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Shallow Water Demultiple

Barry Hung

Kunlun Yang

Joe Zhou

Qing Long Xia




Tianjin, P.R. China

Multiples due to shallow water are observed in seismic
data acquired in various places such as the Gippsland
Basin of Australia. These short period multiple
reflections often pose problems to the interpretation of
geological structures. They are not easily handled by
conventional surface-related multiple elimination
(SRME) methods because the recorded primary waterbottom reflection, which is required by SRME, is often
indistinct in shallow water situations due to the near
offset gap. Hence, predictive deconvolution in the x-t or
-p domain is frequently used for attenuating shallow
deconvolution also attenuates primary events that have a
periodicity which is close to that of the water-layer.
In this paper, we present a workflow that involves first
attenuating short-period water-layer related multiples
(WLRMs) a process that we term shallow water
demultiple (SWD); and then suppressing other longperiod free surface multiples using conventional SRME.
SWD is a wavefield-consistent method that first makes
use of WLRMs in the data to reconstruct the missing
water-bottom primary reflection and then uses the
reflection for predicting shallow WLRMs. It is data
driven and takes into account the spatial varying nature
of subsurface structures. Since the WLRM model
predicted by SWD has similar amplitude and phase as the
input data, very short matching filters, which are not
possible if deconvolution is used, can be utilised in the
adaptive subtraction process.
We demonstrate, through real-data examples, that our
workflow provides an optimal multiple attenuation
solution in shallow water environment in comparison
with conventional methods such as -p deconvolution or
SRME alone.
Key words: Shallow water, multiple attenuation

Efficient attenuation of water-layer related multiples remains
one of the challenging issues in shallow water situations. For
instance, conventional surface-related multiple elimination
(SRME) method is known to have difficulties in attenuating
shallow water multiples because the primary water-bottom
reflection is not always present in shallow water seismic data
due to the near offset gap (e.g., Verschuur, 2006). This kind of
multiples become even problematic in revealing the
subsurface structures if the water-bottom has a hard acoustic
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response that generates a lot of very strong water-bottom

multiples. Conventionally, predictive deconvolution in the x-t
or -p domain is used in processing workflow for attenuating
shallow water multiples (Ali et al., 2002). However, -p
deconvolution is highly sensitive to precise amplitude
consistency of the traces across a gather (Schoenberger and
Houston, 1998).
Wave equation approaches have been proposed to handle the
issue of inaccurately recorded water-bottom data for multiple
attenuation in shallow water environment (e.g. Pica et al.,
2005). Whilst they have the advantage of relaxing the
requirement in SRME that there must be a receiver at each
shot location, they need structural model of water-bottom for
predicting water-layer multiples. In very shallow water
situations, the model may not be easy to obtain.
The methodology of estimating primaries from multiples for
coping with missing water-bottom reflections has been
demonstrated to be a viable alternative for attenuating shallow
water multiples (Biersteker, 2001). Using multichannel
prediction operator that is estimated from the multiples, it
provides a way of estimating the water-bottom reflections
from the water-layer multiples (Hargreaves, 2006). Sparse
inversion can also be utilised in the process for avoiding the
need of adaptive subtraction that is required in SRME (van
Groenestijn and Verschuur, 2009).
Using an approach that is similar to the methodology, we
demonstrate a workflow that also involves conventional
SRME for effectively attenuating surface multiples in shallow
water environment.

There are two ways to describe the process of SRME. One is
the iterative approach that is described by Berkhout and
Verschuur (1997):
P = P(I + A P)-1


where P is the acquired data, P represents the primary

response and A is the surface operator that involves source
properties and free-surface reflectivity. The other is the
inversion method that is proposed by Biersteker (2001):
P = P P F


where F is a multichannel prediction filter and is equivalent to

a scaled version of primaries (Hargreaves, 2006). These two
ways of implementation can be utilised in turn to attenuate
free-surface multiples in shallow water environment by first
tackling short-period water-layer multiples and then handling

Shallow Water Demultiple

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remaining long-period surface multiples generated from other

For the first step, since water-bottom reflections are not
available and hence the iterative method is not possible for
predicting water-layer multiples, an approach that is similar to
the inversion method is used for estimating Fw - the
multichannel prediction filter associated with the waterbottom. In this case, the design window for Fw should include
either simple or peg-leg (or both) water-layer multiples.
Deterministic information of bathymetry that is normally
available from the navigation data can be used for designing
gaps in the inversion process for obtaining Fw. In deriving Fw,
the spatial noncausality property of the operator is taken into
account in our implementation (Hung and Notfors, 2003). By
convolving the resultant operator with the input data, the
water-layer multiple model can then be generated. Since the
estimation process of Fw has already included the effect of the
surface operator, the multiple model has the correct
amplitudes and phase for the water-layer multiples. Hence, in
the subtraction process, direct subtraction or adaptive
subtraction using very short matching filters is adequate. This
minimises the risks of changing other events significantly,
especially those primary events that are close to the multiples.
This first step constitutes the process that we call shallow
water demultiple (SWD).

