Category Archives: News and Events

Latest CRGC-related News and Events.

Recent Geophysics Specialist software licence renewals for 2019/2020

The following software licences have recently been renewed for the 2019/20 period. These software applications are used extensively in both research and teaching areas within Exploration Geophyisics as well as other areas in Curtin Univeristy.

Donation, Grant and Education licenced software: DownUnder GeoSolutions “Insight” donation; Hampson Russell Software “HRS” donation; IHS “Kingdom” and “Harmony Enterprise” donation; Ikon Science “RokDoc” and “JiFi” donation; Schlumberger Western Geco “Vista” and “Omni” donation; Comsol “Multiphysics” education; Tensor “Modelvision” education; WASY “FEFlow” education; ALT “WellCAD” education.

Many thanks to all of our software vendors who continue to encourage and support the use of their specialised software packages within our Discipline.

PhD Student Arrivals

Welcome to PhD student, Ms. Pilar Di Martino

Pilar is a PhD Student from the Aberdeen-Curtin Alliance. This collaborative programme requires her to spend years 1 and 3 in the home institution (University of Aberdeen), and year 2 in the host Institution (Curtin University). Her year at Curtin will be supervised by Dr Stephanie Vialle and Prof Andrew Putnis. Her research will involve working on rock-physics to field characterisation of seismic attenuation from scattered wavefield. The aim is to explore the connection between seismic and rock properties and lay down the use of these parameters to develop new imaging techniques of heterogeneous sequences at field scale. She has a BSc in Geophysical Engineering (2013) from Universidad Simon Bolivar (Venezuela), where her thesis was on Analysis and interpretation of microseismic data—Pilot CO2  Storage (CCS) in the field of Rousse, France. She also holds a MSc in Geophysics (2017) from the University of Aberdeen (UK) where her project was on Analysis of azimuthal inverted volumes for fracture characterisation in Machar Field.

Pilar has experience working as a ‘Well Placement Engineer’ for Schlumberger for 2.5 years. The scope of the job was to optimise the position of horizontal wells into the reservoir using and analysing the geology of the field and the petrophysical measurements obtained while drilling. She also completed a short internship programs with TOTAL working on analysis and treatment of microseismic data, and with DUG performing seismic processing.

Pilar’s provisional thesis title is “Unconventional reservoir imaging and geological interpretation in porous, heterogeneous environment via integrated seismic, petrophysical and mineralogical techniques” and her interim Supervisor is Dr. Stephanie Vialle.

Welcome to PhD student, Mr. Roman Isaenkov

Roman graduated from Lomonosov Moscow State University with a Masters degree in 2016. From 2014 he started work as a Junior Geophysicist in the Center of Seismic Data Analysis. His work was focused on processing very-high-resolution marine seismic data (conventional and deep-towed). He participated in a few marine expeditions in Barents, Kara, Laptev and Okhotsk seas as a Data Processing and Quality Analysis Specialist. His team developed a 3D marine very-high-resolution system for seismic exploration with the first experiment conducted in 2017.

In 2018, he had an internship at CSIRO, where he studied which parameters of CO2-saturated reservoir may be estimated from time-lapse seismic response using bunch of 1D-models generated in stochastic way.

Roman’s provisional thesis title is “Development of a semi-automated workflow for permanent seismic monitoring data analysis/integration based on statistical learning algorithms” and his interim Supervisor is Dr. Konstantin Tertyshnikov.


The CRGC welcomes two visiting researchers from Northwest University China

Dr. Hongyan Yu, Northwest University, China


Dr. Hongyan Yu is visiting Exploration Geophysics as a Visiting Researcher and is working with Prof. Maxim Lebedev in the fields of core flooding and CCS.

Hongyan is currently an assistant professor at Northwest University. She received her Master’s in 2009 and PhD in 2012 from China University of Petroleum, Beijing. Hongyan developed her research in geological and petrophysical reservoir Characterisation in unconventionals (shale, coal), CO2 geosequestration at pore-scale with X-ray micro-computed tomography.

Mr. Xiaolong Li, Northwest University, China

Mr. Xiaolong Li is visiting Exploration Geophysics as an occupational trainee. Xiaolong is working with Prof. Maxim Lebedev on researching the sandstone properties of the Ordos basin in China.

Xiaolong Li is currently a master at Northwest University. He received his bachelor’s in 2019 from Northwest University, Xi’an. Xiaolong developed his research in petrophysical reservoir characterisation in unconventionals (shale, coal), CO2 geosequestration at pore-scale with X-ray micro-computed tomography.

