Rayleigh resolution criterion

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Resolution limit of an optical instrument to distinguish between two approaching diffraction patterns. [1]

<translate> </translate> <translate> The Rayleigh resolution criterion defines the limit of resolution for two signals that are influenced by refraction. </translate> — via Dictionary

Baron Rayleigh based the observation on optical experiments on diffraction patterns caused by light transmission through slits.

This criterion plays an important role in seismic resolution. It states that a clear separation of two reflectors is only possible when diffraction patterns are separated at least a distance equal to the peak-to-trough separation of the instrument's diffraction pattern (half the wavelet width). This limit is also referred to as tuning thickness.

For Ricker wavelets the vertical resolution limit can be expressed in terms of wavelength of the dominant frequency lambda as approximately: λ/4

See also




  1. Kallweit, R. S., & Wood, L. C., 1982, The limits of resolution of zero-phase wavelets: Geophysics, 47(7), 1035-1046.
  2. Whaley, J., 2017, Oil in the Heart of South America, https://www.geoexpro.com/articles/2017/10/oil-in-the-heart-of-south-america], accessed November 15, 2021.
  3. Wiens, F., 1995, Phanerozoic Tectonics and Sedimentation of The Chaco Basin, Paraguay. Its Hydrocarbon Potential: Geoconsultores, 2-27, accessed November 15, 2021; https://www.researchgate.net/publication/281348744_Phanerozoic_tectonics_and_sedimentation_in_the_Chaco_Basin_of_Paraguay_with_comments_on_hydrocarbon_potential
  4. Alfredo, Carlos, and Clebsch Kuhn. “The Geological Evolution of the Paraguayan Chaco.” TTU DSpace Home. Texas Tech University, August 1, 1991. https://ttu-ir.tdl.org/handle/2346/9214?show=full.