a systematic and consistent manner as represented in the following case study.

The Eagle Ford Shale is a well-known unconventional resource play in Texas. Operators in this play must account for changing stratigraphy and facies to properly locate horizontal wells for optimum perforation intervals.  The Eagle Ford stratigraphy is often associated with thin beds and facies well below conventional seismic resolution that change both vertically and laterally. This Eagle Ford case study contains 216 mi² (560 km²) of enhanced 3D PSTM data processed at a 2 ms sample interval. Conventional vertical resolution (tuning thickness) is 100-150 feet (30-45 meters) depending on the location within the Eagle Ford unit. In this study, over 300 wells were available for correlation including 23 type logs, 249 horizontal borehole montages, 9 vertical calibration wells with tops, logs, and time-depth corrections. Also available were five cores for which X-ray diffraction and saturation information was available. Well information was incorporated to corroborate the SOM results.

SOM classification of seismic data

Figure 3. Resolution comparison between conventional seismic display and a Paradise® multi-attribute Self Organizing Map (SOM) classification: (a) Seismic amplitude profile through the 6 Well; and (b) the SOM results of the same profile identifying the Eagle Ford Group that comprises 26 sample based neuron clusters which are calibrated to facies and systems tracts. The 2D colormap displays the associated winning neuron cluster colors.

Ten instantaneous seismic attributes prominent in a Principal Component Analysis were selected for SOM. SOM training was conducted on a set of trial harvest lines and the successful line was then used to classify the entire survey. Figure 3a is a seismic amplitude line in color raster and wiggle-trace variable area formats across the location of Well 6 (V and 1H). The Figure shows the Austin Chalk-Eagle Ford Group-Buda stratigraphic interval represented by roughly 2.5 peak/trough cycles of a seismic trace. In the Eagle Ford, the amplitude appears continuous, yet any details are obscured because of the resolution limitations of the amplitude data where conventional tuning is 100-150 feet (30-45 meters). Figure 3b displays the equivalent line showing results of the SOM analysis. Sixty-four neurons were employed to identify 64 patterns in the data as seen on the associated 2D colormap. A seismic interval from 10 ms below the Buda to 100 ms above the Buda or near the top of the Austin Chalk was chosen for the SOM analysis. Shown clearly comparing Figures 3a and 3b is the resolution improvement provided by the SOM analysis over the seismic amplitude. The results reveal non-layer cake facies bands that include details in the Eagle Ford’s basal clay-rich shale, high resistivity and low resistivity Eagle Ford Shale objectives, the Eagle Ford ash, and the Upper Eagle Ford marl, which are overlain disconformably by the Austin Chalk (disconformity is a break in a sedimentary sequence that does not involve a difference in bedding angles). This interval of roughly 28 ms (or 14 samples) amounts to some 26 of the 64 SOM winning neurons to illuminate the various systems tracts within the Eagle Ford Group for this survey.

Adjacent to the SOM results at Well 6 are similar results at a nearby well. Figure 4a displays a zoomed-in vertical line display of the SOM results through Well 8(V) with the winning neurons identified. Figure 4b denotes the associated well log curves from well 8 and the correlative neuron associations. Winning neurons 63 and 64 are associated with the low resistivity Eagle Ford shale unit and neurons 53, 54, and 60 denote the high resistivity and more desirable Eagle Ford unit. The expanded display of the SOM results in Figure 4a denotes a low resistivity gold thin bed that is identified by a single neuron (#55) and is only one sample thick (2 ms). Shown here is clear evidence of consistent results between Wells 6 and 8 that lends itself to stratigraphic facies interpretation.

Calibrating SOM to well logs

Figure 4. View of SOM results correlated with Well 8 logs: (a) Expanded view of SOM profile through Well 8; and (b) Well 8 logs with Eagle Ford units correlated with the SOM results of (a). Note that the resolution is down to the sample level of 10-12 feet and is illustrated by winning neuron 55 in (a). The dashed white line in (a) represents the top of the Eagle Ford and base of the Austin Chalk.

Over this survey area, 16 different winning neurons represent the various facies present in the Eagle Ford Shale over a 14 ms window (70-84 feet/21-26 meters). The facies of the entire Eagle Ford Group which includes the Basal Clay shale, Eagle Ford Shale, and Eagle Ford Marl, are defined by 26 different winning neurons over 28 ms (210-252 feet/64-77 meters). Individual facies units are as thin as one sample interval of 2 ms (10-12 feet/3-4 meters). These results of a single SOM classification are corroborated at multiple wells across the survey area.

 

Revealing Direct Hydrocarbon Indicators (DHIs)

The accurate interpretation of seismic DHI characteristics has proven to significantly improve the drilling success rates in the appropriate geologic setting where there is also adequate seismic data quality (Roden et al., 2012; Rudolph and Goulding, 2017). Specifically, DHIs are anomalies due to the presence of hydrocarbons induced by changes in rock physics properties (P and S wave velocities, and density). Typically, anomalies stand out as the difference in a hydrocarbon-filled reservoir in relation to the encasing rock or the brine portion of the reservoir. DHI characteristics are usually associated with anomalous seismic responses in a trapping configuration, such as structural traps, stratigraphic traps, or a combination of both. These include bright spots, flat spots, amplitude conformance to structure, etc. DHI anomalies are often compared to models, similar events, background trends, proven productive anomalies, and geologic features. DHI indicators can also be located below presumed trapped hydrocarbons where shadow zones or velocity pull-down effects may be present. These DHI effects can even be present and dispersed in the sediment column in the form of gas chimneys or clouds.

