Curvelets, dreamlets, and a few tears

Day 3 of the SEG Annual Meeting came and went in a bit of a blur. Delegates were palpably close to saturation, getting harder to impress. Most were no longer taking notes, happy to let the geophysical tide of acoustic signal, and occasional noise, wash over them. Here's what we saw.

Gilles Hennenfent, Chevron

I (Evan) loved Gilles's talk Interpretive noise attenuation in the curvelet domain. For someone who is merely a spectator in the arena of domain transforms and noise removal techniques, I was surprised to find it digestable and well-paced. Coherent noise can be difficult to remove independently from coherent signal, but using dyadic partitions of the frequency-wavenumber (f-k) domain, sectors called curvelets can be muted or amplified for reducing noise and increasing signal. Curvelets have popped up in a few talks, because they can be a very sparse representation of seismic data.

Speaking of exotic signal decompositions, Ru-Shan Wu, University of California at Santa Clara, took his audience to new heights, or depths, or widths, or... something. Halfway through his description of the seismic wavefield as a light-cone in 4D Fourier time-space best characterized by drumbeat beamlets—or dreamlets—we realized that we'd fallen through a wormhole in the seismic continuum and stopped taking notes.

Lev Vernik, Marathon

Lev dished a delicious spread of tidbits crucial for understanding the geomechanical control on hydraulic fracture stimulations. It's common practice to drill parallel to the minimum horizontal stress direction to optimize fracture growth away from the well location. For isotropic linear elastic fracture behaviour, the breakdown pressure of a formation is a function of the maximum horizontal stress, the vertical stress, the pore pressure, and the fracture toughness. Unfortunately, rocks we'd like to frack are not isotropic, and need to be understood in terms of anisotropy and inelastic strains.

Lastly, we stopped in to look at the posters. But instead of being the fun-fest of awesome geoscience we were looking forward to (we're optimistic people), it was a bit of a downer and made us rather sad. Posters are often a bit unsatisfactory for the presenter: they are difficult to make, and often tucked away in a seldom-visited corner of the conference. But there was no less-frequented corner of San Antonio, and possibly the state of Texas, than the dingy poster hall at SEG this year. There were perhaps 25 people looking at the 400-or-so posters. Like us, most of them were crying.

More posts from SEG 2011.