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2023/24 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

SOEE5155M Seismic Fundamentals and Acquisition

15 creditsClass Size: 40

Module manager: Emma Bramham

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2023/24

Pre-requisite qualifications

Course entrance pre-requisite

This module is mutually exclusive with

SOEE5157MApplied Geophysical Methods

This module is not approved as an Elective

Module summary

This module conveys both the fundamental concepts and modern approaches in the field of seismic acquisition. The purposes of this module are: to review the fundamentals of seismology; provide practical application of seismic theory to subsurface exploration; to understand the concepts, principles, and practical application of digital signal processing as applied to industry seismic data; to develop an understanding of the techniques and technologies used in seismic reflection acquisition; and to develop an understanding of the considerations required in survey design.


Seismic Fundamentals: to understand the fundamental principles in seismology specific to considerations in the processing and interpretation of reflection seismic data.

Time series: to understand the principles of digital sampling, and the considerations that must be made to record a faithful digital expression of the analogue seismic waveform; to understand the implication of time series analysis principles for digital signal processing.

Acquisition: to study the surveying techniques used to acquire seismic reflection data on land and at sea; to understand the underlying physical principles that control the choice of acquisition layout and parameters; to develop sufficient understanding to design a limited-scale reflection survey; to have exposure to industry-standard software for aiding acquisition design.

Learning outcomes
After completion of this module, students will: understand the fundamentals of seismic wave propagation; understand the principles and practical application of digital signal processing to seismic data; understand the theory and principles behind seismic reflection survey acquisition be able to make basic reflection survey designs. The learning outcomes will be assessed using practicals and an unseen exam.


Seismic Fundamentals: wave types, reflectivity, stress, strain, continuum mechanics and elasticity, wave types, anisotropy and heterogeneity, wave equation concepts, stress and strain propagation concepts, synthetic seismograms and algorithms.

Time series: digital sampling, dynamic range, Nyquist frequency, aliasing; median/mean filters, cross-and auto-correlation, convolution, Ricker and other seismic wavelets. Signal property metrics. Time-frequency transforms: discrete Fourier transform, amplitude & phase spectra. Transform pairs. Frequency filters, time-domain windowing, spectral leakage metrics. 2D (FK) filtering. Other time-frequency transforms.

Acquisition: basic factors in acquisition design – signal, noise and layout; factors controlling survey design-geological objectives, transmissivity of the Earth and recording environment; ambient and source-generated noise; stacking; seismic arrays; the CMP technique; 2D seismic survey design, the stack array and stack response; 3D seismic survey design; land and marine seismic sources - land and marine; CMP spread configurations and recorder types; receivers and recording systems; marine acquisition; design; 3D surveying techniques; fibre-optic systems.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours98.00
Total Contact hours52.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)150.00

Private study

Completion of practicals and assessments, computer exercises, literature search, reading text books, and revision for examination.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Assessment and feedback during practicals; formative Seismic Fundamentals workshop.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
PracticalTime Series Analysis Practical15.00
PracticalAcquisition Practical15.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)30.00

Re-sit is by examination only (see below)

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Online Time-Limited assessment2 hr 00 mins70.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)70.00

Normally 1st attempt resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the original attempt, unless otherwise stated. 2nd attempt resits for this module are normally by unseen examination only.

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 09/08/2023


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