Seminar: Seismic attenuation, dispersion, and anisotropy in porous rocks: Mechanisms and Models

by Prof. Boris Gurevich, Professor, Exploration Geophysics, Curtin University; CSIRO

Thursday 15 August 2019, 11AM–12PM, ARRC Auditorium

ABSTRACT: Understanding and modeling of attenuation of elastic waves in fluid-saturated rocks is important for a range of geophysical technologies that utilise seismic, acoustic, or ultrasonic amplitudes. A major cause of elastic wave attenuation is viscous dissipation due to the flow of the pore fluid induced by the passing wave. Wave-induced fluid flow occurs as a passing wave creates local pressure gradients within the fluid phase and the resulting fluid flow is accompanied with internal friction until the pore pressure is equilibrated. The fluid flow can take place on various length scales: for example, from compliant fractures into the equant pores (so-called squirt flow), or between mesoscopic heterogeneities like fluid patches in partially saturated rocks. A common feature of these mechanisms is heterogeneity of the pore space, such as fractures, compliant grain contacts, or fluid patches. Using theoretical calculations and experimental data, we will explore how this heterogeneity affects attenuation, dispersion, and anisotropy of porous rocks. I will outline a consistent theoretical approach that quantifies these phenomena and discuss rigorous bounds for attenuation and dispersion.

Seminar: A general framework for anisotropic and wavefront moveout parameter analysis

by Mr. Hamish Wilson, Ph.D. Candidate, School of Earth Sciences – University of Queensland

Thursday 23 May 2019, 11AM – 12PM, ARRC Auditorium

ABSTRACT: Moveout and wavefront parameter analysis, correction, and stacking are important steps in any seismic processing workflow. Moveout and wavefront parameters are utilised to approximate traveltime curves which best approximate the moveout of a reflector with offset and midpoint displacement. The arithmetic mean along each final approximated curve is then stored in a master trace at each time sample in a process known as correction and stacking. Global optimisation using the semblance operator as an objective function is utilised to determine the parameter set that best approximates the reflection surface moveout in the data at each time sample. Typically approximations for moveout in offset direction such as the Normal Moveout (NMO) approximation and approximations for moveout in both offset and midpoint displacement directions such as the Common Relfection Surface (CRS) and nonhyperbolic Common Reflection Surface (NCRS) approximations assume that the data in the subsurface is isotropic. This assumption is often too simplistic for real-world problems as real seismic data is generally anisotropic. Moveout approximations such as the generalized moveout approximation (GMA) have been utilised in recent times as a better approximation when it comes to determining nonhyperbholic perturbations associated with anisotropy and lateral heterogeneity than the NMO approximation. Although the GMA approximation has provided far superior accuracy and the ability to delineate anisotropy in 2D seismic data. There is a limitation in that it has no dependence on midpoint displacement that is accounted for in the CRS and NCRS approximations. Conversely the CRS approximations do not have any parameters associated with anisotropy.

Other limitations associated with parameter analysis and stacking are moveout stretch, and amplitude variations with offset (AVO). Stretching is the phenomena of lengthening the dominant wavelength of the reflection impulse with increasing offset and decreasing zero-offset time. This due to nonparallelism of the local traveltimes away from the onset of each reflection impulse which is a limitation of various moveout approximations. Class IIP AVO anomalies which are associated with a polarity reversal in the amplitudes with offset are known to augment the location of the true optima in the parameter space leading to incorrect parameter optimisation. Thus far I have outlined three issues that need to be remedied in the parameter analysis, correction, and stacking steps of the seismic workflow. A further step that may be an issue is the computational effort required to optimise large numbers of parameter sets at each zero-offset time.

In this talk I provide a new frame work that aims to remedy each of these issues. I firstly introduce a new nonhyperbolic moveout and CRS operator that amalgamates the GMA and NCRS approximations together to provide enhanced accuracy at the cost of more parameters in the optimisation process. This new approximation is called the GMA-NCRS approximation, it has the added advantage of being reducible to the GMA and NCRS approximations with various parameter substitutions, like the GMA approximation it can also embed different approximation types again with different parameter substitutions. I introduce two ways of finding the optimal parameter sets for the GMA-NCRS approximation at each layer rather than each sample . The first technique is partially user driven with users picking a point on each reflection that is utilised to constrain the potential zero-offset time locations for each other moveout parameter for the reflection of interest. The second technique uses multimodal optimisation via a sequential niching technique based on reflection filtering and removal from the the data. Both techniques can be utilised in conjunction with each other. These techniques aim to reduce the computational cost by only optimising each layer instead of sample whilst allowing user control on the amount of data-driven optimisation and user-driven optimisation.