As described above there are numerous DHI characteristics and all of which should be evaluated in a consistent and systematic approach for any prospect or project. Forrest et al. (2010) and Roden et al. (2012) have identified the top four DHI characteristics, as related to commercially successful wells in a Class 3 AVO setting, based on an industry-wide database of almost 300 wells. These DHI characteristics include:

  1. Anomaly conformance to structure
  2. Phase or character change at the downdip edge of the anomaly
  3. Anomaly consistency in the mapped target area
  4. Flat spots

SOM low probability anomaly

Figure 5. From the top of the producing reservoir: a) time structure map in contours with an amplitude overlay in color and b) SOM classification with low probability less than 1% denoted by white areas. The yellow line in b) represents the downdip edge of the high amplitude zone picked from a).

These DHI characteristics will be identified in the following case study by a multi-attribute SOM analysis. The case study is an offshore oil/gas field in 470 feet (145 meters) of water on the Louisiana continental shelf of the Gulf of Mexico. The field has two producing wells that were drilled on the upthrown side of a normal fault and into an amplitude anomaly. The normally pressured reservoir is approximately 100 feet (30 meters) thick and contains oil and gas. The hydrocarbon filled sandstone reservoir has low impedance compared to the encasing shales, indicative of a Class 3 AVO environment. The SOM analyzed a 170 ms window surrounding the reservoir. Applying the (SOM) multi-attribute analysis, a group of eight seismic attributes was selected based on Principal Component Analysis that would best expose Direct Hydrocarbon Indicators (DHIs). A neuron network of 5X5 (25 neurons) was employed. Figure 5a displays a time structure map as denoted by the contours with an amplitude overlay (color) from the mapped top of the reservoir in this field. The horizon at the top of the reservoir was picked on a trough (low impedance) on zero phase seismic data (SEG normal polarity).
Figure 5a indicates there is a relatively good amplitude conformance to structure based on the amplitude as noted by the general agreement of the time contour and the red/green amplitude break (see color bar insert). Figure 5b is a display of classification probability from the SOM analysis at the top of the reservoir at the same scale as Figure 5a. This indicates that the top of the reservoir exhibits an anomalous response from the SOM analysis. Ordinary classifications such as those of green and yellow-greens are shown around the reservoir (see colormap insert). However, within the reservoir and in several other areas, anomalous classification of low probability below 1% are colored white. In comparing Figure 5a and 5b it is apparent that the low probability area corresponds closely to the amplitude conformance to structure as denoted by the yellow outline in Figure 5b. This confirms the identification of the productive area with low probability and proves the efficacy of this SOM approach. The consistency of the low probability SOM response in the field is another positive DHI indicator. In fact, the probabilities as low as .01% still produce a consistent response over the field indicating how significant evaluating low probability anomalies is critical in the interpretation of DHI characteristics.

gas oil and oil water contacts in a SOM

Figure 6. North-south vertical profile 9411 through the middle of the field: a) stacked seismic amplitude display with the field location marked, b) SOM classification with 25 neurons (5X5) indicated by the 2D colormap over a 170 ms window, and c) three neurons highlighting the reservoir above the oil/water and gas/oil contacts and the hydrocarbon contacts (flat spots) as marked by winning neurons 15, 20, and 25. The expanded insets in the right column denote the details from the SOM results at the downdip edge of the field (see dashed black boxes on left).

This field contains an oil phase with a gas cap and before drilling, there were hints of possible flat spots suggesting hydrocarbon contacts on the seismic data, but the evidence was inconsistent and not definitive. Figure 6 displays a north-south vertical inline seismic profile through the middle of the field with its location denoted in Figure 5. Figure 6a exhibits the initial stacked amplitude data with the location of the field marked. Figure 6b denotes the SOM analysis results of this same vertical inline which incorporates the eight instantaneous attributes listed with the 5X5 neuron matrix in Figure 5. The associated 2D colormap in Figure 6b denotes the 25 natural patterns or clusters identified from the SOM process (see colormap insert). It is apparent in Figure 6b that the reservoir and portions of both the gas/oil contact and the oil/water contact are easily identified as opposed to the conventional seismic data shown in Figure 6a. This is more easily seen in Figure 6c where the 2D colormap indicates that the neurons highlighted in gray (winning neurons 20 and 25) are defining the hydrocarbon-bearing portions of the reservoir above the hydrocarbon contacts and the flat spots interpreted as hydrocarbon contacts are designated by the rust-colored winning neuron 15. The location of the reservoir and hydrocarbon contacts are corroborated by well control (not shown). Note that the southern edge of the reservoir is revealed in the enlargements in the column on the right (from the dashed black box on left). A character change at the downdip edge of the anomaly where the oil contact thins out is easily identified compared to the line of amplitude change. Downdip of the field is another undrilled anomaly defined by the SOM analysis that exhibits similar DHI characteristics identified by the same neurons.

 

Conclusions

A seismic multi-attribute analysis utilizing Self-Organizing-Maps is a machine learning approach that distills information from numerous attributes on a sample-by-sample basis to provide a more accurate assessment of thin beds and DHI characteristics than conventional methods. We have shown in these cases that the results readily correlate to conventional well log data. The SOM classification process takes advantage of natural patterns in multiple seismic attributes space that is not restricted to the resolution limits of conventional amplitude data. This process enables interpreters to produce higher resolution interpretations of reservoirs and stratigraphy. Another advantage of a SOM analysis is the generation of classification probability where low probability anomalies are often associated with DHIs. SOM analyses in appropriate geologic settings can improve confidence in interpreting DHI characteristics and more clearly define reservoir edges and thin bed components.

