Industry consultation gives birth to Eureka

A couple of years ago Maptek was asked if our I-Site Studio software could be used for visualising seismic data. A South Australian exploration company looking for hot rocks was interested in re-evaluating seismic surveys from the southeast of the state. The problem was that while we could view each of the sections individually, it was only a 2D view. What the company really wanted to see was where those sections were placed in space.

So why look at I-Site Studio? If that software could handle millions of laser scan points, then surely it would be able to look at every trace and wiggle on a seismic section. Within a day or so, we cobbled together something to view the seismic points. After a couple of weeks we were able to import and visualise a number of SEG Y files. The company’s geologists were totally engrossed by the ability to see all the seismic sections in 3D. They could see all the subtleties in the strata, faults, non-conformities and so on – all the things that excite geologists.

If we could view seismic data in 3D what else could we view? That is how other large datasets with millions of points such as airborne magnetic and radiometric surveys, and the space shuttle topography dataset and imagery, all came into the now-developing Eureka application. It was the starting point for our new product, Eureka, an integrated platform for viewing and analysing exploration project data.

It wasn’t all smooth sailing though… Seismic surveys record data in time making it necessary to know about the velocity of sound in the rocks to convert the information to correct depth.

Our next step was to develop a tool in Eureka for tracking features in the seismic data. One that would allow users to capture all the detail of a particular horizon – in time. We could use a surface model of the time horizon and a model of the same surface from drillhole data, and from these, convert the seismic time data to depth.

I remember demonstrating this approach to a Maptek customer – a coal miner who wanted to make better use of his seismic data. The demonstration went off without a hitch. In the follow-up discussion, however, he made the point that this was not going to work. The approach we had taken meant that a lot of the important and valuable seismic details had been smoothed away. So we went back to the drawing board.

After a bit of back and forth with the customer we came up with a better approach that gave more correct results by using only the drillhole data picks. The result was a tool that is much easier to use. Eureka is of great value to the geologist because it displays important information in a new and more relevant way, and users can leave it to do the number crunching and ask the right questions at the right time.

Andrew Myers
Chief Software Engineer
November 5, 2012

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