Subsurface Interpretation and Modelling (GEO505)

This course provides skills to analyse and interpret subsurface geophysical and geological data, to construct three-dimensional structural models, and to use outcrop analogues to understand tectonic controls in sedimentation for reservoirs at the macro scale (meter to kilometre). Students will interpret worldwide case studies using leading-edge software used in the energy sector. The skills learned in this course have great applicability in the energy industry for hydrocarbon exploration and production, geothermal resources, energy transition, CO2 sequestration, and other field areas.

The course is divided into three parts: 1) an interpretation project with detailed subsurface mapping; 2) construction of three-dimensional structural models and related uncertainty; and 3) a field excursion to a subsurface analogue for field mapping and computer modelling.

Course description for study year 2024-2025. Please note that changes may occur.


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Course topics include:

  • Software introduction,
  • Overview of subsurface interpretation techniques,
  • Overview of syn-rift tectonic models and seismic interpretation in rift settings,
  • Three-dimensional structural modelling, and
  • Geological field mapping focusing on lateral variation of facies and structural elements at the macro scale.

Learning outcome


  • Knowledge of seismic interpretation techniques.
  • Knowledge about seismic stratigraphy, tectonics, and sedimentation.
  • Knowledge about the workflow and importance of building 3D structural models.
  • Knowledge about modelling uncertainty and the importance of building multiple scenarios.


  • Interpret seismic and well log data.
  • Integrate different geological and geophysical data to understand subsurface.
  • To incorporate analogues into seismic interpretation and models to improve facies prediction and to understand seismic-scale elements and geometries.
  • To build 3D structural models.
  • To map regional geological structures.
  • To use leading edge interpretation/modelling software.
  • To evaluate uncertainty and include it in the interpretation/geomodelling process.

General competence:

  • To communicate effectively about the different techniques for subsurface interpretation, 3D structural models, and their associated uncertainty.
  • To be able to use subsurface interpretation techniques to take decisions for petroleum exploration/production/development, to optimize available resources in the energy sector.

Required prerequisite knowledge



Oral exams and report

Form of assessment Weight Duration Marks Aid
Oral exam 1 35/100 15 Minutes Letter grades All
Oral exam 2 35/100 15 Minutes Letter grades All
Report 30/100 Letter grades All

A field excursion is part of the course. Students who are not able to attend the field excursion will get an alternative assignment with a similar complexity level and equivalent time-demanding assignment based on the excursion. All assessment parts must be passed to obtain a final grade in the course. If a student wants to improve his/her grade, he/she can retake the course again the next time the course is offered. There are no re-sit opportunities for this course.

Course teacher(s)

Course coordinator:

Xiaoan Zhong

Course teacher:

Christopher Townsend

Study Program Director:

Lisa Jean Watson

Study Adviser:

Karina Sanni

Head of Department:

Alejandro Escalona Varela

Method of work

  • 2-4 hours teaching, seminars, or discussion sessions.
  • 4-8 hours lab exercises and individual work.
  • One-week field excursion.

Overlapping courses

Course Reduction (SP)
Seismic Interpretation (GEO600_1) 5
3D Geomodelling (GEO540_1) 5

Open for

Admission to Single Courses at the Faculty of Science and Technology
Computational Engineering - Master of Science Degree Programme Computer Science - Master of Science Degree Programme Energy, Reservoir and Earth Sciences - Master of Science Degree Programme Marine and Offshore Technology - Master of Science Degree Programme Petroleum Engineering - Master of Science Degree Programme Risk Analysis - Master of Science Degree Programme
Exchange programme at Faculty of Science and Technology

Course assessment

There must be an early dialogue between the course supervisor, the student union representative and the students. The purpose is feedback from the students for changes and adjustments in the course for the current semester.In addition, a digital subject evaluation must be carried out at least every three years. Its purpose is to gather the students experiences with the course.


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