Journal Article

An analytical study of seismoelectric signals produced by 1-D mesoscopic heterogeneities

Leonardo B. Monachesi, J. Germán Rubino, Marina Rosas-Carbajal, Damien Jougnot, Niklas Linde, Beatriz Quintal and Klaus Holliger

in Geophysical Journal International

Volume 201, issue 1, pages 329-342
ISSN: 0956-540X
Published online February 2015 | e-ISSN: 1365-246X | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/gji/ggu482
An analytical study of seismoelectric signals produced by 1-D mesoscopic heterogeneities

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The presence of mesoscopic heterogeneities in fluid-saturated porous rocks can produce measurable seismoelectric signals due to wave-induced fluid flow between regions of differing compressibility. The dependence of these signals on the petrophysical and structural characteristics of the probed rock mass remains largely unexplored. In this work, we derive an analytical solution to describe the seismoelectric response of a rock sample, containing a horizontal layer at its centre, 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 located at its centre. Analyses of the general and particular solutions are performed to study the impact of different petrophysical and structural parameters on the seismoelectric response. 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 does not depend on the applied stress or the Skempton coefficient contrast. In presence of strong permeability variations, this frequency is rather 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 of mesoscopic heterogeneities, such as compressibility, permeability and fracture compliance.

Keywords: Electrical properties; Hydrogeophysics; Permeability and porosity; Fracture and flow

Journal Article.  10291 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Geophysics ; Oceanography and Hydrology

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