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Beirut Arab University Spring 2015

Faculty of Engineering
Petroleum department

Ch. 2
Data processing


Petroleum & Petrochemical Eng.
Drilling and Production Petroleum Eng.
Geophysical surveys measure the variation of some physical
quantity, with respect either to position or to time.
The simplest way to present the data is to plot a graph
showing the variation of the measured quantity with respect
to distance or time as appropriate.
The graph will reflect physical variations in
the underlying geology, superimposed on
unwanted variations from non-geological
features (such as the effect of electrical
power cables in the magnetic example),
instrumental inaccuracy and data collection
errors. The geophysicists task is to separate
the signal from the noise and interpret the
signal in terms of ground structure.

Analysis of waveforms represents an essential aspect of

geophysical data processing and interpretation.
Digitization of geophysical
Waveforms of geophysical interest
are generally continuous functions
of time or distance. To apply the
power of digital computers to the
task of analysis, the data need to be
expressed in digital form.

f(t) can be represented as digital

function g(t) in which the continuous
function has been replaced by a
series of discrete values at fixed and
equal intervals of time.
In this procedure, two parameters are important:
1. The sampling precision (dynamic range)
2. The sampling frequency

Dynamic range is the ratio of the largest measurable

amplitude Amax to the smallest measurable amplitude Amin
in a sampled function, normally expressed in decibel (dB).
The higher the dynamic range, the more the amplitude
variations in the analogue waveform will be represented in
the digitized version.
In digital computers, digital samples are expressed in binary
Sampling frequency is the number of sampling points in
unit time or unit distance.
If a waveform is sampled every two milliseconds (sampling
interval), the sampling frequency is 500 samples per
second or 500 Hz.
Sampling at this rate will preserve all frequencies up to
250 Hz in the sampled function. This frequency of half the
sampling frequency is known as the Nyquist frequency ( fN)
and the Nyquist interval is the frequency range from zero
up to fN

Where = sampling interval

Spectral analysis
By means of the mathematical technique of Fourier
analysis, any periodic waveform may be decomposed
into a series of sine (or cosine) waves whose
frequencies are integer multiples of the basic repetition
frequency 1/T, known as the fundamental frequency.

It is necessary to define not only the frequency of each

component but also its amplitude and phase.

The two sine wave components are

of equal amplitude and in phase.
Fourier transformation may be used to convert a time
function g(t) into its equivalent amplitude and phase
spectra A(f) and (f), or into a complex function of
frequency G(f) known as the frequency spectrum, where

So from:
Ex. for Fourier transform pairs for Transient
waveforms approximating seismic pulses
Waveform processing

The principles of convolution, deconvolution

and correlation form the common basis for
many methods of geophysical data
processing, especially in the field of seismic
reflection surveying. Their importance is that
they quantitatively describe how a waveform
is affected by a filter. Filtering is an inherent
characteristic of any system through which a
signal is transmitted.

It is a mathematical operation defining the change

of shape of a waveform resulting from its passage
through a filter. for example, a seismic pulse
generated by an explosion is altered in shape by
filtering effects, both in the ground and in the
recording system, so that the seismogram (the
filtered output) differs significantly from the initial
seismic pulse (the input).
The principle of filtering illustrated by the perturbation
of a suspended weight system

Deconvolution or inverse filtering is a process

that counteracts a previous convolution (or
filtering) action.

Deconvolution is an essential aspect of seismic

data processing, being used to improve
seismic records by removing the adverse
filtering effects encountered by seismic waves
during their passage through the ground.
Cross-correlation of two digital waveforms involves cross-
multiplication of the individual waveform elements and
summation of the cross-multiplication products over the
common time interval of the waveforms.

The cross-correlation function involves progressively

sliding one waveform past the other and, for each time
shift, or lag, summing the cross-multiplication products
to derive the cross-correlation as a function of lag value.
Cross-correlation of two
identical waveforms.
Digital filtering
In waveforms of geophysical interest, it is standard practice
to consider the waveform as a combination of signal and
noise. The signal is that part of the waveform that relates to
the geological structures under investigation. The noise is
all other components of the waveform.

Digital filtering is widely employed in geophysical data

processing to improve the signal characteristics. A very
wide range of digital filters is in routine use in geophysical,
and especially seismic, data processing. The two main types
of digital filter are frequency filters and inverse
(deconvolution) filters.
Imaging and modelling
Once the geophysical waveforms have been processed to
maximize the signal content, that content must be extracted
for geological interpretation. Imaging and modelling are two
different strategies for this work.

In imaging, the measured waveforms are presented in a

form in which they simulate an image of the subsurface
structure. Imaging is a very powerful tool, as it provides a
way of summarizing huge volumes of data in a format which
can be readily comprehended, that is, the visual image. A
disadvantage of imaging is that often it can be difficult or
impossible to extract quantitative information from the
In modelling, the geophysicist chooses a particular type of
structural model of the subsurface, and uses this to predict
the form of the actual waveforms recorded.

The model is then adjusted to give the closest match

between the predicted (modelled) and observed

The goodness of the match obtained depends on both the

signal-to-noise ratio of the waveforms and the initial
choice of the model used.

Modelling is an essential part of most geophysical

methods and is well exemplified in gravity and magnetic