Abstract

Although poroelastic theory predicts that the effective stress coefficient equals unity for elastic moduli in monomineralic rocks, some rock elastic wave velocities measured at ultrasonic frequencies have effective stress coefficients less than one. Laboratory effective stress behavior for P-waves is often different than S-waves. Furthermore, laboratory ultrasonic velocities almost always reflect high-frequency artifacts associated with pore fluids, including an increase in velocities and flattening of velocity-versus-pressure curves. We have investigated the impact of pore fluids and frequency on the observed effective stress coefficient for elastic wave velocities by developing a model that calculates pore-fluid effects on velocity, including high-frequency squirt dispersion, and we have compared the model's predictions with laboratory data. We modeled a rock frame with penny-shaped cracks for three situations: vacuum dry, saturated with helium, and saturated with brine. Even if the frame modulus depends only on the differential stress, the saturated-rock effective stress coefficient is predicted to be significantly less than one at ultrasonic frequencies because of two effects: an increase in the fluid bulk modulus with increasing pressure and the contribution of high-frequency squirt dispersion. The latter effect is most significant in soft fluids (helium in this experiment) in which the fluid-bulk modulus is less than or comparable to the thin-crack pore stiffness.

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