Seismoelectric signals produced by mesoscopic heterogeneities: an analytical and numerical study
Tuesday, 16 December 2014
The presence of mesoscopic heterogeneities, such as fractures, in fluid-saturated porous rocks can produce measurable seismoelectric signals due to wave-induced fluid flow between regions of differing compressibility. Wave-induced fluid flow is a well-known seismic attenuation mechanism, which evidences a strong frequency-dependence that is related to petrophysical and structural properties of the host rock. Therefore, seismoelectric signals arising from this mechanism are expected to depend on the same kind of parameters. However, these remain largely unexplored. In this work, we first propose a numerical approach for computing seismoelectric signals related to the presence of mesoscopic heterogeneities and explore its spectroscopic behavior. To obtain the explicit dependence of the seismoelectric signal on petrophysical and structural parameters, we derive an analytical solution to describe the seismoelectric response of a rock sample containing a horizontal layer at its center that is subjected to an oscillatory compressibility test. We then adapt this general solution to compute the seismoelectric signature of a particular case related to a sample that is permeated by a horizontal fracture. We find that the amplitude of the seismoelectric signal is directly proportional to the applied stress, to the Skempton coefficient contrast between the host rock and the layer, and to a weighted average of the effective excess charge of the two materials. Our results also demonstrate that the frequency at which the maximum electrical potential amplitude prevails is controlled by the permeability and thickness of the less permeable material. The results of this study thus indicate that seismoelectric measurements can potentially be used to estimate key mechanical and hydraulic rock properties, such as compressibility, permeability, and fracture normal compliance.