Expressing Geological Uncertainty

Working with and interpreting geological data is always accompanied by varying degrees of uncertainty. This uncertainty can relate to both the data and/or the resulting interpretation of those data. Being able to clearly indicate where uncertainty exists and exactly what that uncertainty pertains to is a challenge, as there are frequently multiple attributes, all of which could have different levels of uncertainty associated with them. What is required is a clear and pragmatic approach.


On Thursday 11th May Landmark Exploration Insights will be hosting the 8th London Earth Model Forum at The Geological Society, during which Dr. Andrew Davies (Geoscience Advisor), will present on the Understanding and constraining geological uncertainties in exploration”

Abstract: Geological uncertainties are an inherent part of petroleum exploration. Play fairway methods allow some measure of uncertainty to be captured, but they are far from a complete solution as uncertainties exist at many levels. Uncertainties may be present within data, the interpretations of those data, the predictions made from those data, the knowledge of individuals and organisations and within our analogues or models. Thus, multiple geological realisations are possible from the same inputs and there is currently no consensus on how to deal with this challenge.

Based on the geographic and technical scope of our products it would be extremely challenging to generate alternative models to our considered, most likely interpretations. Even within apparently simple products, such as gross depositional environment maps, the documentation of uncertainties is non-trivial. Confidence in the data support may differ between locations and uncertainties may exist in a range of parameters such as lithology, depositional environment, age and the position of facies boundaries. The level of uncertainty in each of these parameters may differ. This challenge is further exacerbated when products are successively integrated.

We have, therefore, developed a clear, pragmatic strategy to tackle this challenge by assessing our confidence in data and certainty in interpretations separately. This allows overall uncertainty to be compiled and a more holistic view of where individual maps are supported by robust data to be established. This approach is being implemented and we are now systematically capturing temporal uncertainty and the quality of individual components of data support. We have also started to characterise our confidence in models through our PRIME and basin modelling solutions. Examples of the impact of this strategy will be shown and our forward plans outlined.


This one of a series of technical presentations which will be delivered by Landmark Exploration Insights on Thursday 11th May at our LIFE London event: The Earth Model Forum, at The Geological Society, London. The full details of the event and agenda can be found here. Join us as we address some of the key geological challenges facing exploration and unveil the latest developments at the heart of our offering.  


This event is free of charge, but spaces are limited. Reserve your place today by contacting us at