Anisotropy of velocity in shaly overburden is known to cause significant problems for geophysical interpretation, including depth conversion and fluid identification. In addition, mechanical and dynamic elastic shale behavior is not well understood because few tests have been performed on well-preserved samples. Multiple stage triaxial tests were performed upon horizontal core plugs of a shale from the Norwegian Sea with a view to evaluating rock strength and the evolution of ultrasonic response during rock deformation. In addition, standard rock physical properties were characterized as well as composition. The shale microfabric is seen to be strongly laminated, with alternating thick clay-rich laminae and thin silt-rich laminae. Occasional microfractures are also noted parallel to these laminations. The shale has low friction coefficient and cohesive strength, and shows anisotropy of these parameters when the maximum principal stress is oriented parallel to and at 45° to the microfabric. The orientation of the maximum principal stress parallel to the intrinsic fabric and microcracks was seen to significantly impact on velocity normal to the fabric as stress parallel to the fabric increased. S-wave anisotropy was significantly affected by the increasing stress anisotropy. Stress orientation with respect to fabric orientation was therefore found to be an important control on the degree of anisotropy of dynamic elastic properties in this shale.

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