Can fracture orientation and intensity be detected from seismic data? Woodford Formation, Anadarko Basin, Oklahoma investigation

Marianne Rauch-Davies, David Langton, Michael Bradshaw, Allon Bartana, Dan Kosloff, Jeff Codd, David Kessler*, Jamie Rich, Gary Margrave

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


With readily available wide-azimuth, onshore, 3D seismic data, the search for attributes utilizing the azimuthal information is ongoing. Theoretically, in the presence of ordered fracturing, the seismic wavefront shape changes from spherical to nonspherical with the propagation velocity being faster parallel to the fracturing and slower perpendicular to the fracture direction. This concept has been adopted and is used to map fracture direction and density within unconventional reservoirs. More specifically, azimuthal variations in normal moveout velocity or migration velocity are often used to infer natural fracture orientation. Analyses of recent results have called into question whether azimuthal velocity linked to intrinsic azimuthal velocity variations can actually be detected from seismic data. By use of 3D orthorhombic anisotropic elastic simulation, we test whether fracture orientation and intensity can be detected from seismic data. We construct two subsurface models based on interpreted subsurface layer structure of the Anadarko Basin in Oklahoma. For the first model, the material parameters in the layers are constant vertically transverse isotropic (VTI) in all intervals. The second model was constructed the same way as the base model for all layers above the Woodford Shale Formation. For the shale layer, orthorhombic properties were introduced. In addition, a thicker wedge layer was added below the shale layer. Using the constructed model, synthetic seismic data were produced by means of 3D anisotropic elastic simulation resulting in two data sets: VTI and orthorhombic. The simulated data set was depth migrated using the VTI subsurface model. After migration, the residual moveouts on the migrated gathers were analyzed. The analysis of the depth-migrated model data indicates that for the typical layer thicknesses of the Woodford Shale layer in the Anadarko Basin, observed and modeled percentage of anisotropy and target depth, the effect of intrinsic anisotropy is too small to be detected in real seismic data.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)144-150
Number of pages7
JournalLeading Edge
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • case history
  • unconventional


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