 

References

Brown, A. R., R. M. Wright, K. D. Burkart, W. L. Abriel, and R. G. McBeath, 1986, Tuning effects, lithological effects and depositional effects in the seismic response of gas reservoirsGeophysical Prospecting, 32, 623-647.

Connolly, P., 2007, A simple, robust algorithm for seismic net pay estimationThe Leading Edge, 26, 1278-1282.

Forrest, M., R. Roden, and R. Holeywell, 2010, Risking seismic amplitude anomaly prospects based on database trendsThe Leading Edge, 5, 936-940.

Kohonen, T., 2001, Self-Organizing Maps: third extended editionSpringer Series in Information Services, Vol. 30.

Meckel, L. D., and A. K. Nath, 1977, Geologic consideration for stratigraphic modelling and interpretationIn: Payton, C. E. (Ed.) Seismic Stratigraphy- Applications to hydrocarbon ExplorationAAPG Memoir 26, 417-438.

Neidell, N. S., and E. Poggiagliolmi, 1977, Stratigraphic modeling and interpretation-Geophysical principles and techniques. In: Payton, C. E. (Ed.) Seismic Stratigraphy-Applications to hydrocarbon Exploration. AAPG Memoir 26, 389-416.

Roden, R., M. Forrest, and R. Holeywell, 2012, Relating seismic interpretation to reserve/resource calculations: Insights from a DHI consortium: The Leading Edge, 9, 1066-1074.

Roden, R., T. Smith, and D. Sacrey, 2015, Geologic pattern recognition from seismic attributes: Principal component analysis and self-organizing mapsInterpretation, 3, SAE59-SAE83.

Rudolph, K. W., and F. J. Goulding, 2017, Benchmarking exploration predictions and performance using 20+ yr of drilling results: One company’s experience: AAPG Bulletin, 101, 161-176.

Schramm Jr., M. W., E. V. Dedman, and J. P. Lindsey, 1977, Practical stratigraphic modeling and interpretation. In: Payton, C. E. (Ed.) Seismic Stratigraphy-Applications to hydrocarbon ExplorationAAPG Memoir 26, 477-502.

Sheriff, R. E., 2002, Encyclopedic dictionary of applied geophysics, 4th ed.: SEG.

Simm, R. W., 2009, Simple net pay estimation from seismic: a modelling study: First Break, 27, 45-53.

Smith, T. and M. T. Taner, 2010, Natural clusters in multi-attribute seismics found with self-organizing maps: Extended Abstracts, Robinson-Treitel Spring Symposium by GSH/SEG, March 10-11, 2010, Houston, Tx.

About the Authors

Rocky Roden, Consulting Geophysicist, Geophysical Insights

Rocky R. Roden has extensive knowledge of modern geoscience technical approaches (past Chairman-The Leading Edge Editorial Board). As former Chief Geophysicist and Director of Applied Technology for Repsol-YPF, his role comprised advising corporate officers, geoscientists, and managers on interpretation, strategy and technical analysis for exploration and development in offices in the U.S., Argentina, Spain, Egypt, Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, Venezuela, Malaysia, and Indonesia. He has been involved in the technical and economic evaluation of Gulf of Mexico lease sales, farmouts worldwide, and bid rounds in South America, Europe, and the Far East. Previous work experience includes exploration and development at Maxus Energy, Pogo Producing, Decca Survey, and Texaco. He holds a B.S. in Oceanographic Technology-Geology from Lamar University and a M.S. in Geological and Geophysical Oceanography from Texas A&M University.

Patricia Santogrossi, Sr. Geoscientist, Geophysical Insights

Patricia Santogrossi is a Consultant to Geophysical Insights, producer of the Paradise multi-attribute analysis software platform. Formerly, she was a Leading Reservoir Geoscientist and Non-operated Projects Manager with Statoil USA E & P. In this role Ms. Santogrossi was engaged for nearly nine years in Gulf of Mexico business development, corporate integration, prospect maturation, and multiple appraisal projects in the deep and ultra-deepwater Gulf of Mexico. Ms. Santogrossi has previously worked with domestic and international Shell Companies, Marathon Oil Company, and Arco/Vastar Resources in research, exploration, leasehold and field appraisal as well as staff development. She has also been Chief Geologist for Chroma Energy, who possessed proprietary 3D voxel multi-attribute visualization technology, and for Knowledge Reservoir, a reservoir characterization and simulation firm that specialized in Deepwater project evaluations. She is a longtime member of SEPM, AAPG, GCSSEPM, HGS and SEG and has held various elected and appointed positions in many industry organizations. Ms. Santogrossi holds an M.S. in Geology from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana.

 

 

 

Seismic Interpretation Below Tuning with Multiattribute Analysis

Seismic Interpretation Below Tuning with Multiattribute Analysis

 

By:  Rocky Roden, Thomas A. Smith, Patricia Santogrossi, Deborah Sacrey, and Gary Jones
Published with permission: The Leading Edge
April 2017

Seismic Interpretation Below Tuning with Multi-Attribute Analysis

Abstract

The tuning-bed thickness or vertical resolution of seismic data traditionally is based on the frequency content of the data and the associated wavelet. Seismic interpretation of thin beds routinely involves estimation of tuning thickness and the subsequent scaling of amplitude or inversion information below tuning. These traditional below-tuning-thickness estimation approaches have limitations and require assumptions that limit accuracy. The below tuning effects are a result of the interference of wavelets, which are a function of the geology as it changes vertically and laterally. However, numerous instantaneous attributes exhibit effects at and below tuning, but these are seldom incorporated in thin-bed analyses. A seismic multiattribute approach employs self-organizing maps to identify natural clusters from combinations of attributes that exhibit below-tuning effects. These results may exhibit changes as thin as a single sample interval in thickness. Self-organizing maps employed in this fashion analyze associated seismic attributes on a sample-by-sample basis and identify the natural patterns or clusters produced by thin beds. This thin-bed analysis utilizing self-organizing maps has been corroborated with extensive well control to verify consistent results. Therefore, thin beds identified with this methodology enable more accurate mapping of facies below tuning and are not restricted by traditional frequency limitations.

