Episode 136: The hidden stories data tell

Joe Dellinger discusses his 2022 Distinguished Instructor Short Course, “Forensic data processing.”

Are you a geophysicist that processes seismic data, or someone who uses the processed results of that data? If so, you probably think of seismic data as something that arrives on a tape or “from the cloud.” However, your data also has other, hidden stories to tell – stories that likely were shredded and lost when you chopped the data into traces and fed it into your algorithms for processing.

We typically call anything our algorithms are not designed to deal with “noise.” Can we make use of such “noise,” or at least better understand it? If we understood it, could we do something useful with it (or at least have a better idea of how to suppress it)?

The goal of Joe’s course – and this conversation – is to get you thinking more critically about your data. How was it recorded? What is in it? What happened to it on the way from the field to numbers in a file? Joe brings his experience, expertise, wisdom, and humor to this essential conversation on data that will be valuable for every geophysicist. Start the new year with the fresh insights presented in this episode.

Seismic Soundoff · 136: The hidden stories data tells with Joe Dellinger

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Joe Dellinger was born in the SEG hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and learned to ride a bicycle practicing in the Amoco Tulsa Research Center parking lot. Dellinger’s father, Tom, led a research group at the Mobil Field Research Lab in the 1970s-1980s, which coined the term “Extended Reach Drilling” to describe to management what it was they were doing. With this background, it is not surprising that Dellinger majored in Geophysics at Texas A&M. He received a Ph.D. in 1991 from Jon Claerbout’s Stanford Exploration Project. He then did a three-year post-doc at the University of Hawaii before joining Amoco in Tulsa in 1994. He moved to BP in Houston in 1999 and has worked there since. In his career, he has specialized in anisotropy, multi-component algorithms and processing, and most recently investigated the problem of how to record ultra-low frequencies with the goal of enabling inversion algorithms like FWI to resolve complex velocity-model-building challenges in deep-water marine environments.

This last challenge required Dellinger to look closely at “useful information in our seismic data that is normally ignored,” i.e., “forensic data processing.” This has included studying the 2006 “Green Canyon” earthquake, investigating how the Valhall Ocean-bottom-cable array might be used between seismic surveys, and characterizing seismic sources and noise in deep-water ocean-bottom Gulf of Mexico data. In the course of that project, BP created a new vibratory low-frequency marine source, Wolfspar®, which proved to be particularly amenable for these studies because it has a precisely known source signature. These learnings became the basis for his Spring 2016 Distinguished Lecture and will be the core of the follow-up 2022 short course.

Dellinger was awarded Lifetime Membership at the SEG in 2001 for his services in helping the SEG to successfully adapt to the internet age, honorary membership in 2016, and the Kauffman award in 2021 for his efforts in developing the industry’s abilities to record ultra-low frequencies. Dellinger’s hobbies include attending the Houston Symphony, photographing birds, recording frog calls in the swamps around Houston, and astronomy at the George Observatory. Asteroid “78392 Dellinger” was named in his honor.

This episode is sponsored by

This episode is brought to you by CGG.

For over 90 years, CGG’s positive outlook for the future has driven us to constantly push the boundaries of what’s possible.

This optimism, combined with new thinking and advanced technologies, helps us solve today’s most complex natural resource, environmental and infrastructure challenges.

As this year draws to a close, we’d like to wish SEG and its members every success in 2022.

As always, CGG will be there to help you see things differently with CGG.


Original music by Zach Bridges. 

This episode was hosted, edited, and produced by Andrew Geary at 51 features, LLC. Thank you to the SEG podcast team: Ted Bakamjian, Kathy Gamble, and Ally McGinnis.

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