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STAP P 1 M 6130



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STAP Archive
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NOTE: The present document is available in Eni Agip Intranet (http://wwwarpo.in.agip.it) and a
CD-Rom version can also be distributed (requests will be addressed to STAP Dept. in
Eni - Agip Division Headquarter)

Date of issue: 28/06/99

b Issued by P. Magarini C. Lanzetta A. Galletta
28/06/99 28/06/99 28/06/99


The present document is CONFIDENTIAL and it is property of AGIP It shall not be shown to third parties nor shall it be used for
reasons different from those owing to which it was given
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2.1.1. Rock Medium 7
2.1.2. Effective Tension Principle 7
2.1.3. Overburden Gradient 9
2.1.4. Pore Pressure Gradient 11
2.1.5. Fracture Gradient 12
2.2.1. Rate of Sedimentation 14
2.2.2. Diagenesis 26
2.2.3. Osmotic Phenomenon 41
2.2.4. Tectonics 43
2.2.5. Artesian Pressures 46
2.2.6. Reservoir Geometry 46
2.2.7. Re-Pressurisation Of A Reservoir 46
2.3.1. Sub-Pressures Due To Prolonged Well Production 46
2.3.2. Anomalous Drop Of The Ground Water Table 49
2.3.3. Sub-pressures Caused By Tectonic Phenomena 49

3.1.1. Longitudinal And Transverse Elastic Waves 52
3.1.2. Rayleigh Waves 53
3.1.3. Love Waves 53
3.1.4. Seismic Noise 54
3.2.1. Factors Affecting The Propagation Of Seismic Waves 57
3.2.2. Propagation Of Seismic Waves: Reflection And Transmission (Refraction) 59
3.3.1. Fundamental Principles 63
3.3.2. Evaluation Of Reflection Velocity 69
3.4.1. Seismograms 80
3.4.2. Steps In Seismic Data Processing And Correction 84
3.5.1. Land Seismic Surveys 104
3.5.2. Marine Seismic Surveys 112
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3.6.1. Forms of Presentation Of Seismic Data And Their Meaning 124
3.6.2. Pressure Gradient Calculation 139


4.2.1. Drilling (Penetration) Rate 173
4.2.2. Determination Of Overpressure Trends From Penetration Rate 178
4.2.3. D-Exponent And dc-Exponent 181
4.2.4. Sigmalog 187
4.2.5. Torque 198
4.2.6. Overpulls 199
4.2.7. Pumping Pressure 199
4.2.8. Mud Pit Levels 199
4.2.9. Mud Flow Rate 199
4.2.10. Hole Fill-up 200
4.2.11. Increase Of Cuttings At Shale Shaker 200
4.2.12. Mud Salinity 200
4.2.13. Percentage Of Montmorillonite 200
4.2.14. Mud Resistivity And pH 201
4.2.15. Shale Resistivity 201
4.2.16. Gas Shows 202
4.2.17. Shale Density 203
4.2.18. Mud Temperature 206
4.3.1. Drilling Porosity Calculation 210
4.3.2. Bulk Density Calculation 212
4.3.3. Overburden Gradient Calculation 214
4.3.4. General Considerations 214


5.1.1. Spontaneous Potential (SP) 218
5.1.2. Origin Of Spontaneous Potential 220
5.1.3. SP Current Flow 222
5.1.4. Static SP (Clean Formations) 223
5.1.5. Effect Of Interstitial Shale On SP - The Pseudostatic SP 225
5.1.6. Shale Base-Line Shifts 229
5.1.7. Factors Affecting the Shape And The Amplitude Of The SP Peaks 230
5.1.8. Induction Log - IES 233
5.1.9. Acoustic Logging: Sonic Log 241
5.1.10. FDC (Formation. Density Compensated) Log 244
5.2.1. Overburden Gradient Calculations 250
5.2.2. Pore Pressure Gradient Calculations Form Electrical Logs 275
5.2.3. Limitations Of The Use Of Methods Based On The Processing Of Electrical Logs 298
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The purpose of this manual is to guide technicians and engineers, involved in Eni-Agips
Drilling & Completion worldwide activities, through the Manuals & Procedures and the
Technical Specifications which are part of the Corporate Standards.
Such Corporate Standards define the requirements, methodologies and rules that enable to
operate uniformly and in compliance with the Corporate Company Principles. This, however,
still enables each individual Affiliated Company the capability to operate according to local
laws or particular environmental situations.
The final aim is to improve performance and efficiency in terms of safety, quality and costs,
while providing all personnel involved in Drilling & Completion activities with common
guidelines in all areas worldwide where Eni-Agip operates.

The purpose of this treatise is to provide a homogeneous and above all critical revision of
the theories on the origins of overpressures and of the methods for the determination and
calculation of overburden, pore pressure, fracture gradient and to analyse their impact on
drilling operations.
Though the literature on the topic is vast, it has, nonetheless, never been brought together
systematically and in particular, the practical angles of prediction and interpretation of
overpressures have not been adequately developed. This work seeks to fill that gap by
extending, in detail, the interpretation and calculation stages with examples, diagrams and
working recommendations. This is done in such a way as to benefit not only those who deal
with these topics, such as students, but also those who are directly involved, both in Drilling
and Production Engineering Departments and out in the field.
Knowledge of pressure gradients is of primary importance in planning and operating an oil
well, furnishing all the indispensable information necessary in order to logically plan drilling
and production activities.
In fact, if the pressure gradients are known, the following can be determined:
Optimum casing string depths.
Grade and thickness of the casing required to resist expected stress.
Density and optimum rheological characteristics of the drilling mud and
cementing slurry.
Capacity of the drilling rig, which is linked to the dimensions (length and
diameter) and weight of the casing strings.
Preparation, and optimisation of the hydraulic programme (pump choice, surface
equipment, bit characteristics, etc.).
Choice of safety equipment, such as BOPs (blow-out preventers), choke
manifold, and surface equipment in general.
Choice of wellhead.
Choice of Drilling Control Unit.
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Determination of the tubing string characteristics to run formation tests,

production tests, acidification, fracturing and well completion.
Cost estimate of the operation.

The treatise opens with a brief summary (Section 2) of various theories relating to the
theme of overpressure origins or, in a more general sense, of abnormal pressure origins.
From a practical point of view, it certainly is not easy to establish the reason for the
existence of abnormal pressure gradient formations, since very often their origins lie in a
combination of various causes.
Of practical interest, however, is their determination and location, although defining the
causes themselves may facilitate the subsequent interpretative phase.
The determination of pressure gradients can take place in successive phases: the first
phase, essential in draughting the drilling programme, is based for the most part on
analyses and processing of seismic data and on data taken from possible reference wells. It
is obvious that if the drilling is explorative and is being done for the first time in a certain
area, the seismic data may be the sole source of information available. For this reason, the
methods based on seismic data analyses are dealt with, in detail, in section 3 of this
treatise. The section begins with an exhaustive treatment of the theory and the how-to of
seismic surveying, both onshore and offshore. Its principal purpose is to clarify the
assumptions, the working hypotheses, and the interpretative difficulties that the
geophysicist comes up against. This acquaints the drilling and production technician with
the degree of reliability that should be ascribed to the data he works with, and on which he
then bases his operating programme.
In section 4, the methods for recording and processing drilling parameters are reviewed; this
stage is set-up and carried out in the field itself, and is invaluable in checking predictions
and adjusting of operative decisions, made on the basis of the seismic analysis,
accordingly. In fact, the drilling programme must be regarded as a guide to operations and,
indeed, should not be taken by the letter; the indications it gives are not binding, but are to
be subjected to continuous verification and checking during the actual drilling. Should new
situations emerge, differing from those expected, the programme must be changed in time
and adapted to the new well conditions. It is, therefore, easy to understand the importance
of these surveys. A recent step forward in this field are sensors and recorders installed on
site that provide continuous and automatic measurement, recording and precise storage of
the most important parameters and the adoption of calculating systems which allow their
continuous, automatic and real time processing. It goes without saying that where an
interpretative process is necessary, the role performed by the technician is crucial in
obtaining reliable and meaningful results.
Should the predictions made from the seismic survey, and the results obtained processing
the drilling parameters be incongruent, it is logical to assign greater credibility to the latter.
This is because they relate to the well being drilled and, taken as a whole, more clearly
reflect the actual condition of the formations met in drilling.
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In Chapter 4, following an introduction on electric logs (theory, operating principles, and

equipment), the methods using resistivity logs (IES) and acoustic logs (Sonic Log) are
examined, respectively. In this case, the data on the gradients are available only after the
fact, which is to say, after a certain length of hole has already been drilled; thus they do not
have the same immediateness as the methods based on seismic or drilling parameters.
Nevertheless, they constitute an important survey moment, because they provide a
convincing comparison and, in case of doubt or interpreting difficulties, also permit
calibration of the preceding methods.
After this brief explanation, it follows that all the listed methods are to be considered as a
whole, and that the conclusions, which can be reached through the application of one or
other of the described techniques, must undergo a continuous critical appraisal. This is the
only way to obtain reliable gradient values, which in turn may lead to well-thought out and
rational decisions.


This manual is a live controlled document and, as such, it will only be amended and
improved by the Corporate Company, in accordance with the development of Eni-Agip
Division and Affiliates operational experience. Accordingly, it will be the responsibility of
everyone concerned in the use and application of this manual to review the policies and
related procedures on an ongoing basis.
Locally dictated derogations from the manual shall be approved solely in writing by the
Manager of the local Drilling and Completion Department (D&C Dept.) after the
District/Affiliate Manager and the Corporate Drilling & Completion Standards Department in
Eni-Agip Division Head Office have been advised in writing.
The Corporate Drilling & Completion Standards Department will consider such approved
derogations for future amendments and improvements of the manual, when the updating of
the document will be advisable.
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2.1.1. Rock Medium
A rock, either loose or indurate, is a poliphase medium, consisting of a solid phase, a liquid
phase and/or a gas phase.
The solid phase makes up part of the rock volume and consists of solid matter whose
mineralogical composition, shape and size may differ from one rock to another depending
on its geological history.
The liquid and/or gas phase is contained in the empty spaces within the rock, that is in the
spaces between the grains in unconsolidated loose rock and between fissure walls in
indurated rock.
The rock characteristic of containing a certain number of more or less interconnected empty
spaces, called pores, is defined as Total Porosity. It may vary according to the number,
size, shape and space distribution of pores within the rock. Their nature may be:
Primary: when pores were formed at the same time as the rock.
Secondary: when pores were formed after the formation of the rock, as a result
of lithogenics.

Not all of the pores within a rock medium permit gravitational water (i.e. water subject to
gravity, as opposed to absorbed or capillary water) to flow underground freely under
hydrostatic pressure. Fluid flow may be established only through interconnected pores
(Effective Porosity). Within the natural environment, rock media with equivalent total
porosities but having different effective porosities are frequently met with; because of such
different effective porosities, the resistance to fluid flow within the rocks may vary. Any
increase in the resistance to fluid flow through a rock medium may, as it will be better
shown later, give rise to abnormal pressure gradients, thus favouring the build up of
overpressured zones.

2.1.2. Effective Tension Principle

To render this point clearly, let us consider a certain volume of loose rock with intergranular
spaces partly filled with air and partly with water, and let us suppose that it is divided into
two parts by a flat internal surface which passes through the contact points without
intersecting the grains. In such a case, it is easy to examine the forces acting through this
surface and how they distribute themselves among the various solid and fluid rock
If A is the surface area, it can be said that:
A = ap + ag + a Eq. 2.1
ap and ag = Total sectional areas of the pores filled by water and gas
a = Total contact area among the grains
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N = Component perpendicular to the dividing surface of the resultant of the
forces acting through A

i = Perpendicular component of the grain interactions through their contact

surfaces within the dividing surface

Pg = Intergranular air pressure
Pp = Intergranular water pressure
to satisfy the equilibrium conditions in the direction perpendicular to the surface, it must be
n Eq. 2.2
N = n1i + Pp x a p + Pg x a g
i =1
As for the tangential components:
n Eq.2.3
T = t 1i
T = Component, tangential to the dividing surface, of the resultant of the
forces acting through A

i = Components of the forces acting among the grains

Liquids and gases do not allow the transmission of tangential forces.

By introducing the Total Pressure concept as:
N Eq. 2.4
Pov =

T Eq. 2.5
we obtain:
n Eq. 2.6
N n 1
Pp x ap + Pg x a g
Pov = = i=1

n Eq. 2.7
T t 1
= = i=1
Effective Pressure is defined as:
n Eq. 2.8
n 1
Pc = i=1

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which stands for the forces transmitted within a granular mass through the solid grains.
Where the gas volume is smaller than the water volume, in which case water saturation of
the rock medium is about 100% (Sw = l), the Eq. (1.6.) becomes:
a Eq. 2.9
Pov = Pc + Pp x ( 1 )
ag 0
and thus:
a g x p g 0 and a p = A a

Because of the very small contact area between grains (i.e. a/A<<< 1), it follows that:
Pov = Pc + Pp Eq. 2.10
This equation gives the distribution between the liquid and the solid phase of the forces
applied to a granular mass. From the last equation it may be noted that one part of the total
pressure exerted is borne by the interstitial fluids and the other by the solid skeleton.

2.1.3. Overburden Gradient

The weight of a rock medium produces a stress that affects the mechanical behaviour of
the medium itself, and therefore has to be determined. This may be done where simple
morphological and stratigraphical conditions exist and especially where a horizontal ground
surface stretches far enough for the depth under consideration, and where there are
uniform, horizontal properties within the rock medium. The pressure within the rock medium
due to its own weight is called overburden or lithostatic.
With a horizontal surface, both the horizontal uniformity and the radial symmetry with
reference to any vertical axis having to be met at the same time, tangential stresses on
vertical and horizontal planes must be absent. Horizontal and vertical directions are thus
main directions.
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The total vertical pressure Pov, acting on a point at a depth H from the ground surface, is
easily obtained from the equilibrium conditions of the prismatic element above an area A
through the point being considered, having weight G. Thus we have:
G = Pov x A Eq. 2.11
With a constant unit volume weight b :
G = b x H x A Eq. 2.12
we obtain:
Pov = b x H Eq. 2.13
In general, if b is expressed in g/cc and H in m:

Pov = b x H / 10

where b is constant:

Pov = [b,1 x H1 + b,2 x H2 + 

+ b,n x Hn ]/ 10 Eq. 2.14
where b,i is constant for each layer of thickness, Hi :

1 H
10 O
Pov = b dH with b with varying at each point

The overburden gradient Gov is the pressure increment for a unit increment of depth. It
gives the average apparent or bulk density at a given depth.
In general it will be, with Gov expressed in g/cc:
Eq. 2.15

Pov x 10
Gov = = b where is constant
H b

1 b,i x H1 + b,2 x H2 +  + x Hn

 + H

H1 + H2 + n
with b,i constant for each layer of thickness, Hi :

Gov =
1 o
b dH
where b varies at each point
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With the above equations it is easy to calculate the overburden pressure at each
subsurface point, once the densities of the layers encountered are known.

2.1.4. Pore Pressure Gradient

The quantity P indicates the pressure of the interstitial fluids within the rock medium. The
fluids may be under normal (hydrostatic) pressure conditions or abnormal conditions, when
particular geological situations are met with; these will be detailed in the paragraphs dealing
with overpressure origin.
In the first case, the fluid pressure at a given depth is normal since the fluids within the rock
medium have a pressure which is equivalent to the hydrostatic pressure at the same depth.
Hydrostatic refers to the pressure of a vertical fluid column having a given density and
height equal to the depth being considered. It is given by:
1 Eq. 2.16
Pp = x fl x H
= Fluid density, g/cm
Pp = Pore pressure,
H = Depth, m
Abnormal pressures are due to a fluid pressure which may be higher or lower than the
hydrostatic pressure.
Pore pressure gradient, i.e. the pressure variation as a function of depth, is defined by:
pp Eq. 2.17
Gp = for every 1m of depth
p p x10
Gp for every 10m of depth
Under normal conditions Gp is equal to the density of the fluids in the pores, whereas, under
abnormal conditions Gp will be higher or lower than the density value.
When calculating the hydrostatic pressure, the fluid will always be assumed to be water,
being the most common subsurface fluid. The most commonly encountered density values
for subsurface water are in the range of 1.00 to 1.07g/cc. To make calculations easier, the
value normally used by Eni-Agip is 1.03g/cc, which is close to average, because of the
salinity of the water commonly found underground.
In terms of pore pressure gradient, a rock formation is at normal pressure when the pore
2 2
pressure gradient is G = 0.103Kg/cm / 1m or also Gp = 1.03kg/cm / 10m. Higher values
indicate over-pressure, whereas lower values indicate under-pressure.
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2.1.5. Fracture Gradient

When a pressure is applied to a well bore, tensile stresses can develop on its walls. When
tensile stress exceeds both the horizontal compressive stress and the rock tensile strength,
a fracture will result in the direction of least resistance.
Skipping superfluous details, we shall only deal with the equations used by Eni-Agip for
fracture gradient calculation, once overburden gradients and pore pressure gradients have
been defined.
When dealing with elastic formations, the fracture gradient Gfr is obtained by an equation
derived from the more general Terzaghi equation:
G fr = G p + (G ov Gp ) Eq. 2.18
If the drilling fluid is water or wherever water deeply invades the formation, Gfr is given by:
Gfr = Gp + 2 Gov Gp ) Eq. 2.19
With plastic formations, such as clays, marls, etc.:
Gfr = Gov Eq. 2.20
The Poisson modulus may have the following values:
= 0.25 for clean sands, sandstones and carbonate rocks down to medium
= 0.28 for shaly sands, sandstones and carbonate rocks at great depth.


Abnormal pressures are frequently encountered in every part of the world, in recent
formations (including Pleistocene) as well as in ancient formations down to Cambrian.
A normal pressure geological environment may be looked upon as an open hydraulic
system, such as the one made of permeable formations which allow the presence of
hydrostatic conditions. On the contrary, those systems with high abnormal pressures may
be considered closed, where fluid transfer is prevented or greatly reduced.
Normal and abnormal pressure formations may co-exist only when separated by a
permeability barrier acting also as a pressure barrier. In theory, any material or a
combination of materials may serve as such a barrier, reducing or preventing the movement
or passage of large fluid volumes.
A pressure barrier may be of a physical or chemical nature or a result of a combination of
both (Refer to Table 2.1).
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In general, the formation of a pressure barrier depends on many factors, among them:
Phenomena, sometimes complex, which deform clay minerals under a physical
load (e.g., weight of sediments).
Clays as semi-permeable membranes.
Type and quantity of clay minerals present in the rock.

-4 -6
Very low permeability clays (10 10 millidarcies).
Non-Newtonian behaviour of water trapped in clay interstices.
Interaction between rock, gases and organic acids.
Type, concentration and diffusivity of cautions.

Barrier Type Trap Nature

Vertical Massive Shales and Siltstones
Massive Salt
Limestone, Mari, Chalk
Transversal Faults
Salt and Shale Diapirs
Vertical/Transversal Combination
Table 2.1- Most Common Types of Permeability and Pressure Barriers
(by Fertl and Timko, 1972)

Dissolved salts precipitation (such as for calcite, silicates, feldspar, pyrite,

siderite, etc.).
Composition and possible interaction of brackish waters.
Rapid subsurface temperature and pressure changes.

When added to the effect of geological time, all of these factors or a combination of them
may change the physico-chemical environment and produce slow lithological changes
within these covering rocks which may then become pressure and permeability barriers.
As it has already been pointed out, various and often many overimposed factors may create
abnormal pressures. Subsurface phenomena have their source in geological, physical,
geochemical and mechanical processes. It is often very difficult, if not impossible, to identify
the effect and to evaluate the importance of each factor because of the simultaneous
occurrence of several of these phenomena.
The most common conditions and causes of the build-up of overpressures will be examined
in the following pages.
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2.2.1. Rate of Sedimentation

General Outline
This is perhaps the most common cause of overpressure.
During sedimentation, the materials that accumulate within a sedimentary basin are subject
to compaction because of loads from overlying sediments. The gradual compaction
following each subsequent weight increment initially causes a hydraulic imbalance, due to
the incompressibility of the fluids within the pores. Entrapped fluids are slowly expelled from
the pores and pressure equilibrium is re-established. Thus, superficial sediments show
higher porosity and a resultant higher fluid content than in the case of sediments found at
greater depths.
When the geological factors affecting deposition and the hydraulic features of the rock are
such as to impede the excess water from leaving the pores, the rock medium will be
abnormal. Since the fluid pressure within the pores will certainly be higher than the
hydrostatic pressure, thus rock porosity will be higher than where normal outflow conditions
Clay formations, marls and sands with very high clay content are the types of rock most
subject to overpressures.
In describing the process of compaction, several authors have noticed that the degree of
compaction and the presence of abnormal pressures are not only dependent on the
mechanism of water ejection, as mentioned before (which is rather slow in the case of clay
compaction), but also on other geological factors related to deposition. Some of these
factors can be identified as:
Clay deposition rate.
Deposition rate of the overlying sedimentary beds.
Initial clay density.
Density of overlying sediments.
Clay thickness.
Thickness of overlying sediments.
Mineral composition of the clays.
Age of the formation.