Introduction

Fundamental to the evaluation of a prospect or development of a field is the seismic interpretation of the vertical resolution or tuning thickness of the associated seismic data. This interpretation has significant implications in understanding the geologic facies and stratigraphy, the determination of reservoir thickness above and/or below tuning, delineation of direct hydrocarbon indicators (DHIs), and project economic and risk assessment. The foundations of our understanding of seismic vertical resolution come from the influential research by Ricker (1953), Widess (1973), and Kallweit and Wood (1982). The conventionally accepted definition of the tuning thickness is a bed that is ¼ wavelength in thickness, for which reflections from its upper and lower surfaces interfere constructively where the interface contrasts are of opposite polarity, resulting in an exceptionally strong reflection (Sheriff, 2002). Below tuning, the time separation of the reflections from the top and bottom of a reservoir essentially do not change, and the thickness must be determined by other methods. Some of the earliest work in determining bed thickness below tuning was by Meckel and Nath (1977), Neidell and Poggiagliolmi (1977), and Schramm et al. (1977), who related the normalized or sum of the absolute value amplitudes of the top and bottom reflections of a thin bed to have a linear relationship to net thickness of sands. Brown et al. (1984, 1986) employed seismic crossplots of gross isochron thickness versus composite amplitude to determine an amplitude scalar to calculate net pay. With sufficient well calibration, Connolly (2007) presented a map-based amplitude-scaling technique based on band-limited impedance through colored inversion for thin-bed determination. As Simm (2009) indicates, various techniques to determine thin beds have limitations and require assumptions that may not be met all of the time. Therefore, what is required is an approach that exploits other properties of thin beds even though our fundamental understanding of seismic amplitudes and time separation of reflections from the top and bottom of a reservoir implies this cannot be done consistently and accurately with conventional amplitude data. A seismic multiattribute approach takes advantage of analyzing several attributes at each instant of time and identifies patterns from these data to produce results below tuning that relate to bed thickness and stratigraphy.

Background

A seismic attribute is any measurable property of seismic data, such as amplitude, dip, phase, frequency, and polarity that can be measured at one instant in time/depth, over a time/depth window, on a single trace, on a set of traces, or on a surface interpreted from the seismic data (Schlumberger Oilfield Glossary). Instantaneous seismic attributes are quantities computed sample by sample at a time/depth instance and indicate a continuous change in properties along the time and space axis. The original instantaneous attributes are features of a complex seismic trace and are based on the analytical signal of the original trace and its Hilbert transform; these include instantaneous amplitude (envelope), instantaneous phase, and instantaneous frequency. Taner and Sheriff (1977) state that the conventional seismic trace may be thought of as a measure of kinetic energy, and as a wavefront passes through the earth, the particle motion is resisted by an elastic restoring force so that energy becomes stored as potential energy. The Hilbert transform may be thought of as a measure of elastic potential energy. Therefore the measured seismic amplitude trace and the complex trace attributes, as well as the dozens of attributes derived from them over the last few decades, represent instantaneous attributes that define the kinetic and potential energy of the seismic trace through space and time/depth.

Robertson and Nogami (1984) and Tirado (2004) identified a frequency increase or frequency tuning effect below conventional seismic tuning. Hardage et al. (1998), Radovich and Oliveros (1998), Taner (2003), and Zeng (2010) confirmed the relationship of frequency spikes and bed thickness on instantaneous frequency data but, in general, recommend the integration of lithofacies and depositional facies analysis because of the nonuniqueness of the frequency attribute. From instantaneous phase and frequency data, Davogustto et al. (2013) identified phase discontinuities that produce phase residues above and below tuning depending on the frequency content of the data. Zeng (2015) showed with wedge models that a 90° phase-rotated wavelet, similar to the Hilbert transform, produces better definition of beds below tuning than zero-phase wavelets. This research has identified various phenomena at or below tuning, but a consistent interpretation of thin beds is still a challenge and requires another approach.

Multiattribute analysis

In an effort to understand which instantaneous attributes produce phenomena below tuning, a noise-free wedge model (Figure 1) was generated from which dozens of instantaneous attributes were computed. The wedge model runs from 80 feet to zero thickness with the associated densities and velocities indicated in Figure 1. Displayed below the wedge model is an amplitude display with an Ormsby 5-10-60-90 wavelet applied. Designated in Figure 1 is the tuning thickness, ¼ wavelength, which is the vertical resolution of this model and is annotated as a vertical dashed line on all the displays in the figure. Tuning thickness for this model is 30 feet or 10 ms. From the amplitude model, seven instantaneous attributes are displayed that produce phenomena at or below tuning. These are some of the most prominent attributes that display at or below tuning effects. It is evident from these displays that information is available below tuning because various seismic attributes are seen to change values on the right side of the wedge model. Regardless of identified phenomena below tuning, these features depend on complicated constructive and destructive wavelet interference patterns. The acoustic parameters to produce these below-tuning features depend on the geology that can be laterally and vertically changing. To interpret any of these attributes individually for thin beds is certainly not conclusive, and understanding their interrelationships is essentially impossible. A multiattribute approach is required to sift through the different attribute types and identify the combination of attributes that produce patterns that are indicative of thin beds. The fundamental limits of signal detection in the presence of noise are as important in the multiattribute approach as it is in previous works.

wedge model for Eagle Ford

Figure 1. Wedge model from which the amplitude and seven attributes were generated. These attributes exhibit effects at or below tuning, which is designated by the associated vertical dashed lines.

