Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Advanced distributed acoustic sensing vertical seismic profile imaging of an Alaska North Slope gas hydrate field

March 9, 2022

Gas hydrates are found in significant quantities on the North Slope of Alaska in subpermafrost sand units and intermixed in lower portions of permafrost within the hydrate stability window. While conventional surface seismic data and established imaging methods can indicate the presence of gas hydrate reservoirs, producing high-resolution images of (seismically) thin layers remains challenging due to the preferential attenuation of the higher-frequency data components. An alternative strategy is to use distributed acoustic sensing (DAS) involving cementing optical fibers into boreholes to measure seismic wavefield energy closer to the strata of interest using vertical seismic profiling (VSP). DAS VSP imaging takes advantage of the shorter travel paths and reduced attenuation to generate higher-resolution near-well images. We illustrate these benefits on a DAS VSP data set acquired at the Hydrate-01 stratigraphic test well located in the Prudhoe Bay Unit of Alaska where significant gas hydrate deposits have been detected in two subpermafrost sand layers that are intended for long-duration production testing. Our DAS data preprocessing workflow effectively isolates the upgoing compressional-wave (P-wave) reflections required for subsurface acoustic imaging. After applying three-dimensional (3-D) tomography to improve the quality of the 3-D migration velocity model, we use 3-D reverse-time migration (RTM) to develop high-quality images of the two target sands and minor near-well faulting. We validate our RTM images through highly accurate well-ties with previously acquired petrophysical log data. This study demonstrates that combining 3-D RTM imaging with DAS VSP data provides significant value to gas hydrate and similar projects, and it suggests that more advanced inversion approaches such as (elastic) least-squares RTM could recover higher-resolution and more quantitative estimates of subsurface reflectivity, which would be valuable for refining the understanding of gas hydrate systems.

Publication Year 2022
Title Advanced distributed acoustic sensing vertical seismic profile imaging of an Alaska North Slope gas hydrate field
DOI 10.1021/acs.energyfuels.1c04102
Authors Cullen Young, Jeffrey Shragge, Whitney Shultz, Seth S. Haines, Can Oren, James Simmons, Timothy Collett
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Energy and Fuels
Index ID 70249205
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Central Energy Resources Science Center