These parameters, in various combinations, bring about different pressure distributions and
a different density profile for clay formations.
At any rate, of the three zones into which the clay pressure curve is divided (hydrostatic,
transition and high pressure, Refer to Figure 2.1), the transition zone is the one most
affected by these parameters.
The Compaction Theory, which has proved to be valid for calculating the pressure curve in
many experimental cases, will be used later on to emphasise the effects of various
geological parameters.
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Figure 2.1 - Typical Shale Destiny and Pore Profiles

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Defining Drained and Un-Drained Conditions

The following paragraphs will cover the evaluation of the interaction between liquid and
solid phases when a saturated rock medium is subjected to a tensile stress applied to a
boundary surface.
As far as the liquid phase is concerned, two different conditions may be defined:
1) Un-drained. When the rock medium is delimited by an impermeable boundary or if
there are instantaneous situations or events so short-lived that the movement of water
particles within the pores may be considered nil:
2) Drained: if the rock medium is delimited by a permeable boundary and conditions
change slowly in relation to the rate of filtration of interstitial water.

In the first case, the interstitial pressures induced within the rock medium cannot balance
the external hydraulic conditions; furthermore, since the amount of water within the porous
medium is unchanged, and assuming the medium to be saturated and the water and
granules making up the solid skeleton to be incompressible, un-drained conditions
correspond necessarily to incompressibility of the medium.
In the second case, interstitial pressures are in, or tend to reach, a state of equilibrium with
the external hydraulic conditions. Any variation in the volume of the porous medium
corresponds, under the assumptions made above, to a variation in the amount of water.

Interstitial Pressures due to Stresses under Un-Drained Conditions

A change in stress of a rock medium under un-drained conditions brings about a change in
the interstitial pressures. This is easy to calculate when the solid skeleton is assumed to be
linearly elastic.
Let us first suppose that the porous medium is saturated with water and that the change in
pressure, following the application of a stress, be represented by Pp. The volumetric
deformations of the solid skeleton will be given by:

V m Eq. 2.21

= I
V k

kI =
3 1 2 I ) Eq. 2.22
Im =
1 I
x + Iy + Iz ) Eq. 2.23
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k = Modulus of volume compressibility of the solid skeleton

= Poissons modulus for the solid skeleton
E = Youngs modulus
m = Average effective stress

Ix = Effective stress along the x axis

Iy = Effective stress along the y axis

Iz = Effective stress along the z axis.

Under the assumption made in the previous paragraph and also assuming a negligible
compressibility for the grains, a volume change V of the rock medium can only be caused
by a change in the volume of the pores.
For un-drained conditions, interstitial fluid volume is constant and therefore is:
V = 0 Eq. 2.24
1 Eq. 2.25
Im = 0
Im = 0 Eq. 2.26
According to the effective stress principle:
Im = m Pp Eq. 2.27
m = Total average stress

m = Pp Eq. 2.28
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When the distribution of the induced stress is radically symmetrical, one may state
(assuming linear elasticity, isotropy and homogeneity):

m =
(Pov + 2 Pr ) = Pp Eq. 2.29
Pov = Total vertical stress
Pr = Total horizontal stress

Under conditions of restrained lateral distortion (E= 0), we have:

r =
[ Pr 0.5(Pov + Pr )] = 0 Eq. 2.30
from which:
Pr = Pov Eq. 2.31
and, by substituting Eq. 2.31 into Eq. 2.29:
Pov = Pp Eq. 2.32
Any load increment produces an interstitial pressure change when un-drained conditions
are maintained.

Compaction Theory
If a rock medium is subjected to external stresses and boundary conditions of
impermeability are removed, drainage conditions are established. Water is free to move
within the intergranular spaces and unsteady filtration movement sets in.
The pressures, induced under Un-drained conditions and not balanced by boundary
conditions due to the present of formations, establish a hydraulic gradient and, thus, a
hydrostatic gradient (filtration movement), which changes over time and with the steady
lessening of over-pressures.
If the total applied stress remains constant, interstitial pressure changes correspond to
effective stress variations, with subsequent deformation of the rock medium. This process
of overpressure dissipation is called compaction.
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As far as the natural characteristics of the medium are concerned, this process is controlled
by the viscous resistance between water and solid skeleton and by its compressibility. With
the introduction of viscosity and an unsteady state, time enters as a variable in the
description of this phenomenon; in other words, compaction takes place during an interval
of time dependent upon the permeability coefficient and the deformability of the solid
The rheologic model which best fits this phenomenon is represented by coupling elastic and
viscous elements in parallel (Kelvins body) (Refer to Figure 2.2.). The rock medium is
represented by the combination of water and springs within the cylinder; the hydrodynamic
filtration resistance is represented by the friction loss due to the flow of water through the
The closing of the orifices corresponds to an un-drained condition, while their opening
represents a drained condition.
When studying compaction, interstitial pressure distribution and variations with time may be
deduced from the Continuity Law by equating the volume of liquid flowing through the
boundary surface per unit of time to the corresponding change in the volume of the rock
medium and from Darcys law (relating to the flow of fluids).
The general equation for compaction is given by:

1 2 P P + k P = 1 x e
2 2 Eq. 2.33
k x + k
fl X 2 y 2 z 2 1 + e 0 t
y z


P = Pressure increase (or Pp)

fl = Water density

eo = Porosity ratio =

By limiting the analysis to uni-directional flow and deformation (in the vertical direction) and
using the following assumptions:
Total saturation (Sw = 1)
Slight deformation as compared to the thickness of the medium
Linear elasticity for the solid skeleton
Sudden and continuous application of external stress
Homogeneity and isotropy of the medium.
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Figure 2.2 - Representations Of Clay Compaction Process

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the following expression is obtained:

k z x E ed 2 P P Eq. 2.34
x =
fl z 2 t
k z x E ed
= Compaction coefficient
Eed = Compressibility modulus (derived from the compressibility curve for
fl = Fluid density (water)
kz = Vertical permeability coefficient

Assuming a time-dependent external stress rather than one constant over time, the
following equation holds:

kz P P Pov Eq. 2.35

x E ed x 2 =
fl z t t
By defining the boundary conditions for a clay formation, the overpressures at any instant
during compaction can be calculated.

Example of Calculation for Clay Compaction States

This paragraph covers the reconstruction of density and pressure profiles for a clay
formation taking into account the extent of clay compaction at the end of the following three
stages of evolution of the deposition process:
1) At the end of clay sediment deposition;
2) After the clay has been overlaid by a thin sequence of permeable sediments under
hydrostatic pressure (sand and clay interbeddings);
3) After the clay has been overlaid by a thick sequence of permeable sediments under
hydrostatic pressure.

For each of the stages just mentioned, the sequence of clay sediments is bordered
underneath by an impermeable substratum so that the greatest distant covered by the
water particle to get to the draining surface is equal to the thickness of the clay sediments.
In order to emphasise the role played by the geological factors and, most of all, the
deposition rate, the dissipation of overpressures between successive stages of compaction
has not been considered.
1) Calculations require the values for kz, S = fl / E ed and the dimensions of the
formation being investigated and its deposition rate.
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The value of these parameters may change; they can, however, be included within the
single parameter Q, in order to facilitate the comparison between clays with different
hydraulic properties, thickness and sedimentation rate. The overall parameter Q may be
defined as:
fl I Eq. 2.36
Q= x sh x
E ed k
k = Rock permeability
Eed = Compressibility modulus
sh = Deposition rate
l = Sediment thickness.

Through application of the Compaction Theory, the density and pressure profiles for this
stage have been obtained and are shown in Figure 2.3. An examination of the curves
produces the following conclusions:
In the transition zone, pore pressures are only marginally sensitive to the values
of Q.
In the high-pressure region (i.e. the deepest zone), changes in the values of Q
are apparent in the range 0 to 20; for values of Q above this range, pressure
and density values are quite constant.

2) The depositional effects of a small layer of sandy-clayey sediments, under hydrostatic

pressure, for both rapid and slow depositions, are shown in Figure 2.4

The examination of the profiles obtained leads to the following deductions:

In case of a rapid burial, the transition zone has density values lower than for a
slow burial; a rapid sedimentation traps water in clay pores, since it does not
allow the development of a drainage zone in the transition zone. Very much
different is the situation for a slow deposition, as the drainage phase has more
time to develop.
In the high pressure zones, pressure values are similar for both cases.
In the high pressure zones, density values decrease for a slow burial, whereas
they increase in the opposite case.

3) In the case of burial below a great thickness of permeable sediments, the situation is
almost identical to that seen in Point 2, but with clearly greater pore pressure values
(Refer to Figure 2.5)
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Figure 2.3 - Density and Pressure Profile

(At the end of shale deposition process)
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Figure 2.4 - Density and Pressure Profile

(After slow or shale rapid burial due to the action of a thin permeable and normally pressured
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Figure 2.5 - Density and Pressure Profile

(After slow or rapid shale burial due to the action of a thick permeable and normally pressured
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2.2.2. Diagenesis
Overpressures may develop as a consequence of diagnoses; i.e. of the post-depositional
alteration process of sediments and of component minerals. Diagenetic processes include
the formation of new minerals, re-distribution and re-crystallisation of substances present in
the sediments, and lithification.
The most important and frequent processes in the development of abnormal pressure
zones are the following:
Diagenesis of clays
Diagenesis of volcanic ash
Diagenesis of sulphates
Secondary precipitation of cementation material
Decomposition of organic matter.

Clay Diagenesis
Studies started in 1950 in several sedimentary basins with the support of laboratory
experiments have by now proved that during diagnosis, under the effects of pressure,
temperature and ion activity, clays of montmorillonite composition change to clays of illite
composition, passing through an intermediate phase, which is of maximum importance
when explaining overpressures and migration of subsurface organic fluids.
Montmorillonite is a clay mineral generally found at minor depth and which reaches a
hydrostatic equilibrium relatively quickly, losing excess water easily. When this clay, due to
subsidence, is found at depths of between 2,000 and 4,000 m, desorption of the liquids
(crystallisation water) between the elemental placelets takes place and, therefore, a further
loss of liquid occurs.
Temperature plays a very important role at this stage: in fact, as the temperature increases
with depth, crystallisation water is changed to mobile interstitial water. Due to the fact that
the mobilisation rate of the crystallisation water is higher than the expulsion rate, an
overpressure develops within the clay. Such clay, which is at this point no longer
montmorillonite but Montmorillonite-Illite in composition, remains overpressured until all the
excess liquid is able to flow out, which coincides with the complete transformation to illite
clay; this occurs when clays are found at considerable depth.
Under these temperature and pressure conditions, Illite clays will be at a normal gradient.
Several authors, such as Powers, Burst, Magara, have dealt with the questions of why and
how the physical-chemical process of montmorillonite dehydration takes place, by trying to
correlate the conditions found in different sedimentary basins; however, not all of them are
in agreement in considering diagnosis the principal cause of overpressure development.
Before looking at the question in greater detail, a brief description of the most important
clays is given in the following section.
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Montmorillonite (Smectite) and Illite Clays

The clay minerals are hydrous silicates with layered/sheet-like structure, belonging to the
Phyllosilicate group.
The basic units in the clay mineral structure are tetrahedra and octahedra that link together
to form a sheet network. These layers are in turn linked to each other in a direction
perpendicular to the layer itself.
In the tetrahedral units, Si (sometimes replaced by Al) is at the centre of the tetrahedron
(co-ordination solid), while oxygen ions (or hydroxyl ions) are placed at the vertices. The
tetrahedra are bonded to one another on a plane to form a two-dimensional sheet network
with hexagonal meshes. In all the tetrahedra, the fourth vertex is oriented in the same
The octahedral units form sheet networks, in which a layer of aluminium (or magnesium)
ions Iies between two layers formed of oxygen and hydroxyl ions. The most common
octahedral units are Al2 (OH)6 (Gillsite) and Mg3 (OH)6 (Brucite).
The various types of clay minerals come from the combinations of tetrahedral and
octahedral units in elemental placelets (Figure 2.6). Several cases may be thus
1) Elemental placelets consisting of an octahedral unit and a tetrahedral unit (Kaolinite,
2) Elemental placelets consisting of an octahedral unit between two tetrahedral units
(Ulite, Mont-morillonite);
3) Elemental placelets consisting of three-layer packages of the previous type
interlayered wirh an octahedral unit (Chlorite Group).

The subsequent analysis centres on the second group.

The basic structure which is referred to in order to define a Montmorillonite (Smectite) clay
and an illite clay is that of Pyrophyllite, as shown in Figure 2.7. It consists of two tetrahedral
units that include an octahedral unit. The charge of the whole structure is zero and thus the
linkage between the elemental placelets is due to the existence of the Van der Waals
forces (Van der Waals bond).
By ion substitution in the basic structure, the Smectite group and the Illite group are formed.
The first group is obtained through the substitution of Si with Al; this causes an imbalance in
the electric charge, Al being trivalent with respect to tetravalent Si.
The imbalance leads to the absorption of cations and liquids between the elemental
placelets, thus establishing the main characteristic of these clays, i.e. absorption and
significant ion exchange properties. The general formula for the Smectites is Al4 Si8 O2O
(OH)4 nH2O.
The Illite group features, aside from the Al to Si substitution, the presence of potassium and
sodium ions that, being bonded between the various elemental placelets, neutralise the
electrical imbalance and make the structure fissile. By comparing the Illite and the Mica
structures, a casual substitution of Si ions by Al ions is noted in the Illite, while in the Micas
one Si ion of four is substituted.
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The Illite general formula is Ky Al4 (Si8 AIy) O20 (OH)4 where y value may vary between 1.0
and 1.5. Iliite contains very small amounts of water; other features include the total absence
of organic liquids and a low ion exchange due to the presence of potassium and sodium
To sum up, the Smectite group prototype mineral is Pyrophyllite, while the IlIite group
prototype is Muscovite.

Figure 2.6 - Elemental Sheet Structure of Montmorillonite and Illite

(Composed of two layers of silica tetrahedrons and one central octahedron)
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Figure 2.7 - Changes In Ionic Substitution

(In Three-Layered Sheets)
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Clay Absorption Mechanism

All clays existing in nature absorb liquids. However, Smectites have a particular
predisposition towards this phenomenon, due to their expanded structure. For this reason,
most of the studies on clay expansion have been done on Smectites and in particular on
Two absorption mechanisms have been identified: crystalline and osmotic.
Crystalline absorption results from the absorption of monomolecular layers of water on the
surface of the placelets. The first layer is bonded to the placelet surface and to the
hexagonal structure of the water by a hydrogen bond (Figure 2.8.); the water molecules are
connected in the classic hexagonal structure. The subsequent layers are bonded like the
first, but the bonding force decreases with their distance from the surface. The water within
the first 10 A has a specific volume 3% Iower than free water and, therefore, a greater
viscosity. The presence of cations affects the crystalline structure of water in two ways: a)
many cations become hydrated; b) the cations bond themselves to the placelet surface in
substitution of the water molecules. When the Montmorillonite is exposed to water vapour,
the water enters between the placelets and the clay structure expands.
Figure 2.9. shows a relationship between water vapour pressure and the increase of water
and distance between the placelets.
It is clear that the absorption energy in the first layer is rather high and decreases rapidly
with distancing from the surfaces.
Using X-rays, Navish measured the distance between the elemental placelets of a single-
ion Mont-morillonite, while it was immersed in a salt-saturated solution in which cations were
equal to those present on the clay faces. In all cases, the distance between the placelets
with respect to the initial situation, increased moderately with decreasing concentration; the
absorption of one layer of water molecules corresponded to each moderate increment. The
results obtained indicate that not more than four layers of water can be absorbed.
Osmotic absorption occurs when the concentration of cations between the placelets is
higher than that of the solution in the pores. Consequently, the water is pulled between the
placelet surfaces increasing its penetration and permitting the development of the double
electric layer which is a function of the distribution of ions in contact with a negatively or
positively charged surface. The value of the potential taken on by the ions is described in
Figure 2.10. The maximum value is found near the surfaces and falls to nothing at a certain
distance. Two principal zones can be distinguished:
1) The Stern layer, next to the surface
2) The diffused layer, which extends from the end of the Stern layer to the formation

Although there is no semi-permeable membrane, the mechanism is essentially osmotic,

since it operates on the basis of the differing electrolytic concentrations that exist between
placelets and pores.
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Figure 2.8 - Hexagonal Structure Of Water

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Figure 2.9 - Relationship Between Water Vapour Pressure, Water Content And Distance
Between Unit Layers Of Montmorillomnite
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Figure 2.10 - Double Electric Stratum

(According To Gouy(B) And Zeta Potential Diagram A)
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Montmorillonite Dehydration Theory

Various theories have been advanced on the subject of dehydration, the most interesting
being those of Powers, Burst and Magara.
Powers stated his theory in four principal points:
1) Expanded clays, like Montmorillonite, are changed into IIIite through a process of
2) Montmorillonitic clays absorb a greater number of water molecules on the surfaces of
elemental packages than Illitic or other non-expanding clays. In Figure 2.10 the
distribution of the monomolecular layers of water proposed by Powers can be seen;
3) The last four monomolecular Iayers of water absorbed by the elemental placelets of
Montmorillonite are not dewatered because of an increase in pressure due to burial,
but because of electrostatic attraction forces that are generated during the absorbtion
of the potassium ions;
4) A high water density value is reached in the last four layers.

If the Montmorillonite is deposited in a delta or marine environment and the overburden has
reached the thickness of several hundred metres, an equilibrium is established between the
water contained in the clay pores and the water absorbed by the Montmorillonite particles. A
further increase in pressure resulting from burial is insufficient to displace the water
remaining trapped in the pores. At depths greater than 500-1,000 metres, much of the water
present is hydration water distributed in the four monomolecular layers between the
elemental placelets (Figure 2.12A).
As the Montmorillonite is changed into Illite, the water present between the placelets is
expelled and becomes free water (Figure 2.12). In this way there is an increase in water
transferred as a result of dehydration. Thus, an increase in porosity and permeability is
At the pressures existing between 2,000-3,000 m, the water molecules are located too far
from the particle surface to be held by the double electric layer force. In this way, the water
is expelled from the pores and a complete transformation into Illite occurs (Figure 2.12). The
relationship between the expelled water and the burial depth is shown in Figure 2.13; these
curves permit the determination of porosity, permeability and formation density values.
The latest hypothesis proposed by Powers, and confirmed by laboratory analysis predicts a
density of 1.4g/cm for the water between the Montmorillonite packages.
In the process of diagenesis, the change of crystallisation water into interstitial water, with a
density of 1 g/cm , creates a variation in volume of about 40%. This represents the volume
between the particles necessary to accommodate the desorbed water in the process of
diagenesis in order to maintain a hydrostatic gradient. This value is hypothetical, since
Montmorillonitic clays made up solely of Montmorillonite do not exist in nature, because
usually other minerals are present. The real value of volume variation lies between 2.5%
and 20%, at least for clays of the Gulf Coast, U.S.A. Such a mechanism, according to
Powers, could explain the creation of overpressures.
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The compressibility of water at the depths considered and at the temperature reached is
practically zero. Therefore, any quantity of water introduced, no matter how small, definitely
creates some overpressure, since it cannot be compressed. The problem can be compared
to trying to add liquid to an already full container. In conclusion, the Powers theory can be
summarised by granting the existence of two stages of dehydration (Figure 2.13):
a) The first due to-compaction;
b) The second due to diagenesis.