Self-organizing maps

Taking advantage of today’s computing technology, visualization techniques, and understanding of appropriate parameters, self-organizing maps (SOMs) (Kohonen, 2001) efficiently distill multiple seismic attributes into classification and probability volumes (Smith and Taner, 2010). SOM analysis is a powerful, nonlinear cluster analysis and pattern recognition approach that helps interpreters identify patterns in their data that can relate to inherent geologic characteristics and different aspects of their data. Seismic data contain huge amounts of data samples, are highly continuous, greatly redundant, and significantly noisy (Coléou et al., 2003). The tremendous amount of samples from numerous seismic attributes exhibits significant organizational structure in the midst of noise (Taner et al., 2009). SOM analysis identifies these natural organizational structures in the form of clusters. Figure 2 displays a single amplitude trace and seven different seismic attributes computed from the amplitude. All of these traces are displayed in a wiggle-trace variable area format. This display represents 100 ms vertically, and each horizontal scale line represents a sample (4 ms). Each of these attributes is at different scales and in some cases vastly different scales. It is evident from this figure that each of the attributes measures a different component of the total acoustic energy at every sample. SOM analysis identifies clusters from different combinations of attributes and reveals significant information about the classification structure of natural groups that is difficult to view any other way. It is important that the original amplitude data, from which all the attributes are generated, are processed accurately and with as high a signal-to-noise (S/N) ratio as possible. This is because the SOM process identifies all patterns in the data including signal that represents geologic features and stratigraphy, as well as coherent and noncoherent noise. Based on numerous SOM analyses on seismic data, the SOM results reveal significant detail in systematic stratigraphic variations (toplap, downlap, etc.).

wiggle-trace of seismic attributes

Figure 2. Wiggle-trace variable area display format of a 100 ms window of seismic data with the amplitude trace and seven associated traces of attributes. Each attribute trace is at a different scale, and each horizontal scale line is separated by the sample rate of 4 ms. If all these traces were employed in a SOM analysis, each red circle indicates the samples that would be input.

To graphically explain how SOMs identify patterns in the data as related to thickness, Figure 3a displays a model trace that represents reflections from: (1) the top of a thick high-acoustic impedance layer; (2) the top of a thin low-acoustic impedance layer; (3) the base of the same thin low-acoustic impedance layer; (4) the top of a deeper thin high-acoustic impedance layer; (5) the base of the deeper thin high-acoustic impedance layer; and (6) the base of a yet deeper thick high-acoustic impedance layer. A low level of Gaussian-distributed reflection coefficient noise was added. A wavelet centered at 30 Hz and a bandwidth of 40 Hz was applied to the reflection coefficients in Figure 3a. The sample interval is 2 ms, which is the thickness of the two thin beds in the model. Conventional tuning thickness is 12 ms. From the amplitude trace (labeled real), the Hilbert transform was generated and resulted in 411 samples of paired values. The real and Hilbert transform analytic traces were realized 100 times to produce a significant number of data points. The set of 41,100 data point pairs were input into a SOM analysis.

SOM analysis of a trace model; amplitude, Hilbert transform

Figure 3. SOM analysis of a simple trace model. (a) Reflection coefficients, wavelet employed, the associated amplitude (real) trace, and Hilbert transform trace. (b) Attribute space with data points from real and Hilbert transform traces repeated 100 times and presented in a 2D crossplot. (c) Classification of data point clusters by SOM analysis with each cluster denoted by a specific neuron color as seen on the associated 2D color map.

Figure 3b displays a crossplot of the data points from these two attributes based on their associated attribute values (attribute space). Figure 3c displays after SOM analysis how the different patterns and clusters in the data are identified by winning neurons distinguished by the associated colors. Random colors were selected to illustrate contrasts between adjacent areas. A winning neuron is a point in the SOM analysis that is associated with a natural pattern in the data. Each pattern in this crossplot has been identified by a winning neuron and is represented in the 2D color map where there are 64 winning neurons. Figure 4 displays the crossplot with the identified clusters colored by different neurons of Figure 3c and denotes where in the model the different patterns occur. It is clear from Figure 4 that even with two thin beds and the thickness of the sample interval (2 ms), the patterns are quite distinguishable. The specific winning neurons identifying the reflection coefficients in the model are labeled on the 2D color map. Therefore, the use of seismic attributes in a SOM analysis that are known to produce below tuning effects can be very powerful in the identification of thin beds.

SOM crossplot for seismic mutliattribute analysis

Figure 4. SOM crossplot of classified neurons as seen in Figure 3c. The location of the 2D color map neurons, associated clusters of points in the crossplot, and model reflection coefficients are designated by their associated neuron numbers. Note: Neuron numbering on the 2D color map runs left to right beginning at the bottom left corner.

Figures 3 and 4 demonstrate how only two seismic attributes display natural patterns or clusters that are easy to visualize in a simple model; however, producing compelling and accurate results from real data, which typically incorporates several hundred thousand to millions of data points, requires the combination of several attributes in a SOM analysis which cannot be visualized by a simple 2D or 3D crossplot. Even though humans cannot visualize more than three attributes in a crossplot, mathematically there is no problem in the analysis of these numerous attributes in multidimensional attribute space with SOM. In fact, in a multiattribute (e.g., 5–15 attributes) SOM analysis on real data where there is always a certain amount of noise, it is quite common to get clear distinctive patterns because the geologic features in multidimensional space often stand out above the noise.

