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A new direction for shallow refraction seismology: integrating amplitudes and traveltimes with the refraction convolution sectionNormal access

Author: Derecke Palmer
Journal name: Geophysical Prospecting
Issue: Vol 49, No 6, November 2001 pp. 657 - 673
DOI: 10.1046/j.1365-2478.2001.00293.x
Organisations: Wiley
Special topic: Special Issue in memory of J.G. Hagedoorn
Language: English
Info: Article, PDF ( 1.29Mb )

The refraction convolution section (RCS) is a new method for imaging shallow seismic refraction data. It is a simple and efficient approach to full-trace processing which generates a time cross-section similar to the familiar reflection cross-section. The RCS advances the interpretation of shallow seismic refraction data through the inclusion of time structure and amplitudes within a single presentation. The RCS is generated by the convolution of forward and reverse shot records. The convolution operation effectively adds the first-arrival traveltimes of each pair of forward and reverse traces and produces a measure of the depth to the refracting interface in units of time which is equivalent to the time-depth function of the generalized reciprocal method (GRM). Convolution also multiplies the amplitudes of first-arrival signals. To a good approximation, this operation compensates for the large effects of geometrical spreading, with the result that the convolved amplitude is essentially proportional to the square of the head coefficient. The signal-to-noise (S/N) ratios of the RCS show much less variation than those on the original shot records. The head coefficient is approximately proportional to the ratio of the specific acoustic impedances in the upper layer and in the refractor. The convolved amplitudes or the equivalent shot amplitude products can be useful in resolving ambiguities in the determination of wave speeds. The RCS can also include a separation between each pair of forward and reverse traces in order to accommodate the offset distance in a manner similar to the XY spacing of the GRM. The use of finite XY values improves the resolution of lateral variations in both amplitudes and time-depths. The use of amplitudes with 3D data effectively improves the spatial resolution of wave speeds by almost an order of magnitude. Amplitudes provide a measure of refractor wave speeds at each detector, whereas the analysis of traveltimes provides a measure over several detectors, commonly a minimum of six. The ratio of amplitudes obtained with different shot azimuths provides a detailed qualitative measure of azimuthal anisotropy and, in turn, of rock fabric. The RCS facilitates the stacking of refraction data in a manner similar to the common-midpoint methods of reflection seismology. It can significantly improve S/N ratios.Most of the data processing with the RCS, as with the GRM, is carried out in the time domain, rather than in the depth domain. This is a significant advantage because the realities of undetected layers, incomplete sampling of the detected layers and inappropriate sampling in the horizontal rather than the vertical direction result in traveltime data that are neither a complete, an accurate nor a representative portrayal of the wave-speed stratification. The RCS facilitates the advancement of shallow refraction seismology through the application of current seismic reflection acquisition, processing and interpretation technology.

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