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Improving the accuracy of subsurface imaging is commonly the main incentive for including the effects of anisotropy in seismic processing. However, the anisotropy itself holds valuable information about rock properties and, as such, can be viewed as a seismic attribute. Here we summarize results from an integrated project that explored the potential to use observations of seismic anisotropy to interpret lithological and fluid properties (the SAIL project). Our approach links detailed petrofabric analyses of reservoir rocks, laboratory based measurements of ultrasonic velocities in core samples, and reservoir-scale seismic observations. We present results for the Clair field, a Carboniferous–Devonian reservoir offshore Scotland, west of the Shetland Islands. The reservoir rocks are sandstones that are variable in composition and exhibit anisotropy on three length-scales: the crystal, grain and fracture scale.

We have developed a methodology for assessing crystal-preferred-orientation (CPO) using a combination of electron back-scattered diffraction (EBSD), X-ray texture goniometry (XRTG) and image analysis. Modal proportions of individual minerals are measured using quantitative X-ray diffraction (QXRD). These measurements are used to calculate the intrinsic anisotropy due to CPO via Voigt-Reuss-Hill averaging of individual crystal elasticities and their orientations. The intrinsic anisotropy of the rock is controlled by the phyllosilicate content and to a lesser degree the orientation of quartz and feldspar; the latter can serve as a palaeoflow indicator. Our results show remarkable consistency in CPO throughout the reservoir and allow us to construct a mathematical model of reservoir anisotropy. A comparison of CPO-predicted velocities and those derived from laboratory measurements of ultrasonic signals allows the estimation of additional elastic compliance terms due to grain-boundary interactions. The results show that the CPO estimates are good proxies for the intrinsic anisotropy of the clean sandstones. The more micaceous rocks exhibit enhanced anisotropy due to interactions between the phyllosilicate grains. We then compare the lab-scale predictions with reservoir-scale measurements of seismic anisotropy, based on amplitude variation with offset and azimuth (AVOA) analysis and non-hyperbolic moveout. Our mathematical model provides a foundation for interpreting the reservoir-scale seismic data and improving the geological modelling of complex reservoirs. The observed increases in AVOA signal with depth can only be explained with an increase in fracturing beneath the major unit boundaries, rather than a change in intrinsic CPO properties. In general, the style and magnitude of anisotropy in the Clair field appears to be indicative of reservoir quality.

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