What is evident in this analysis is that the conventional limit in resolution based on frequency and wavelets does not apply to a SOM analysis when appropriate seismic attributes are applied. The primary limiting resolution factor in a SOM analysis is sample interval and noise. The following two case studies exhibit the interpretation of thin beds from SOM that have been correlated with well and core results to corroborate the analyses.

Eagle Ford Shale facies case study

seismic attributes for unconventionals

Table 1. Seismic attributes employed for the Eagle Ford case study SOM analysis. These attributes were selected based on principal component analysis results.

The Eagle Ford Shale is a well-known unconventional resource play in Texas. Operators in this play must account for changing stratigraphy and facies to properly locate horizontal wells for optimum perforation intervals. The Eagle Ford stratigraphy is often associated with thin beds and facies well below conventional seismic resolution that change both vertically and laterally. This Eagle Ford case study contains 216 mi2 of enhanced 3D PSTM data processed to a 2 ms sample interval. Conventional vertical resolution (tuning thickness) is 100–150 ft. depending on the location in the Eagle Ford unit. More than 300 wells are available for correlation including 23 type logs, 249 horizontal borehole montages, nine vertical calibration wells with tops, logs, and time-depth corrections. Also available are five cores for which X-ray diffraction and saturation information was available. This well information was incorporated in the corroboration of the SOM results. Sixteen instantaneous seismic attributes were generated from the original amplitude volume. These attributes were input into a principal component analysis (PCA) where 10 attributes were selected for SOM analysis (see Table 1). Figure 5a is a northwest-southeast seismic amplitude line in color raster and wiggle-trace variable area formats across the location of well 6. The figure shows the Austin Chalk-Eagle Ford Group-Buda stratigraphic interval represented by roughly 2.5 peak/trough cycles. In the Eagle Ford, the amplitude appears continuous, yet any details are obscured because of the resolution limitations of the amplitude data where conventional tuning is 100–150 ft. Figure 5b displays in a 3D perspective the results of a SOM analysis that utilized the seismic attributes from Table 1. Sixty-four neurons were employed to identify 64 patterns in the data as seen on the associated 2D color map. A seismic interval from 10 ms below the Buda to 100 ms above the Buda or near the top of the Austin Chalk was chosen for the SOM analysis. Shown clearly is the resolution improvement provided by the SOM analysis compared to the associated seismic amplitude line. The results shown reveal nonlayer cake facies bands that include details in the Eagle Ford’s basal clay-rich shale, high-resistivity and low-resistivity Eagle Ford Shale objectives, the Eagle Ford ash, and the Upper Eagle Ford marl, which are overlain disconformably by the Austin Chalk. This roughly 28 ms (or 14 samples) uses some 26 of the 64 neurons to illuminate the various systems tracts within the Eagle Ford Group for this survey.

seismic display and SOM classification comparison

Figure 5. Resolution comparison between conventional seismic display and a Paradise multiattribute SOM classification. (a) Seismic amplitude profile through the 6 well and (b) the SOM results of the same profile identifying the Eagle Ford group that comprises 26 sample based neuron clusters, which are calibrated to facies and systems tracts. The 2D color map displays the associated neuron cluster colors. Seismic data owned by and provided courtesy of Seitel Inc.

The basal clay shale (BCS) in Figure 5b is resolved distinctly on top of the Buda generally by the #1 neuron in dark gray. Its lithologic and neural uniqueness is concomitant with its distal detrital or pelagic emplacement after deposition of the underlying Buda carbonates. The BCS is distinct also from the overlying regressive downlap of two red neurons (black arrow) and subsequent transgressive (white arrow) of the grayish-gold Eagle Ford high-resistivity organic rich facies.

A previously unresolved, encapsulated, and discontinuous core of rust-colored facies, now evident within the gold section of the lower Eagle Ford Shale is also well resolved in the pilot holes for wells 6 (Figure 5) and 8 (Figure 6). As seen in Figure 6, the logs in well 8 can be correlated directly to the classification and thicknesses of the various units in the Eagle Ford. The specific neurons that identify the various facies are noted in Figure 6b. The expanded display of the SOM results in Figure 7a denotes a low-resistivity gold thin bed that is identified by a single neuron (#55) and is one sample thick (2 ms). The areal distribution of the rust geobody is exhibited in Figure 8a where the SOM classification is displayed 12 ms below and parallel with the top Eagle Ford Shale horizon. Figure 8a shows where the rust facies intersects this horizon, and the associated fairway is relatively wide. Figure 8b denotes the same horizon 4 ms deeper where the fairway becomes narrower. The 2D color map associated with Figures 8a and 8b indicate this rust geobody is delineated by three neurons (circled on 2D color map) and has been calibrated to be the high-resistivity reservoir type. This SOM analysis identifies not only relatively thin facies but also their associated areal distribution.

Callibrating SOM results to well logs

Figure 6. Resolution calibration to well logs for well 8. (a) Profile through the well 8 location displays the SOM results correlated to specific units of this well; (b) well 8 logs identifying members of the Eagle Ford group and correlated with the SOM results of (a). The color code on logs is generalized after neuron clusters for facies tracts from top Buda to top Eagle Ford shale. These include grays that represent the basal clay shale (neuron 1), a rust color band over the high-resistivity laminated dark gold and encapsulated rust geobody target zone (neurons 53, 54, and 60), a thin portion of the lighter gold low resistivity clastic onlap facies (neuron 55), and the two lowresistivity red ashy infill beds (neuron 63 and 64).