According to Burst, on the other hand, the process of dehydration develops in three stages,
as indicated in Figure 2.14. In the first stage, the pore water, or the excess water present in
the elemental placelets, is expelled by the increase in pressure due to burial. The water
content in clay sediments, in this initial phase, reaches 70-80%. Following the dehydration
caused by compac-tion, the water content is reduced to about 30% (20-25% becomes water
held in the elemental placelets and 5-10% water held in the pores).
In the second stage, the pressure, with respect to the temperature, is ineffective as a
dehydrating agent. To better explain the concept an analogy can be made using chemical
phenomena which occur in ice during a change in state. The water molecules in the solid
are more tightly imprisoned compared to those in the liquid; the former can gain mobility
only through a certain amount of heat. A similar situation is encountered in the case of
water imprisoned in hexagonal configurations within the elemental placelets as already
seen in the description of the expansion mechanism. When the speed of the molecules is
sufficient to permit their escape from their tight imprisonment and to move around freely, the
ice becomes water and analogously, in the case at hand, the water between the placelets
becomes pore water. The effects of pressure and temperature during the change in state
are in opposition to each other since the density of the placelet water is greater than that of
the free water. The thermodynamic system that evolves from this state of compaction
requires an expansion rather than a contraction of volume, as it is deduced from the
increase in volume of the formations observed in the compaction of sediments. Therefore
the transition phase consists of the transformation of a denser water, highly oriented in the
placelets, into less dense water, free in the porous space.
In agreement with the Clausius-Clapeyron equation, the conclusion is that the pressure,
contrary to the temperature, does not fundamentally affect the phenomenon. In fact, it has
been verified that increasing pressure by thousands of atmospheres is approximately equal
to raising the temperature by 10%. Thus, changes of pressure with depth appear to be too
small to have any significant thermodynamic effect on the clay-water system. This
affirmation modifies the generally accepted theory that the increase in pressure due to
burial was responsible for compaction and overpressure. The amount of water freed is
equal to 10-15% of the volume of the formation.
In the third stage, the increase in volume of the water, having a density equals to that of
capillary water, is gradually reduced in the elemental placelets due to a further increase in
temperature. This final dehydration stage is very slow, requiring tens or even hundreds of
millions of years to reach completion.
Figure 2.13 shows the progression of the expelled water curve against depth. A comparable
progression is to be found for permeability and porosity.
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As far as the origin of overpressures are concerned Bursts theory agrees with Powers. In
both the Powers and Burst theories it is advanced that the dehydration may be the principal
cause of the creation of overpressures at the depths considered.
Magara disagrees with this theory. According to the analyses performed by this author, the
liberation of 10-15% of crystalline water, as foreseen by Burst, may provoke an increase of
2% in clay density, while the calculations performed by Magara, using the density log, lead
to conclude an increase of 6% in density. In the same way, other areas of disagreement
with the theories of Powers and Burst are to be found. In this way, Magara reaches the
conclusion that the dehydration of Montmorillonitic clays is not the principal cause of

Figure 2.11 - Water Molecules Distribution In Proximity Of A Smectite Sheet Surface

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Figure 2.12 - Diagenetic Stages In The Alteration Of Montomrillonite To Illite

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Figure 2.13 - Dehydration Curves Of Montmortllonite Sediments

(With Depth And Temperature According To Powers And Burst Heroes)
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Figure 2.14 - Percentage Distribution Of The Various Components In A Shale

(During The Dehydration Process)
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Overpressures Consequent To Organic Decomposition

Significant amounts of organic matter are contained in several types of clays and in the
shales, formed as a consequence of mud burial. Inevitably, over its geological history,
organic matter tends to be transformed into coal, oil, etc.
During the organic matter dehydration process a certain amount of gas is produced, both
directly and by reaction with CO2. This occurs at first by bacterial action, close to the
surface, and subsequently at a greater depth, in the burial process by the thermochemical
degradation that precedes, accompanies and follows the formation of oil, coal or
carbonaceous matter as a function of the hydrogen content of the organic matter.
The methane (CH4) thus generated in the clay or in the compacted shales may escape from
the rock, both as gas dissolved in water or oil and, in part, as free gas. At the initial stage of
clay deposition, when the porosity value is high, gas can escape easily. Should the
decomposition of organic matter continue, when a decrease in the clay permeability and in
the liquid content of the pores occurs, pore water will tend to trap the free gas in small
bubbles. This phenomenon might create overpressure conditions for two reasons:
1) The continuous formation of methane creates a back-pressure in the medium that
resists fluid expansion.
2) The continuous development of the gas dispersed in the liquid produces a reduction
in rock permeability for both the phases.

Thus, should the clay have a natural tendency to becoming overpressured as a

consequence of burial, the simultaneous formation of gas will augment this tendency. Or, in
conditions of hydrostatic equilibrium, as a consequence of burial, methane production may
be the only cause of overpressure.

Sulphate Diagenesis
It is known that the change of calcium sulphate (CaSO4) from its hydrate state, i.e. gypsum
(CaSO4, 2H2O) into its anhydrous state, i.e. anhydrite (CaSO4), is a reaction connected to
the post-sedimentary diagenetic process. Such reaction involves water release and a 40%
volume reduction of gypsum. When the released water cannot flow freely due to the
presence of permeability barriers, overpressures develop affecting the formations at their
top and/or at their base.
The phenomenon is reversible, i.e. anhydrite may become hydrated with the consequent
15-25% volume increase for its semi-hydrate (CaSO4, /2 H2O) up to a 40% for its hydrated
state, that is, gypsum.
It is needless to say that even a partial reaction in a closed system, which does not allow for
dilatation, will cause high overpressures.

Secondary Precipitation of Cementation Material

The precipitation of materials dissolved in the formation water may develop overpressures
in a hydraulically closed system that was initially under hydrostatic conditions. We can
consider for instance the cases of carbonate, sulphate, chloride, silica precipitation, etc.
There will be a reduction of the pore space with consequent pressurisation of the fluids
contained in it.
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This process can only get started when there is a variation in at least one of the factors
contributing to keeping salts in solution; ie, temperature, pressure, composition of the
solution, and concentration of each singe component.
Overpressure conditions may also be created in a hydraulically open system. During
sediment compaction, secondary precipitation may decrease the permeability to such a
degree that it may, impede the flow of the liquids present in the pores before burial.

2.2.3. Osmotic Phenomenon

Osmosis is defined as the spontaneous flow of water between two solutions of different
concentrations, or between pure solvent and solution, when they are separated by a semi-
permeable membrane (Figure 2.15). The osmotic flow will continue until the chemical
potential of the two solutions, divided by the barrier, becomes equal.
At equilibrium, a pressure difference is created, which is a function of temperature and
concentration. in fact, if the temperature is constant, the pressure difference varies with the
concentration difference (Figure 2.16); while if pressure is constant, the concentration
difference varies with the temperature. The importance of osmosis as a cause of
overpressures is due to the fact that, under particular geological conditions, there may be a
flow in the direction of a closed volume, and as a consequence, a pressure increase will
The most favourable lithology for the production of this phenomenon is a sequence of thin
sand and clay interbeddings, while the phenomenon would not be possible in the case of
two sand layers divided by a very thick clay layer. Researchers found that clays behave as
a semi-permeable membrane and that their efficiency increases with increasing clay purity.
Berry, reaching the same conclusion, defined the factors that may affect the flow rate of
various chemical compounds through the membrane. They are:
1) The nature of chemical compounds in solution.
2) The degree of dissociation of chemical compounds.
3) Non-ionic absorption by rock.
4) The absorption of bivalent cations in comparison to monovalent cations in the cation
ex-change phase in rock.
5) Filtration velocities of different compounds.
6) The degree of mass effect on the transport velocities of different chemical

The osmotic phenomenon needs a true membrane in order to develop. Young and Low
conducted experiments using typical clay samples and solutions at varying concentrations.
They got results which differed rather a lot from the theory and they concluded that the
clays known as semi-permeable did not actually fall under this definition, due to the possible
existence of microfissures, high concentrations of fine silica inside the pores and other
Although the studies on the behaviour of clay as semi-permeable membranes lead to
controversial conclusions, the osmotic phenomenon may be of some importance as one
cause, though not always primary, of overpressure.
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Figure 2.15 - Water Molecule Flow

(From A More Dilute To A More Concentrate Solution Jones, 1969)

Figure 2.16 - Temperature / Osmotic Pressure

(Is Almost Inversely Proportional To The Concentration Differential Jones 1969)
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2.2.4. Tectonics
In the course of their history, the rocks present in the earths crust undergo deformations
due to stresses of tectonic origin (dislocation), which modify their original geological
The sedimentary rocks are almost always of marine origin, except for the case of deltaic or
coastal sediments and for this reason are deposited almost horizontally on the sea bottom:
If any region, flat or mountainous, appears to be formed of similarly horizontal layers, this
means that the zone has undergone a simple vertical movement (vertical uplift) without
disturbing the original depositional condition; otherwise, if the layers show a different
orientation, the movement undergone must have been caused by stresses, known as
tectonic, oriented in different directions.
Tectonic stresses have a mostly horizontal orientation, so much as to be called tangential to
the earths surface. These stresses may be compressive or tensile or tend to rotate two
parallel surfaces of a body in opposite directions with shearing effects.
The rocks, tectonically stressed, are either deformed plastically or are fractured, and at
times both conditions occur. Among the several types of dislocation due to tectonic
phenomena, the following stand out:
Folds: Tangential stresses (orogenic) along the earths trust cause rock masses
to fold repeatedly giving rise to more or less complex structures, the surfaces of
which are exposed to erosion. Folds are classified according to structure, origin
and type of deformation. The main fold types are: monoclines, anticlines or
upfolds and synclines or troughs or down folds. The central part of a fold is the
core; the hinge line coincides with maximum curvature; the sides or limbs meet
at the hinge line; the axial plane passes through the hinge line while the axis
through the core.
The vergence refers to the direction of inclination.
Faults :are fractures with displacement; i.e. a relative displacement of the two
sides. The displacement can have either a vertical or horizontal component, or

For the most part, deformations are of tectonic origin and, therefore, caused by strains or
oriented stresses that were produced in the course of orogenesis; but they may also be of
other origins such as magmatic or diapiric intrusions, effects of gravity, etc.
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Mechanism of Overpressure Build-up

The mechanism, which abnormal pressures build up as a consequence of tectonic stresses,
is quite similar to the one responsible for overpressures due to compaction, the only
difference being that in the former case it is dependent on the speed of tectonic stress
application rather than on the rate of deposition.
The new state of stress produces at first an hydraulic imbalance within the formation, so
that the fluids, in order to restore hydrostatic equilibrium, are slowly forced out of the rock
pores. When the permeability of the formation does not allow a normal outflow, or when the
same is delayed with respect to the rate of the stress applied to the excess water in the
pores, the rock medium will be in an anomalous condition. The pressure of the fluid inside
the pores is certainly higher than the hydrostatic pressure so that rock porosity will be higher
than in the case of a rock formation which has been completely drained
Situations such as these may occur within the core of a fold where compressive stresses,
which may occasionally reach very high values, accumulate. As orogenesis develops, faults
may be generated along with folds, the former being surfaces along which the mechanical
resistance of the rock has been exceeded. In fact, in highly compressed overturned folds,
the overturned side usually tends to become thinner with respect to the normal side and to
the hinge, thus becoming stretched folds. As a consequence of lamination of the limb, folds
with faults (Figure 2.17) are generated having been more or less overthrusted as a
consequence of a movement having a horizontal component. The thrust along the fault
surface may improve, or worsen, the flow of the excess water by causing the contact of
impermeable or slightly permeable layers with permeable layers under hydrostatic
conditions or with impermeable layers, thereby preventing any possible drainage.
It may also happen that permeable layers, under pressure because of the new stress state,
come into contact with impermeable layers thus inducing abnormal pressures. When the
fault surface allows the outflow of the excess water towards permeable layers where
drainage can take place, the overpressure may lessen.
Diapiric phenomena (Figure 2.18), magmatic intrusions or the effects of gravity may also
induce additional stresses which, with respect to tectonic stresses, are of clearly minor
intensity, slower and less violent.
All things considered, the increase or decrease of the overburden pressure on the rock
formation, that may occur both during the orogenic phase and as a result of erosion, may
be taken into account: they may facilitate the build-up of overpressures because of the new
conditions of equilibrium thus established.
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Figure 2.17 - Passages From A Recumbent Fold To A Fault-Fold (3) (After Moret)

Figure 2.18 - Diapiric Structures (A1, A2) And Origin Of A Salt Dome (A3)
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2.2.5. Artesian Pressures

Artesian pressures are encountered in situations such as the one shown in Figure 2.19 i.e.
in porous formations with high outcrops, between impermeable rocks. In such a case the
formation pressure inside the pores is the hydrostatic pressure as calculated for an
elevation H and not H1, and is higher than normal pressure.

2.2.6. Reservoir Geometry

In hydrocarbon bearing reservoirs having a particular type of geometry (such as very thick
and inclined lenses or highly folded anticlines), the formation pressures of the higher part of
the reservoir are abnormal. In fact, while the formation pressure along the water table is
normal, at the top of the reservoir, since the hydrocarbon density is lower than that of water,
the pressure is higher than normal. Such a situation is shown in Figure 2.21
To make all this clearer, assume, for example, the formation pressure to be normal at
2 2
2,000m (i.e. Gp = 1.03kg/cm - 10m) which means Pp = 206kg/cm . At 1,500m, the water
2 2
top, the pressure will still be normal, Pp = 206 - 51.5 = 154.5kg/cm ; where 51.5 kg/cm is
the pressure of a column of water 500m high and with a density of 1.03g/cm . At a depth of
2 2
1000m, Pp = 119.5kg/cm (154.5 - 35 where 35kg/cm is the pressure exerted by a column
of hydrocarbons having a density of 0.70g/cm and 500m high); in such a case at 1,000m
the pore gradient will be Gp = 1.195kg/cm 10 m, which is higher than normal
This holds for any reservoir having a geometry of the type shown in Figure 2.21

2.2.7. Re-Pressurisation Of A Reservoir

Normal pressure reservoirs, especially at a minor depth, may sometimes be repressurised,
which means that they may be brought to higher than normal pressures as a result of
hydraulic communication that can be established with deep formations at higher pressure.
Such communication may take place along non-sealing faults or because of a poor
cementing of intermediate and production casing strings and for various other reasons.


Many factors contribute to the presence of sub-normal pressures, i.e. pressures lower than
the hydrostatic gradient. Amongst these, the particular ones listed below should be noted.

2.3.1. Sub-Pressures Due To Prolonged Well Production

Several reservoirs in an advanced state of production show a reduction in pressure down to
values even below the hydrostatic pressure; this pressure is then transmitted to the
surrounding water table (Figure 2.20)
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Figure 2.19 - Overpressure Caused By An Artesian Water System

Figure 2.20 - Under Pressures Caused By Reservoir Depletion

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Figure 2.21- Overpressure In Hydrocarbon Bearing Reservoirs

(As Results Of Structure)
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2.3.2. Anomalous Drop Of The Ground Water Table

In dry or semi-dry regions such as Arabia, Iran, etc., ground water is found sometimes at a
depth of hundreds or even thousands of metres; under these conditions the pore pressure
gradient is always lower than normal.
The same is often the case at high altitudes such as the Zagros mountains in Iran, due to
the fact that the ground water table is at a significant depth, as a consequence of local
hydro-geological conditions (Figure 2.22).

2.3.3. Sub-pressures Caused By Tectonic Phenomena

Occasionally, in areas of recent orogenesis such as the sides of the Rocky Mountains in the
USA or those of the mountain range in Indonesia, wells have been drilled which cross areas
where under-pressured and over-pressured zones alternate. This seems to be due to
compressive stresses that have stretched some formations, while compressing other
formations as shown in Figure 2.23.
This example shows formation B to have been stretched due to tangential thrusts with a
consequent increase of its effective porosity which, in turn, because of the enlargement of
the pores, has been followed by a drop in the formation fluid pressure below its hydrostatic
The opposite effect occurs in the case of formations A and C which are subjected to a
reduction in porosity and are thus in overpressure.
Abnormal pressures have been observed in areas subject to liftings and subsequent
erosions, i.e. porous formations, such as sands, under lying thick clay formations, have
been lifted by tectonic movements and the upper sediments have been partially eroded. As
a result, a decrease of the overburden pressure has occurred, favouring the expansion of
sands and clays still present (expansion due to load reduction). The extent of this is
obviously dependent on the geological time from the onset of the phenomenon, on the
change of geothermic gradient faced by the formation and the nature of the sediments. The
volume increase, corresponding to an increased porosity, favours the absorption of fluids by
the clay from the underlying sands where, as a consequence, the interstitial pressure drops
below hydrostatic values. Cases of sub-pressure caused by reduction of deposition loads
have been observed in some sedimentary basins in the USA).
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Figure 2.22 - Subpressure Caused By Abnormal Sinking Of Aquifer

Figure 2.23 - Abnormal pressure caused by compressive tectonics

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The only way to obtain information, prior to well drilling, on the nature and characteristics of
the subsurface, is through geophysical prospecting.
The most important and extensively used geophysical method for oil prospecting is the
seismic reflection method. Although seismograms are used mainly by geophysicists and
geologists for subsurface structural and lithological interpretation, recently they have also
become of great interest and help to the drilling engineer.
Two of the most important applications of seismic data are in the detection of formations
characterised by abnormal pressures and in the forecasting of probable pressure gradients.
Experience has shown that starting with good seismic data and proper interpretation, it is
possible in most cases to pin-point the overpressure tops within 100 to 200m of their
location. Pore pressure gradients can be estimated with an approximation of .0.15 -
0.20kg/km 10m of the real values in the well; even better approximations are obtained
when calculating overburden gradients. Naturally, the determination of fracture gradients is
strictly dependent on the correct evaluation of the pore pressure gradients.
Before discussing how to calculate pressure gradients by means of seismic data, the basic
principles of seismic methods used in the Oil Industry must be discussed, with particular
attention paid to the seismic reflection method.


Seismic methods are based upon the study of the propagation of elastic waves (very similar
to acoustic waves) in the ground, generally caused by a controlled explosion on the earths
surface. These are macroscopic waves resulting from and dependent on the elastic and
mechanical properties of the material within which they occur and propagate; they depend
on the resistance of materials to deformation. For deformations to be elastic, the material
concerned does not necessarily have to be a truly elastic medium; in fact all continuous
material media are elastic, at least within a certain range of applied stress.
Let us suppose that in a certain part of the medium a deformation takes place; in other
words, that the medium in that region has, at a certain moment, a shape different from that
at equilibrium. The deformation is permanent if the medium stays deformed once its cause
is removed. It is elastic when the medium tends to return to a condition of equilibrium, that is
to eliminate the deformation. The continuous structure of the medium (i.e., the fact that
each element of it is in contact with the surrounding ones) causes the progressive
propagation of the deformation from element to element until the whole medium is involved
(over a variable range of time, with a relatively noticeable amplitude). Through this action of
contact each element, not in equilibrium, is subjected to a restoring force by the nearby
elements. At the same time, this element acts upon the surrounding elements with a force
that tries to move them from their initial positions. Because of their mass, these elements
react to such stress with a certain delay and with an even greater delay they transmit it to
the adjoining ones, and so on. In this way, the initial stress propagates into the medium at a
well-defined and finite velocity.
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Summarising, it is possible to say that:

The way waves propagate is a typical process of transmission; i.e., of contact
The finite velocity at which this transmission takes place depends on the
elasticity and density of the medium and is an effect of inertia.

Vibrations in a medium can be longitudinal or transverse, the former when vibration occurs
in the same direction as the perturbation propagation the latter when the medium vibrates
perpendicularly to this direction. These two types of waves belong to a group called body
waves, propagating in a homogeneous, infinite medium; in any case, when the medium is
stratified or has a free surface, another type of wave can be generated (surface waves),
the most common being the Rayleigh and Love waves, of minor importance from the
seismic point of view.

