On the use of quantum computation in exploration seismology

Shahpoor Moradi, Daniel O. Trad, Kristopher A. Innanen

Recent advances in quantum computer hardware and software have led to a jump in the number of discipline areas of pure and applied science identifying themselves as stakeholders in quantum computation (QC) technology. Areas such as chemistry, biology, machine learning and finance are clearly on this list, and it is the purpose of this article to advocate that geophysics should be too. Seismic exploration and monitoring practitioners and researchers in particular stand to gain an enormously powerful tool when QC comes online. Meaningful advances in seismic exploration methods depend on progress in computer hardware and software technology. In our view, it is essential for geophysicists to start to become familiar with the ideas and the potential within the computers and algorithms in the quantum regime, in order to properly take advantage of these tools as they become available. Along this line, the effectiveness in principle of quantum algorithms for seismic wave modeling and seismic imaging is discussed, at the same time introducing in geo-scientific terms the opportunities and challenges of QC. We examine the extent to which QC will be able to solve both the seismic modeling and imaging problems, by exploiting quantum algorithms such as quantum linear systems of equations, quantum Fourier transform and quantum database search.