In the context of exploration seismology the resolution of spectral decomposition techniques has been extensively reviewed but the accuracy of these methods has only been discussed qualitatively in regards to the resolution. Using a marginal condition the fundamental accuracy of the matching pursuit decomposition, Stockwell transform, Wigner-Ville distribution and reduced interference distribution are quantified. A cut-off for what can be deemed an acceptable decomposition method is set at 0.3 normalized residual energy, the normalized residual energy for the matching pursuit decomposition is 0.59. Used in conjunction with a PSQI method, the Stockwell transform provided the most accurate determination of the quality factor, Q, of a synthetic shot gather, recovering a Q value of 50.4±3 from a synthetic shot gather with an attenuative layer of quality factor 50. It is recommended that the best spectral decomposition method for a specific task be identified through rigorous testing of spectral decomposition methods with synthetic data.


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