3.1.1. Longitudinal And Transverse Elastic Waves

True elastic waves propagate in a medium as a consequence of elastic reactions within that
same medium. These waves can be longitudinal (or compressional or primary, P) or
transverse (or shear or secondary, S).
Transverse waves (Figure 3.1) are due to elastic forces acting against the sliding of the
various layers of a medium over one another; longitudinal waves (Figure 3.2) are due to
elastic forces opposing the compression and the dilatation of the medium.
Fluids and gases can transmit only longitudinal waves, since forces of the first type do not
exist in them, whereas solids can transmit both types of waves. Since the elastic constants
involved in the propagation of transverse and longitudinal waves are different, their velocity
of propagation is also different.
The velocity of propagation of longitudinal waves, Vp, in a given medium is represented by
the equation:

Vp = ( + 2 ) / = Y (1 ) / (1 + )(1 2 ) Eq. 3.1

The velocity of propagation of transverse waves is given by:

Vs = / = Y / 2(1 + ) Eq. 3.2

= Lam modulus
= Rigidity modulus
= Density
Y = Youngs modulus
= Poissons ratio

By comparing the two equations we have:

Vp / Vs = 2(1 ) / (1 2) Eq. 3.3

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This means that in a solid medium the longitudinal waves are always faster, around twice as
fast, than the transverse waves. In particular if = 0.25, the ratio Vp / Vs = 3 it means that
the P wave is 1.7 times faster than the S wave.
If a liquid, in which = 0 is considered, it can be seen that the transverse waves do not
In Table 3.1the velocities of propagation of several fluid and solid media, are shown.
Medium Temperature oc Vp, m/sec Vs, m/sec Vp/Vs
Air 0 331 - -
Hydrogen 0 1270 - -
Carbon Dioxide 0 416 - -
Helium 0 871 - -
Water 19 1461 - -
Steel 19 6110 3230 1.89
Glass 79 4740 2830 1.68
Copper 19 5080 2250 2.26
Table 3.1- Wave Velocity in Common Materials

3.1.2. Rayleigh Waves

This type of wave develops on the free surface of a semi-infinite medium. The deformation
propagating through the medium is a combination of dilatations and shear stresses. The
particles move along a vertical plane parallel to the direction of propagation of the wave and
has an elliptical, retrograde orbit (Figure 3.3).
RayIeigh wave velocity, VR is given by:
VR = 0.92 Vs Eq. 3.4
where Vs is the velocity of propagation of a transverse wave in the same medium.
Rayleigh waves are the principal component of ground roll, a disturbance normally seen in

3.1.3. Love Waves

These are another kind of surface wave, developing in a low-speed surface layer overlying
a semi-infinite medium.
The motion of particles is transverse and takes place along the horizontal plane (Figure
3.4); this type of wave propagates by multiple reflection between the top and the bottom
surfaces of the surface layer. Since they have no vertical component, they are never
recorded by geophones.
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3.1.4. Seismic Noise

The term noise, as used in seismology, refers to all kinds of disturbances that can mask or
interfere with a signal of interest.
Consequently, the concept of seismic noise depends on the circumstances. In fact, when
the signal of interest is represented by reflections, surface and refraction waves are treated
as disturbances to be discarded; whereas, if refraction signals have to be recorded,
reflections are to be discarded.
In seismic prospecting, noises can be divided into two groups:
Coherent noise - from surface and air waves with a frequency below 20Hz;
Incoherent noise - from unforeseen events of random amplitude and origin
defined as environmental noise or microquakes. These disturbances can
usually be attributed to the wind (60-100Hz), the sea, and the environment itself
(e.g. disturbances induced by high-voltage transmission lines: 50-60Hz).

Because of the presence of these various kinds of disturbances, the improvement of the
signal-to-noise-ratio is a major objective in the recording of the signal; this objective is
reached in seismic prospection, in which signal source and signal detector are both under
control, by strengthening the signal (stronger source), decreasing the noise, particularly the
coherent noise (locating explosives at greater depth and proper geophone arrays), and
finally by using detectors of appropriate sensitivity (frequency band width outside that of the
main noise).
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Figure 3.1 - Movement Of Particles In A Transversal S Wave

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Figure 3.2 - Movement Of Particles In A Plane Longitudinal

Figure 3.3 - Elliptical Retrograde Particle Movement In A Plane Perpendicular

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Figure 3.4 - Movement Of Particles In A Love Wave.


3.2.1. Factors Affecting The Propagation Of Seismic Waves
Seismology studies how elastic waves (appropriately named seismic) propagate in the
ground, in particular those waves generated by artificial energy sources; seismic waves
irradiate from the source according to well-known principles of propagation such as
Huygens and Fermats Principles.
Huygenss Principle states, in short, that each particle affected by sound waves becomes in
turn a source of energy itself. The resulting wavefront is the envelope of all single
elementary wavefronts. If the ray of the spherical wave is large, the wavefront can be
treated as a plane. Lines perpendicular to the wavefront are called seismic rays or
Fermars Principle can be summarised by stating that seismic rays follow preferential paths
that are the shortest, time-wise
Wave type, velocity and direction of propagation vary according to the physical properties
and dimensions of the medium. The geometry of a medium dictates the direction of
propagation of a seismic wave, while its physical properties (elasticity and density)
determine the velocity of propagation. The simplest medium is homogeneous, isotropic and
perfectly elastic; where waves travel along rectilinear paths at a constant velocity.
In nature, media are surrounded by other media or are interlayered with levels of different
physical properties. Consequently, a wave undergoes a series of alterations each time it
interferes with a discontinuity. Therefore, velocity, direction of propagation, spectral
structure and energy content vary as the wave moves from, one layer to the next. The
velocity of propagation of longitudinal waves, for example, which are those studied in
seismic prospection, varies in subsurface rocks between 600-7,000m/sec (Refer to Table
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Acoustic Impedance
Medium Density g/cm2 Velocity Vp m/sec
Z(g/sec cm2) x 104
Anhydrite 2.82 - 2.93 3,500 5,500 99 161
Basalt 2.70 3.30 5,500 6,300 149 208
Chalk 1.94 2.23 2,100 4,200 41 94
Clay 1.50 2.50 1,100 2,500 17 63
Dolomite 2.75 2.85 3,500 6,900 96 197
Granite 2.52 2.82 4,750 6,000 120 169
Gypsum 2.31 2.33 2,000 3,500 46 81
Limestone 2.58 2.80 3,400 7,000 88 196
Marl 2.25 2.86 2,000 3,500 45 100
Oil 0.60 0.90 1,275(23 C) 8 11
Air 0,0013 330 0.004
Water 0.98 1.01 1,430 590 14 16
Salt 2.14 2.18 4,200 5,500 90 120
Sand 1.60 1.90 600 1,850 10 35
Sandstone 2.15 2.70 2,100 4,500 45 122
Shale 2.41 2.81 2,700 4,800 65 135
Table 3.2 - Velocity of Longitudinal Waves in Various Mediums
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The density of a rock, and therefore the velocity of propagation of seismic waves through it,
is affected by several factors, such as:
Geological age: the increase in velocity with depth is greater for younger
sedimentary rocks.
Porosity: porosity increments cause a decrease of velocity.
Elastic anisotropy: due to layering in sedimentary and metamorphic rocks, the
velocity in the direction parallel to a layer is always greater than across it.
Humidify: liquids decrease seismic velocity, when this is above 1,400m/sec.
Lithic nature e.g. an increase in silica content decreases velocity, whereas an
increase in carbonates increases velocity.

Mathematic expressions show the velocity of propagation of longitudinal and transverse

waves is inversely proportional to the square root of the density, but at first glance, it seems
that the velocity increases with increasing density. The explanation lies in the fact that, as a
material becomes more compact with a consequent increase in density, its elastic modulus
increases. So, on one hand, the medium becomes more compact, hence denser, with burial
(and with geological age in general) because of the pressure of overlying sediments,
consequently showing a decrease in velocity propagation, while on the other hand, elasticity
increases to such an extent that in turn it causes an overall increase of velocity.

3.2.2. Propagation Of Seismic Waves: Reflection And Transmission (Refraction)

If a wavefront hits a discontinuity between two elastic media, characterised by different
velocities and densities, part of its energy will be reflected and part transmitted.
For a reflection to occur, it is necessary that velocity and density in the two adjoining media
separated by an interface, be different. The parameter expressing the combined effect of
velocity V, and bulk density is called acoustic impedance, Z, and is represented by the
product V. The higher the contrast of acoustic impedance, the stronger the reflection;
when Z has the same value in the two adjoining media, no reflection takes place even if
their speed and/or density change.
The ratio between reflected and incident energy is called the reflection coefficient R, and is
given in case of an incident wave perpendicular to an interface (angle of incident = 0), by
the relation:
Z 2 Z 1 2 V2 1 V1 Eq. 3.5
R= =
Z 2 + Z 1 2 V2 + 1 V1
Z1 and Z2 = Acoustic impedances of the two media.
In case of an inclined incidence (angle of incidence different from 0), the reflection
coefficient varies according to the angle of incidence with which the seismic wave intersects
the interface between the two media and not only with the acoustic impedance.
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The quantity of incident energy reflected by an interface is determined by the reflection

coefficient; what is left of the incident energy transmitted into the successive medium. The
ratio between the amplitude of the transmitted wave and that of the incident wave is called
the transmission coefficient (or transmittance). The two way transmission coefficient, Tr is
defined, for a normal incident, by the relation:
4 Z 1Z 2 4 1 2 V1 V2 Eq. 3.6
Tr = =
(Z 2 + Z1 )
( 2 V2 + 1 V1 )

that can correlate with the reflection coefficient through:

Tr = 1 R Eq. 3.7
When the incidence is inclined, the transmission coefficient varies with the angle of
incidence and with the properties of the two media on either side of the interface.
When variation in the direction of propagation takes place at an interface, the transmission
is normally referred to as refraction. This happens each time the incidence is oblique. The
angle of refraction depends on the velocity contrast in the two adjoining media and not on
the contrast of acoustic impedance as in the case of reflection. When the velocity in the
second medium is greater than in the first one, the refracted ray deviates from the normal
and vice versa
The refraction of a seismic wave is ruled by Snells law, relating the angles of incidence i1
and refraction i2 to the velocities in the two media, V1 and V2:
sin i1 V Eq. 3.8
= 1
sin i 2 V2
The above relation is of great importance in the study of seismic ray propagation: it follows
that when a ray passes from a medium with velocity V1 to another with velocity V2 (with V2 >
V1) it deviates from the normal to the point of incidence, i.e. if V2 > V1 it will also be i2 > i1. In
particular when i2 = 90 it will be:
V1 Eq. 3.9
sin i1,c =
And, in this case, the refracted ray travels along the interface of the two media without
entering the lower one (Figure 3.5). This particular value of the incidence angle is called the
critical angle or limit angle and is of great importance in the application of reflection
If the incidence angle is greater than the critical angle, i.e. i1 > i1c = there will be no refracted
ray but total reflection (Figure 3.6).
Through the application of Snells law (a second Law States that the incidence angle is
equal to the reflection angle), it is possible to understand which main requisites must be
satisfied in the utilisation of:
Seismic reflection methods: in this case the receivers (geophones) are sited at a
short distance from the source of energy so that the incidence angle i1 is very
small and certainly smaller than the critical angle, i1,c (Figure 3.7).
Seismic reflection methods the geophones are sited at great distance from the
source of energy so that the incidence angle i1 matches the critical angle i1,c
(Figure 3.8).
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Figure 3.5 - Critical Angle

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Figure 3.6 - Reflection Of An Incident Plane Wave

(At An Interface Geophones Layout)

Figure 3.7 - Reflection Method

(Geophones Are Placed Very Close To The Energy Source)

Figure 3.8 - Reflection Method

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3.3.1. Fundamental Principles
As previously stated, the seismic reflection technique is the most extensively used
geophysical method. particularly in the search for structural information. This method
determines depth and inclination of geological discontinuities in great detail and, in addition,
it is the only one that determines with equal precision the setting of formations at different
Every geological discontinuity, hit by a wavefront generated by a surface explosion, reflects
part of the incident energy. In the simplest case of a single plane discontinuity, the travel
time of a seismic wave, reflected by an interface at an angle to the direction shot point-
receiver (Figure 3.9) and assuming a constant velocity in the first medium, is given by the
general equation:

Tx =
4Z2 + 4Z x sin
1/ 2
) Eq. 3.10

Tx = Total travel time
Vo = Velocity of seismic wave
X = Distance shot point-receiver
Z = Perpendicular distance between shot point and reflector (depth)
= Dip angle of layer

When the reflective layer is horizontal ( = 0) (Figure 3.10), the general Eq. 3.10 becomes:

4z 2 + x 2 )1/ 2 Eq. 3.11

If the receiver is located on the shot-point, i.e. if x = 0, the travel time will be:
z Eq. 3.12
T0 = 2
To = Two-way vertical time
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Figure 3.9 - Ray-Paths And Travel Time Curve

(For A Seismic Wave Reflected By An Interface With A Dip Angle)
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Figure 3.10 - Ray-Paths And Travel Time Curve

(For a Seismic Wave Reflected by a Horizontal Interface)
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The general Eq. 3.10 can therefore be re-written in the following way:

Tx =
V02 + x 2 + 2xt 0 V0 sin )
1/ 2 Eq. 3.13

This is equation of a hyperbola whose apex is located at the point of co-ordinates:

Xm = 2Z sin

2z cos
Tm =

For a horizontal reflector, the curve time-distance for all points between the shot-point S
and the receiver, is a hyperbola with apex at point x = 0; the relative time T0 corresponds to
the vertical reflection and represents the hyperbolas apex. This apex is not symmetrical in
relation to the time axis but is shifted by 2z sen for layers inclined at angle . The angle
is assumed negative when the layer dips in the direction receiver-shot-point, positive in the
opposite case.
In the case of a horizontal reflector, Eq. 3.11 is better explained by the following example. in
Figure 3.11, SS represents the earth surface on which the shot-point (point O) and the
geophones (point W) are located. When the explosion takes place, the seismic waves
propagate in all directions. The wave, propagating vertically, strikes the reflecting plane RR
and is sent back surface along the vertical path OPO , where it is recorded by a geophone
at point O.
The waves generated by the explosion also strike reflector RR along a multitude of diagonal
paths (e.g., path OT) and are sent back to surface along path TW. The times, T0 and
required by the seismic waves to cover distances OPO and OTW respectively, are
recorded by geophones at points O and W, separated by the distance x. With this
information, it is possible to calculate, both the depth z of the reflecting horizon and the
wave velocity V0 in the interval considered, by applying the following equations:
OPO = T0 x V0 = 2z Eq. 3.14
OTW = Tx x V0 Eq. 3.15
Extending segment OP vertically down to its specular point O, from the fundamental laws
of optics, it derives that:

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and therefore:
Eq. 3.16
O' TW 2 = O' PO 2 + OW 2

Substituting Eq. 3.14 and Eq. 3.15 into Eq. 3.16):

Tx2 x V02 = T02 x V02 + x 2 = 4z 2 + x 2 Eq. 3.17
Solving for Tx:

Tx =
4z 2 + x 2 )1/ 2 Eq. 3.18

Solving Eq. 3.17 for Vo:

1/ 2 Eq. 3.19
V0 = 2
( 2
Tx T0 )
OPO = To x Vo = 2z
it is possible to determine the vertical distance z, between surface and reflecting horizon:
z = (To x Vo ) / 2 Eq. 3.20
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Figure 3.11 - Main Elements of Reflection

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3.3.2. Evaluation Of Reflection Velocity

Considering Eq. 3.11:

Tx =
(4z 2 + x 2 )1/ 2
after the shot the following terms are known, because they have been measured:
x = Distance between shot-point and geophones
Tx = Time lag between shore and signal reception at the geophone
Both Vo and z are still to be determined, giving an equation with two unknown factors. The
solution of this equation, in terms of depth, is carried out by determining the velocity of
propagation of the seismic wave based on one of the methods subsequently described. The
determination of the velocity is of fundamental importance, since wrong estimates of this
parameter can lead to totally distoned representations of geological situations and introduce
extreme errors in calculating pressure gradients.
The main methodologies for estimating reflection velocities are the following:

Conventional Measurement of Velocity in a Well

The most-accurate methods for the determination of velocity take advantage of wells
already drilled. Two types of well analysis are applied:
The conventional method of well shooting
The continuous velocity survey.

Well Shooting
Well shooting involves suspending a geophone or hydrophone inside the well by means of
a cable and recording the time necessary for the energy to travel from the shot-point, close
to the well, to the geophone location (Figure 3.12). The geophone is constructed to
withstand the high pressure and temperature common in oil wells. The cable has a threefold
role: it supports the geophone, measures the depth at which it is working, and contains
conductors that bring signals to surface for recording.
The shots are fired at one or more points near the wellhead. Between one shot and the
next, the geophone is moved to obtain a set of travel times from surface down to various
depths. Geophone depths are selected to include the most important geological markers,
such as tops of formations, stratigraphic unconformities as well as intermediate positions so
that the interval between two successive measurements is small enough to assure
reasonable accuracy (often 200m apart).
Figure 3.13. shows the results of a typical well survey. The vertical travel time t, relative to
depth z, is obtained by multiplying the measured time,tm. by the factor z / z + x 2 to
correct for the effective distance between the geophone and shot-point, i.e.:
z Eq. 3.21
t = tm x
x2 + z

The average velocity between surface and depth z is given by the ratio:
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z Eq. 3.22
Vm =
Figure 3.13. gives the average velocity Vm and the vertical travel time t as a function of
depth, z. If depth and time relative to two different shots are subtracted and divided one by
the other, the interval velocity, Vint, or the average velocity in the interval (zm - zm), is
zm zn Eq. 3.23
Vint =
t m tn

Shooting a well gives the average velocity with good accuracy of measurement. It is,
however, an expensive method as it involves not only the cost of a half to one day of a
seismic crew, but also the stand-by time of the rig itself, which is often higher than the
seismic operation itself.

Figure 3.12 - Velocity Surveying by Well Shooting Method

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Figure 3.13 - Representation Of Average Velocity (V) And Interval Velocity (Vi) Versus Depth
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Continuous Seismic Survey

The continuous seismic survey utilises one or more ultrasonic pulse generators and two to
four detectors housed in a single unit, called a sonde, that is lowered into the borehole.
Figure 3.14a. a. shows the sonde for BHC-SL (Borehole Compensated - Sonic Log)
developed by Schlumberger. It consists of two sources of seismic pulses, S 1 and S2, and
four receivers, R1-R2-R3; R4; the distance between R1,-R2, R3 and-R4 is two feet. The velocity
is found by measuring the difference, in travel time, of a pulse moving from S2 to R2 and R4,
and similarly for a pulse moving from S2 to R1 and R3 and then averaging the differences.
The sonde is lowered into wells filled with drilling mud, that has a seismic velocity of about
1,500m/sec; however, the first energy to arrive is from longitudinal waves Pp that have
travelled in the rock surrounding the borehole. Errors, caused by variations in well diameter
and by the thickness of mud-cake near the transmitters, are eliminated by measuring the
difference in arrival time at the two receivers; errors due to similar variations near the
receivers are minimised by averaging the results of the two pairs of receivers. The Sonic
Log (Figure 3.14b) shows the transit time (in sec/ft), as a function of depth, divided by the
distance between the receivers; the result obtained is the reciprocal of the velocity at which
the longitudinal waves travel in the formation.

x r Method
This method is based on the equation:
x2 2 Eq. 3.24
t2 = 2
Plotting as a function of x, a straight line is obtained with a slope equal to 1/V2RMS whose
intercept on the time axis, for x = 0, is t . Having determined. for each reflector, both VRMS
and to, we can calculate the corresponding depth. The same procedure is repeated for all
other reflectors. (Figure 3.15).
2 2
The analysis of the x - t diagram can supply sufficiently accurate data on the velocity at
the condition that:
1) The recordings are of good quality and have a sufficient number of reflections
2) Accurate corrections are made on the events taking place near the surface
3) Field work and seismic data interpretation are carried out with accuracy
4) The velocity distribution is simple (there must not be lateraI variations in velocity or
particularly complex structures)
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Figure 3.14 Continuous Seismic Survey

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Figure 3.15 - Graph For Calculating VRMS .

