Section: Application Domains
The main objective of modern seismic processing is to find the best representation of the subsurface that can fit the data recorded during the seismic acquisition survey. In that context, the seismic wave equation is the most appropriate mathematical model. Numerous research programs and related publications have been devoted to this equation. An acoustic representation is suitable if the waves propagate in a fluid. But the subsurface does not contain fluids only and the acoustic representation is not sufficient in the general case. Indeed the acoustic wave equation does not take some waves into account, for instance shear waves, turning waves or the multiples that are generated after several reflections at the interfaces between the different layers of the geological model. It is then necessary to consider a mathematical model that is more complex and resolution techniques that can model such waves. The elastic or viscoelastic wave equations are then reference models, but they are much more difficult to solve, in particular in the 3D case. Hence, we need to develop new high-performance approximation methods.
Reflection seismics is an indirect measurement technique that consists in recording echoes produced by the propagation of a seismic wave in a geological model. This wave is created artificially during seismic acquisition surveys. These echoes (i.e., reflections) are generated by the heterogeneities of the model. For instance, if the seismic wave propagates from a clay layer to sand, one will observe a sharp reflected signal in the seismic data recorded in the field. One then talks about reflection seismics if the wave is reflected at the interface between the two media, or talks about seismic refraction if the wave is transmitted along the interface. The arrival time of the echo enables one to locate the position of this transition, and the amplitude of the echo gives information on some physical parameters of the two geological media that are in contact. The first petroleum exploration surveys were performed at the beginning of the 1920's and for instance, the Orchard Salt Dome in Texas (USA) was discovered in 1924 by the seismic-reflection method.