Department of Geophysical Imaging

  1. Research project objectives/Research hypothesis

    This project aims at creating a consistent model of the Phanerozoic geological evolution of the study area located in N-NE Poland (the so-called Baltic Basin), above the western edge of the East European Craton. This model would incorporate information on crust’s thermal evolution, role of Caledonian orogeny, Late Paleozoic tectonic movements, and formation and inversion of the Mid- Polish Trough. Key research problems have been grouped into 2 categories: (1) structure and evolution of the Palaeozoic (excluding Permian) sedimentary cover of the study area, and (2) structure and evolution of the Permo-Mesozoic sedimentary cover of the of the study area. Project will be based on the unique regional high-resolution reflection seismic data of the PolandSPAN project, which have been granted for free by ION Geophysical Corp. to be used by the Applicants. Additionally, data from deep calibration research wells and other seismic data will be also used.

  2. Research project methodology

    Regional PolandSPAN seismic profiles will form a framework for the project. These data will be additionally processed in order to enhance resolution within the sedimentary cover. Project will integrate geological (wells, maps) and geophysical data, and will rely on the following methods:

    • standard seismic data interpretation (Kingdom SMT software) – stratigraphic well-to-seismic tie, interpretation of key and subordinate seismic horizons and faults, identification of pre-, syn- and post-kinematic sequences,
    • advanced seismic data interpretation: seismic inversion and seismic attributes analysis (software: Paradigm Stratimagic & SeisFacies modules, OpendTect, IHS Kingdom) – seismic facies analysis, seismic detection of lateral facies and lithological variations,
    • thermal modelling – construction of heat production and heat flow balance models over time since Vendian till present,
    • stratigraphic modelling (TISC and Dionisos software) – modelling of evolution of sedimentary architecture of Paleozoic and Permo-Mesozoic sedimentary complexes, understanding basin forming mechanisms (Caledonian foredeep basin),
    • cross-section balancing (Move and LithoTect software) – 2D – 2.5D quantitative analysis of Phanerozoic tectonosedimentary evolution of the study area,
    • basin modelling (BasinMod software) – subsidence modelling using well and seismic data.
  3. Expected impact of the research project on the development of science, civilization and society

    Project is focused on fundamental questions on the Phanerozoic geological evolution of the study area that encompass large part of Poland. This is a unique region also in the wider European context as a thick sedimentary cover recorded several pulses of subsidence / deposition and uplift / erosion, and available data very precisely document all these geological processes. To our knowledge, there is no other part of Europe that has such wealth of regional high-quality data with reliable imaging of the entire sedimentary cover, down to the Precambrian basement. Therefore, successful completion of this project should provide results that could form important reference points for other studies in Europe. The scope of the analysis refers to the most ambitious European research projects related to recognition and understanding of basin-forming mechanisms and modeling of sedimentary basins’ infill. It should be also emphasized that the seismic data that will be used in the project (PolandSPAN) are unique in Europe and even worldwide. They follow international crustal research programs (COCORP, LITHOPROBE, DEKORP), however with the advantage of recent seismic acquisition capabilities. Poland, as the current leader in the field of deep WARR studies in Central Europe, can effectively become the leader also in the field of deep reflection seismic. Comprehensive and integrated analysis of the geological and geophysical data should greatly improve our understanding of evolution of sedimentary cover. The project will have an impact on a variety of research fields of Earth sciences. The results may provide an excellent starting point for future research based on other methods, for example termochronology.

