SEG Distinguished Instructor Short Course

Microseismic Imaging of Hydraulic Fracturing: Improved Engineering of Unconventional Shale Reservoirs

Shawn Maxwell

8:00 AM to 5:00pm
Calgary Telus Convention Centre



Hydraulic fracture stimulations are critical for the development of unconventional reservoirs, and the growing interest in shale reservoirs has resulted in the rapid expansion of microseismic fracture imaging. During high-pressure fluid injections of a hydraulic fracture treatment, microseismic emissions occur as cracks form and interact with pre-existing fractures. Images of the microseismic locations can be used to interpret hydraulic fracture geometries, including the direction, dimensions, and complexity resulting from networks of fractures in different orientations. The course will provide an overview of microseismic theory and practical application: from acquisition and survey design, processing through to interpretation. The emphasis will be on practical issues associated with acquisition of high-quality microseismic data, including potential pitfalls and quality control steps. Actual case studies will be used to demonstrate engineering benefits and improved production through the use of microseismic.

Course Objectives

Students will gain an understanding of the theoretical and practical aspects of microseismicity, including how to use data to improve engineering design of hydraulic fractures, as well as:

  • Basics of hydraulic fracture operations
  • Geomechanical processes that generate microseismicity, and how it relates to the hydraulic fracture growth
  • Issues associated with high-quality microseismic data
  • Common processing pitfalls and quality control approaches to processing workflows
  • Identifying and accounting for potential monitoring biases
  • Interpretation of microseismic images
  • Application of microseismic data to fracture engineering challenges
  • Monitoring-induced seismicity


Shawn Maxwell is Chief Geophysicist and Microseismic Advisor for Schlumberger's Microseismic Services corporate business unit, and is based in Calgary, Alberta. Prior employment included initiating microseismic services with Pinnacle Technologies (Halliburton) and ESG, and as a Lecturer at Keele University in England. Shawn was awarded a Ph.D. specializing in Microseismology from Queen's University in Kingston, Canada.

Dr. Maxwell is a member of the SEG, SPE, EAGE and CSEG. He serves on various microseismic-focused committees and workshops around the globe, is the CSEG Education Director, and chairs the CSEG Microseismic User Group. He is also currently the associate editor on passive seismic for Geophysics.

Shawn has authored and presented numerous papers on microseismicity in engineering, geophysics, geomechanics and geology journals and meetings. He was selected to be a 2013 SPE Distinguished Lecturer presenting "What Have We Learned About Fracturing Shales After 12 Years Of Microseismic Mapping?"