Horizontal layered formations with a suite of vertical or near-vertical fractures are usually assumed to be an approximate orthotropic medium and are more suitable for estimating fracture properties with wide-azimuth prestack seismic data in shale reservoirs. However, the small contribution of anisotropic parameters to the reflection coefficients highly reduces the stability of anisotropic parameter estimation by using seismic inversion approaches. Therefore, a novel model parameterization approach for the reflectivity and a pragmatic inversion method are proposed to enhance the stability of the inversion for orthotropic media. Previous attempts to characterize orthotropic media properties required using four or five independent parameters. However, we have derived a novel formulation that reduces the number of parameters to three. The inversion process is better conditioned with fewer degrees of freedom. An accuracy comparison of our formula with the previous ones indicates that our approach is sufficiently precise for reasonable parameter estimation. Furthermore, a Bayesian inversion method is developed that uses the amplitude variation with angle and azimuth (AVAZ) of the seismic data. Smooth background constraints reduce the similarity between the inversion result and the initial model, thereby reducing the sensitivity of the initial model to the inversion result. Cauchy and Gaussian probability distributions are used as prior constraints on the model parameters and the likelihood function, respectively. These ensure that the results are within the range of plausibility. Synthetic examples demonstrate that the adopted orthotropic AVAZ inversion method is feasible for estimating the anisotropic parameters even with moderate noise. The field data example illustrates the inversion robustness and stability of the adopted method in a fractured reservoir with a single well control.

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