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Once the velocities, regarding the two successive and parallel reflectors, have been
determined using the equation:
X2 Eq. 3.24
t = 2 + t 20

1/ 2 Eq. 3.25
n n

VRMS = V02 / t i
i=1 i =1
the interval velocity Vint can be determined by applying Dixs formula.
Indicating with VRRMS,n the root mean square velocity regarding the n-th reflection, and
wth VRMS,n-1 the velocity regarding the next overlaying reflection, we have:
n n 1 n Eq. 3.26
t i = Vi2 t i + Vint2 t int = Vn2 t i
i=1 i=1
n 1 n Eq. 3.27
i =1
ti = Vn21 ti
i =1
Introducing Eq. 3.27 in Eq. 3.26 and solving for Vint we obtain Dixs formula:

n n 1
Eq. 3.28
v int = v n2 t i v n21 t i / t int
i=1 i=1

t - t Method
The t - t method is based on equation:
x2 Eq. 3.29
t n
2V 2 t o
that can also be written in the form:
X Eq. 3.30
2 to t n
With a symmetric geophone set-up, the term tn can be calculated from the arrival times of
a reflection at the shot-point (to) and at the outside geophone group.
The values of tn obtained with this method are prone to large errors, mainly because of
the uncertainties in the correction of near-surface events. To obtain results of some
usefulness, it is necessary to have a great number of measurements available that are
subsequently averaged in the hope that environmental variations and other uncertainties be
reduced to an acceptable level the t - t analyses usually require hundreds of recordings.
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The transit time interval between the two Sonic Log receivers is measured by an instrument
that automatically records the signal arrival at each of the two receivers and computes the
time interval. Since the signal at the receiver is not a sharp pulse, the detector is activated
by the first peak (or trough) which exceeds a certain threshold value. At times, detectors are
nor activated by the same peak (or trough) arriving simultaneously at the two receivers,
therefore causing a fictitious increment in transit time. This effect, called cycle-skip, is
readily seen on the Sonic Log and it is easily allowed for, since the error is exactly equal to
the known interval between two successive cycles of the pulse.
The Sonic Log is automatically integrated to obtain the total transit time and recorded on the
log as a function of depth by a sequence of pips at 1msec intervals. However, there is a
certain tendency to accumulate small systematic errors in the integrated result and,
therefore, check shots are made at the base and top of the sonic log that the effect of the
cumulative error can be reduced by distributing the different linearly with depth. The sonde
often includes a seismometer of the type used for the well shooting to facilitate the taking
of the check shots.
Sonic Logs are generally used for porosity determination, since porosity seems to be
dominant in seismic velocity. Although seismic logs are of great help to the geophysicist,
they are not usually carried out for geophysical purposes and, as a consequence, they
often do not give all the information the geophysicist would require. For example, check
shots are not necessary for the determination of porosity and therefore are frequently
omitted; in addition, the log normally does not cover the whole well profile and it is rarely
recorded in shallow part of the well. As a consequence, data from the Sonic Log are
frequently incomplete and, in order to calculate velocities, assumptions must be made,
where data are missing to the detriment of accuracy.

Measurement of Velocity from Reflections

The arrival time of reflected energy depends not only on the depth of reflection and the
velocity in the medium above the reflector, but also on the offset between the energy
source (shot-point) and the receivers. Several methods utilise this dependence on the
offset to measure velocity.
2 2
Two classical methods, such as- the x t method and the t -t method, are based on
the: offset, although they are now rarely used.

3-Readings Method
This is the method most used at present to calculate reflector characteristics, i.e. depth, dip
and velocity of sound wave propagation, using only readings from reflection seismics. The
method is illustrated by the case in Figure 3.16. The data of the problem are as follows:
point x Is the shot-point;
points x1, x2, x3 Are the distances of geophones from shot-point x.

In the case under review the distances are respectively:

X1 = 500m
X2 = 1,000m
X3 = 1,500m
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After the shot, the return energy from the reflecting layer is recorded by the three
geophones after the following times:
Tx1 = 1.639 sec
Tx2 = 1.802 sec
Tx3 = 1.984 sec

the three unknowns are then determined:

Depth, z
Reflection velocity, Vo
Inclination of the reflecting layer,.

The problem is solved by applying the general Eq. 3.10 of reflection, tying the reflection
time to the models geometric parameters; i.e:

Tx =
(4z 2
+ x 2 + 4zx sin ) Eq. 3.10

This equation must be solved in terms of z,, Vo. Having the data relative to the three
points of recording, recorded and known, it is possible to obtain and solve a second grade
system of three equations with three unknowns:

Tx2.1 =
4z 2 + x 12 + 4zx 1 sin ) Eq. 3.31

( )
= 2 4z 2 + x 22 + 4zx 2 sin

= 2 (4z 2 x 23 + 4zx 3 sin)

solving the first equation for Vo2 :

4z 2 + x 12 + 4zx 1 sin Eq. 3.32

V =
solving the second equation for sin, after substituting the term Vo2 with the previous Eq:
T2x .2 2 Tx 2
Eq. 3.33
4z 2 + x 22 4z 2 x 1
T2x.1 Tx21
sin =
4zx1 4zx 2
Equally, substituting Vo2 and sin with the relative equations, the third one is solved for z:

Tx2,3 Tx2,3 b Eq. 3.34

x 23 + x 3 x 2
1 x1
1 a Tx2,1 Tx2,1 a
2 Tx2,3 2
1 Tx ,3
2 2
1 Tx,2 Tx ,3 1
1 Tx,2
+ x1 x1 1 x3 + x 3
Tx2,1 a Tx2,1 a Tx2,1 Tx2,1 a a Tx2,1
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TX2,2 Eq. 3.35
a = X1 x2
Tx22 Eq. 3.36
b = x 22 x12
In this example, entering the starting data into the various equations, the following values
are obtained for the three unknowns:
z = 1,498m
sin = 0.4962 ( =33 )
Vo = 1997 m/sec

Rounding off readings of reflection times can lead to considerable variations, which may not
be ignored. Had the reflection times been corrected to two decimal figures, as is usually
done in practice:
Tx,1 = 1.64sec
Tx,2 = 1.80sec
Tx,3 = 1.98sec

the following results would have been obtained:

z = 1,477m
sin = 0.4625 (=30 )
Vo = 1961m/sec
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Figure 3.16 - Reflection Seismics

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3.4.1. Seismograms
Field data from geophysical surveys consist of a set of recordings for each shot-point.
As previously stated, the purpose of seismic survey in: hydrocarbon exploration is to obtain
vertical sections of the area of interest from which a stratigraphic and structural
interpretation is formulated.
These illustrations, called seismic sections, are obtained by processing single field
recordings, each called a file, if in the form of data recorded on magnetic tape, and
seismogram, if in a graphic format.
A seismogram is, therefore, the graphic expression of the signals received by the various
geophones in subsequent time instants following a shot; these date are in the form of wavy
lines, called traces. Highs and lows of traces (peaks and troughs) represent the greatest
vertical oscillations of the ground subjected to seismic vibration (Figure 3.17).
The number of traces in a seismogram is the same as the number of geophones in the
layout, normally 24, 48 or 96. Figure 3.18. shows a seismogram from a recording with a
central shot-point. Perpendicularly to the direction of traces on the seismogram are the time
lines, usually at 10msec intervals.
As it can be seen, initially the traces are almost straight, the small oscillations being due to
disturbances not related to the shot. The first event recorded is the time break, that
appears as a sudden sharp peak on any trace, pre-selected by the recording engineer. The
time break is the instant of the shot and gives the zero time, from which arrival times of
reflected events are measured.
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In surveys carried out with explosives, the second event is the up-hole break, that is the
signal comes directly from the shot and is important in making corrections for surface
effects. The first group of events to be recorded progressively on all traces, is made up of
first breaks caused by the first arrival of signals at the various geophones, beginning from
those nearest to the source. The first breaks represent that part of the signal which, having
entered the first superficial layer with an angle of incidence not inferior to the critical angle,
is refracted, travels along the lower interface and then returns to surface where it: is
recorded. Since first break recordings take place consecutively for the various geophone
groups, their peaks will align along lines diverging in one or more directions from the trace
of the group nearest to the source, according to the layout of the geophones. Reflected
signals will then begin to appear; they, too, will be received excessively, since ray-paths
from a same reflector; increase with increasing source-geophone distance. The line joining
reflection peaks on the seismogram is a curve with its apex on the source and downward
concavity. Supposing ray-paths drawn vertically downwards, the situation depicted in Figure
3.20is reached. The curving, caused by the geometry of: the survey method, obviously
becomes less prominent in deeper reflections. During data processing, appropriate
corrections in the survey geometry are introduced and consequently reflections can better
reveal the setting of the layers. As previousIy seen, the curved line joining r:eflection peaks
is a hyperbola called reflection hyperbola.

Figure 3.17 - Peaks and Troughs Represent the Greatest Vertical Oscillations Of Ground
(Subjected to Seismic Vibration)
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Figure 3.18 - A Seismogram

(Obtained From a Recording With a Central Shot-Point)
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Figure 3.19 Source Geophone

Figure 3.20 - Curved Line and Joining Reflection Peaks

(Termed Reflection Hyperbola
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3.4.2. Steps In Seismic Data Processing And Correction

In this paragraph, the basic methods of field data processing and correction, which are
done before defining the CDP Stack and arriving at the production of a seismic section,
are discussed.
The steps in seismic data processing are shown in Figure 3.21

Recovery Of Signal Amplitude At The Geophone

We have already seen how a seismic wave is attenuated while travelling through an
imperfectly elastic medium. Furthermore, the signal is also modified by the recording station
itself. The amplitude of the reflected signal as recorded on magnetic tape is therefore, the
final result of several interacting factors, such as spherical divergence, inelastic attenuation,
etc. The process of recovering the true signal amplitude at the geophone involves the
removal of all these effects. This is obtained by multiplying the seismic trace by a factor
depending on the average velocity V(t) as a function of the recording time t, the
absorption coefficient and the recording station characteristics.

Picking of Data and Common-Depth-Point (CDP) Stack

At times, for particularly unfavourable field situations, some of the recorded data cannot be
used or are even harmful if introduced into the processing cycle. Pan of a trace or the whole
trace and, at times, the whole recording of a shot-point can be extremely faint or covered by
abnormal energy events.
Data picking implies the total removal of all undesirable data before processing. This result
is obtained by clearing all traces containing unreliable events.
After eliminating unwanted events from field data, the traces belonging to each common-
depth-point (CDP) family are grouped together. Each trace in a given CDP family is
identified by the number of its shot-point and by that of the receiver.

Static Correction
To obtain a seismic secretion truly representative of the geological structure of the area in
consideration, the times of a seismic trace must always be referred to paths with beginning
and end lying on an adequate reference plane.
The static correction is essentially a time variation, that may be a shortening or a
lengthening, applied to each trace to reduce the observed reflection time to a well-defined
reference plane, normally a selected elevation above sea level, and referred to as a datum
plane (Figure 3.22) . This reference elevation should be set below the heterogeneous
superficial cover, but this is not always possible nor necessary; rather, it is enough that the
datum plane be positioned so that the static corrections are calculated with sufficient
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Figure 3.21 - Sequence of Seismic Data Processing.

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Figure 3.22 - Static Corrections For Source And Receiver Positions.

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The value of the total static correction, t, depends on the following factors:
Perpendicular distance from source to reference plane.
Surface topography, that is, the perpendicular distance from the receiver to the
reference plane.
Velocity variations within the superficial .layer along the seismic line.
Thickness variation in the superficial layer.

The total static correction, t, is given by the sum of two distinct corrections: the receiver
correction, tr and the source correction, ts. To determine tr and ts, it is necessary to
know the surface elevation with reference to the selected reference plane, the depth of the
source and to have sufficient information on the characteristic of the superficial layer.

Dynamic Correction
After the application of the static correction, the resulting recording effectively lie on the
same reference plane. If a reflected event from a family of CDP traces is now examined, it
can be seen that going from one trace to another, the event describes a hyperbola
expressed by the usual equation:

Tx = t o2 +
Tx t o = T
we obtain:
Eq. 3.37
T = + t 2o t o
The quantity (T = Tx - to) is usually referred to as normal moveout, NMO or dynamic
correction and is a function of the gradual offset of the receiver from the shot-point, of the
average velocity V, and of the two way vertical time, to.
Eq. 3.37 can also be written in the form:
x Eq. 3.38
2t o T + (T )2
If the offset of the geophone from the shot-point is sufficiently small compared to the depth
of the reflective layer, in other words if the term (x/V to) < 1, T can be determined, with a
certain approximation, by Eq. 3.30, written in the form:
2t 0 V 2

which is the equation of a parabola.

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t must be determined as accurately as possible for the processing of seismic data. Usually
both x and to are known, being quantities that are measured. The accuracy in the
determination of t depends therefore largely on how the average velocity has been
estimated. Errors in the estimation of V consequently cause errors in the valuation of T;
such errors, described as NMO residuals and indicated with the symbol T, are given by:

T = Te - T
Eq. 3.39
T = Dynamic correction relative to the real velocity, V
Te = Dynamic correction relative to the velocity, Ve, actually utilised in the

Introducing Eq. 3.30 intoEq. 3.39 we obtain:

X2 1 1 Eq. 3.40
2 2
2t 0 V
e V
This formula shows how positive values of T are obtained, and therefore over-corrections,

when: Ve <V, and negative values, and therefore under-corrections, when Ve < V. Figure
3.23. schematically shows how, in various situations, different types of NMO residuals may
appear. In deriving the t expression, the seismic wave path was assumed to be rectilinear;
this assumption implies a constant velocity in the interval considered. Obviously it is a
working hypothesis, correct only for a homogeneous medium, very rarely found in practice.
A better and more realistic likeness between the structural model and the real geological
situation is obtained by introducing the root mean square velocity, VRMS, in place of the
average velocity V in the expression defining t this gives results better depicting the
effective curvilinear course of paths.
Applying adequate dynamic correction. the reflection time is transformed into two way
vertical time. Considering the same CDP, reflected events will fall in a straight line. A perfect
alignment of events, or t = 0, is reached by the appropriate selection of velocity that can

be determined, as previously seen, by means of special velocity analysis. Figure 3.24

shows the effects of static and dynamic corrections on the alignment of reflections from
traces belonging to the same CDP. The dynamic correction is carried out calculating values
of t for each reference path. In this way, a sample, whose recording time before correction
is Tx, after correction will be T2 -t. Since t is a function of the recording time Tx,
different parts of a same path will undergo different time variations; for this reason the
correction is called dynamic (or time dependent) to distinguish it from the static one (or
time independent).
To obtain a perfect dynamic correction, calculations must be based on the determination of
the exact path (e.g., the one requiring the least travel time) of the seismic wave. This
implies a determination of the path by applying Snells law and utilising the effective velocity
distribution in the medium crossed. The apparent velocity that allows a satisfactory
correction (null residual) is called stack velocity.
Since it varies with the physical characteristics of the medium (e.g. layering and dip), the
stack velocity cannot be mathematically defined. However, its value can be directly
deducted from seismic recordings. The methods used, and previously discussed, are all
based on measuring t and on the consequent determination of the stack velocity.
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When an interval velocity log, obtained from the velocity analysis of a nearby well, is
available, the dynamic correction can be made using this type of data directly; such data
can be processed, as already seen, in average velocity V, or root-mean-square velocity,

Summation Of Traces For Common-Depth-Points (CDP Stack)

According to the laws of reflection. the point of reflection is located underground, half-way
between source and receiver (geophone). With an adequate pattern of geophone spreads,
it is possible to record a certain number of shots so that the centre of reflection is common
to each adopted spread. With an appropriate layout of spreads (e.g., expanding spread
technique), it is possible to obtain a set of reflected signals all coming from a common point
(or depth) of reflection (Refer to Figure 3.25). This point is commonly called the Common
Reflection Point, CRP or Common Depth Point, CDP.
The real travel time naturally varies from recording to recording since the times are recorded
taking into consideration the effective offset. After correcting the travel time of each member
of the set (normally defined as Common Point Family or CDP Gather) according to
topographic irregularities, weathering, and NMO, in other words, after performing static and
dynamic corrections, the reflected events belonging to the same CDP are algebraically
summed (process of stacking) in order to obtain a better and stronger primary reflection.
Good static and dynamic corrections are of fundamental importance for a perfect signal
alignment and, therefore, for a good resolution of the stack, both in terms of useful signal
strengthening and of noise elimination. An example of how the stack velocity determines
the quality of the reply is given in Figure 3.26.
The frequency spectrum of the sum of n signals is equal to the sum of individual spectra;
therefore, frequencies are retained whereas the signal-to-noise ratio is increased; if the
static and dynamic corrections applied to the traces are of good quality, the improvement is
proportional to the square root of the number of traces.
In the processing sequence of seismic data, as shown in Figure 3.21, stacking is indicated
as compulsory, since it gives both the velocity distribution and the geological setting of the
vertical sub-surface section.
Stacking is based on some initial assumptions:
That the reflection point is effectively a common point of traces. This is true for
horizontal reflectors, but it is not for dipping reflectors (Figure 3.27).
That seismic waves paths are rectilinear.

These conditions are not always present and in zones of complex and tectonised geology
stacking can be very difficult and give unreliable results.
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Optional Processing Techniques

The common aim, shared by techniques for processing seismic data, is to find the best
possible solution. In a typical processing sequence, data reduction and the stacking are the
fundamental steps in obtaining seismic section.
There is, however, other optional processing (we shall refer only to the most important) such
as, for example, deconvolution, filtering, migration, etc, that is carried out in order to obtain
a further strengthening and improvement of the signal and eliminate uncertainties in the
section through analysis of the seismic wave.
Generally speaking, two main groups of processing techniques can be distinguished: the
first concerns data reduction and, therefore, implies manipulation of travel times, the second
is more strictly concerned with Signal resolution and, consequently, with the analysis of the
wave shape. The operations briefly described below belong to this second group.

This operation can be described essentially as an inverse filtering, done with the purpose of
recovering the original signal sent into the ground or, more exactly, it has the purpose of
rebuilding the reflections as they would appear if we could entirely compensate the
dispersive effects of the medium crossed.
The trace picked up at the geophone is not impulsional, since the energy source that
created the wave is never perfectly impulsive, nor does the geophone exit tension faithfully
repeat the instant velocity of the ground. In addition, there are distortions due to multiple
reflections between various strata. AIl these effects cause undesirable distortions of the
trace; the purpose of deconvolution is to bring back the trace, as far as it is possible, to its
impulsive shape.

Great care is dedicated during field operations to signal reception. Reduction of coherent
and incoherent noise is assured, although not totally by adequate planning of the trace
shape, increasing the number of geophones for each trace and equipping seismic stations
with special filtering instrumentation. Notwithstanding all the precautions, it is not possible to
obtain total elimination of the noise by acting only on field data. A further reduction of noise
is obtained by filtering during the processing of seismic data. After defining the recorded
data spectrum, the noise spectrum is also determined and a better suited band-filter is
selected. The further apart the signal and noise spectra are, the more efficient the filter will
Filtering and deconvolution act in opposite way. In filtering some components of the
frequency are subtracted from the recorded data, whereas deconvolution entails their

Migration is the processing of the time section, that allows the location in the exact spatial
position, both vertical and horizontal, of pending and in general diffracted events. It has the
purpose of eliminating or reducing all ambiguities that may appear on certain seismic
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Depth Conversion
The process of transforming time sections into depth sections is of extreme importance to
the geophysicist.
The adoption of improper procedures or wrong parameters (velocity, filters, dynamic
correction residuals) may end up in a totally altered geological picture In order to obtain
valid results, it is necessary to migrate the time section before its conversion into depth
section; this is of particular importance mainly in especially complex geological areas. By
rectifying the shape of horizontal reflectors and by removing diffractions through migration,
the base data are free of erroneous and ambiguous information.
An equally important factor is the definition of the velocity. Contrary to the case of migration,
the depth conversion is very sensitive to velocity variations; thus, the velocity to be used
must be the closest possible to the effective velocity of the medium crossed, as far as it can
be deduced from the interpretation and analysis of available data. When the stack velocity
is applied, the velocity values must be corrected for strata dips and the proper and
homogenous choice must be made.
The time-depth conversion is normally carried out multiplying the interval velocity, Vint.i., of
a certain i-th geological unit by the relative one-way interval time, ttint.i and summing the
depth of each single interval; the total depth, hn, down to the bottom of the n-th layer is
given by:

h = (V t int,i )
n n Eq. 3.41
hn = i int,i
i =1 i =1
If the average velocities Vn-1 and Vn in correspondence of the top and bottom of the n-th
layer are available, the corresponding interval velocity Vini.n is obtained from the relation:
n n 1 Eq. 3.42
Vint,n Vn t n Vn1 t n
n =1 n =1
More generally it can be written:
Vn tn Vn 1t n 1 Eq. 3.43
Vint,i =
t n t n 1
ti, ti-1 = Total time to the i-th and ith-1 interface.

