GeoProbe - Texaco’s 'killer app.' (November 1999)

Texaco and SGI have teamed to produce a monster interpretation system capable of zooming from basin to sample.

The GeoProbe, showcased at the SEG Convention in Houston is first and foremost a vehicle for superlatives. Technologically - with 3 huge screens each of 1028x1280 resolution for nearly 4 mega-pixels of seamless visible real-estate. This is fed by an SGI Onyx 2 with 16 processors, 3 graphic pipes and 32 GB of RAM. Geologically – with a monolithic dataset of some 3000 sq. km. of stacked seismic with a 5 second record length. The equivalent of several hundred offshore Gulf of Mexico blocks.


Having established the gargantuan scale of operations the fun starts – with a quick overview of the whole basin, panning around through salt domes, fans and sub-basins. And then – well we will just zoom in – virtually down to the individual sample! The GeoProbe is not just a matter of size though. Handling the massive new datasets requires new tools. Texaco’s paradigm for the new millennium interpretation is the 3D ‘cursor’. This box-like tool allows the interpreter to select and manipulate a 3D rectangular data volume.


One way of using the cursor would be to have a set of different attributes displayed simultaneously. So you can use your favorite attribute (amplitude over frequency (A/F) is flavor of the month) as one dataset, coherency as another and amplitude as a third.


Then you just pan across the basin with the amplitude cursor and – aha! – an interesting anomaly here so bring up the A/F cursor and check out its attributes. No rocket science here, but what has to be seen to be believed is the scale, intuitiveness and sheer speed of all this action.

region growing

Next nifty processing algorithms allows you to region-grow selected anomalies on the fly. These can then be isolated and the resulting object analyzed. This environment allows you to move seamlessly from a seismic interpretation mindset to volumetric interpretation. GeoProbe inventor, Texaco’s Mike Zeitlin told PDM. "GeoProbe is a killer application developed by Texaco for use in 3D seismic visual interpretation and takes full advantage of large immersion visualization facilities. The software technology was developed from scratch to solve the major problem faced in the oil industry regarding the timely interpretation of enormous 3D seismic datasets (200-300 OCS blocks of data) now available."


Is it really different from existing ‘integrated’ systems? Hard to tell, the SGI side of the technology will be available to all no doubt. But GeoProbe’s uncompromising technical specification and novel approach will make an interesting new arrival in the marketplace. Rumor is that Texaco is to test this theory with a spin-off of both the technology and its inventor into a new unit which will go forth, evangelize and sell the ‘Probe to industry at large.

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