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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Seismic waves in rocks with fluids and fractures


Seismic wave propagation through the earth is often strongly affected by the presence of fractures. When these fractures are filled with fluids (oil, gas, water, CO2, etc.), the type and state of the fluid (liquid or gas) can make a large difference in the response of the seismic waves. This paper summarizes recent work on methods of deconstructing the effects of fractures, and any fluids within these fractures, on seismic wave propagation as observed in reflection seismic data. One method explored here is Thomsen's weak anisotropy approximation for wave moveout (since fractures often induce elastic anisotropy due to nonuniform crack-orientation statistics). Another method makes use of some very convenient fracture parameters introduced previously that permit a relatively simple deconstruction of the elastic and wave propagation behavior in terms of a small number of fracture parameters (whenever this is appropriate, as is certainly the case for small crack densities). Then, the quantitative effects of fluids on these crack-influence parameters are shown to be directly related to Skempton s coefficient B of undrained poroelasticity (where B typically ranges from 0 to 1). In particular, the rigorous result obtained for the low crack density limit is that the crack-influence parameters are multiplied by a factor (1 ? B) for undrained systems. It is also shown how fracture anisotropy affects Rayleigh wave speed, and how measured Rayleigh wave speeds can be used to infer shear wave speed of the fractured medium. Higher crack density results are also presented by incorporating recent simulation data on such cracked systems.

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