Opportunities and pitfalls in surface-wave interpretation

Many explorationists think of surface waves as the most damaging noise in land seismic data. Thus, much effort is spent in designing geophone arrays and filtering methods that attenuate these noisy events. It is now becoming apparent that surface waves can be a valuable ally in characterizing the near-surface geology. This review aims to find out how the interpreter can exploit some of the many opportunities available in surface waves recorded in land seismic data. For example, the dispersion curves associated with surface waves can be inverted to give the S-wave velocity tomogram, the common-offset gathers can reveal the presence of near-surface faults or velocity anomalies, and back-scattered surface waves can be migrated to detect the location of near-surface faults. However, the main limitation of surface waves is that they are typically sensitive to S-wave velocity variations no deeper than approximately half to one-third the dominant wavelength. For many exploration surveys, this limits the depth of investigation to be no deeper than approximately 0.5-1.0 km.

Schuster GT, Li J, Lu K, Metwally A, AlTheyab A, et al. (2017) Opportunities and pitfalls in surface-wave interpretation. Interpretation 5: T131–T141. Available: http://dx.doi.org/10.1190/int-2016-0011.1.

We appreciate the financial support from the sponsors of the Consortium of Subsurface Imaging and Fluid Modeling. We also thank KAUST for providing funding by the CRG grant OCRF-2014-CRG3-2300 and for the use of the Shaheen computing resources at KAUST.

Society of Exploration Geophysicists



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