ABSTRACT

Detecting vertical transversely isotropic (VTI) formations and quantifying the magnitude of anisotropy are fundamental for describing organic mudrocks. Methods used to estimate stiffness coefficients of VTI formations often provide discontinuous or spatially averaged results over depth intervals where formation layers are thinner than the receiver aperture of acoustic tools. We have developed an inversion-based method to estimate stiffness coefficients of VTI formations that are continuous over the examined depth interval and that are mitigated for spatial averaging effects. To estimate the coefficients, we use logs of frequency-dependent compressional, Stoneley, and quadrupole/flexural modes measured with wireline or logging-while-drilling (LWD) instruments in vertical wells penetrating horizontal layers. First, we calculate the axial sensitivity functions of borehole sonic modes to stiffness coefficients; next, we use the sensitivity functions to estimate the stiffness coefficients of VTI layers sequentially from frequency-dependent borehole sonic logs. Because sonic logs exhibit spatial averaging effects, we deaverage the logs by calculating layer-by-layer slownesses of formations prior to estimating stiffness coefficients. The method is verified with synthetic models of homogeneous and thinly bedded formations constructed from field examples of organic mudrocks. Results consist of layer-by-layer estimates of c11, c13, c33, c44, and c66. We observe three sources of error in the estimated coefficients: (1) bias error originating from deaveraging the sonic logs prior to the sequential inversion, (2) error propagated during the sequential inversion, and (3) error associated with noisy slowness logs. We found that the relative bias and uncertainty of the estimated coefficients are largest for c11 and c13 because borehole modes exhibit low sensitivity to these two coefficients. The main advantage of our method is that it mitigates spatial averaging effects of sonic logs, while at the same time it detects the presence of anisotropic layers and yields continuous estimations of stiffness coefficients along the depth interval of interest.

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