Impact of seismic image quality on fault interpretation uncertainty
Uncertainty in the geological interpretation of a seismic image is affected by image quality. Using quantitative image analysis techniques, we have mapped differences in image contrast and reflection continuity for two different representations of the same grayscale seismic image, one in two-way-time (TWT) and one in depth. The contrast and reflection continuity of the depth image is lower than that of the TWT image. We compare the results of 196 interpretations of a single fault with the quality of the seismic image. Low contrast and continuity areas correspond to a greater range of interpreted fault geometries, resulting in a broader spread of fault interpretations in the depth image. Subtle differences in interpreted fault geometries introduce changes in fault characteristics (e.g., throw, heave) that are critical for understanding crustal and lithospheric processes. Seismic image quality impacts interpretation certainty, as evidenced by the increased range in fault interpretations. Quantitative assessments of image quality could inform: (1) whether model-based interpretation (e.g., fault geometry prediction at depth) is more robust than a subjective interpretation; and (2) uncertainty assessments of fault interpretations used to predict tectonic processes such as crustal extension.
*Current address: Cardiff University School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, Main Building, Park Place, Cardiff, CF10 3AT, UK.
Manuscript received 3 Feb. 2016; Revised manuscript received 8 Apr. 2016; Accepted 6 July 2016; Posted online 9 Jan. 2017