N286 Seismic Acquisition Principles and Practice (Houston, USA)

Course Facts

Course Code:
5 days
Physical Demand:
4.0 Continuing Education Units
40 Professional Development Hours
Certificate Issued Upon Completion


This course is for geoscientists seeking to gain a practical understanding of the underlying principles and current industry practices regarding seismic data acquisition from high land to marine environments. Participants will obtain a working knowledge of significant issues related to survey design, invitations to bid, the process of data acquisition, supervision/QC including field data processing, and Health/Safety/Environmental compliance.

Duration and Training Method

This is a five-day field course that includes classroom lectures, but the majority of the time is dedicated to practical field exercises dealing with both land and marine seismic recording operations. Field exercises include line layout, testing impulsive and vibroseis recording parameters, recording 2D/3D data, VSP recording, and marine streamer operations. Optional activities include surveying and the collection of gravity data along a seismic profile.

Participants will learn to:

  1. Evaluate the fundamental differences between various types of seismic sources, select source/instrument confi gurations and parameters to meet project objectives.
  2. Assess imaging challenges for specific project areas, apply technical knowledge of spatial sampling, migration aperture, offset/azimuth distribution, and fold in preliminary survey design specifications.
  3. Supervise contractor-specialists in the design of 2D and 3D seismic surveys that satisfy project requirements in land/wetland/marine environments,
  4. Prepare survey specifications, outline operational constraints for acquisition contracts, prepare tender invitations for seismic acquisition projects,
  5. Design/supervise/evaluate field tests to optimize data quality,
  6. Acquire a Vertical Seismic Profile (VSP) and compare it to surface seismic.
  7. Implement a field QC process designed to insure contract compliance as well as a successful outcome of the acquisition project.

Day 1:
Overview of seismic acquisition
1. Land/swamp operations
   Sources; explosives, vibroseis, air guns, weight drop
   Sensors, arrays, seismic noise
   Recording instruments
   Examples of typical surveys
2. Marine operations
   Streamer, node, and OBC operations
   Air gun array design
   Sensors, noise considerations
   Recording instruments
   Examples of typical survey designs
3. Land exercises  – Noise spread layout, tests with impulsive sources

Day 2:
Review of exercise data from previous day
Overview of seismic acquisition, continued
1. Planning a survey
   Assessment of project imaging challenges 
   Review of existing data sets
   Factors affecting seismic resolution
   Choice of source configuration
   Sampling/binning/fold requirements
   Azimuth & offset considerations
   Migration aperture
2. Geodesy, projections, grids, survey practice
3. Land exercises  – 2D Line layout, surveying, gravity measurements (optional), vibroseis sweep tests

Day 3: 
Review of exercise data from previous day
Project planning & execution
1. Tender process
   Contract considerations, required inputs
   Parameter testing (things you can change in the field)
2. HSE compliance overview
3. Field supervision & QC
   Instrument testing
   Permit issues
   Contract compliance
   Monitor production
4. Field exercises – 2D line recording, VSP recording

Day 4:
1. Review of exercise data from previous day
   3D survey design practices 
   Design software 
2. Examples; land, swamp, & marine
   Field exercises – Layout, record 3D patch using vibroseis

Day 5: 
Review of exercise data from previous day
Marine recording practices
1. Air gun arrays
2. Streamer design
3. Marine 3D designs
4. Marine recording exercises in Galveston Bay
    Sub-bottom profi ling (Seafl oor to 100+m)
    Bubble gun 2D recording using a short marine streamer

Who should attend

This course should be of interest to all geoscientists using seismic data in their work, especially those planning to acquire seismic data in the future.

Prerequisites and linking courses

There are no pre-requisites for this course. Participants wishing to learn more about seismic data processing should consider Nautilus Training Alliance course N066 (An Objective Approach to Seismic Acquisition, Processing and Reprocessing). Attendees wishing to learn more about seismic interpretation should consider course N085 (Introduction to Seismic Interpretation).

The physical demands for this class are LOW according to the Nautilus Training Alliance field course grading system. The field days will be spent on a University of Houston property between Houston and Galveston. Participants will be spending field days during late Spring or early Fall and conditions are typically hot and humid. Participants will be walking short distances (less than 2 m/3.2 km) over flat terrain (maximum elevation change is less than 10 m (30 ft). Transport to the field will be by van or mini-bus.


Learn how RPS manages safety

Click on a name to learn more about the instructor

Rob Stewart

Excellent course - very "real life" in execution and outcome, highly recommended.