Abstract

Fractured rock causes diffractions, which are often discarded as noise in ground-penetrating radar (GPR) and seismic data. Most fractures are too thin, too steep, and their displacement is too small to be imaged by reflections, and diffractions are the only detectable signal. To decipher the information about fracture geometry and distribution contained in diffractions, we compare 3D synthetic ray-Born modeling with high-density 3D GPR data and outcrop observations from the Cassis Quarry in Southern France. Our results reveal how the intersection between two fractures is the basic geologic element producing a recordable diffraction. In this new model, two intersecting fractures are represented by one finite-length line diffractor. The intersection of three fractures is a 3D cross composed of three line diffractors. Fractures extending over several meters in the outcrop display linear clusters of diffraction circles in unmigrated GPR time slices. Such large-scale fracture intersections are composed of many aligned short subwavelength line diffractors due to fracture roughness and variations of fracture opening. The shape irregularities and amplitude variations of composite diffraction signatures are a consequence of the geometry and spacing of the intersecting fractures generating them. With three simple base-type intersecting fracture models (horizontal dip, gentle dip, and steep dip), the fracture network geometry can be directly deciphered from the composite diffraction signatures visible on unmigrated time slices. The nonrandom distribution of diffractions is caused by fracture trends and patterns providing information about fracture dip, spacing, and continuity of fractured domains. With the similarity law, the diffraction phenomena observed in GPR data are very similar in character to those seen on the seismic scale with the wavelength as the scaling link. GPR data serve as a proxy to decipher seismic diffractions.

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