If the root mean square velocities VRMSN and VRMSn-1 are known, the Dixs formula can be

,n VRMS,n 1 Tn 1
Eq. 3.44
V 2


t n t n 1
1/ 2
VRMS Eq. 3.45
,i t 0 VRMS ,i 1 Tn 1
2 2

V 2

int n

t n t n 1
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Seismic Section
Until the Ninteen Fifties, the only possible presentation of seismic recordings was that
obtained directly in the field as a seismogram (Figure 3.28), containing the trace information
from one spread only, without Normal Move out or static corrections; thus reflections
looked curved and showed irregularities due to the different geophone elevations and to
variations of the near-surface layer. These seismograms were used by tying each
reflection to the corresponding one in the following seismogram, in other words calculating
the time T of the reflection and the relative T (difference in reflection time between the
outermost geophones of the spread). Thereafter, each reflection on the seismogram was
transferred onto a distance-depth graph, using the pair of values T, t and the average
velocity law for the zone, thus obtaining the cross section (Figure 3.29).
With the introduction of magnetic recording, analogic at the beginning and then digital it
became possible not only to correct the seismograms for NMO and statistics, but also to get
several seismograms, on the same photographic sheet, i.e. the seismic section or record
section (Figure 3.30).
Seismic sections have the considerable advantage over cross-sections of offering a large
amount of seismic data, with a much more detailed subsurface picture. In addition, the
recognition of the reflection continuity is immediate, as is also the presence of faults and the
identification of multiples and diffractions.
Seismic sections show distances on horizontal scale. Such distances are expressed as
station numbers and the numeration is referred to depth points and not to surface ones
(traces are reported relative to the middle point shot point-geophone). Time is generally on
the vertical scale with time lines at regular intervals.
lt is possible to illustrate seismic traces in many different ways, thus making it possible to
have various presentations of the same seismic section:
Variable amplitude section or wiggle section (Figure 3.31): it is a presentation in
which each seismic trace is shown as a continuous line whose amplitude, with
reference to the time axis, varies proportionally with the intensity of the seismic
Variable area section (Figure 3.32): it is a presentation in which the trace is
darkened on one side or the other of the zero line (or, more precisely, of the
zero amplitude line);
Variable density section (Figure 3.33): in this presentation, the trace is a band,
as wide as the interval between traces, in which the colour intensity varies in
shades of grey from black to white, proportional to the signal amplitude;
Composite wiggle and variable area section (Figure 3.34) this case the seismic
trace is simultaneously shown in wiggle and in variable area; the zero line of
variable area can be shifted with reference to the zero of the wiggle to obtain
the variable area only on peaks (Figure 3.35)
Composite wggle and variable density section (Figure 3.36) is a representation
in which the seismic trace is simultaneously presented in wiggle and in variable
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The most common presentation is by wiggle superimposed on variable area, as presented

in Figure 3.34.
Eni-Agip uses the metric system where the vertical scale of 1sec to 10cm and the horizontal
scale of 1km to 8cm (1:25,00). In the Imperial system the vertical scale of 1 sec to 5 is
commonly used.
The principal seismic sections obtainable from seismic data are:
Time section (Figure 3.37): it has the two-way times of verticalised paths on the
vertical axis;
Migrated time section (Figure 3.38): uncertain reflections have been migrated or,
in other words, reset in their correct positions with time remaining on the vertical
Migrated depth section (Figure 3.39): times have been changed into depth (an
apparent increase of low frequency can be noted, as a consequence of the
irregular lengthening of traces due to increasing velocity with depth).
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Figure 3.23 - Types Of Residual NMO (From Seismic Exploration, H.N. Al-Sadi).

Figure 3.24 Effect of Static and Dynamic Correction Effects of a CDP Trace
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Figure 3.25 - Example of Multiple Coverage

(Case of a 24 Traces Spread with a Central Shot Point and Constant Offset)
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Figure 3.26 - Stack Response as Function of Stack Velocity (from Seismic Exploration, H.N Al-
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Figure 3.27 - Stack Response as Function Of Stack Velocity (from SEISMIC EXPLORATION,
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Figure 3.28 - Seismogram

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Figure 3.29 - Cross Section

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Figure 3.30 - Seismic Section or Record Section

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Figure 3.31 - Variable Amplitude Section

Figure 3.32 - Variable Area Section

Figure 3.33 - Variable Density Section

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Figure 3.34 - Variable Area Section

Figure 3.35 - Variable Area Section Only on Peaks

Figure 3.36 - Variable Density Section

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Figure 3.37 - Time Section

Figure 3.38 - Migrated Time Section

Figure 3.39 - Migrated Depth Section

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3.5.1. Land Seismic Surveys
Types Of Energy Sources
Traditional energy sources are concentrated explosive charges, detonated at a certain
depth in shot-holes specially drilled into the ground. These shot-holes are commonly 8-
10cm in diameter and 6-30m deep, although in some cases their depth can mach 80m or
more; however, the charges are usually placed below the low velocity superficial aerated
Apart from explosives, several alternative systems are used as non-conventional energy
The most commonly used systems are described in the following paragraphs.
1) Concentrate Explosive Charge Systems

The explosives mainly used for this purpose are dynamite and ammonium nitrate.
Dynamite is a mixture of nitro-glycerine and gelatine, which form the explosive component,
and an inert material which binds the mixture.
The detonation velocity, or the propagation velocity of the explosion inside the explosive
material, is very high (6,000-7,000m/sec). Consequently, the seismic pulses generated have
steep wave fronts in comparison to other energy sources. This high-energy concentration is
desirable as far as seismic analysis, but detrimental from the viewpoint of damage caused
to the structures close the shot-point.
Ammonium nitrate is cheaper and less dangerous because of its slower detonation.
Together with nitrocarbonitrite (NCN), it is the most commonly used explosive.
The charge is packaged in 5cm diameter plastic tubes containing 1 to 5kg of explosive. The
tubes are built in such a way that they can be easily connected end to end in order to obtain
different amounts for specific uses. A metal cylinder, containing a resistance wire imbedded
in a mixture of gun powders, is used to start the explosion. By means of two electric wires
issuing from the upper cylinder or cap, a current is passed through the resistor, and the
heat generated thereby starts the explosion that detonates the whole charge. The current,
causing the blasting cap to explode, is derived from a blaster, a charge-discharge device of
a high potential capacitor. Incorporated in the blaster is a device generating an electric
pulse at the instant that the explosion starts: this time break pulse defines the starting time,
I = 0, and is transmitted by radio or a telephone tine to the recording equipment.
There are essentially two basic disadvantages of the explosive sources:
Having to drill shot-holes for the charges (this operation requires massive
equipment and extensive manpower and can be particularly difficult and costly
in many regions, particularly in the desert or in the mountains).
The danger of the explosives and the consequent restriction of their use to
locations which are far from inhabited zones and the risks related to the
transport, storage and handling of the charges.
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In order to maximise the quantity of energy transmitted to the ground, the holes are usually
filled with water or heavy mud to prevent pressure generated by the explosion form
escaping to the surface. The effect of the mud is to increase the shot efficiency and to
improve the signal quality.
In areas where noticeable background noise exists, the shot-points are often positioned
according to linear or aerial arrays in order to reduce noise.
2) Sources with Distributed Explosive Charges (Multiple Charges)

It has just been described above how incidental noise can be reduced by replacing the
single charge with a number of properly spaced, smaller charges. The greater strengthening
of the vertical energy, with respect to the horizontally travelling superficial waves, can be
obtained by means of the progressive explosion of multiple charges which are connected by
a detonating cord called Primacord. The first shot occurs at one end of the line and then
spreads all along the line at a much higher speed (about 7,000m/sec) than that of the
seismic signal in the material surrounding the charges.
The series of charges can be placed vertically along the well or distributed horizontally, like
a long fuse, along a distance of a couple of hundred metres at a constant depth of a few
metres in the subsurface in order to eliminate the incoherent noise and increase the
efficiency of the energy transfer to the ground.
The principal aspects related to the technique of serial explosion of small charges are
charge size, spacing and detonation rate

Detonating Cord-Geoflex
In this method the energy source is again the explosive, the difference being that the
charge is not concentrated in different points, but uniformly distributed along a detonating
cord with a detonating speed of about 7,000m/sec. The cord, coiled in skeins, is stretched
along a furrow 20-50cm deep by means of a special plough pulled by a tractor; the plough
automatically cuts the furrow, stretches and buries the cord.
This system simulates fairly well the effect of a group of superficial shot-holes, with the
advantage that a higher proportion of the generated energy in form of elastic deformation is
transmitted to the ground. In fact the proportion of energy dispersed in form of permanent
deformation is relatively low as compared to a conventional explosive, because of the low
explosive concentration per metre of cord (10 - 20 grams per metre).
Another advantage comes from the great flexibility of usage of the plough-tractor system in
areas of rough morphology, since it is much easier to manoeuvre than the heavy vehicles
needed for drilling. On the other hand, the system has the disadvantage of generating a
strong acoustic wave because of the near-surface depth at which the cord is exploded.
One type of detonating cord is the Geoflex, which is 0.5-lcm in diameter and whose core is
pentaheritrol tetranitrate. The system, which uses the Geoflex, is called Geoseis (GSI:
Geophysical Service Inc).
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Non-Explosive Sources
Weight Dropper
The first non-explosive energy source used in hydrocarbon exploration was a device called
Thumper or Weight Dropper conceived by MC Cullom Geophysical and marketed in 1953.
It is based on a pulse sent into the ground by the free fall of a 3ton steel mass from a height
of about three metres. The weight is installed on a suitable vehicle and is lifted from the
ground by means of a track system soon after the impact, so that it can be released again
in a few seconds. The time interval between the release of the weight and its impact on the
ground is not sufficiently constant to allow the simultaneous use of two sources. Two or
three units in succession are often used, producing alternating drops located close to one
The distance from the source to the closest geophones is considerably greater than in the
case of dynamite; in this way, the reflections are recorded before the arrival of the lower
velocity surface waves which are generated in large quantity by the impact with the ground.
Different linear or grid layouts may be used for the drop-points. The layout choice depends
on the level of the noise to be eliminated and on the ground morphology.
The use of the weight dropping is now restricted to the desert or semi-desert areas where
large vehicles can move about easily.

In 1962, Sinclair Oil & Gas Company put on the market a new pulse-type superficial seismic
energy source called Dinoseis, based on a gas (propane and oxygen) explosion inside a
closed chamber placed on the ground. The bottom of the chamber on the ground is
moveable: when the explosion takes place, it moves downwards and the impact with the
ground produces a pulse only slightly inferior to that produced by the shot of 250g of
dynamite placed at depth of 1m. In the first models, the detonation chamber was fastened
to the means of transport, and the weight of the vehicle kept the chamber adherent to the
ground; currently, however it is suspended from under the truck.
Following the shot, as a result of the recoil kick, the chamber is immediately lifted from the
ground: in order to prevent it from dropping back and thus producing a second pulse and a
consequent signal distortion, a hydraulic system located on top of the chamber itself,
provides for its arrest. The time interval between the activation and the detonation is
constant, due to the fact that the pulse generator stays on the ground and the signals, that
start the explosion, are sent via radio to the recording system. The simultaneous use of
several units is therefore possible and this makes Dinoseis more advantageous than weight
dropping, in order to obtain a higher energy level and a more favourable signal/noise ratio.
The current practice is to use forty eight geophone groups and to explode the charges in
locations fit for a compositing of the recorded signals. As in the case of the weight dropping,
the minimum distance between the source and the receiver can even be hundreds of
metres in order to prevent interference between the reflected signal and the ground roll
surface waves.
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The most recent innovation made in Dinoseis is the SIE (Single Impulse Gun). It is based on
a slightly different principle from that of the traditional Dinoseis, in that the propane-oxygen
mixture is detonated at atmospheric pressure since the explosion chamber is open. The
pressure that must be applied to the plate, in order to assure contact with the ground, is
produced by restricting the exhaust valve.

The energy producing principle of Dynaseis is the same as in Dinoseis, but the impact on
the ground is produced by a chamber containing compressed air.

This represents one of the latest innovations in the field of the surface seismic sources.
Developed by the Globe Exploration Company, Dynapulse employs a diesel generator as
the energy source. This energy is stored in a capacitor battery and released in form of a
discharge into a transducer; it is then transferred to the ground through a rubber diaphragm
and a metal plate.

This is made of a steel plate; 1.5m in diameter, that is lifted to a height of about 30cm and
then violently pushed towards the ground by a sudden release of compressed air.
It is possible to change both energy and frequency by adjusting the piston weight and the
air pressure ratios.

Vibroseis, set up by Continental Oil Company in the 1950s, was probably the second
surface system, chronologically speaking, to be adopted by the geophysical industry,
following the Weight-Dropping systems.
Its principle is unique; in fact, while in the seismic exploration with explosive sources an
extremely short, high energy impulse is passed into the ground, in the case of Vibroseis an
undulatory low energy stress, lasting several secs (7 to 16), is delivered. The frequency
varies progressively in the course of the entire signal.
The above-mentioned difference, when compared to traditional sources, makes Vibroseis
preferable to an explosive, since it is less dangerous to the stability of buildings and
structures located near the energy source. For this reason, it is also possible to use this
system in inhabited areas. This is of great importance for oil exploration, which can be
extended to densely populated areas where, for various safety and accessibility reasons,
the use of explosives would be impossible.
The recording cycle, beginning at the instant the signal is released, continues for several
seconds .after the end of the ground energisation. The returning signal, recorded in the
field, can not be directly interpreted, as it is generally possible with other sources. The
recorded signal and the released signal must be correlated to each other in order to allow
for the production of a signal having the typical aspect of a seismic signal.
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In the past, this correlation could only be done in a Data Processing Centre. For some time,
however, it has been possible to do it directly in the field with the recording equipment.
This type of seismic energy source underwent several changes aimed at improving its
contact with the ground, its transmission characteristics and its operation efficiency.
Todays Vibroseis consists of a 2t weight with a hydraulic vibrator controlled by a
continuously varying frequency sinusoidal signal, activated by a starting impulse (beep) sent
by the recording system. Vibroseis operations involve the use of several units, for example
three or four units simultaneously. In the field, the big vehicles move along straight paths,
while in the road, two units operating in tandem are used. The vibrators stop at a pre-
established position to start the sweep, and the intervals between one sweep and the next
can be determined from the total number of sweeps necessary for each shot-point.
Vibroseis, as well as Weight-Dropping and Dinoseis, is used with twenty four, forty eight or
more geophone groups.
Since the signal, sent into the ground, lasts several seconds, the recorded signals reflected
by the various discontinuity surfaces are incoherent and overlap each other. Each reflection
has approximately the same wave shape as the signal sent into the ground, but the wave
train corresponding to each reflector is delayed for the time required to complete the
source-reflector-geophone path. The combination of all the individual reflections is so
diffuse that it cannot produce an interpretable record. The trace correlations assume a
shape that shows the reflections as very high amplitude events, while the rest of the signal
is smooth.
Vibroseis offers the advantage that the energy introduced into the ground can be within the
seismic frequency range, although the signal transmission efficiency is not always constant.
The energy content of a signal from an impulse source cannot be subjected to any control
and, in the case of dynamite, can be influenced by the material in which the explosion
occurs. This does not happen with Vibroseis. Using explosives the best signal/noise ratio is
often maintained only in a limited frequency range, while with Vibroseis the signal to be sent
into the ground can be specifically programmed. A further advantage of Vibroseis is the fact
that the signal, since it lasts several seconds, has a much lower an amplitude close to the
source, when compared to an impulse introducing all the energy into the ground in a few
milliseconds, and therefore Vibroseis has a practically non-existent destruction potential.

Seismic Signals Reception - Geophone

The first data acquisition element is the device, called a geophone, which is placed in direct
contact with the ground. It converts the ground vibrations into an electric signal that is sent
to the recording system through a cable.
Various types of geophones exist, but at present the most frequently used are of the
electromagnetic type (Figure 3.40). They consist of a solenoid made of conductive material,
generally copper, surrounded by a permanent magnet: the solenoid is solidly fastened on
the external geophone frame that, being driven into the ground, transmits to it the vertically
oriented disturbances, to which the ground is subjected upon arrival of the returning seismic
signal, whereas the magnet, suspended to the same support by means of two springs, is
inert with respect to the system. The relative motion between the two elements generates
an electromotive force, induced by the magnetic flux variation and proportional to the
motion velocity.
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The sensitivity of an electromagnetic geophone depends on the force of the magnet, on the
number of turns in the solenoid and on the reciprocal arrangement of the field lines and the
coils; the size is very small (a few cm).
Every seismic detector has its particular oscillation period; in the electromagnetic
geophones the natural period T, depends on the mass m, of the suspended element and
on the spring elasticity coefficient K:

T = 2

Thus, the natural oscillation frequency, , expression will be:

1 K
2 m

If the geophone damping component is too small, each vibration produces a resonance
effect that heightens the instrument response in correspondence to its own frequency.
Obviously this effect must be eliminated and this is possible by introducing adequate
damping that makes the geophone response approximately constant for the entire range of
seismic frequencies. In fact, in this case only the geophone outlet signal is an accurate
representation of the ground oscillation.

Figure 3.40 - Geophone Groups

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Geophone Groups
When describing the practical implementation of a seismic survey, the source and the
geophone can be regarded as two single points located at a given distance from each
other; the recorded signal contains information concerning the zone below the middle point
of this distance. In fact, for a long time there was only one geophone for each reception
point in the seismic reflection method.
However, as it has already been seen, the seismic signal due to reflection is mixed with
intense noise caused by various types of surface waves. It is necessary to decrease these
horizontal effects as much as possible, and instead, favour the energy coming from the
deepest layers. For the purpose, the single geophone is now replaced by geophone groups,
connected to each other in series or in parallel and properly laid out on the ground.
The theory of noise attenuation by means of grouping is based on the fundamental principle
that the reflection waves travel along almost vertical paths and then reach the receivers
almost simultaneously, strengthening one another since they are in phase coincidence.
Instead, the horizontal waves hit the single geophones at subsequent times; theoretically, if
the distance between two contiguous geophones is equal to half the noise wave length, the
noise will be completely cancelled, since it is recorded in phase opposition.
The use of geophonc groups is particularly important in zones with considerable surface
noise and n those zones with poor seismic response, caused by poor lithological layer
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Geophone Group Spreads

It is well known that a seismic line is made up of an alignment of equidistant points, called
faction points which represent the theoretical centres of geophone groups.
By the term spread we mean the relative location of the short point, which can be in a
station or in an intermediate point, and the centres of geophone groups, used to record the
shot itself. According to the shot point position with respect to the geophones, there are
different types of spread:
Split-dip spread (with the shot occurring in the centre of the spread)
End-on spread (with the shot occurring at one end of the spread).

The number of groups in a spread is normalIy twenty four, forty eight or ninty six, and the
distance between the station points vary from 10 to 50m, therefore the total spread length
may reach several kilometres.
In the case of a horizontal and flat layer, each geophone group receives a reflected wave
from the middle point of the station point - shot point distance; therefore, a spread can give
information on a horizontal length equal to half the spread itself. With this technique the
subsurface is continuously observed, and for this reason it is called continuous survey.
Moreover, this operation carries out a simple coverage or 100% coverage, since each
reflection point is involved in the survey only once.
By the terms multiple coverage survey CDP (Common Depth Point) survey CRP (Common
Reflection Point) survey or Roll Along Survey, it means the reflection seismic survey based
on the sum of various reflected signals from the same depth point, directly carried out in the
recording phase or later in a Data Processing Centre.
The set of traces, relating to different paths which involve the same depth point, is called a
family of traces, while the number of traces indicates the coverage, that is, how many
times the point has been hit by a seismic signal. For example, if the traces are six, it is said
that the survey is in sixth or 600% coverage.

