CGG conjours up its Stratimagic 'revolution' in seismic interpretation (January 1997)

New seismic interpretation software from CGG will integrate existing environments such as OpenWorks using novel CORBA based techniques.

CGG will be releasing the first commercial version of Stratimagic in January. This innovative product is destined to replace Interpret, the seismic interpretation module of CGG's Integral Plus integrated suite of E&P software tools, but more significantly is also being sold as a "plug in" to first, Open Works, and later to GeoFrame based products. CGG is bullish about the take up of this product, having sold beta versions to Amoco and Shell as well as to two other US major oil co.'s and to one of its strongest competitors in the geophysics field. The Stratimagic name is a three way play on words, with the overlapping concepts of stratigraphy, image processing and of course, a touch of magic!



First shown at the Denver meeting of the SEG in November, Stratimagic is a radically different product in many ways and represents a bold departure from both the conventional user interface of most E&P products and also from the "politically correct" solutions to data management as promoted by POSC and others. The user interface is "object oriented" i.e. sparse. With simple menus, consistent presentation and context sensitively presented icons which are located on the menu bar to save pixel space. Data is retrieved utilizing what CGG term a data server, but we prefer to term this technology middleware. Stratimagic works without a data model, and can even work without its own data at all. Accurately spotting the niche market for plug-ins to the market leading integration platforms, CGG has developed a CORBA based technique for getting data out of Open Works and soon, GeoFrame using techniques reminiscent of those developed by Panther Software. In fact CGG are talking to Panther about a co-operative effort in this domain.



To the end user, this technique allows, for instance, a request for a list of available surveys within an area to go out across the network and interrogate seamlessly applications on other platforms, retrieving an assembly of data which may reside partly on SeisWorks, partly on Charisma and of course on Integral Plus. The actual data can be similarly manipulated irrespective of its actual country of residence! Of course because the product can operate in a stand alone mode, Stratimagic has its own internal data structures. But in another break with convention, these are proprietary, and do not even call upon a relational database system for their manipulation. Of course, as regular readers of PDM will know, this has significant advantages in terms of performance, but moreover, given that the interoperability issue has been resolved using the middleware approach, the need for standard data models has largely been circumvented.



Object Oriented programming seems to be bearing its fruits both in terms of the robustness of the product and the user friendliness of the product. A variety of intuitive drag and drop functions allow for instance a seismic display to be dropped onto a base map which then flashes up the line location. Similarly dragging a horizon display over to a seismic line causes the appropriate horizon to be displayed with the same color coding as the map. For those circumstances where drag and drop is not appropriate, a more conventional pick list can be used, but even this is modeled around business object technology and presents the user with a logical context sensitive tree list. The motor inside StratiMagic is Elf's Sismage product which was developed by PetroSystems in 1991 under a contract to Elf, who have now licensed the product back to CGG. While the stratigraphic technology is that of Elf's Sismage, the code has been completely re-written to integrate CGG PetroSystem's new object oriented platform. CGG understandably emphasize the fact that the Sismage motor has been in use for nearly five years and hence has benefited from considerable debugging.



But "what does it do?" I hear you cry. Well it does quite a lot of "normal" things for a seismic workstation. Its' autopick routine is innovative, based on sign bit cross correlation of the first derivative of the seismic trace (is that clear?). Before you all rush out and try to code this yourselves let us inform you that this technique, like the other sensitive parts of StratiMagic's anatomy are protected by a variety of Elf's patents (this is quite a vogue!). One of these patents covers the actual stratigraphic component of Stratimagic. In this context it might be useful to say a few words about what is and is not meant by stratigraphy in the context of Stratimagic. For the seismic stratigraphers amongst you, this product does not incorporate the Vail-esque aspects of seismic stratigraphy covering eustacy. It is more in the Brown-ian camp of geometrical stratigraphers. So it offers functions such as picking terminations, with a coding of their nature (onlap, downlap, toplap etc.) and also the possibility to pick directly 3 dimensional closed forms such as the envelope of a channel or plug.


neural net

Another functionality allows for the mapping of the seismic character within a given interval. Sophisticated neural net algorithms divide signal character within the chosen interval into a number of bands of similar signal character. These can be either auto-determined, to offer a machine derived interpretation of the seismic stratigraphy, or guided by a deterministic breakdown of seismic response such as that due to a pinch out, where tuning effects can be modeled. Having described the stratigraphic component, it must be said that some aspects of the product fall short of what the stratigrapher might expect. For instance, there is currently no integration between the conventional pick and the stratigraphic pick. So that even if you already have picked the upper and lower boundaries of a channel, using the richness of the auto picking routines, these must be re-picked to define the channel itself using a rather primitive point and click manual technique.



Now while this is disappointing, it is after all a beta, and what is important is that this product can walk well in its infancy and it is quite reasonable to thing that when it grows up it will run fast. I say this both metaphorically and with reference to performance. Stratimagic incorporates a 3D visualisation engine, Voxanne, which performs credibly on Sparc 10. No need for special graphics processors or supercomputing workstations for this baby. This looks like a solid platform which will grow. A joint venture with the French Petroleum Institute will bring geostatistical functionality to Stratimagic late 1997. The image processing aspect of Stratimagic is currently limited to another Elf patent called MixMap. Here the technique is to provide a map of one attribute in false relief which is simultaneously color coded with another. An illumination widget such as that found in satellite imagery products such as Earth Resources Mapping allows for shifting the color coding and relief to locate corelations between the attributes on display. Programmed entirely in C++, this looks to be a pretty solid product. The three hour long demo exclusively for PDM went without a hitch and included a variety of non pre-programmed auto picks and displays. Currently the product works with multiple 3D surveys, 2D integration is planned for late 1997.

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