An introduction to color palettes for seismic amplitude – teaser


In a future posts I will take a look at some of the color palettes used for seismic amplitude display, and discuss ways we can design more perceptual and more efficient ones.

For now, I would like to ask readers to look at two sets of seismic images and answer the survey questions in each section. Far from being exhaustive sets, these are meant as a teaser to get a conversation started and exchange opinions and preferences.

Stratigraphic interpretation

The seismic line below is inline 424 from the F3 dataset, offshore Netherlands from the Open Seismic Repository (licensed CC-BY-SA).

I generated an animation, played at 0.5 frames/second, where 8 different color palette are alternated in sequence.  Please click on the image to see a full resolution animation. I also generated a 0.25 frame/second version and a 1 frame/second version.


Fault interpretation

The images used to create the panel below are portions of seismic displays kindly provided by Steve Lynch of 3rd Science Solutions, generated using data released by PeruPetro. I am grateful to both.


Thanks to Matt Hall and Evan Bianco of Agile Geoscience for their suggestions.

21 responses to “An introduction to color palettes for seismic amplitude – teaser

  1. @ Cenk: thank you, glad you liked it
    @ Steve: I think this is a good way to get a conversation going, and I agree with you, to gather some information and perspective. I was tempted to also throw in a set using the reflectance displays you prepared, but then I thought it would be good for you to do it on your blog – although I’ll still use a couple in my next posts 🙂 Thanks again

  2. Love it. Turns out I am squarely in the hump of the distribution.

    I think I change my colourbar fairly often though, especially when it comes to, say, interpreting amplitudes or looking at attributes. Even for straight-up struct/strat interpretation, I very often make a custom colourbar. It’s so much easier than non-linear scaling of the data.

    Are you going to do one of these for maps too?

    • Thanks Matt

      I agree adapting the colormap according to the task and data is the way to go (and avoiding rainbow, obviously).

      You know already my dream is to make a web-based app to allow people to interactively design their own palettes starting from perceptual principles. I’ve given myself a year to learn java script and come up with a prototype.

  3. I still think my favorite is just a plain “Landmark” with tips added:

    It fits my definition of a “5-color” colorbar, Which I like cause I probably fiddle with the gain too much.

    With faults, I wish my workflow was better. Generally the Seismic is displayed as wiggles over a colored Coherency volume.

    • Hi Toastar
      Red White Blue (tips or not) is my least favorite, because of the white. I will be writing about it soon, let’s see if I can convince you…. but of course you’ll have a chance to ‘push’ back. And the poll results seem to become in favor of RWB…so far

  4. Interesting but required survey. Different Interpretation suites have come up with a lot of color palettes. However, many times I find the color combinations are not to my satisfaction. The color palettes do need the attention of s/w developers. Thanks for the survey..

  5. Thank you for this Matteo. I find that each software workstation will have its own color bar. Some have intuitive color bar editors, others don’t. I have used several commercially available packages, like Landmark Seisworks, Geographix SeisVision, Kingdom 2d/3d Pak and DUG Insight. Color mapping has become important for me not only for interpretation, but for presentation as well. I do have a set of color bars I use for interpretation, which are different from those that I use for the data presentation. For presentation, I use a 3 color or rainbow color bar, mainly because this is what most of my clients “understand”, and their eyes are adjusted to visualization in those spectra. If I introduce alternative color bars, they have reverted with comments to that extent asking to replace with “standard” colors.

    • Hi Russell

      For frame number 2 in the stratigraphic section animation I used ‘Seismics’, one of the default color palettes in OpendTect. Thanks, Matteo

  6. Hello,

    I am a fresh Geophysicist and I wanted to learn about these colorcode or colormap. Do you have any reading material?

  7. I built seismic attribute maps of horizons that are only peaks or troughs. However, I always see the color scale ranges from a big negative to a big positive number. What exactly does the color scale mean

    • Hi RK, thanks for the comment. Unfortunately, without seeing an example it would be difficult to understand the issue and try to answer your question. Are you able to post a link to an example to discuss?

  8. I think it may be the right place to ask as I have not found the answer to the following question during my searches on the web:
    I am trying to apply a filter on the image of a core, to display the variation of lithology using seismic color codes. Has anybody ever seen such a filter for gimp/photoshop type softwares ?

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