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Book Chapter

The Spectral Gamma-Ray Log

January 01, 1994


The counts recorded on a standard gamma ray log are the sum of all gamma rays, most of which are emitted by potassium-40 and isotopes in the uranium and thorium series. The energy levels of the gamma rays are characteristic of their source isotope and form distinctive spikes on a gamma-ray emission spectrum, although in practice these spikes are smeared into a diffuse train of peaks by scattering events. However, by subdividing the total energy range into restricted windows, estimates can be made of the separate contributions of potassium-40, uranium and thorium through computer processing.

The spectral gamma ray log is displayed as three curves of thorium (ppm), uranium (ppm), and potassium (%), while the gamma ray track records two gamma ray curves, the standard (SGR) and computed gamma ray (CGR) (Fig. 16). The SGR records the total gamma ray count from all sources, while the CGR results from the subtraction of the uranium contribution from the SGR. Because the CGR is the summation of thorium and potassium sources, this curve is an improved log to estimate clay content, free of perturbations by uranium. Common applications of the spectral gamma ray log are in the estimation of clay mineral volumes (and types), and the recognition of fractures that have had uranium salts precipitated in them by ground-water systems.

The potassium-thorium crossplot is useful for the recognition of clay minerals and distinction of micas and K-feldspars. The lines that radiate from the origin of the plot have gradients matched with values

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SEPM Short Course Notes

Geological Log Interpretation

John H. Doveton
John H. Doveton
Kansas Geological Survey, University of Kansas
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SEPM Society for Sedimentary Geology
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Publication date:
January 01, 1994




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