Understanding the effect of stress and pore pressure on seismic velocities is important for overpressure prediction and for 4D reflection seismic interpretation. A porosity-deformation approach (originally called the piezosensitivity theory) and its anisotropic extension describe elastic moduli of rocks as nonlinear functions of the effective stress. This theory assumes a presence of stiff and compliant parts of the pore space. The stress-dependent geometry of the compliant pore space predominantly controls stress-induced changes in elastic moduli. We show how to apply this theory to a shale that is transversely isotropic (TI) under unloaded conditions. The porosity-deformation approach shows that components of the compliance tensor depend on exponential functions of the principal components of the effective stress tensor. In the case of a hydrostatic loading of a TI rock, only the diagonal elements of this tensor, expressed in contracted notation, are significantly stress dependent. Two equal shear components of the compliance will depend on a combination of two stress exponentials. Exponents of the stress exponentials are controlled by components of the stress-sensitivity tensor. This tensor is an important physical characteristic directly related to the elastic nonlinearity of the porous rock. We simplify the porosity-deformation theory for TI rocks and provide corresponding explicit equations. We apply this theory to ultrasonic measurements on saturated shale samples from the North Sea. We show that the theory explains the compliance tensor, anellipticity, and three anisotropic parameters under a broad range of loads.

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