Acoustically-Induced Electrical Signals
Tuesday, 16 December 2014
We have observed electrical signals excited by and moving along with an acoustic pulse propagating in a sandstone sample. Using resonance we are now studying the characteristics of this acousto-electric signal and determining its origin and the controlling physical parameters. Four rock samples with a range of porosities, permeabilities, and mineralogies were chosen: Berea, Boise, and Colton sandstones and Austin Chalk. Pore water salinity was varied from deionized water to sea water. Ag-AgCl electrodes were attached to the sample and were interfaced to a 4-wire electrical resistivity system. Under computer control, the acoustic signals were excited and the electrical response was recorded. We see strong acoustically-induced electrical signals in all samples, with the magnitude of the effect for each rock getting stronger as we move from the 1st to the 3rd harmonics in resonance. Given a particular fluid salinity, each rock has its own distinct sensitivity in the induced electrical effect. For example at the 2nd harmonic, Berea Sandstone produces the largest electrical signal per acoustic power input even though Austin Chalk and Boise Sandstone tend to resonate with much larger amplitudes at the same harmonic. Two effects are potentially responsible for this acoustically-induced electrical response: one the co-seismic seismo-electric effect and the other a strain-induced resistivity change known as the acousto-electric effect. We have designed experimental tests to separate these mechanisms. The tests show that the seismo-electric effect is dominant in our studies. We note that these experiments are in a fluid viscosity dominated seismo-electric regime, leading to a simple interpretation of the signals where the electric potential developed is proportional to the local acceleration of the rock. Toward a test of this theory we have measured the local time-varying acoustic strain in our samples using a laser vibrometer.