The Eagle Ford ash (Figure 7a) lies above the gold and comprises a different red facies than the carbonate downlap; it is resolved as discontinuous and concave or low-seeking fill at the top of the Eagle Ford Shale. The Upper Eagle Ford marl, in purple and magenta colors in Figure 7a, rather than showing simple layers, exhibits updip and downdip facies changes and features that appear to calibrate to facies changes from a basal unit that is clay rich (lavender-neurons #15 and #16) to a slightly more quartz-enriched (magenta-neurons #6 and #8) zone. Organic content may also contribute to these variations. The white dashed line in Figure 7a, located above neuron #6 (magenta), represents the intricate unconformity between the Austin Chalk and the Eagle Ford Group.

Expanded SOM results in seismic interpretation software

Figure 7. Expanded view of SOM results correlated with well 8 logs. (a) Expanded view of SOM profile through well 8 and (b) well 8 logs with Eagle Ford units correlated with the SOM results of (a). Note that the resolution is down to the sample level of 10–12 feet and is illustrated by neuron 55 in (a). The dashed white line in (a) represents the top of the Eagle Ford and base of the Austin Chalk.

Over this survey area, 16 different neurons represent the various facies present in the Eagle Ford Shale over a 14 ms window (70–84 ft). The facies of the entire Eagle Ford Group, which includes the Basal Clay Shale, Eagle Ford Shale, and Eagle Ford marl, are defined by 26 different neurons over 28 ms (210–252 ft). Individual facies units are as thin as one sample interval of 2 ms (10–12 ft). In this Eagle Ford case study area with more than 300 wells (including results from five cores), an interpolation of thin beds between wells may have produced similar thickness results, however, the SOM analysis would have generated the same thin-bed facies results regardless of well control. The significant well information in this study area corroborated the accuracy of the SOM analysis.

Middle Frio onshore Texas case study

In this case study, a well was planned to be drilled offsetting a production unit well, which has produced slightly less than a half million barrels of oil. It was interpreted from well control that a middle Frio sand, locally called the Alibel, appeared to blanket the fault block. There also appeared to be a structural ridge-running strike to a large down-to-the-coast fault over which the Alibel was draped, providing a structural trap for the potential reservoir. To confirm the initial interpretation, eight square miles of seismic encompassing the majority of the fault block was purchased along with digital log curves for three wells from which synthetic seismograms were created to tie the wells accurately to the seismic.

SOM results and geobodies in the Eagle Ford

Figure 8. SOM areal distribution results parallel to the top of the Eagle Ford Shale, 12 and 16 ms below the Eagle Ford, left and right, respectively. The rust geobody is depicted by the same three neurons (60, 58, and 57), but now it can be seen in an areal context. At 12 ms (6 samples) from the top Eagle Ford shale, the uppermost part of the geobody is seen in a wide “fairway;” toward the base some 4 ms deeper, its “fairway” is narrower.

The key well, which is still producing, was perforated across a six-foot interval out of approximately 14 feet of sand at 10,820 feet. The synthetic tie to the data indicated that this perforated interval fell on a weak negative amplitude doublet just below the mapped Alibel horizon (Figure 9). The seismic reflectors are flat below this doublet but show signs of rollover, possibly indicating differential compaction over the perforated zone. The zone of interest produced such a weak seismic amplitude response it could not be mapped effectively, and interpretation of the sand distribution was questionable. Therefore, a SOM analysis was performed to resolve these issues.

Dip line of amplitdue and SOM results

Figure 9. Dip line of amplitude and SOM results through producing well. (a) Amplitude section in color raster format with wiggle-trace variable area overlay; and (b) SOM classification of the same dip line in color raster format with wiggle-trace variable area overlay of the amplitude data. The inset in (b) denotes the 6-foot perforated interval of the producing well correlated to the light to grayish blue neurons.

The SOM analysis incorporated a combination of seismic attributes determined from PCA analysis that would be conducive to find sand, porosity, and hydrocarbons in thin beds. The original enhanced PSTM 3D survey, from which the attributes were generated, was resampled from 4 ms to 2 ms for the purposes of the SOM analysis. These attributes (see Table 2) were input into a SOM analysis where an 8 × 8 topology (64 neurons) was employed. The SOM results were exported to the interpreter’s system where a 1D color bar was employed.

seismic attributes for the Frio

Table 2. Seismic attributes employed for the Frio case study SOM analysis. These attributes were selected based on principal component analysis results.

Figure 9a shows a PSTM amplitude dip line through the productive well with an amplitude overlay. The amplitude response at the pay interval is very weak and difficult to correlate laterally. Figure 9b displays the SOM classification results over the same dip line with an amplitude overlay. It is evident from this figure that the SOM results provide significantly more detail vertically. Only one to two light to grayish blue neurons identify the Alibel sand where six feet were perforated for production in this 14-foot sand. Figure 10 displays a strike line connecting key wells along the fault block. Four wells on the southwest portion of the geobody did not produce significant amounts of hydrocarbons and were thought to have been “mechanical failures.” However, after a review of the sand distribution based upon time slices through the interval (see Figure 11), it was determined that they were isolated in localized areas or on the fringes of the bar system and not connected to the main body of sand. Figure 10a is the PSTM amplitude strike line that exhibits very little amplitude or character in the Alibel interval. This same line in Figure 10b shows the SOM classification, which exhibits the detail and variability of the stratigraphy for this area.

strike line of amplitude and SOM results

Figure 10. Strike line of amplitude and SOM results through producing well and other wells in the area: (a) amplitude section in color raster format with wiggle-trace variable area overlay; and (b) SOM classification of the same strike line in color raster format with wiggle-trace variable area overlay of amplitude data. The neurons defining the Alibel perforated interval in the producing well is situated at the horizon 17 ms below the Alibel horizon.

