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Deep 3-D seismic reflection imaging of Precambrian sills in the crystalline crust of Alberta, Canada Welford, Joanna Kim

Abstract

Using deep 3-D seismic reflection datasets collected by the Canadian petroleum exploration industry in southwestern and northwestern Alberta, the Head-Smashed-In and Winagami Precambrian sill complexes within the crystalline upper crust, previously identified on Lithoprobe 2-D multichannel reflection lines, are investigated to determine their 3-D geometries and reflective characteristics. During seismic processing of the dataset in southwestern Alberta, a recently developed wavelet-based method, Physical Wavelet Frame Denoising, is applied and shown to successfully suppress ground roll contamination while preserving low frequency signals from deeper structures. A new 3-D empirical trace interpolation scheme, DSInt, is developed to address the problem of spatial aliasing associated with 3-D data acquisition. Results from applying the algorithm to both datasets are comparable to available interpolation codes while allowing for greater flexibility in the handling of irregular acquisition geometries and interpolated trace headers. Evidence of the Head-Smashed-In reflector in southwestern Alberta is obtained using a dataset acquired to 8 s TWTT (approx. 24 km depth). From locally coherent, discontinuous pockets of basement reflectivity, the dataset appears to image the tapering western edge of the deep reflections imaged by Lithoprobe. A statistical approach of tracking reflectivity is developed and applied to obtain the spatial and temporal distribution of reflections. Simple 1-D forward modelling results reveal that the brightest reflections likely arise from a 50 to 150 m thick body of high density/high velocity material although variations in the amplitudes and lateral distribution of the reflections indicate that the thickness of the sills is laterally variable. Thus, the results are consistent with imaging the tapering edge of the sill complex. Clear evidence of the Winagami reflection sequence in northwestern Alberta, emerges from the second dataset acquired to 5.1 s TWTT (approx. 15 km depth). Data sections outline a 3-D reflective sheet dipping to the southeast. From polarity comparisons from within the sedimentary sequence, the reflective signature of the deep body is inferred to result from higher density and higher velocity material than the surrounding host rocks, thus reinforcing the previous interpretation of the deep reflections as resulting from dolerite sills intruded into gneissic crystalline basement. Simple 1-D forward modelling results reveal that the thickness of the sheet is between 50 and 100 m throughout the survey region. From 3-D Kirchhoff forward modelling, the reflective sheet is detected between 11 and 16 km depth along the northwestern edge of the survey area. The absence of the Winagami reflections, and basement reflectivity in general, in the southeast of the survey region coincides with a positive aeromagnetic anomaly inferred to be caused by magmatic rocks. The presence of the magmatic rocks may have either influenced the geometry of the intrusion of the sills or overprinted their reflective signature, dependent upon the relative timing of emplacement of the two features. Both sill complexes appear to have been intruded horizontally into the crust from multiple injections of magma during a period of tectonic compression. The emplacement of these sills may have strengthened the crust and provided the rheological contrasts needed to initiate the formation of Paleozoic cratonic arches like the Peace River Arch of northwestern Alberta and the Montania Arch of southern Alberta. The results from this thesis represent the first opportunity in North America to examine upper-middle crustal structure to depths of approximately 20 km using industry-style 3-D seismic reflection techniques.

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