Bitumen retains significant solid-like behavior even in temperatures in excess of 50°C. Traditional ultrasonic wave-propagation studies have, however, largely ignored the existence of the shear modulus in such materials, and they have mostly assumed that the observed longitudinal (P) wave speeds solely depend on the fluid’s bulk modulus. To further study this, we have measured ultrasonic longitudinal (P) wave transmission speeds through viscous bitumen at different pressures (0.1–15 MPa) and temperatures (7–132°C) using an adapted version of the technique that consists of two piezoelectric receivers placed at unequal lengths from the transmitter. As such, we are able to calculate the P-wave attenuation and velocity that is used to derive the material’s complex longitudinal modulus. Using parallel measurements of the bitumen’s complex shear modulus, we find that the bulk modulus differs from the longitudinal modulus particularly at lower (reservoirs) temperatures. The results, together with the realization that bitumen experiences a sequence of various compositional and thermophysical phase that is primarily temperature-dependent, can be implemented to improve the fluid-substitution analyses of rock-physics studies of bitumen-saturated reservoirs.

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