Subsurface Interpretation and Modelling (GEO505)

The aim of this course is to provide advanced skills to analyse and to interpret subsurface geophysical and geological data, to construct three-dimensional structural models, and to use outcrop analogues to understand the controls of tectonics in sedimentation for making up reservoirs at the macro scale (meter to kilometre). The students will interpret worldwide case studies using leading edge software widely popular in the energy sector. The skills learned in this course have great applicability in the energy industry (e.g. hydrocarbon exploration and production, geothermal), CO2 sequestration, geohazards and other field areas.

The course is divided in three parts: 1) an interpretation project, including detailed subsurface mapping, which may be part of an international competition; 2) construction of three - dimensional structural models, and related uncertainty; and 3) a field mapping/modelling excursion as analogue for the subsurface.

Course description for study year 2023-2024


Course code




Credits (ECTS)


Semester tution start


Number of semesters


Exam semester


Language of instruction



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

Learning outcome


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


  • Interpret seismic and well log data from different tectonic settings.
  • Integrate different geological and geophysical data to make predictive models.
  • 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 in the interpretation/geomodelling process.
  • To be able to quantify the different elements of the energy system and to make decisions regarding their exploitation and management.

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 exploration, reservoir production/development, to optimise available resources in the energy sector and geohazard evaluation.

Required prerequisite knowledge



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 as the assignment based on the excursion. All assessment parts must be passed in order to obtain a final grade in the course. If a student wants to improve his/her grade, he/she to 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

  • 4-8 hours teaching, seminars, or discussion sessions.
  • 8-16 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

Energy, Reservoir and Earth Sciences - Master of Science Degree Programme

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.


The syllabus can be found in Leganto