Using the famous Teapot Dome oil field in Casper, Wyoming, USA as a test case, we demonstrate how high-resolution compressional (P) and horizontally polarized shear (SH) wave seismic reflection surveys can overcome the limitations of conventional 3D seismic data in resolving small-scale structures in the very shallow subsurface (< 100-200 m (~328-656 ft)). We accomplish this by using small CMP intervals (5 ft and 2.5 ft, respectively) and a higher frequency source. The integration of the two high-resolution seismic methods enhances the detection and mapping of fine-scale deformation and stratigraphic features at shallow depth that cannot be imaged by conventional seismic methods. Further, when these two high-resolution seismic methods are integrated with 3D data, correlated drill hole logs, and outcrop mapping and trenching, a clearer picture of both very shallow reservoirs and the relationship between deep and shallow faults can be observed. For example, we show that the Shannon reservoir, which is the shallowest petroleum reservoir at Teapot Dome (depth to the top of this interval ranging from 76-198 m (250-650 ft)) can only be imaged properly with high-resolution seismic methods. Further, northeast-striking faults are identified in shallow sections within Teapot Dome. The strike of these faults is approximately orthogonal to the hinge of Teapot Dome. These faults are interpreted as fold accommodation faults. Vertical displacements across these faults range from 10 to 40 m (~33 to 131 ft), which could potentially partition the Shannon reservoir. The integration of 3D and high-resolution P-wave seismic interpretation helped us determine that some of the northeast-striking faults relate to deeper faults. This indicates that some deeper faults that are orthogonal to the fold hinge cut through the shallow Shannon reservoir. Such an observation would be important for understanding the effect on fluid communication between the deep and shallow reservoirs via these faults. Furthermore, the high-resolution seismic data provide a means to better constrain the location of faults mapped from drill hole logs. Relocation of theses faults may require re-evaluation of well locations as some attic oil may have not been drained in some Shannon blocks by present well locations. Therefore our study demonstrates how conventional 3D seismic data require additional seismic acquisition at smaller scales in order to image deformation in shallow reservoirs. Such imaging becomes critical in cases of shallow reservoirs where it is important to define potential problems associated with compartmentalization of primary production, hazard mitigation, enhanced oil recovery, or carbon sequestration.



College and Department

Physical and Mathematical Sciences; Geological Sciences



Date Submitted


Document Type





high-resolution seismic, shear (SH) wave seismic, Teapot Dome, structural mapping, shallow reservoirs, CMP bin size, P-wave, geophysics, geology, petroleum



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Geology Commons