Rock Physics and Computational Geophysics

Course Description

This course presents the fundamentals of the physical principles and computational techniques for wave propagation in anisotropic, anelastic and porous media, including the analogy between acoustic waves (in the general sense) and electromagnetic (EM) waves. The emphasis is on geophysical applications for hydrocarbon exploration, but researchers in the fields of earthquake seismology, rock physics, and material science, -- including many branches of acoustics of fluids and solids (acoustics of materials, non-destructive testing, etc.) -- may also find the material useful. The course illustrates the use of seismic and EM modeling, with an account of the numerical algorithms for computing synthetic seismograms, diffusion fields and radargrams, with applications in the field of geophysical prospecting, seismology and rock physics, such as evaluation of methane hydrate content, upscaling techniques, detection of overpressure, Antarctic and permafrost exploration, exploration of the Earth’s deep crust, time-lapse for monitoring of CO2 injection, seismic modeling in geothermal fields, seismic inversion, etc.

Course Objectives

On completion of the course, participants will be able to:

  • Understand the physics of seismic (and EM) wave propagation and diffusion fields in real media, such as rocks and geological formations;
  • Solve complex problems using numerical methods, as finite-differences, Fourier techniques, and machine learning methods;
  • Apply these concepts to seismic and EM applications, such as hydrocarbon prospection, earthquakes, surface radar applications, EM low-frequency methods for environmental problems, rock physics, etc.

Course Outline


  • Mechanical viscoelastics models
  • The wave equation with attenuation
  • Seismic anisotropy
  • Seismic attenuation
  • Poroelasticity
  • Seismic rock physics
  • Hooke’s law and wave equation
  • Forward modeling. Computation of synthetic seismograms
  • Reflection coefficients. AVO
  • EM rock physics
  • Maxwell’s equation
  • The seismic-EM analogy
  • Geo-radar equations
  • The diffusion equation in EM prospecting
  • Machine learning methods. Neural networks, genetic algorithms, etc.


  • Fluid flow in porous rocks
  • Unconventional resources. Oil and gas shales
  • Cross-well seismic and EM methods
  • Upscaling methods
  • AVO cases
  • Rock-physics templates
  • Q and velocity anisotropy in fractured media
  • Geophone-soil coupling models
  • Physics and simulation of waves at the ocean bottom
  • Recent advances to model waves in reservoir and source rocks
  • Theory, simulation and case histories for detection and quantification of gas hydrates
  • Theories for pore-pressure prediction and mud-weight design, with case histories
  • Seismic-modeling case histories
  • Seismic inversion
  • Microseismicity
  • Borehole waves
  • Injection of fluids and seismic and EM monitoring. Time-lapse cases
  • Tools for GPR applications.

Participants’ Profile

The course is useful for geologists, geophysicists, petrophysicists and reservoir engineers. The emphasis is on geophysical applications for hydrocarbon exploration, but researchers in the fields of earthquake seismology, rock acoustics and material science – including many branches of acoustics of fluids and solids (acoustics of materials, nondestructive testing, etc.) – may also find this course useful.


Participants should have knowledge of the basic concepts of wave theory.

Recommended Reading

Participants are recommended to preferably read “Elastic waves in the Earth” (1979) by Pilant, “Physical properties of rocks” (2011) by Schon, and “Wave fields in real media” by Carcione (2015), before attending the course.

About the Instructor

José M. Carcione has the degrees “Licenciado in Ciencias Físicas” (Buenos Aires University), “Dottore in Fisica” (Milan University) and Ph.D. in Geophysics (Tel-Aviv University). From 1978 to 1980 he worked at the “Comisión Nacional de Energía Atómica” at Buenos Aires. From 1981 to 1987 he was employed as a research geophysicist at YPF (national oil company of Argentina). Presently, he is Director of Research at OGS. He was awarded the Alexander von Humboldt scholarship for a post-doc at Hamburg University (1987- 1989). In 2007, he received the Anstey award at the EAGE in London and the 2017 EAGE Conrad Schlumberger award in Paris. Carcione published more than 280 journal articles on acoustic and electromagnetic numerical modeling, with applications to oil exploration and environmental geophysics. He is the author of the books “Wave fields in Real Media – Theory and numerical simulation of wave propagation in anisotropic, anelastic, porous and electromagnetic media” (see (Elsevier, 2015, 3rd edition), and “Seismic Exploration of Hydrocarbons in Heterogeneous Reservoirs” (Elsevier, 2015) He has been editor of “Geophysics” since 1999. He has coordinated many projects funded by the EU and private companies. Carcione has been a member of the commission (GEV04) for evaluation of Italian research in the field of Earth Sciences (ANVUR) in the periods 2004-2010 and 2011-2014. Carcione has an H-index: 53, according to Google Scholar.