Hung, Yang, Zhou and Xia

Using the result of SWD as an input to SRME, other freesurface multiples that are generated by deeper subsurfaces can
be attenuated. Figure 4a depicts the result obtained by the
combination of SWD and SRME and Figure 4b shows
difference stack. To illustrate the importance of including
SWD in the processing workflow for shallow water,
conventional SRME alone was applied to the data and the
corresponding results are displayed in Figure 5. A comparison
between the two results clearly demonstrates that the lack of
well-defined water-bottom reflection in the data degrades the
performance of SRME. This can further be illustrated by the
magnified sections in Figure 6.
Another example is a survey acquired offshore Western China
where the water depth is much shallower (25 to 30 m),
resulting in an indistinct water-bottom reflection as shown
from a stacked line in Figure 7. Consequently, conventional
SRME has difficulties in suppressing the water-layer
multiples, as illustrated in Figure 8. However, including the
process of SWD in the workflow, it can be observed from
Figure 9 and 10 that the free-surface multiples are
significantly attenuated.
Therefore, a combination of SWD and SRME provides an
effective workflow for attenuating surface multiples in
shallow water situations.


In the second step, the iterative approach (conventional

SRME) is used for handling free-surface multiples that have
longer period. Since the water-layer multiples have already
been handled, the data corresponding to the multiple
generator, i.e. the water-bottom in this case, needs to be first
muted off to form the input for SRME. In practice, the length
of the mute time is associated with the operator length of Fw.
With this data preconditioning, relatively simple extrapolation
methods can be utilised for SRME. Moreover, targeting longperiod multiples allows more flexible control of adaptive
subtraction parameters.

By targeting the short-period and long-period multiples

separately using multichannel prediction filter and
conventional SRME respectively, we have demonstrated that
the workflow helps to overcome the difficulty faced by SRME
alone in attenuating free-surface multiples due to shallow
water. The advantage that both methods have the same data
arrangement such as interpolation/extrapolation and data
ordering means that the workflow provides an effective and
yet efficient way of shallow water demultiple.



Figure 1 shows an input stack of a line that was acquired

offshore Australia. The water depth in this area is in the range
of 50 to 90 m. Since the nearest recorded offset was 182 m,
the recorded water-bottom reflection is in the post-critical
range. Hence, as indicated by the arrow in Figure 1b, the
water-bottom reflection is not well defined and it poses
problems to conventional SRME. By deriving Fw from the
data, the estimated water-bottom reflection at near offsets can
then be reconstructed. Figure 1c displays the derived Fw at
selected shot locations.

The authors would like to thank Nexus Energy Ltd for

permission to present the data and results and CGGVeritas for
permission to publish this work.

With the estimated prediction operators, SWD was then

applied to the data and the result is depicted in Figure 2. It can
be observed that most of the water-layer multiples have been
effectively attenuated. Its effectiveness can be compared with
that of -p deconvolution which is used routinely in
processing workflow for removing short-period multiples.
Figure 3a displays a common offset (magnified) section of the
result obtained by -p deconvolution. Comparing with the
SWD result shown in Figure 3b, it can be seen that -p
deconvolution is less effective in attenuating the water-layer
multiples and has the tendency of damaging the primaries.

Berkhout A. J. and Verschuur D. J., 1997, Estimation of

multiple scattering by iterative inversion, Part I: Theoretical
considerations: Geophysics, 62, 1586-1595.

ASEG 2010 - Sydney, Australia

Ali R., Verschuur D. J., Drummond J., Morris S. and
Haughey G., 2002, Shallow water multiple prediction and
attenuation, case study on data from the Arabian Gulf: 72nd
Meeting, SEG, Expanded Abstracts, 2229-2232.

Biersteker J., 2001, MAGIC: Shells surface multiple

attenuation technique: 71st Meeting, SEG, Expanded
Abstracts, 1301-1304.
Hargreaves N., 2006, Surface multiple attenuation in shallow
water and the construction of primaries from multiples: 76th
Meeting, SEG, Expanded Abstracts, 2689-2693.

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Shallow Water Demultiple

Hung, Yang, Zhou and Xia

Hung B. and Notfors C., 2003, Seismic Trace Interpolation

Using Noncausal Spatial Filters in the F-X-Y Domain: 65th
Meeting, EAGE, D021.

Schoenberger M. and Houston L. M., 1998, Stationarity

transformation of multiples to improve the performance of
predictive deconvolution: Geophysics, 63, 723-737.

Pica A., Poulain G., David B., Magesan M., Baldock S.,
Weisser T., Hugonnet P. and Herrmann P., 2005, 3D surfacerelated multiple modeling, principles and results: 75th
Meeting, SEG, Expanded Abstracts, 2080-2083.

van Groenestijn G. J. A. and Verschuur D. J., 2009,

Estimating primaries by sparse inversion and application to
near-offset data reconstruction: Geophysics, 74, A23-A28.
Verschuur D. J., 2006, Seismic multiple removal techniques
past, present and future: EAGE Publications.



Figure 1. (a) Input stack. (b) A magnified section to illustrate the ill-defined water-bottom reflection indicated by the arrow.
(c) Derived prediction operators at selected shot locations.


Figure 2. Stack after SWD.

Figure 3. (a) Common offset section after -p

deconvolution. (b) Common offset section after



Figure 4. (a) Stack after SWD and SRME. (b) Difference stack.
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Shallow Water Demultiple

Hung, Yang, Zhou and Xia



Figure 5. (a) Stack after SRME alone. (b) Difference stack.




Figure 6. Magnified sections of the area indicated by the green box in Fig. 5b. (a) Input. (b) Difference stack for
SWD+SRME. (c) Difference stack for SRME alone.

Figure 7. Stack of input data for example 2.

Figure 8. Stack of the result after SRME.


Figure 9. Stack of the result after SWD+SRME.
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Figure 10. Difference stacks for (a) SRME alone. (b) SWD+SRME.