The horizon mapped near the base of the Alibel sand (see Figures 9 and 10) was flattened, and the SOM classification results are shown in Figure 11. This northeast-southwest trending feature is quite clear, revealing the distribution of the sand. The location of dip and strike lines of Figures 9 and 10 are annotated. Figure 11 displays such detail that a tidal cut is interpreted in the northeast portion of the feature, which may have production implications in the future, related to compartmentalization. The detailed vertical and lateral definition of the Alibel sand by this SOM analysis exhibits thin-bed identification where the sample interval of 2 ms is approximately 10 feet.

SOM classification from flattened horizon

Figure 11. SOM classification from flattened horizon 17 ms below the Alibel horizon. The four wells drilled in the southwest portion of the area are interpreted to be out of or on the fringes of the sand bar. The location of the dip line in Figure 9 and strike line of Figure 10 are annotated.

Conclusions

The seismic interpretation of thin beds below tuning has always been a challenge in our industry. Essentially all of the methods employed for thin-bed delineation have been associated with scaling amplitude or inversion data, which may be inaccurate if rock properties and stratigraphy change below tuning. A multiattribute interpretation approach utilizing SOM analyzes numerous seismic attributes all at once to identify natural patterns in the data, some of which relate to thin beds. Many instantaneous attributes specifically display phenomena at or below tuning and are excellent choices to incorporate in a SOM analysis to define thin beds.

The traditional limitation in the interpretation of thin beds below tuning has been the frequency content of the seismic data involved. Seismic data can have improved processing for imaging, for improving lower S/N, and for processing to a smaller sample rate, but if the frequency content does not change, neither does the vertical resolution or tuning thickness. SOM analysis, however, is not limited by the frequency of the seismic data in a conventional sense.

Since the data points from instantaneous attributes at every sample measure many different components of the total energy in an acoustic wavefield, a SOM analysis utilizing these attributes does not have traditional resolution limitations. In fact, the primary limitation in determining resolution from a SOM analysis is sample interval and noise. Selection of the appropriate instantaneous attributes that have been shown to produce effects below tuning in a SOM analysis has been proven to resolve thin beds as thin as one sample thickness, as evidenced by the two case studies in this paper. It is because a SOM analysis is identifying thin beds and not just the scaling of amplitude or inversion values that the lateral distribution and stratigraphy of thin beds can now be mapped much more accurately. Actual thin-bed distributions from SOM analysis provide tremendous opportunities to improve facies distribution maps, lateral thickness measurements of reservoirs, and interpretation of stratigraphic variation of laterally changing geologic units and features never seen before.

Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank the staff of Geophysical Insights for the research and development of the machine learning applications used in this paper.

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1 Geophysical Insights.
2 Auburn Energy.

First Steps in the Sub-Seismic Resolution of the Eagle Ford, Part I

First Steps in the Sub-Seismic Resolution of the Eagle Ford, Part I

This and three companion Application Briefs (EF2, EF-3, and EF-4) present details of an analysis and results from the application of Paradise® on a large 3D seismic volume from two counties in Texas focused on the Eagle Ford trend and its bounding formations: the underlying Buda and the overlying Austin Chalk. The results characterize remarkable resolution of stratigraphic and structural details in these three formations. Dramatically, these Application Briefs will show resolution of
features below seismic resolution, a product of the analysis taking full advantage of multiple attributes simultaneously.

While this and related Application Briefs are set in unconventional geologies, the principles outlined herein are applicable to both conventional and unconventional resource plays.

The analysis began by applying Principal Component Analysis (PCA) on 16 Instantaneous attributes. Instantaneous attributes calculate a value at each sample and inherently return higher frequency information. From the PCA analysis, nine attributes were run in Self-Organizing Maps (SOMs) and, of these, five were found to be most common in the Eagle Ford results. A brief description of the five types of Instantaneous attributes is as follows:

  • Instantaneous Phase for the continuity/ discontinuity enhancement;
  • Normalized Amplitude aka Cosine of Instantaneous Phase returns the energy distinctly from peaks versus troughs;
  • Relative Acoustic Impedance helps to resolve geobodies;
  • Envelope or Total Energy of the entire reflected waveform, including Real Part of the reflected seismic that is measurable and the Imaginary Part which is not.
  • Separately, Trace Envelope was found to be applicable in one unusual setting and facies tract for geobody 2, and suggests another distinction in rock or reservoir type.

Figure 1

below tuning in the eagle ford

In addition to the above, Envelope 2nd Derivative, Instantaneous Frequency, and Thin Bed Indicator rounded out the nine suggested by the PCA. However, these three were less evident in the area investigated or were possibly in the background.

The original PCA and SOM were run over a 1.5 to 3.2 sec. interval and a specific range of inlines and crosslines to capture the Eagle Ford’s complete updip to downdip occurrence. Results were first viewed by use of the default Interactive 2D Colormap (Figure 1a), which is unique to Paradise. Note that the Eagle Ford is resolved but not uniquely distinguished until a few colors that were not specific to the Eagle Ford were changed in the Interactive 2D Colormap. Figure 1b shows the result that helped confirm the near-uniqueness of the Eagle Ford facies in the stratigraphy of the area.

The transparency function of the interactive 2D Colormap was then used to remove all neuron colors except those that represent the Eagle Ford shale and the overlying interface with the Upper Eagle Ford marl. This technique exposed other similar and sizeable objectives in the overall stratigraphic section. Figure 2 reveals that filled scour structures carved into the top of the Georgetown and an uncalibrated zone, possibly Pearsall, share the facies characteristics of the Eagle Ford, which suggest these other formations also likely include similar organic-rich shale facies.

Figure 2

 

All seismic data owned and provided courtesy of Seitel, Inc.