To fix the issue of optima augmentation via AVO anomalies I introduce an AVO-friendly semblance operator that offers higher resolution for AVO-friendly moveout parameter analysis then the well known avo-friendly AB semblance operator. To remove stretch and interfering events I introduce a stretch free distribution for the proposed GMA-NCRS operator as a way to remove stretch from around the onset of a reflection surface and post stretch-free filtering to remove interfering events.

BIOGRAPHY: Hamish Wilson received a BSc (2011) in geological sciences from the University of Queensland, followed by honors majoring in exploration geophysics (2013), where he investigated the use of super-virtual interferometry for the enhancement of first-break picks for improved refraction statics. He is a PhD candidate in the School of Earth Sciences at the University of Queensland. Following his time as an undergraduate, he spent two years working full time as a geophysicist at Dayboro Geophysical, a seismic processing firm in Brisbane, Australia. In 2015, he started his PhD at the University of Queensland where he is investigating and developing techniques of moveout and velocity analysis to aid in the detection and interpretation of anisotropy. His research interests include methods of velocity analysis, semblance analysis, seismic processing methods, meta heuristic algorithms, machine learning, nonhyperbolic moveout analysis, anisotropy, common reflection surface stacking, moveout stretch removal, refraction statics, interferometry, and amplitude variation with offset methods.

Seminar: Seismic Tomographic Imaging: Applications to the Subduction Zone beneath Sumatra and the Shallow Crustal Structure in Java

by Dr. Sri Widiyantoro, Professor, Institute of Technology Bandung, Indonesia

Friday 10 May 2019, 11AM – 12PM, ARRC Auditorium

ABSTRACT: Seismic tomographic imaging has been successfully applied to improve P-wave velocity structure beneath Sumatra using the new data provided by the 2004–2005 Sumatra-Andaman great earthquake sequences and a non-linear approach. Nearly one million compressional phases from events within the Indonesian region have been used. These include the surface-reflected depth phases pP and pwP in order to increase the sampling of the upper-mantle structure, particularly below the back-arc regions. We have combined a high-resolution regional inversion with a low-resolution global inversion to minimise the mapping of distant aspherical mantle structure into the study region. The tomographic images indicate that the slab is folded at depth beneath northern Sumatra, exhibiting geometry similar to that of the volcanic arc and the trench at the surface. We interpret that this fold plays a major role in the segmentation of the Sumatra megathrust, and may impede rupture propagation in the region.

In addition, several applications of seismic tomographic imaging on a local scale in Java will also be presented. These include volcano tomography and the ambient noise tomography (ANT) of megacities, such as Jakarta and Bandung, which have tall buildings built on basins filled with poorly consolidated sediments. The ANT results provide an estimate of the thickness and shear velocity of the basin fill, which is critical to understanding seismic hazard because of the potential for amplification and resonance of seismic waves.

BIOGRAPHY: Sri Widiyantoro is a professor of seismology at ITB, Bandung, Indonesia, where he has spent his academic career since 1987. He conducted research and study visits at prestigious universities overseas, including MIT and ANU, where he finished his PhD program, and research institutions (e.g. Earthquake Research Institute, Tokyo University) to work with top scientists on collaborative research. His main research interest is in the field of seismology, particularly seismic tomographic imaging. His tomographic models were published in various journals, including top journals like Science and Nature. Alongside his work on large-scale seismological problems, he has engaged actively in consultancy on oil, gas, and geothermal explorations related work in Indonesia, so that he can bring a broad perspective to his science.

He has received recognition through many awards including the Doornbos Memorial Prize from IUGG, the Habibie Award from the Habibie Center, the Science and Technology Award from the Indonesian Toray Science Foundation, the Australian Alumni Award for Research and Innovation from the Embassy of Australia in Jakarta, and the Sarwono Award from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI). He has been a Fellow of the Indonesian Academy of Sciences since 2011. He is currently Dean of Faculty of Mining and Petroleum Engineering, ITB (from 2011), and was President for the Indonesian Association of Geophysicists (2012-2014).

