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Abstract

There have been significant advances over the last ten years in the use of the seismic anisotropy concept to characterize subsurface fracture systems. Measurements of seismic anisotropy are now used to deduce quantitative information about the fracture orientation and the spatial distribution of fracture intensity. Analysis of the data is based upon various equivalent medium theories that describe the elastic response of a rock containing cracks or fractures in the long wavelength limit. Conventional models assume scale/frequency independence and hence cannot distinguish between micro-cracks and macrofractures. The latter, however, control the fluid flow in many oil/gas reservoirs, as the fracture size and spacing (hence fracture storability) are essential parameters for reservoir engineers. Recently, a new equivalent medium theory for modelling of wave propagation in media with multi-scale fractures has been presented. The model predicts velocity dispersion and attenuation due to a squirt-flow mechanism at two different scales: the grain scale (micro-cracks and equant matrix porosity) and formation-scale fractures. Application of this model to field data shows that fracture density and fracture size can be inverted successfully from the frequency dependence of the time delay between split shear waves. The derived fracture length matches independent observations from borehole data. This paper presents the results of the latest development in the seismic characterization of natural fractures, with an emphasis on the quantitative determination of fracture sizes.

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