Virtual Learning Series

Using Virtual Reality to Reveal Hidden Seismic Details

Steven Lynch
Chief Geoscientist, Visual Wavefield



The most cost-effective and efficient way to explore is to use seismic we already own over leases we have already acquired. But once we have exploited an area, there is little motivation to re-examine the seismic in the region because it is unlikely to tell us anything new. This can change if we believe that reprocessing the data may significantly improve its quality. However, reprocessing is expensive and its benefits, if any, rarely lead to new prospects.

There is, however, a more cost-effective way of getting significantly more information out of our existing seismic. Missing in our historical treatment of seismic is an appreciation that it is an analog acoustic wavefield and that before we interpret it, we must reconstruct its analog nature. Simplistically, this means creating and visualizing a three-dimensional surface formed from the seismic amplitudes. Regardless of the seismic involved, when we do that, we discover that it contains a massive amount of relevant information that was previously unobserved and uninterpreted.

Reconstructing the analog wavefield is a real-time process and does not require reprocessing of the data. It produces visualizations that are massively more informative and in doing so, provides motivation to take another look at your seismic library.


Dr. Lynch is the Chief Geoscientist for "The Visual Wavefield Project". He received his B.Sc. in Biophysics (with Distinction) from the University of Guelph in 1975 and his M.Sc. in Geophysics from the University of British Columbia in 1977. Following a 26-year absence from academia, Steve returned to University in 2003 to study seismic visualization and received his Ph.D. from the University of Calgary in 2008.

Steve has a wide range of experience in both geophysical research and software development. Early in his career he managed seismic processing centers and developed techniques for such varied subjects as refraction statics, depth migration, ray trace structural modeling and stratigraphic modeling.

In the early 2000's, realizing that that our ability to perceive seismic was not keeping pace with our ability to acquire and process it, Steve returned to his biophysical roots and began to study visualization as a science. His research led him to pioneer the field of Perceptive Seismic Interpretation. He now splits his time between developing software for it and teaching courses about it.