University of Helsinki, Geological Survey of Finland (GTK), Institute of Geophysics, Polish Academy of Sciences (IG PAS), Boliden Kylylahti, Vibrometric and Geopartner, research institutions and industry partners from Finland and Poland, are collaborating on the project COGITO-MIN (COst-effective Geophysical Imaging Techniques for supporting Ongoing MINeral exploration in Europe). COGITO-MIN aims to develop cost-effective, novel, geophysical deep mineral exploration techniques, with particular emphasis on seismic imaging. Seismic imaging is attractive for deep mineral exploration because of superior depth penetration and resolution when compared to other geophysical imaging techniques. The project equally addresses data acquisition, processing and interpretation aspects of the seismic reflection methods, with the overall goal to develop integrated geophysical-geological approaches for mine planning and exploration targeting. COGITO-MIN has been funded through ERA-MIN, which is a network of European organisations owning and/or managing research programs on raw materials. The funding for the Finnish COGITO-MIN project partners comes from Tekes and for the Polish project partners from the NCBR (the National Centre for Research and Development). The overall budget of the three-year-long project, launched in January 2016, is about 2 million euros.

Projekt zgłoszony przez Polskie Górnictwo Naftowe i Gazownictwo w konsorcjum z partnerami naukowymi koordynowanymi przez Państwowy Instytut Geologiczny-PIB i reprezentowanymi ponadto przez Wydział Geologii UW i Instytut Geofizyki PAN, ma na celu jak najszersze rozpoznanie geomechaniki łupków dla wspomagania poszukiwań i eksploatacji niekonwencjonalnych złóż gazu.

W badaniach zintegrowane będzie szerokie spektrum metod od laboratoryjnych analiz petrograficznych i mechanicznych, przez profilowanie rdzenia i interpretację karotaży, testów i zabiegów szczelinowania i monitoringu mikrosejsmicznego,
po przetwarzanie zdjęć sejsmicznych.

Główną metodą syntezy wyników będzie numeryczne modelowanie propagowania się fali sprężystej, naprężeń
i odkształceń oraz sprzężonych z nimi przepływów.

Wyniki badań w postaci oprogramowania i procedur prowadzenia badań posłużą do optymalizacji orientacji stabilnych poziomych otworów i zabiegów szczelinowania hydraulicznego oraz oceny ich efektywności.

Seismic method relies on elastic wave generation and propagation in the earth. It is a basic tool that is used to image the earth’s interior in the scale ranging from meters to hundreds of kilometers. Here we study the possibility of obtaining better, highly-resolved, models of the physical properties of the subsurface (like the elastic wave speed) using the method of full-waveform inversion. This method, although being computationally expensive, allows to derive such models using just raw measured data, without a need for sophisticated data processing. In order to illustrate the range of possible applications, we have applied full-waveform inversion to data acquired in engineering, regional and crustal scale. In case of the engineering scale, this method was proven a robust tool to detect quick-clay layers. Quick-clay is a specific sedimentary rock that liquefies under the applied stress, which can lead to devastating landslides. On the regional scale, we have derived a 240-km long model along a profile located in SE Poland, which illustrates huge contrast in subsurface properties of the sedimentary cover in the transition from the old Precambrian Platform to the young mountain range – the Carpathians. In the whole-crust scale, we have built a model of the earth structure along a 140-km long profile crossing the contact zone of the lithospheric plates (so called subduction zone) in the Nankai Trough (Japan). This is a place where catastrophical earthquakes occur frequently and it poses a major threat to cities like Tokio and Osaka. Our model shows complicated structure of thrusts and tectonically locked zones, i.e. the areas in which the next earthquakes can occur. The above examples illustrate the potential of the full-waveform inversion as a tool for a better (characterized by e.g. higher resolution) models of the geological medium, which can lead to a better understanding of the phenomena acting in the geosystem – first of all the natural hazards, like landslides or earthquakes.

Landslides are one of the most commonly occurring natural disasters. They claim hundreds of human lives and cost billions of dollars every year. In order to provide geophysical tools and techniques to better characterize sites prone to sliding, we carried out and evaluated the potential of several geophysical methods over a quick-clay landslide site in southwest Sweden during 2011- 2013. Sponsored by the Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG) through its Geoscientists Without Borders (GWB) program, our project aimed to study clay-related landslides in the Nordic countries. The project resulted in several peer-reviewed publications and helped to better understand the way quick clays are formed and possible trigger mechanisms. This is important not only to reduce the risk associated with these slides but also to seek for suitable tools and methods to better characterize areas that are prone to these types of slides.