Seminar: 3-D Borehole Seismic Techniques – Application to Hardrock Characterisation and Mineral Exploration

by Dr. Calin Cosma, Owner, Vibrometric, Helsinki, Finland

Monday 15 April 2019, 11AM – 12PM, ARRC Auditorium

ABSTRACT: Newly discovered superior-value mineral deposits are increasingly being hosted in deep geological features with intricate shapes and diverse physical properties. Mineralised zones and rock structures of interest to mining produce distinguishable responses when probed with seismic waves and deep targets with complex shapes can be imaged directly from their immediate proximity by borehole seismic techniques. Seismic measurements with sources and receivers placed in boreholes offer a unique combination of investigation depth of one kilometer or more and a level of detail of one metre or less.

The increased use of polarised sources and multi-component receivers augment the data dimensional complexity over the three spatial dimensions and time. Innovative machine learning technology can help extract meaningful data attributes from noise. Measuring tools and procedures used in other fields can produce higher resolution results and lead to a better understanding of the mineral deposits. Storage and disposal facilities built deep in the bedrock provide opportunities to characterise the rock at various scales, which can be readily applied to hard rock exploration and mining. Notable examples are given from rock characterisation projects focused on deformation zones and large fractures at Olkiluoto, Finland and Äspö, Sweden. Whenever possible, there is an advantage in performing 3D borehole seismic imaging surveys at the same time as acquiring surface data. A better coverage in depth over a wider area is thus achieved.

Surface 3D and 3D VSP were applied jointly within pre-feasibility studies for mine development at various locations, including the Kevitsa mine in Northern Finland and the Millennium uranium deposit, in the Athabasca basin of northern Saskatchewan, Canada. These sites are representative by the diversity of the geological conditions and the different challenges they present to any investigation method. In particular, seismic methods, and among these, borehole techniques, were identified as the best tools to potentially characterise alteration and structurally compromised zones. In addition to 3D surface and 3D VSP, significantly more resolved – albeit also more local – images are obtained by downhole and cross-hole side-scan seismic surveys, with sources and receives placed down hole. Such surveys were conducted in Canada at Voisey’s Bay already nearly two decades ago and more recently, with updated technology, at the McArthur River and Snap Lake mines. In-mine 3D borehole seismic imaging techniques can provide continuity information for targets detected locally in galleries and in boreholes.

Reflection seismic imaging from boreholes of a massive sulfide ore deposit was done in the Kylylahti Cu-Au-Zn mine in eastern Finland. The measurements were done by three-component geophones in four boreholes and a fiber-optic Distributed Acoustic Sensing (DAS) cable in one borehole. Both 3-component geophone and DAS VSP methodologies correctly imaged the sub-vertical ore deposit. However, the processing and interpretation of the seismic records was not straightforward due to the geological complexity of the area and elastic three-dimensional full-waveform seismic modeling was conducted to understand the understand the data and represent the results with respect to the geological origins. While focusing on deep targets and producing more detailed and more reliable results in shorter time, recent developments of the borehole seismic methodology strive to minimise cumbersome instrumental deployment at surface and bring the cost of seismic to levels comparable or lower than the cost of drilling.

BIOGRAPHY: Calin Cosma has a broad background in the development of specialised geophysical tools, geophysical imaging and rock characterisation. He holds a PhD in physics and provided notable contributions to the development of detailed scale and deep seismic imaging methods and techniques.

Areas of expertise include: site characterisation (prediction of weak zones and faults, rock quality assessment); mining (ore prospecting and delineation, mapping of ore bodies, dykes, seams and structure); oil (fractured reservoir characterisation, 3D fracture mapping from VSP data); tunnels (prediction of rock anomalies ahead of works and around galleries) & location of old shafts, drifts, caverns; nuclear and hydroelectric power plants (foundation and underground facilities); ground engineering & control of man-made structures; dams and dam sites (detection of leakage, mapping of karsts, checking of grout injection, etc.); bridges (detection of fissures, sand pockets and unconsolidated concrete); chemical and radioactive waste; water resources; environmental contamination; storage for oil, gas, hot water.

Achievements of possible interest: Development of novel seismic tools, including specialized sources, data acquisition and handling techniques for rockmass characterisation and monitoring.

Seminar: Fiber-optic Distributed Acoustic Sensing: Energy, Engineering and Global Seismology Applications

by Dr. Martin Karrenbach, Senior Manager Innovation, OptaSense Ltd

Tuesday 09 April 2019, 11AM – 12 PM, ARRC Auditorium

ABSTRACT: Distributed Acoustic Sensing (DAS) has matured into a technology that has found applications in many different scientific and industrial fields. Using a laser source, a standard telecom-grade optical fibre can be turned into an array with thousands of virtual sensors. All electronics are located away from the sensors, enabling deployment in circumstances where high pressures, high temperatures or other constraints preclude traditional electronic sensing systems. The availability of thousands of sensors along the fibre yields large amounts of high resolution data which can be used in novel algorithms and analysis techniques. After a short introduction to the physical measurement principles, we will show a variety of recent energy, engineering and global seismology applications.

