Seismic Methods II: Advanced Seismic Methods

Stephen J. Hill

Colorado School of Mines
University with graduate programs, including doctoral programs


Seismic processing with an emphasis on hydrocarbon exploration

Course URL:
Course Size:

less than 15

Course Context:

The participants in this seismic processing course are geophysics majors who wish to learn how to use seismic data to image the subsurface. The course participants are geophysics seniors and incoming M. S. and Ph.D. geophysics graduate students. This is a one-semester lecture course with equal time spent in a computer laboratory, processing seismic data. At the course conclusion, the course participants present a professional-caliber poster presenting a summary of their seismic processing laboratory work.

Course Goals:

As the result of the successful completion of this course, the course participants should be able to:
  1. Enter the workforce as a seismic processing geophysicist, formulating an approach for processing seismic data.
  2. Enter the workforce as a seismic interpreter; able to avoid common pitfalls while interpreting seismic data and evaluate the appropriateness of the seismic processing applied to his/her seismic interpretation data.
  3. Apply imaging techniques to non-seismic, wave-based geophysical imaging tools.
  4. Synthesize, explain and defend his/her seismic processing decisions through the oral poster presentation and defense.
  5. Predict the shortcomings of typical seismic processing imaging techniques.

How course activities and course structure help students achieve these goals:

Both the course lecture and the laboratory exercises prepare the course participant for his/her independent seismic processing. Through the individual poster presentations of his/her independent seismic processing of real, field data, we assess the ability of the course participant to 1) independently process seismic data, 2) explain that work to knowledgeable faculty members and 3) explain the potential and limitations of that seismic image.

Skills Goals

In addition to the technical, course learnings, the course participant also gains experience in other beneficial activities. (The following list is not unique to this geophysics course.)
  1. Technical writing—The majority of the lecture homework questions require essay questions, with a special emphasis responses that combine words and illustrations. The weekly lab homework is written laboratory reports with included samples of the partially processed seismic data.
  2. Teamwork—At the option of individual participants, they may select to perform their independent processing in a team with a fellow student. In the lab, the students are encouraged to assist each other.
  3. Oral presentations—Singly or in pairs, the course participants prepare and provide poster presentations of their seismic processing, explaining their rationales for their processing decisions.
  4. Hypothesis testing—For real seismic data, there is no one perfect approach in converting the field data into a seismic image. The participant's resultant image is the result of successive hypothesis testing through the many steps of seismic processing. The oral presentation provides the format for explaining the reasons for the seismic processing decisions.

How course activities and course structure help students achieve these goals:

See previous skill goals list and accompanying explanations.

Attitudinal Goals

After the CSM geophysics field camp experience in which the students acquire and quickly process seismic data with faculty assistance, many students have an uneasy understanding of the nature of seismic data. At the course conclusion, these same students confidently understand this data and better understand its potential and limitations. Because of their work in this course, the students have a much healthier and knowledgeable skepticism of "at blind faith" seismic interpretation.

How course activities and course structure help students achieve these goals:

See above


The key assessment is the oral presentation of the independent processing work. Along the way to the successful presentation, students earn "points" in 1) class participation, 2) lab participation, 3) class homework, 4) written lab reports, 5) in-class, written final exam.


Syllabus (Microsoft Word 77kB Jun20 07)