Insights into Focused Fluid Conduit Formation from Comparing Seismic Chimneys and Pipes with Field Observations of Fluid Flow Manifestations in the Colorado Plateau

Tuesday, 16 December 2014: 2:10 PM
Jens Karstens and Christian Berndt, GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, Kiel, Germany
The understanding of focused fluid flow in sedimentary basins builds on field geological observations and the interpretation of reflection seismic data, where fluid conduits manifest as anomalous amplitude patterns known as seismic chimneys or pipes. Seismic data is the most effective method for the analysis of entire fluid flow systems by constraining subsurface geometries, fluid accumulations and permeability barriers, but seismic data cannot provide information about the internal architecture, interaction with the bedrock and flow processes due to its coarse resolution. Field geological investigations of fluid conduit outcrops are capable of filling observation gaps on a sub-seismic scale and help constrain formation dynamics as well as hydraulic properties of fluid conduits and the bedrock.

Here, we show that it is possible to correlate specific amplitude patterns of seismic chimneys with field observation of focused fluid conduits from the Colorado Plateau. The migrating fluids (gas, water, fluidized sediment) and their formation dynamics, which can be associated with different types of conduits (fractures, fluidizations, injections), result in distinguishable seismic signatures. These constrains improve the qualitative interpretation of seismic chimneys by adding information about migration and formation characteristics. A further integration of field geological and seismic investigation of focused fluid flow structures may help to quantify their hydraulic properties and how these evolve with time, which has important implications for the hydrocarbon prospection and the subsurface storage of wastewater and CO2.