Seismic Signal Recording

The signals, coming into the geophones, are sent through a multiple conductor cable, to the
recording system mounted on a vehicle called Recorder. In normal recording systems,
each group of geophones is provided with a couple of conductors that carry the analogue
signal to the corresponding analogue amplifier and then to the filters.
Until 1952, these signals were directly recorded on photographic paper. Afterwards,
magnetic analogue recording was introduced; this consists of the magnetisation of a tape
running below a certain number of heads connected to the conductors coming from the
geophone groups.
Digital, or numerical, recording was introduced towards the mid 1960s and it is the only
recording currently used in oil exploration. The numerical signal is taken at predetermined
time intervals (generally every two or four msec), measured and then recorded in numerical
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Digital recording can provide a more accurate representation of the seismic signal than can
the anaIogue recording; furthermore, it allows for numerical data processing without
producing relevant distortions. In the intermediate phase seismic Signal is in digital form,
whereas at the beginning (signal to the geophones) and at the end (final representations on
paper for a final visual data evaluation) it is in an analogic form.
A simplified diagram of a digital recording station is shown in Figure 3.41.

Figure 3.41 - Diagram of a Digital Recording Station.

3.5.2. Marine Seismic Surveys

Marine seismic surveys are performed with very different techniques from those used on
Iand surveys. In marine surveys both sources and receivers are immersed in the water and
therefore are in much better conditions than in land surveys.
Some of the subjects discussed previously are still valid for marine surveys; for example,
the use of multiple receivers and the multiple coverage recording technique, to which the
reader is referred.
The sources are many and can be divided into conventional and non-conventional sources.
The former employ traditional explosives (dynamite, gunpowder), while the latter can be
classified in four basic groups: (1) explosive (2) water, air or vapour, (3) continuous signal
and (4) electrical. All these sources generate a high pressure bubble as a result of the
explosion with all the advantages and problems related to this phenomenon.
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Bubble Formaton
An explosion below the sea surface produces a high pressure gas bubble. As long as the
pressure of the gases produced exceeds the hydrostatic pressure of the surrounding water,
the net resulting force will accelerate the water outwards away from the shot-point. The net
force decreases as the bubble expands and becomes zero when, as a result of the
expansion, the gas pressure reaches the value of the hydrostatic pressure. However, at this
point the water has reached the maximum outward velocity and so continues to move
outwards, decelerating since the force is now directed inwards. Eventually, the water tends
to stop and the net inward force now causes the bubble to collapse with a consequent rapid
gas pressure increase, the gas pressure being again directed outwards. At this point bubble
expansion starts again and multiple cycle repetitions take place, albeit with continuously
decreasing energy intensity.
This phenomenon is called bubble oscillation and each oscillation coincides with the
omission of pressure pulses exactly similar to the shock wave produced at the shot instant,
but of continuously decreasing amplitude. Nevertheless, the seismic energy emitted is
appreciable, since the duration of the pressure pulses is relatively long.
For all pulse type energy sources (i.e. for conventional 7.5kg dynamite charges), most of
the energy is concentrated in the first pulse, but the bubbles produced by the explosion
generate additional seismic records every 0.2 to 0.4sec. But these records overlap, so that
it is not possible to determine by which oscillation the reflection event is caused and,
therefore, the data cannot be used. The practice generally adopted in the case of
conventional explosives was to explode the charge at a depth of 2m from the surface in
order to let the bubble vent rapidly.
This system produced spectacular gas and water plumes, but most of the bubble was
dispersed in the water column rise, thus resulting inefficient in generating useful seismic
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Types of Energy Sources

Conventional The source used in the earlier marine seismic explorations
Explosive Sources consisted of a single dynamite charge that was exploded at a
shallow depth. The shock wave produced by the shot was
characterised by a very steep (but of short duration) wave front
followed by a depression. Due to the damage to fish produced
by this system it was abandoned although at different times in
various countries. Initially, dynamite was replaced by gunpowder;
this produced less damage to sea fauna but on the other hand,
had very poor penetration and very high costs. However, the use
of very large explosive charges was soon abandoned and other
less destructive and more efficient methods using reduced
amounts of explosives or no explosives at all, were developed.
Non-Conventional The most popular non-conventional seismic energy generating
Sources devices currently produce rather limited pressure pulses;
however, the amount of energy provided is sufficient to give a
usable signal/noise) ratio and a wave front steep enough to
provide an acceptable resolving power. Such devices are
generically called guns> and the energy transmitted as an
impulse to the surrounding water is produced inside explosion,
combustion or compression chambers, depending on the method
The non-conventional sources can be subdivided into the four
below mentioned groups.
Non-Conventional Maxipulse(Western Geophysical Company) is an explosive type
Explosive Sources source using very small charges about 200gs of
nitrocarbonitrate. The optimal explosion depth is I0-20m below
the water surface, at intervals of about 10 seconds between one
shot and the next, intervals obviously depending on the vessel
speed and on the required coverage.
The explosive is put into a small cylindrical container, which is
placed in a hose; the container, pushed by a powerful jet of
water, quickly slides to the end of the hose which is at the
desired distance from the stern; the charge is then expelled and
the explosion occurs a second later, at a distance of several
metres from the gun (Figure 3.42), producing a bubble with a
seismic pulse of 100msecs.
A hydrophone, able to withstand high pressures, is placed close
to the gun; it makes it possible to determine the time break and
the source signature, that is, the shape of the wave created by
the bubble. The initial pressure curve is very steep: the gas
bubble expands until its internal pressure becomes less than that
of the surrounding water. At this point the bubble contracts, then
expands again in a sequence of small oscillations, whose
features depend on the size of the charge and depth of the
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The weight of the charge is rigorously checked during

preparation, so that the period variations of the bubble are only
due to changes in the shot depth.
Maxipulse The Flexotir system (Institute Francais de Petrole) uses 50g of
explosive charges placed inside a perforated steel sphere and
the shots take place up io a depth of 15m, at about 20sec
The detonating charge is pushed through a hose trailing the
sphere by pressurised water and is fired, when it reaches the
sphere centre. The sphere is about 70cm in diameter and has
about one hundred holes, 5cm in diameter. Its life is 2,000 shots.
Two guns are generally used for each firing, with a total of 100g
of explosive, and the result can be compared to that obtained
with the conventional method when the explosion takes place
just below the surface. The initial pressure front is not affected by
the sphere surrounding the charge; the bubble pulsations,
however, are greatly dampened, since the work done to force the
water in and out of the sphere through the holes consumes
kinetic energy.
The seismic efficiency of the shot increases by increasing the
shot depth of the charge (thus, less energy is stored inside the
bubble) and by establishing this depth in order to obtain an
intensification of the downward travelling compression pulse.
Aquaseis Aquaseis (Imperial Chemical Industries Ltd.) is a linear energy
source consisting of a detonating cord (Aquaflex Seismic Cord)
of a length ranging from 15 to 75m and weighing about 20g per
metre, exploded at a depth of 12m below the water surface at
intervals of about 18secs. The cord is made of a central
pentaerytrite tetranitrate core, surrounded by interlaced synthetic
fibres, enclosed, in turn, in a plastic sheath. The cord ends in a
connector, which holds the detonator, and in a hook, which
attaches it to the cable trailed by the vessel, through which the
signaI to fire the shot is sent (Figure 3.44)
The progressive detonation of the cord and the elongated shape
of the bubble produced results in a reduced bubble oscillation
and amplitude period, compared to that of a spherical charge of
equal weight.
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Figure 3.42 - Maxipulse

Figure 3.43 - Flexotir

Figure 3.44 - Aquaseis

Figure 3.45 - Aquapulse

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Sleeve Exploder Sleeve Exploder is a source of the gas gun type, trailed by the
(Aquapulse- vessel at a depth of about 10m.
Seisprobe) The gun shot chamber has flexible walls, which are made of a
cylindrical steel pipe core around its circumference and of an elastic
rubber sleeve The cylinder is filled with a measured propane-oxygen
mixture that is detonated by a spark plug. The explosion causes a
sudden expansion of the sleeve (Figure 3.45a), producing a pressure
impulse in the surrounding water. When the sIeeve reaches its
maximum expansion, the internal pressure is substantially Iower than
the external hydrostatic pressure This pressure difference combined
with the elastic force of the rubber sleeve, produces a subsequent
contraction that restores the original sleeve shape (Figure 3.45b).
The combustion gases are expelled at the surface through a valve
that opens at the moment the sleeve contracts, thus significantly
alternating the oscillation pulses. The synchronised interval between
the shots is 8-10 seconds. The energy produced can be increased
both by increasing the filling time and by exploding single, double or
triple units.
The Sleeve Exploder is an ESSO patent.Aquapulse is a registered
trademark of Western Geophysical Co., while Seisprobe is a
registered trademark of Seismograph Service Ltd.
The Sleeve Exploder- is one of the most commonly used systems for
marine surveys.
Minisleeve Minisleeve is a miniature version of the Sleeve Exploder used in high
resolution and limited penetration surveys. It is used with multiple
guns and can give a very short pulse; the guns can be detonated
either in sequence, in order to obtain a high coverage, or
simultaneously, in order to achieve greater penetration. The name
Minisleeve is a registered trademark of ESSO.
Non-Conventional Water, Air and Vapour Sources
Hydrosein The Hydrosein system (Western Geophysical Company) is a
pneumatic-type seismic source; it uses two units weighing four tons
each, usually placed at a depth of 15m, with a shot period of about
10 seconds.
High.pressure air is sent into a chamber and, as a result, a metal
plate is abruptly driven away from a second plate fixed to the upper
end of the chamber; this downward acceleration creates an empty
space between the two plates, about 30cm long. Water fills this cavity
and produces a strong seismic pulse of short duration.
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Flexichoc Also Flexichoc (Compagnie General de Geophysique) uses the

implosion effect for the production of seismic signals.
It consists of two or more units trailed along at 15m below the sea
surface by means of elastic cables and control cables, that permit a
shot about every 18secs. The unit is made up of a flexible envelope
surrounding a couple of rigid circular plates, connected to each other
by articulated arms. The space between the plates is widened, up to
the maximum volume, by a pump injecting compressed air at a
pressure slightly higher than hydrostatic pressure; then the pump
ejects the previousIy injected air and lowers the pressure to about
1/1,000 of kg/cm . At this point the device, that keeps the plates
separate, is released and the hydrostatic pressure applied to the
envelope walls abruptly reduces the volume to its minimum, thereby
generating an implosive pulse (Figure 3.46). The shot at the end of
the contraction is cushioned by a spring.
Vaporchoc (or This source (Compagnie Generale de Geophysique) uses a vapour
Steam Gun) device (Figure 3.47); the equipment is trailed 7m below sea level and
the shots occur every 8sec.
The steam sent from the ship to the submersed unit through an
insulating pipe, is injected into the water through a valve which is
opened for a certain time, generally 40 msec The bubble grows until
the injection is stopped; at this point the steam begins to condense
and the bubble radius decreases under the force of the hydrostatic
pressure. When the radius becomes very small, all the energy has
been converted into kinetic energy and, as a result of the spherical
convergence, very high pressure develops in the water, close to the
internal walls of the bubble. The implosion irradiates acoustic energy
and since there is no compressed gas to expand the bubble, it
collapses completely and does not pulsate However, the initial bubble
expansion produces a definite forerunner pulse preceding the
principal implosion pulse.
Water Gun The Water-Gun is also an implosive-type source, constructed in
different models with air chamber volumes up to 15dm and
pressures up to 250kg/cm .
Basically, it is made up of a compressed air gun coupled to a piston-
cylinder unit. The system produces an acoustic pulse by means of
the implosion of an empty space underwater. The operating system is
shown in Figure 3.48a. At the beginning, the piston is held against
the exhaust valve of the gun by the hydrostatic pressure as the
cylinder is filled with water {Figure 3.48a). Then, compressed air is
pushed into the gun, which is electrically controlled by a solenoid.
The air, being at a very high pressure, pushes the piston at a high
speed (100-200m/sec), thereby expelling the water contained in the
cylinder in the form of a jet (Figure 3.48b, c.). While the piston
decelerates rapidly, the water mass in motion moves away from it
and by inertia forms a cavity (Figure 3.48d ).

The cavity implodes (Figure 3.48e ), creating the acoustic signal,

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whose energy is proportional to the kinetic energy of the jet of water.

At the end of the run, the piston stops, the valve opens and the air
contained in the upper part of the cylinder is pushed toward the
surface; at this point, the piston returns to its initial position and the
cycle starts again.
The Water-Gun was patented by the French Company Sodera.
Air-Gun (PAR) The Air-Gun is a seismic source which is often used. The almost
explosive release of high pressure air directly into the surrounding
water generates an acoustic wave followed by successive waves.
The operating principle of the Par Air Gun (patented by Bolt
Associates, Inc.) is schematically illustrated in Figure 3.49, in which
the gun is ready for the shot. The upper operation chamber and the
lower discharge chamber are sealed by a double piston on a single
shaft. The air, supplied by a compressor placed on the ship, fills both
chambers (the discharge chamber is fed through a hole in the double
piston shaft). The piston surface, that closes the upper chamber, is
larger than the surface of the Iower chamber, which therefore stays
perfectly closed. A solenoid valve, electronically controlled, can make
air penetrate the base of the upper chamber piston, causing the
discharge chamber piston to open at high speed (the dashed lines in
Figure 3.49); in about 10 milliseconds the air is discharged into the
surrounding water through 4 holes in the lower chamber, causing an
initial pulse of pressure followed by a series of pulses due to the
oscillation of the bubble After that, the chamber closes again.
Reduction of the bubbles secondary pulses is possible for a single
air-gun by making air enter the discharge chamber during the
discharge itself, so as to slow down the bubbles collapse. In this
way, reduction of the secondary pulses can be obtained, but at the
expense of the initial pressure.
Air-guns have discharge chamber volumes up to 33dm and
operating pressures up to 140kg/cm .
By combining the appropriate volume, pressure, depth, spacing and
moment of shot, it is possible to obtain a definite band of inlet
frequencies or a reduction of the secondary pulses from a battery of
Seismojet This system (patented by Trojan US Powder; distributed by Dresser
System) uses the air-gun at high pressure, from 400 to 550 kg/cm .
Discharge chamber volumes can vary from 0.6 to 2 cm The
pulsation of the bubble is eliminated (or at least very much limited) by
an electromagnetic device for controlled air discharge, that starts
functioning after generation of the initial shockwave in such a way
that, at maximum bubble volume, its internal pressure is equal to the
hydrostatic pressure, so that the bubble does not collapse but rather
rises to the surface.
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Non-Conventional, Continuous Signal Sources

Vibroseis This system makes use of 4 hydraulic vibrators, towed to a depth of
l0-12m. Every vibrator has a water piston that, through suitable
devices, vibrates in a range of frequencies between 10 and 100Hz.
The diameter of the piston is about 120cm and the weight of the
vibrator is 2,500kg. The sweep, that is the signal, is irradiated for
example for 5sec and the recording continues for another 5 seconds.

Non-Conventional Electrical Sources

Sparkers Sparkers are seismic sources based on the principle of electric
discharge in the sea by a battery of high tension condensers (for
example 3,000-5,000 Volts), through electrodes mounted on a device
trailed at a given depth by the ship. The condensers are charged by a
generator installed on the ship. Only the external part of every
electrode is exposed to the sea water and therefore the discharge
generates an immediate heating and vaporisation of the surrounding
water with formation of a bubble of incandescent vapour (plasma), of
ionised gas and of free electrons. The initial volume of the bubble
depends on the energy supplied and on the hydrostatic pressure;
then the bubble expands with a decrease of the internal pressure
because of cooling. Therefore, there is the contraction and emission
of a second pulse of greater amplitude than the initial pulse of shorter
duration (if the water is compressible and if there is no infinite
amplitude). At every discharge, 5-8 cm of wire is consumed while the
seismically used energy is three or four times greater.
Sparkers are generally used to investigate a limited thickness of
sedimentary layers underneath the sea bottom.
Boomer This source is made of a metallic plate with a built-in copper winding.
Underneath the plate there is an aluminium disc; when the discharge
of a condensers battery, on board ship run through the plate winding,
the parasitic currents, that run through the disc, cause the plate to
suddenly jump away, generating a strong pressure pulse. Therefore,
an empty space is created which the surrounding water pours into,
creating a negative pressure pulse. A spring then pushes the
aluminium disc back into contact with the plate. The energy of
Boomer is concentrated in the high frequencies (up to 200-300 Hz)
and the pulses can be generated at intervals of a few seconds. For
these reasons, the Boomer is used in cases where high resolution
and minimal penetration is required.
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Figure 3.46 - Flexichoc

Figure 3.47 - Vaporchoc

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Figure 3.48 - Water-Gun

Figure 3.49 - Air Gun

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Seismic Signal Reception

Hydrophones, or pressure geophones, are seismic Signal receivers used in water surveys.
The sensor element in them is a piezo-electric crystal that generates a difference in
electrical potential proportional to the instantaneous water pressure; this, in turn, is
proportional to the displacement velocity of the water particles set into motion by the
seismic signal. The cylinder or the disc of piezo-electric material is hermetically sealed in a
metal container, as in the older marine survey methods and in the more recent ones.
The hydrophone does not require pressure compensation (its output is essentially
independent from the hydrostatic pressure up to value of approximately 70kg/cm ), it has a
near fully linear response, it does not produce measurable harmonic distortions and it has a
very high frequency (30,000Hz).
Hydrophones are made of two sensors mounted in opposite direction, with the purpose of
adding the effects of the pressure pulses produced in the water by the seismic energy
source used and, at the same time, of cancelling the transverse accelerations due to the
seismic cable.
Hydrophones are mounted in a cable, called a streamer, which is the type of cable most
commonly used in modern marine seismics, made of more parts: the active sections
(containing, in oil, 20 to 100 Hydrophones per section) and the inactive sections (only filled
with oil). Figure 3.50. diagrams the composition an lay-out of the streamer.

Figure 3.50 - Marine Seismic Streamer

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3.6.1. Forms of Presentation Of Seismic Data And Their Meaning
The starting data that the drilling engineer has at his disposal, in order to determine the
pressure gradient development, can be:
1) Diagrams, already interpreted by geophysicists, that give the average velocities as a
function of reflection time (Figure 3.51). The average velocities and the times, suitably
handled, are transformed into interval velocities (or interval travel times) and depth.

Note: In order to better clarify the meaning of the curve in Figure 3.51, the
processing method of the data recorded in the field is briefly explained
below. The data relating to each shot-point are recorded on the
appropriate magnetic tapes; each track reports the data relating to a well
determined shot-point, corresponding, for example, to the 24 recording
stations. Later, the data are re-processed in terms of Common Depth
Point; in other words the data relating to the same reflection point, but
belonging to different shot-points, are summed. The total data are now
available in the form of seismic traces, with the distance of the geophone
from the shot-point on the average and the reflection times on the
ordinates. The signal reception times rise with the increase in distance of
the receiver from the shot-point, according to a hyperbolic curve given by
the equation:

x2 Eq. 3.46
t 2o +
Tx2 = 4
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Figure 3.51 - Diagram Relating Average Velocities and Reflection Times

From an examination of the above-written equation, it is evident that the terms Tx and x are
known as measured, and to is the two-way vertical time corresponding to x = 0. The value
Vo is determined by one of the previously mentioned methods and in particular by the 3-
Readings Method, and is introduced into the preceding equation.
Choosing a certain velocity V, corresponding to increasing values of-Tx and to pre-arranged
values of x, the equation is resolved. The result is a hyperbola, passing across the various
seismic traces; the energy values of each seismic trace crossed by the hyperbola, are
summed up algebraically. The value of the sum indicates what likelihood the given velocity
has of being correct.
To better clarify this concept, refer to Figure 3.52. The reflection times are given on the
ordinates, and the various seismic traces (CDP), as a function of x, are given on the
abscissas. In order to determine the most probable velocity corresponding, for example, to
the time Tx = 1.0:
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Velocity V1 is chosen as the first velocity under investigation. The hyperbola for
the velocity V1 intersects the various seismic traces at points Y1, Y2, and Y3;
those points have very low energy, and therefore their sum, too, will be
negligible. Velocity V1 is not representative.
Passing from velocity V1 to velocity V2, the hyperbola will now pass through
points Z1, Z2, and Z3, characterised by high energy, and therefore their sum will
also be high. Velocity V2, has a greater probability of being the representative
Considering now velocity V3, the hyperbola will pass through points W 1, W 2, and
W 3 at low energy. Total energy will again be low, so there is little likelihood of
velocity V3, being the correct one.
The scanning operation can be automatically repeated for any velocity V and
corresponding to any reflection time.
If the results obtained above are plotted in a two-way time-velocity diagram,
Figure 3.53 is obtained, that is the so-called Automatic Velocity Analysis and it
constitutes the basis for all successive interpretations.

