SEG Advanced Modeling (SEAM) Corporation

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Gulf of Mexico Subsalt Numerical Model, SEAM

The SEG Advanced Modeling Program (SEAM) is a partnership between industry and SEG designed to advance geophysical science and technology through the construction of subsurface models and generation of synthetic data sets. See | SEAM Consortium Home Page.

SEG Special Commendation

The SEG Advanced Modeling (SEAM) Corporation initiative is a collaborative industrial research effort that has created and continues to create large-scale, leading-edge geophysical numerical simulations. The initiative has advanced “the science of geophysics through SEAM’s open collaborative and cooperative research model involving industry, government, and academia.”[1] SEAM was begun in 2007 and has successfully involved hundreds of SEG volunteer researchers. The SEAM board chairs from the beginning to the present — Ken Larner, Arthur Cheng, William Abriel, Walter Lynn, Manik Talwani, Kevin Bishop, Leon Thomsen and Josef Paffenholz — have significantly and successfully led outstanding high-performance SEAM teams. SEAM has fulfilled its promise and has become a high-profile, continuing component of SEG’s services to the global geophysical community.

Citation for SEG Special Commendation 2014

Contributed by William (“Bill”) Barkhouse

Throughout the history of applied geophysics, advances have come in many forms, but mainly as new scientific ideas and technological innovations

Norman Bleistein and Ken Larner [2]

SEAM has uniquely advanced the science of geophysics within the new paradigm of cooperative research. By sharing the very high costs of model design and data simulation, SEAM has successfully provided forums for industry leaders to discuss geophysical and geologic challenges with great current relevance. It also has advanced the art of modeling and scientific computation by stimulating research and development and has delivered data sets for industry benchmarks and educational learning and outreach. A new cooperative research business model in a variation of the standard industry consortium model has produced significant new geophysical products at very competitive costs.

SEAM’s projects to date include new state-of-the-art 3D geologic models for seismic grand challenges.  For marine, subsalt is tackled in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico model. For land, three 3D numerical simulations of land-seismic challenges are addressed in three new models.

First is the Barrett Unconventional Model, containing shale reservoirs (with orthorhombic elastic properties) similar to the Eagle Ford and Woodford shale-gas plays, in the stratigraphic setting of a Mid-Continent basin. It is geologically modeled with the near surface and overburden of the Arkoma Basin.

Second, the Arid Model contains reservoirs and overburden similar to the Barrett Unconventional Model but replaces the first 500 meters of the near surface with structures such as karsts, wadis, and outcropping bedrock, often encountered in desert terrains.

Third, the Foothills Model contains complex structural features of fold-and-thrust belts overlain by the highly heterogeneous near surface and rough topography of foothills regions similar to the eastern Cordillera of Colombia. Rock-physics properties are defined prior to simulations.

New SEAM business-development projects respond more fully to the needs of the interpretation community and include the first SEAM interpretation data sets, with an imaged volume from deep water using a perturbed velocity model to create varying degrees of interpretation difficulties. This first SEAM interpretation data set will be released at no cost to the SEG community, with priority to students and universities.

A new SEAM pressure-prediction and hazard-avoidance project has received a $1.9MM contract from RPSEA, stimulating the project to initiation in the fall of 2014.

In addition, a new life-of-field project aims to provide reservoir-specific modeling from discovery through production. It will stimulate communication and integration through several disciplines in oil and gas organizations and has technical volunteers from SEG’s sister societies AAPG and SPE. They are critically involved in a pilot project to gain insight on the design for a full-scale SEAM project to be initiated in 2015.

Longer-term SEAM business-development projects are projected for the next five to 10 years.

SEAM "Power of Geophysical Modeling"

SEAM "Power of Geophysical Modeling" (PDF)

SEAM Phase I 2D classic subset

In 2007, 24 companies joined together in a partnership unlike any the field of geophysics has ever seen. SEAM Phase I Earth Models and synthetic data sets have been designed and developed by bringing together the combined intellectual expertise of the best minds, talents, and experience in the industry. Phase I addressed challenges of subsalt imaging in tertiary basins, with emphasis on deepwater Gulf of Mexico. The project was a resounding success, yielding data sets and models that are now available outside the SEAM Phase I partnership.

The SEAM phase I 2D classic dataset, distributed in 2014, consists of a cross-section at North=23,900 from the 3D Seam phase I model. The section is 35000 m long and depth extends to 15000 m. The earth model is defined with three files: P-Velocity, S-Velocity, and Density. The dataset also includes a segy file of 151 shots from the 3D elastic simulation. Only traces with shot and receiver coordinates on North=23,900 are included.


  1. SEG Honors and Awards Ceremony in Official Program and Exhibitors Directory, SEG Denver 26-31 October 2014 p.36-49.
  2. Norman Bleistein and Ken Larner, 2002, Presidential Session and Honors and Awards Program: SEG, p. 17.

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