Reflection Seismology

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About the Course

Vertical incidence seismology
Seismic geophysics starts here, with the simplest, most fundamental model. We explore the propagation of a vertically traveling plane wave through layers of different rocks, and discover where reflections arise, and how to calculate their strength.

Convolutions and synthetic seismic
How do we build simple models of the subsurface so that we can understand?
1. We create impedance logs from sonic and density logs
2. We can then create a Reflection Coefficient log

3. Using convolution we can then create a synthetic seismic trace

The limitations and pitfalls will be discussed, and lead to later Knowledgettes on Rock Physics, Absorption, and AvO

Wavelets and Polarity

The three most common wavelet pitfalls are introduced in this lecture.

Ray theory and practice
At a large scale, we can use our Freshman physics ray theory to model how our seismic waves propagate, gaining some real insights. Snell's law applies here, telling us how rays curve and bend. We can get rays focussing to a small area, or diverging and forming shadow zones. Ray theory also helps us to understand migration and to develop a workable strategy for the very special case of interpreting grids of 2D lines.

Your Instructor

Alan Jackson
Alan Jackson

Alan Jackson received his degrees in Physics and Mathematics from Rice University, and a Masters degree in Astrophysics from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Until his retirement, he spent 36 years working for Shell Oil company in Houston, Texas. During his career with Shell he worked as a seismic processor, an onshore and offshore interpreter, and spent 10 years at the research lab. He received the designation Subject Matter Expert in AvO and Rock Physics. While at Shell he developed and taught a variety of training classes on geophysical topics, primarily on Quantitative Interpretation. Alan also served on the editorial board for The Leading Edge, and chaired the board for one year. He is currently serving on the Publications committee of the SEG, enjoying retirement, and consulting on the side.

He may be reached at

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