BIOGRAPHY: Martin Karrenbach is Sr. Manager Innovation at Optasense Ltd. where he is focused on developing novel techniques, algorithms and software in support of fiber-optic sensing data to allow acquisition, processing, imaging and integration with standard seismic, microseismic, flow and engineering data. He has a strong interest in computational geophysics and physical system modeling and welcomes interdisciplinary research and development. Dr. Karrenbach received his Ph.D. in Geophysics from Stanford University, M.Sc. in Geophysics from the University of Houston and Bachelors in physics from the University of Karlsruhe.

Founder and current CEO of Vibrometric, a consulting and R & D company, offering specialist seismic contractual and / or consulting services based on sustained R&D activity of more than three decades.

Visiting Academics

Professor Wayne Pennington

 Prof. Wayne Pennington from Michigan Tech, is visiting the Discipline of Exploration Geophysics, Curtin University as a Fullbright Senior Scholar until April 2019. He is collaborating with Prof. Boris Gurevich on research in changes to the subsurface due to production from or injection into a reservoir.

Pennington, a geophysicist, conducts research centered on the response of Earth materials to changes in physical conditions, such as stress, saturation, and temperature. The applications of this work are found in induced seismicity and oil and gas exploration and development.

He has worked in both academia and in industry and has conducted fieldwork at sites around the world. In the 1970s, he studied tectonic earthquakes in Latin America and Pakistan. In the 1980s, at the University of Texas at Austin, he studied the relationship of earthquakes to oil and gas production. Beginning in 1985, he worked at the research laboratory for Marathon Oil Company, studying and developing novel techniques to improve the identification of, and production from, oil and gas reservoirs.

Since 1994, he has been at Michigan Tech, teaching and conducting research into geophysical observations of oil and gas production.  He spent several years as the Chair of the Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences, and became the Interim Dean of the College of Engineering in 2013, moving to the permanent position in 2014.  Retiring from active administration and teaching in 2018, he continues to be engaged in research projects involving oil and gas reservoir characterization and monitoring. He provides services including training and consulting to the industry and governmental agencies.

Pennington has served as the President of the American Geosciences Institute and as the First Vice President of the Society of Exploration Geophysicists.  He was a Jefferson Science Fellow at the US Department of State and the US Agency for International Development.  He has published dozens of peer-reviewed papers and coauthored one book with two of his students.

Dr Cheng-hao Cao

The CRGC welcomes Dr. Cao, a Visiting Postdoc from China. He received his PhD in Geodetection and Information Technology at the School of Earth Sciences and Engineering, Hohai University and his research includes Non-linear pre-stack seismic inversion for multiple parameters based on information mergence and Public welfare program for monitoring of water pollution for Kui River in Xuzhou, Jiangsu Province, China.

Cheng-hao will be visiting Curtin until June this year, undertaking research under the Supervision of Prof. Boris Gurevich on “Squirt flow in the 3D complex porous medium” as well as “Transition between fluid flow with different scales”

Ms Wenhui Tan

Ms. Tan is a visiting Occupational Trainee from China, who holds a Bachelor of Engineering in Geological Engineering from the School of Earth Sciences and Engineering at Suzhou University. She is currently undertaking her PhD in Exploration Geophysics at Hohai University. Her research interest is in Brittleness characteristic of tight oil reservoirs, rock physics.

Wenhui will be at Curtin for a year, working under the supervision of Dr. Vassili Mikhaltsevitch to analyse the brittle characteristics of rocks to establish the relationships between rock brittleness and elastic properties for the basis of seismic inversion of rock brittleness.

Seminar: Our Evolving View of Time-Lapse Seismic Monitoring: 20 years of the same old Teal South data

by Prof Wayne Pennington, Dean and Professor Emeritus, Research Professor of Geophysical Engineering, Michigan Technological University

Thursday 21st February 2019, 11AM–12PM

ABSTRACT: The first ocean-bottom time-lapse seismic studies for reservoir monitoring were conducted at Teal South in the Gulf of Mexico.  The data from this field, including one legacy streamer survey and two post-production ocean-bottom surveys have been used repeatedly to demonstrate new aspects of analysis and interpretation. This seminar will walk through that history, since 1998, with examples from recent publications.