P- and S-wave velocities of consolidated sediments from a seafloor seismic survey in the North Celtic Sea Basin, offshore Ireland

Donna J. Shillington, Timothy A. Minshull, Christine Peirce, John M. O'Sullivan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


A geophysical survey was conducted over a hydrocarbon prospect in the North Celtic Sea Basin using a small array of ocean-bottom seismographs (OBSs). The purpose of this study was to determine the ratio of compressional (P)- to shear (S)-wave velocity of consolidated sedimentary rocks in order to constrain possible subsurface variations in pore-fluid content. The ratio of VP and VS is known to be particularly sensitive to lithology, porosity and pore-fluid content, making it a useful parameter for evaluating hydrocarbon prospects. OBSs offer a relatively cheap and time-effective means of acquiring multi-component data compared with ocean-bottom cables. In this contribution, we demonstrate the ability of an OBS survey comprising three pairs of two OBSs spaced at 1.6 km to recover lateral variations in the VP/VS ratio. A key requirement of this type of study is that S waves will be generated by mode conversions in the subsurface, since they cannot be generated in nor travel through fluids. In this survey, the contrast in physical properties of the hard seabed of the North Celtic Sea Basin provided a means of generating converted S waves. Two-dimensional ray-tracing and forward modelling was used to create both VP and VS models along a profile crossing the Blackrock prospect in the North Celtic Sea Basin. These models comprise four layers and extend to a maximum depth of 1.1 km. The observed northward decrease in the VP/VS ratio at depths of 500-1000 m below the seafloor in the study area is interpreted to represent lateral variation in the amount of gas present in the pore space of Upper Cretaceous chalks and shales overlying the prospective reservoir.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)197-211
Number of pages15
JournalGeophysical Prospecting
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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