Geohazard detection using 3D seismic data to enhance offshore scientific drilling site selection

David R. Cox, Paul C. Knutz, D. Calvin Campbell, John R. Hopper, Andrew M.W. Newton, Mads Huuse, Karsten Gohl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


A geohazard assessment workflow is presented that maximizes the use of 3D seismic reflection data to improve the safety and success of offshore scientific drilling. This workflow has been implemented for International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) Proposal 909 that aims to core seven sites with targets between 300 and 1000 m below seabed across the north-western Greenland continental shelf. This glaciated margin is a frontier petroleum province containing potential drilling hazards that must be avoided during drilling. Modern seismic interpretation techniques are used to identify, map and spatially analyse seismic features that may represent subsurface drilling hazards, such as seabed structures, faults, fluids and challenging lithologies. These hazards are compared against the spatial distribution of stratigraphic targets to guide site selection and minimize risk. The 3D seismic geohazard assessment specifically advanced the proposal by providing a more detailed and spatially extensive understanding of hazard distribution that was used to confidently select eight new site locations, abandon four others and fine-tune sites originally selected using 2D seismic data. Had several of the more challenging areas targeted by this proposal only been covered by 2D seismic data, it is likely that they would have been abandoned, restricting access to stratigraphic targets. The results informed the targeted location of an ultra-high-resolution 2D seismic survey by minimizing acquisition in unnecessary areas, saving valuable resources. With future IODP missions targeting similarly challenging frontier environments where 3D seismic data are available, this workflow provides a template for geohazard assessments that will enhance the success of future scientific drilling.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages27
JournalScientific Drilling
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2020

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 5: Nature and Climate


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