ABSTRACT

Rock salt (essentially halite) is a special type of sedimentary rock that has played a large role throughout tectonic and economic history. The unique physical properties of halite (ductility, low density, flowability, and impermeability) can be critical factors in hydrocarbon traps and underground storage. However, seismic imaging and interpretation can be challenging when salt structures are present due to their complex geometry and large impedance contrasts relative to surrounding rocks. To investigate the properties of rock salt in terms of elastic parameters, we use ultrasonic laboratory measurements and well logs. In the laboratory, we have analyzed the effects of composition, crystalline structure, pressure, and temperature on the elastic behavior of a variety of rock salt samples. The samples include pure halite (>95 wt%) from the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) area, argillaceous rock salt from the Zipaquirá Mine, Colombia, and crystalline salt from the Goderich Mine, Canada. Current measurements suggest that the GOM salt cores behave isotropically in general. The Zipaquirá salt samples show velocity and density variations on account of their heterogeneous composition. The Goderich halite crystals display distinct cubic anisotropy. Measurements on the GOM samples at varying confining pressures and temperatures indicate that increasing pressure elevates velocity whereas increasing temperature decreases velocity. From the analysis of 145 log suites from boreholes drilled through rock salt in the northern GOM, we found that, within the salt formations, P-wave velocities increased slightly with depth (approximately 5  m/s per km). The S-wave velocities from three wells range from 2280 to 2580  m/s. Bulk densities from all the wells cluster at 2160±30  kg/m3. These laboratory and log measurements provide new values for the elastic properties of rock salt, which can assist in velocity model building, synthetic seismogram generation, and the understanding of the rock physics of halite.

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