N004 The Essentials of Rock Physics and Seismic Amplitude Interpretation

Course Facts

Course Code:
4 days
3.2 Continuing Education Units
32 Professional Development Hours
Certificate Issued Upon Completion


This course focuses on the construction and application of first-order models in seismic amplitude interpretation and through this promotes the understanding of the essential aspects of rock physics that are relevant in interpreting all types of seismic displays (including reflectivity, impedance and AVO data).

Duration and Training Method

A four-day classroom course in Europe and the USA or a five-day classroom course in Australia and Asia Pacific (includes some additional material). The course comprises a mixture of lectures and practical exercises using commercially available PC based software.

Participants will learn to:
1. Employ simplifications to the Zoeppritz equations and understand why they are useful in describing variation of amplitude with offset and how they are used in seismic modelling and interpretation.
2. Categorise AVO responses.
3. Appreciate how various rock property factors (such as lithology and fluid fill) affect the contrasts in acoustic properties that give rise to seismic signatures.
4. Construct simple single-interface amplitude-versus-angle models and determine first order effects to look for on various seismic displays.
5. Employ basic AVO interpretation: 1) knowing that an understanding of phase and polarity is critical to successful interpretation and 2) recognising that changes in fluid may give rise to dim spots, bright spots or phase reversals.
6. Calculate the vertical resolution of seismic data.
7. Recognise the importance of calibration of seismic to well data, including the issues involved in upscaling log data to the seismic scale, and appreciate the importance of understanding accuracy in well ties.
8. Recognise the data sources used for building seismic models and understand the basics behind the application of rock physics models in fluid and lithology substitution.
9. Apply Gassmann’s equation to evaluate the effect of changing fluids on acoustic properties.
10. Comprehend the basics of seismic inversion and the potential pitfalls.
11. Understand the basics behind the various approaches to AVO analysis: 1) conventional 2 term reflectivity interpretation 2) elastic inversion 3) physics-driven trace matching.
12. Construct an AVO projection designed to optimise changes in fluid fill.
13. Appreciate the issues involved in Prospect Risking and understand the need for systematic analysis of both geological and geophysical factors.
14. Appreciate the principles of seismic acquisition and processing needed to achieve ‘AVO friendly’ seismic data.

Course content is evenly split between lectures that review the basics of how seismic relates to rock properties and PC based practicals utilizing real data. Through the use of commercially available PC based software the basics of rock physics interpretation of seismic data are understood. At the end of the course the student will not only be able to create first order reflectivity models and understand the basics behind the buzzwords (AVO, EI etc) but also to ask pertinent questions that relate to the use of seismic data in prospect risking.

Lecture review topics include:

  • Basic rock properties and reflectivity
  • The mechanics of seismic data processing (Geometry, Stacking and Migration)
  • An introduction to key processing issues
  • Seismic bandwidth and the convolutional model
  • Wavelets – phase and polarity
  • Resolution – sections and maps
  • Tying wells to seismic
  • The concept of trace inversion to acoustic impedance
  • Seismic data and the AVO plot
  • The rock physics basis of AVO
  • An introduction to AVO analysis
  • The elements of seismic modelling
  • Rock physics - where to get the numbers for modelling
  • Understanding real rocks – the key to rock physics modelling
  • Applying Rock Physics in Exploration (models and risk)
  • Useful checklists for amplitude interpretation

Practical exercises include:

  • Creating models of various AVO scenarios
  • Predicting the expected responses for various types of seismic display
  • Modelling fluid parameters and the effects of fluids and lithology on rock properties
  • Investigating the issues behind the use of log data for seismic models

Who should attend

The course is aimed as an introduction to practical rock physics application in seismic interpretation and would be of interest to all working geoscientists including geologists, geophysicists, petrophysicists and engineers. For experienced geophysicists who are regularly involved in seismic modelling the course might be used as a refresher.

Prerequisites and linking courses

N004, along with N049 (Seismic Attributes for Exploration and Reservoir Characterisation) and N385 (Workflows for Seismic Reservoir Characterisation), is a cornerstone of the Reservoir Characterisation set of courses within the Geophysical Competency suite. It is suitable for non-geophysicists but requires a basic understanding of the seismic method such as that provided by N085 (Introduction to Seismic Interpretation) or N080 (Geophysics for Subsurface Professionals).

Click on a name to learn more about the instructor

John Chamberlain

Rob Simm

Related Subjects

A difficult and very technical subject taught very well and aimed at all levels. Good forum also that promotes discussion of all levels of experience.