Thermal conductivity of rocks is typically measured on core samples and cannot be directly measured from logs. We have developed a method to estimate thermal conductivity from logging data, where the key parameter is rock elasticity. This will be relevant for the subsurface industry. Present models for thermal conductivity are typically based primarily on porosity and are limited by inherent constraints and inadequate characterization of the rock texture and can therefore be inaccurate. Provided known or estimated mineralogy, we have developed a theoretical model for prediction of thermal conductivity with application to sandstones. Input parameters are derived from standard logging campaigns through conventional log interpretation. The model is formulated from a simplified rock cube enclosed in a unit volume, where a 1D heat flow passes through constituents in three parallel heat paths: solid, fluid, and solid-fluid in series. The cross section of each path perpendicular to the heat flow represents the rock texture: (1) The cross section with heat transfer through the solid alone is limited by grain contacts, and it is equal to the area governing the material stiffness and quantified through Biot’s coefficient. (2) The cross section with heat transfer through the fluid alone is equal to the area governing fluid flow in the same direction and quantified by a factor analogous to Kozeny’s factor for permeability. (3) The residual cross section involves the residual constituents in the solid-fluid heat path. By using laboratory data for outcrop sandstones and well-log data from a Triassic sandstone formation in Denmark, we compared measured thermal conductivity with our model predictions as well as to the more conventional porosity-based geometric mean. For outcrop material, we find good agreement with model predictions from our work and with the geometric mean, whereas when using well-log data, our model predictions indicate better agreement.

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