Marine Geophysical Research

, Volume 40, Issue 3, pp 279–301 | Cite as

Practical approaches to maximizing the resolution of sparker seismic reflection data

  • J. KluesnerEmail author
  • D. Brothers
  • P. Hart
  • N. Miller
  • G. Hatcher
Original Research Paper


Sparkers are a type of sound source widely used by the marine seismic community to provide high-resolution imagery of the shallow sub-bottom (i.e., < 1000 m). Although sparkers are relatively simple, inexpensive, and high-frequency (100–2500 Hz) sources, they have several potential pitfalls due to their complicated and unpredictable signature. In this study we quantify the source characteristics of several sparker systems and develop a suite of simple processing approaches for both single channel and multi-channel sparker data. In all cases, the results show improved vertical resolution and reflection coherency. Correcting for small static variations in multi-channel seismic (MCS) data is a critical first step to preserve the broad frequency content during stacking, and to reduce the shot-to-shot variability of outgoing and incoming signals. Application of predictive deconvolution to static-corrected, post-stack traces suppresses short-path multiples and restores the latent high-resolution reflection patterns. However, if shot-to-shot source signatures are recorded directly, pre-stack deterministic deconvolution followed by post-stack predictive deconvolution produces the most robust results. Processing sparker data without broadband techniques results in less confident or completely missed interpretations when compared to the broadband equivalent. If processed correctly, marine sparker data can provide exceptional sub-bottom imagery that rivals other more repeatable marine seismic sources (e.g., high-frequency air-guns).


Marine seismic reflection Sparker Deconvolution Residual statics Source characterization 



This work was supported by the USGS Coastal and Marine Geology Program, USGS Innovation Center and Pacific Gas and Electric through the USGS Cooperative Research and Development Agreement. We would like to thank Carolyn Ruppel for discussions and feedback on this project. We also thank the captain and crews of the vessels described in Table 1 and USGS technicians Jackson Currie, Rob Wyland, and Tom O’Brien. In addition, we would like to thank Daniel Ebuna and Alicia Balster-Gee for helpful reviews of this manuscript. Any use of trade, firm, or product names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.


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Copyright information

© This is a U.S. Government work and not under copyright protection in the US; foreign copyright protection may apply 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Pacific Coastal and Marine Science CenterUS Geological SurveySanta CruzUSA
  2. 2.Woods Hole Science CenterUS Geological SurveyWoods HoleUSA

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