A brief history and extended future of full-wave seismic exploration

Robert R. Stewart

This paper presents a short history - and extended future - of the multicomponent (full-wave/vector/elastic) seismic method. The goal of the method is to more fully generate and record complete vibrations in the earth; then, use these recordings to enhance traditional P-wave arrivals and create complementary shear- and surface-wave pictures. Of the additional wavetypes recorded, the converted wave (P-to-S on reflection) has found the most use in resource exploration (including imaging through gas volumes, sand-shale discrimination, and fracture assessment). Acquisition has progressed with many new land (e.g., MEMS) and marine systems (cables and nodes). Processing has also improved, with novel migration and anisotropy procedures making much better images. Commercial software for multicomponent analysis and interpretation has helped create a cascade of innovative uses and case histories. As the demand for more crisp and informative subsurface imaging grows, so does the need for multicomponent seismic application.