Semiautomatic and Automatic Cooperative Inversion of Seismic and Magnetotelluric Data
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Natural source electromagnetic methods have the potential to recover rock property distributions from the surface to great depths. Unfortunately, results in complex 3D geo-electrical settings can be disappointing, especially where significant near-surface conductivity variations exist. In such settings, unconstrained inversion of magnetotelluric data is inexorably non-unique. We believe that: (1) correctly introduced information from seismic reflection can substantially improve MT inversion, (2) a cooperative inversion approach can be automated, and (3) massively parallel computing can make such a process viable. Nine inversion strategies including baseline unconstrained inversion and new automated/semiautomated cooperative inversion approaches are applied to industry-scale co-located 3D seismic and magnetotelluric data sets. These data sets were acquired in one of the Carlin gold deposit districts in north-central Nevada, USA. In our approach, seismic information feeds directly into the creation of sets of prior conductivity model and covariance coefficient distributions.We demonstrate how statistical analysis of the distribution of selected seismic attributes can be used to automatically extract subvolumes that form the framework for prior model 3D conductivity distribution. Our cooperative inversion strategies result in detailed subsurface conductivity distributions that are consistent with seismic, electrical logs and geochemical analysis of cores. Such 3D conductivity distributions would be expected to provide clues to 3D velocity structures that could feed back into full seismic inversion for an iterative practical and truly cooperative inversion process. We anticipate that, with the aid of parallel computing, cooperative inversion of seismic and magnetotelluric data can be fully automated, and we hold confidence that significant and practical advances in this direction have been accomplished.
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