Understanding the earth's subsurface is critical to the needs of the exploration and production (E&P) industry for minimizing risk and maximizing recovery. Until recently, the industry's service sector has not made many advances in data-driven automated earth model building from raw exploration seismic data. But thankfully, that has now changed. The industry's leading technique to gain an unprecedented increase in resolution and accuracy when establishing a view of the interior of the earth is known as the Full Waveform Inversion (FWI). Advanced formulations of FWI are capable of automating subsurface model building using only raw unprocessed data.
Cloud-based FWI is helping to accelerate this journey by encompassing the most sophisticated waveform inversion techniques with the largest compute facility on the planet. This combines to give verifiable accuracy, more automation and more efficiency. In this paper, we describe the transformation of enabling cloud-based FWI to natively take advantage of the public cloud platform's main strength in terms of flexibility and on-demand scalability. We start from lift-and-shift of a legacy MPI-based application designed to be run by a traditional on-prem job scheduler.
Our specific goals are to (1) utilize a heterogeneous set of compute hardware throughout the lifecycle of a production FWI run without having to provision them for the entire duration, (2) take advantage of cost-efficient spare-capacity compute instances without uptime guarantees, and (3) maintain a single codebase that can be run both on on-prem HPC systems and on the cloud. To achieve these goals meant transitioning the job-scheduling and "embarrassingly parallel" aspects of the communication code away from using MPI, and onto various cloud-based orchestration systems, as well as finding cloud-based solutions that worked and scaled well for the broadcast/reduction operation. Placing these systems behind a customized TCP-based stub for MPI library calls allows us to run the code as-is in an on-prem HPC environment, while on the cloud we can asynchronously provision and suspend worker instances (potentially with very different hardware configurations) as needed without the burden of maintaining a static MPI world communicator.
With this dynamic cloud-native architecture, we 1) utilize advanced formulations of FWI capable of automating subsurface model building using only raw unprocessed data, 2) extract velocity models from the full recorded wavefield (refractions, reflections and multiples), and 3) introduce explicit sensitivity to reflection moveout, invisible to conventional FWI, for macro-model updates below the diving wave zone. This makes it viable to go back to older legacy datasets acquired in complex environments and unlock considerable value where FWI until now has been impossible to apply successfully from a poor starting model.