A stack of horizontal homogeneous elastic arbitrary anisotropic layers in welded contact in the long-wavelength limit is equivalent to an elastic anisotropic homogeneous medium. Such a medium is characterized by an effective average description adhering to previously derived closed-form formalism. We have used this formalism to study three different inhomogeneous orthorhombic (ORT) models that could represent real geologic scenarios. We have determined that a stack of thin orthorhombic layers with arbitrary azimuths of vertical symmetry planes can be approximated by an effective orthorhombic medium. The most suitable approach for this is to minimize the misfit between the effective anisotropic medium, monoclinic in that case, and the desirable orthorhombic medium. The second model is an interbedding of VTI (transversely isotropic with a vertical symmetry axis) layers with the same layers containing vertical fractures (shales are intrinsically anisotropic and often fractured). We have derived a weak-anisotropy approximation for important P-wave processing parameters as a function of the relative amount of the fractured lithology. To accurately characterize fractures, inversion for the fracture parameters should use a priori information on the relative amount of a fractured medium. However, we have determined that the cracks’ fluid saturation can be estimated without prior knowledge of the relative amount of the fractured layer. We have used field well-log data to demonstrate how fractures can be included in the interval of interest during upscaling. Finally, the third model that we have considered is a useful representation of tilted orthorhombic medium in the case of two-way propagation of seismic waves through it. We have derived a weak anisotropy approximation for traveltime parameters of the reflected P-wave that propagates through a stack of thin beds of tilted orthorhombic symmetry. The tilt of symmetry planes in an orthorhombic medium significantly affects the kinematics of the reflected P-wave and should be properly accounted for to avoid mispositioning of geologic structures in seismic imaging.

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