In situ P- and S-wave velocity measurements in a variety of organic-rich shales exhibit P-to-S-wave velocity ratios that are significantly lower than lithologically similar fully brine-saturated shales having low organic content. It has been hypothesized that this drop could be explained by the direct influence of kerogen on the rock frame and/or by the presence of free hydrocarbons in the pore space. The correlation of hydrocarbon saturation with total organic content in situ makes it difficult to separate these possible mechanisms using log data alone. Theoretical bounding equations, using pure kerogen as an end-member component without associated gas, indicate that kerogen reduces the P- and S-wave velocities but does not in general reduce their ratio enough to explain the observed low velocity ratio. The theoretical modeling is consistent with ultrasonic measurements on organic shale core samples that indicate no dependence of velocity ratios on the kerogen volume alone. Sonic log measurements of P- and S-wave velocities in seven organic-rich shale formations deviate significantly (typically more than 5%) from the Greenberg-Castagna empirical brine-saturated shale trend toward lower velocity ratios. In these formations, and on core measurements, Gassmann fluid substitution to 100% brine saturation yields velocity ratios consistent with the Greenberg-Castagna velocity trend for fully brine-saturated shales, despite the high organic content. These sonic and ultrasonic measurements, as well as theoretical modeling, suggest that the velocity ratio reduction in organic shales is best explained by the presence of free hydrocarbons.

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