The representative velocities are the ones indicated by peaks, and the more probable are
characterised by high energy values, as indicated in the central column C in Figure 3.53.
2) Dagrams, already interpreted and supplied by geophysicists, that give average
velocities, interval velocities as a function of two-way time and/or of depth (Figure
3) Print-outs, that give velocities as a function of two-way times corresponding to each
shotpoint of a given seismic line (Rfer to Table 3.3).
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Figure 3.52 - Reflection Times

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Figure 3.53 - Example of an Automatic Velocity Analysis

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Figure 3.54 - Diagram Showing Average Velocity and Interval Velocity as a Function of Depth
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Interval Velocity, m/sec

SP 590 575 560 545 530 515
0 1,503 1,503 1,503 1,503 1,503 1,503 1,503 1,503 1,503 1,503 1,503
100 1,433 1,433 1,433 1,433 1,433 1,434 1,433 1,433 1,434 1,448 1,434
200 1,393 1,396 1,394 1,392 1,414 1,405 1,403 1,402 1,404 1,390 1,404
300 1,579 1,593 1,590 1,586 1,494 1,486 1,477 1,479 1,477 1,436 1,480
400 1,785 1,793 1,791 1,795 1,825 1,829 1,829 1,817 1,805 1,850 1,767
500 1,769 1,806 1,822 1,838 1,853 1,840 1,883 1,829 1,861 1,872 1,909
600 1,778 1,787 1,804 1,831 1,835 1,861 1,767 1,861 1,822 1,721 1,725
700 1,965 1,964 1,968 1,930 1,918 1,713 1,704 1,918 1,913 1,956 1,945
800 2,035 2,039 2,093 2,165 2,162 2,248 2,248 2,082 2,151 2,262 2,012
900 2,121 2,148 2,197 2,184 2,214 2,175 2,135 2,105 2,171 2,185 2,061
1,000 2,141 2,259 2,154 2,152 2,077 2,240 2,296 2,199 1,940 1,906 1,938
1,100 1,720 1,847 1,811 1,662 1,590 1,461 1,480 1,533 1,637 1,581 1,762
1,200 1,951 1,881 1,814 1,642 1,563 1,503 1,517 1,535 1,536 1,573 1,696
1,300 1,914 1,946 1,828 1,889 1,619 1,498 1,524 1,535 1,537 1,522 1,543
1,400 1,644 1,599 1,704 1,865 1,658 1,588 1,523 1,525 1,497 1,508 1,567
1,500 1,752 1,705 1,996 1,942 1,704 1,764 1,833 1,847 2,009 1,949 1,833
1,600 1,921 1,857 2,017 1,984 2,400 2,295 2,221 2,342 2,417 2,227 2,167
1,700 2,678 2,716 2,212 2,256 2,333 2,422 2,510 2,645 2,705 2,775 2,784
1,800 2,563 2,144 2,204 2,338 2,476 2,375 2,459 2,561 2,679 2,742 2,664
1,900 2,655 2,604 2,834 2,448 2,420 2,540 2,470 2,656 2,675 2,736 1,763
2,000 2,552 2,676 2,714 2,863 2,428 2,609 2,706 2,642 2,688 2,364 2,105
2,100 2,478 2,674 2,830 2,812 2,719 2,672 3,530 2,665 2,673 2,411 2,057
2,200 3,118 2,738 3,014 2,789 2,894 2,493 2,880 2,624 2,716 2,312 2,711
2,300 2,419 2,714 2,669 2,891 2,679 3,416 2,982 2,955 2,640 3,246 2,931
2,400 2,549 2,772 2,742 2,951 3,049 3,220 3,283 3,063 2,646 3,036 3,083

Table 3.3 - Internal Velocities Print-Out

4) Print-outs that sum up, at significant reflection times and for each shot-point. All of
the initial data (two-way times, average velocities, interval velocities, depth) necessary
for calculating pressure gradients (Refer to Table 3.4).
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Input Data/DIX Correction

sec m/sec m/sec m m m/sec ft sec/ft sec/m
1,850 601 165 541
0.650 1850 601 1850 1973
2,035 234 150 491
0.880 1,900 835 1,898 2,740
2,260 147 135 443
1.010 1,950 982 1,945 3,222
2,275 193 134 440
1.180 2,000 1,175 1,992 3,856
2,300 253 133 435
1.400 2,050 1,428 2,041 4,648
2,421 242 126 413
1.600 2,100 1,671 2,088 5,481
2,514 251 121 398
1.800 2,150 1,922 2,136 6,306
2,607 261 117 384
2.000 2,200 2,183 2,183 7,161
2,801 224 109 357
2.160 2,250 2,407 2,228 7,896
2,832 255 108 353
2.340 2,300 2,662 2,275 8,732
2,828 311 108 354
2.560 2,350 2,973 2,322 9,753
2,624 709 116 381
3.100 2,400 3,681 2,375 12,077
2,706 771 113 370
3.670 2,450 4,452 2,426 14,607
3,000 495 102 333
4.000 2,500 4,947 2,474 16,232
3,223 419 95 310
4.260 2,550 5,366 2,519 17,606
Table 3.4 - Summary Data Print-Out

5) Print-outs that give, at definite time intervals (generally every 0.1-0.2sec), average
interval velocities, partial and total depths. Corrected and not corrected (Refer to
Table 3.5). This form of presentation of the data is currently placed at the drilling
engineers disposal. It can certainly be considered the non-valid, since the availability
of velocity readings at well-defined and frequent time intervals (and, consequently,
depth intervals) allows adequate coverage of the whole well profile. This is not always
so with, for example, the type of data presentation indicated in point 4); since velocity
analyses are carried out in relation to significant time intervals, and therefore to
significant depth internals. The spacing between one reading and the next one at
times results excessive (even in the order of 1,000-2,000m) and therefore, insufficient
for a reliable or at least simple interpretation of the obtained curves.
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DIX Correction
Vel.Med Time Depth Vel.Int Vel.Int H H Vel.Med Time
m/sec sec m m/sec m/sec m m m/sec sec/ft
(1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9)
1,815 0.200 181.5 168
1,876 0.300 281.4 1,998 1,992 99.6 281.1 1,874 153
1,936 0.400 387.2 2,116 2,106 105.3 386.4 1,932 145
1,991 0.500 497.7 2,211 2,197 109.9 496.3 1,985 139
2,042 0.600 612.6 2,297 2,280 114.0 610.3 2,034 134
2,095 0.700 733.2 2,413 2,543 2508 125.4 2,085 128
2,151 0.800 860.4 2,543 2,508 125.4 855.3 2,138 122
2,214 0.900 996.3 2,718 2,665 133.2 988.3 2,198 114
2,291 1.000 1,145.5 2,964 2,893 144.7 1,133 2,266 105
2,369 1.100 1,302.9 3,149 3,041 152.0 1,285.1 2,336 100
2,461 1.200 1,476.6 3,473 3,308 165.4 1,450.5 2,417 92
2,585 1.300 1,667.2 3,813 3,585 179.2 1,629.7 2,507 85
2,639 1.400 1,847.3 3,601 3,460 173.0 1,802.7 2,575 68
2,713 1.500 2,034.7 3,479 3,592 179.6 1,928.3 2,643 85
2,794 1.600 2,227.2 3,849 3,688 184.4 2,166.7 2,708 83
2,866 1.700 2,436.1 4,176 3,953 197.7 2,364.4 2,762 77
2,949 1.800 2,654.1 4,360 4,111 205.6 2,570.0 2,656 74
3,023 1.900 2,871.8 4,355 4,134 206.7 2,776.7 2,923 74
3,104 2.000 3,104.0 4,643 4,366 218.3 2,995.0 2,995 70
3,195 2.100 3,354.7 5,015 4,655 232.8 3,227.8 3,074 65
3,298 2.200 3,627.8 5,461 4,992 249.6 3,477.4 3,161 61
3,396 2.300 3,905.4 5,552 5,096 254.8 3,732.1 3,245 60
3,471 2.400 4,165.2 5,196 4,888 244.4 3,976.5 3,314 62
3,551 2.500 4,438.7 5,471 5,108 255.4 4,231.9 3,386 60
3,635 2.600 4,725.5 5,739 5,320 266.0 4,497.9 3,460 57
3,699 2.700 4,993.6 5,363 5,088 254.4 4,752.3 3,520 60
3,762 2.800 5,266.8 5,463 5,181 259.1 5,011.4 3,580 59
3,827 2.900 5,549.1 5,647 5,335 266.7 5,276.1 3,640 57
3,897 3.000 5,845.5 5,927 5,556 277.8 5,555.9 3,704 55
3,960 3.100 6,136.0 5,850 5,526 276.3 5,832.2 3,763 55
4,013 3.200 6,420.8 5,656 5,404 270.2 6,102.4 3,814 56
4,054 3.300 6,689.1 5,366 5,198 259.9 6,362.3 3,856 59
4,089 3.400 6,951.3 5,244 5,111 255.6 6,617.8 3,893 60
4,119 3.500 7,208.2 5,139 5,034 251.7 6,869.5 3,925 61
4,143 3.600 7,457.4 4,963 4,910 245.5 7,115.0 3,953 62
4,167 3.700 7,708.9 5,031 4,954 247.7 7,362.7 3,980 82
4,196 3.800 7,972.4 5,269 5,156 257.8 7,620.5 4,011 59
4,228 3.900 8,244.6 5,444 5,303 285.1 7,885.6 4,044 57
4,262 4.000 8,524.0 5,588 5,424 271.2 8,156.8 4,078 56
Table 3.5 - Difinative Tme Interval Print-Outs
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Before continuing to the interpretation of the available seismic data, the meaning of the
values shown in Table 3.5 must be evaluated.
The basic data are reported in the first two columns on the left that indicate average velocity
in m/sec and t-way time in sec, respectively. From these pairs of values the following can be
1) The cummulative depth (column 3) by applying the simple relationship:
V i x ti Eq. 3.47
Hi =
Example for the first interval:
Vi = 1,815 m/sec
t1 = 0.2 sec
H1 = (1,815 x 0-2)/2 = 181.5 m
For the second interval:

V2 = 1,876m/sec

t2 = 0.3sec
H2 = (1,876 x 0.3)/2 = 281.4 m
For the last interval:

V 39 = 4262 m/sec
t39 = 4 sec
H39 = (4262 x 4)/2 = 8524 m
2) The interval velocity (column 4), obtained from the relation: :
Eq. 3.48
V i t i V i 1 t i 1
Vint .i =
t i t ii
For example, for the first interval 0 - 181.5m, the corresponding interval velocity will

V1 = 1,815m/sec
t1 = 0.2sec

V0 = 1,600m/sec
to = 0

1815 x 0.2 1600 x 0

Vint .1 = = 1815 m / sec
0.2 0
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For the 181.5 - 281.4 m interval:

V2 = 1,876m/sec
t2 = 0.3sec

V1 = 1,815m/sec
t1 = 0.2sec

1815 2 x 0.2 1600 2 x 0

Vint .3 = = 1815 m / sec
0.2 0

For the second time interval 0.3 - 0.2 sec:

V2 = 1,876m/sec
t2 = 0.3sec

V1 = 1815m/sec
t1 = 0.2sec

1875 2 x 0.3 1815 2 x 0.2

Vint.2 = = 1922 m / sec
0.3 0.2

For the third time interval 0.4 - 0.3 sec:

V3 = 1,936m/sec
t3 = 0.4sec

V2 = 1,876m/sec
t2 = 0.3sec

1936 2 x 0.4 1876 2 x 0.3

Vint.3 = = 2106 m / sec
0.4 0.3

And so on, up to the last time interval 4 - 3.9 sec:

V 39 = 4,262m/sec
t39 = 4sec

V 38 = 4,228m/sec
t38 = 3.9sec

1876 x 0.3 1815 x 0.2

Vint .2 = = 1998m / sec
0. 3 0. 2
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For the 281.4 - 387.2m interval:

V3 = 1,936m/sec

t3 = 0.4sec

V2 = 1,876m/sec
t2 = 0.3sec

1936 x 0.4 1876 x 0.3

Vint .3 = = 2116m / sec
0 .4 0 . 3

For the last interval 8,244 - 8524m:

V39 = 4,262m/sec

t 39 = 4sec

V38 = 4,228m/sec

t 38 = 3.9sec

4262 x 4.0 4228 x3.9

Vint .39 = = 5588m / sec
4 .0 3 .9

The four columns on the right give the interval velocity values, depth and average
velocity recalculated with the DIX correction, that is using the root mean square
velocity (Vrms), according to the following relations:
3) Corrected interval velocity (column 5):
v i2 x t i v 2 x t i 1 Eq. 3.49
v int,i =
t i t i 1
For the first time interval 0 - 0.2 sec

V1 = 1,815m/sec
t1 = 0.2sec

V0 = 1,600m/sec (supposed)

to = 0

4262 2 x 4 4228 2 x 3.9

Vint .39 = = 5424m / sec
4 3 .9
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4) Corrected depth intervals (column 6)

Once the interval velocity for each time interval is determined, the thickness of the
interval characterised by given value of Vint, can be obtained from the relation:
Vint .1 x (t i t i 1 ) Eq. 3.50
Hint .i =
So for the first time interval 0.2 - 0 sec:
Vint.i = 1,815m/sec
t1 = 0.2 sec
to = 0

x (0.2 0 ) = 181.5m
Hint .i =

For the second time interval 0.3 - 0.2 sec:

Vint,2 = 1,992m/sec
t2 = 0.3sec
t1 = 0.2sec

1992 x (0.3 0.2)

Hint .2 = = 99.6m

For the third time interval 0.4 - 0.3 sec:

Vint,3 = 2,106m/sec
t3 = 0.4sec
t2 = 0.3sec

2106 x (0.4 03)

Hint .3 = = 105.3m

And so on, for the following intervals up to the last one relating to the times 4 - 3.9:
Vint,39 = 5,424m/sec
t39 = 4sec
t38 = 3.9sec

5424 x (4 3.9 )
Hint .39 = = 271.2m
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5) Corrected cumulative depth (column 7)

This can be obtained simply by summing up the contributions of each interval:
n Eq. 3.51
H= H
i =1

In this way the depth corresponding to the time 0.2 sec will be:
H = Hint,1 = 181.5m
at the time 0.3 sec:
H2 `= Hint.1 + Hint.2 = 181.5 + 99.6 = 281.1m
And so on far all subsequent times.

6) Recalculation of the correct average velocity (column 8)

Knowing the interval velocities, corrected according to Dix, the average velocities can
be recalculated using this equation:

[V ]
x (t i t i1 ) / t i
n Eq. 3.52
V c .i = int .i
So the corrected average velocity, relating to the time 0.2 sec at a depth of 181.5 m,
will be:
Vint,1 = 1,815m/sec
t1 = 0.2sec
to = 0

1815 x (0.2 0 )
V c .1 = = 1815m / sec
0 .2

The velocity V c .2 relating to the time 0.3 sec and to a depth of 281.1m, will be:

Vint,2 = 1,992m/sec
t2 = 0.3sec

V c 2 = [1815 x (0.2 0) + 1992 x (0.3 0.2)]/ 0.3 = 1873m / sec

For the third interval at a cumulative depth of 386.4m:

Vint.3 = 2106m/sec
t3 = 0.4sec

1815 x (0.2 0) + 1992 x (0.3 0.2)

V c .3 = / 0.4 = 1932m / sec
+ 2106 x (0.4 0.3 )
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And so on, up to a final depth of 8156.8m:

Vint,39 = 5424m/sec
t39 = 4sec

1815 x (0.2 0 ) + 1992 x (0.3 0.2) + 2106 x (0.4 0.3 )

V c .39 =
+ 2197 x (0.5 0.4 ) + + 5424 x (4 3.9 ) / 0 .4 =

7) Interval transit time (column 9)

At this point the interval velocities can be directly plotted as a function of the depth,
but usually it is preferable to use their reciprocal, i.e. interval transit-time in sec/ft,
since they give rise to presentation comparable to that of the Sonic Log, thereby
facilitating both the interpretation and the qualitative and quantitative evaluation of the
available data.
The conversion of the interval velocities, in m/sec, to interval transit times, in sec/ft, is
carried out using the following relation:
0.3048 x 10 6 Eq. 3.53
t int .i =
Vint .i
So for the first interval, the interval transit time will be:
Vint,1 = 1,815m/sec

0.3048 x 106
t int .1 = = 168 sec/ ft

For the second interval between 181.5 - 281.1m:

Vint,2 = 1992m/sec

0.3048 x 106
t int .2 = = 153 sec/ ft

And so on, up to the last interval between 7885.6 - 8156.8. m:

Vint,39 = 5424m/sec

0.3048 x 106
t int .39 = = 56 sec/ ft
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3.6.2. Pressure Gradient Calculation

The seismic data transformed, in accordance with what has been discussed above, in terms
of depths, interval velocities and/or interval transit times, at this point are ready to be used
for pressure gradient calculation, that is of:
Overburden gradient
Pore pressure gradient
Fracture gradient.

Overburden Gradient Calculation

The Eni-Agip method for calculating overburden gradients, and consequently geostatic
pressures, from analyses of the seismic data, was obtained by extending and applying to
seismic surveys the basic concepts developed initially for the Sonic log, which will be
referred to later for a more detailed examination of concepts and of equations.
The calculation sequence can be summarised in the following points:
Depth, interval velocity and interval transit time calculation
Bulk density calculation, through the following experimental equations:

a) in the case of non cemented formations (e.g. sand, clay, mud, etc)
In terms of interval transit-times:
t int t max Eq. 3.54
b = max 2.11
t int + t fl
In terms of interval velocities:
Vint Eq. 3.55
b = max 2.11
1 + int
b) In the case of cemented and compacted formations (e.g. sandstone, dolomite,
limestone etc.)
In terms of interval transit times:
t int Eq. 3.56
b = 3.28
in terms of interval velocities:
3425 Eq. 3.57
= 3.28
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b = Bulk density of the formation, g/cm

max = 3
Matrix density, g/cm (an average value of 2.75g/cm is usually

tint = Interval transit-time obtained from analysis of the seismic date, sec/ft
tmax = Interval transit-time of the rock matrix, sec/ft (assumed between 43.5-
tfl = Interval transit time of the fluid present in the rock, sec/ft (equal to 200
Vint = Interval velocity obtained from analysis of the seismic data, m/sec
Vmax = Velocity of sound in the rock matrix, m/sec (assumed between 6,485-
Vmin = Minimum velocity of sound corresponding to the first superficial layer,
m/sec (generally around 1,500m/sec).

From a practical point of view, the geological and stratigraphical information available,
before starting drilling operations, is not always sufficient to allow the distinction between
cemented and non-cemented formations. The problem is overcome using only one of the
group of equations proposed. In fact, it can easily be observed that cemented formations
are characterised by quite high interval velocities, and consequently by low interval transit
times, that usually turn out to be between 45-60sec/ft
If those tint are introduced into the preceding equations, bulk densities that differ little from
each other are obtained. Therefore, the use of equations valid for non-cemented formations
in all situations can be justified (Eq. 3.54 and bis), even if not theoretically correct, since the
small variations in bulk density have relatively little influence on overburden gradient
calculations. An easier and more rapid calculation procedure is obtained, however, in
In order to clarify the point above, the hypothesis to calculate the bulk density of a formation
having a very low interval transit time can be made, that is tint = 50sec/ft. If this is applied
to Eq. 3.54, it derives that:
50 47
b = 2.75 2.11 = 2.725g / cm 3
50 + 200

while with Eq. 3.56:

b = 3.28 = 2.718g / cm3

The difference in bulk density in the two cases turns out be 0.007g/cm3, which is practically
The opposite case does not occur since, as already specified, cemented and compacted
formations are characterised by interval transit times rarely greater than 60sec/ft.
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Geostatic Pressure Calculation

Eq. 3.54 and Eq. 3.54 bis permit a calculation of bulk density for a given formation at a
certain depth, neglecting, however, the effect of the weight of the sediments overlaying the
formation. In other words, bulk density represents the density in situ of the formation and
takes into consideration the Iithological nature of the rock, its porosity and its fluid content
while ignoring, although dependent on them, the surrounding conditions.
Keeping that in mind, once the bulk density has been determined, the effective value of the
geostatic pressure is obtained by summing the pressure contributions of each interval Hi,
characterised by a given Ob,i value, into which the seismic profile can be subdivided. The
following equation is applied:

n n Eq. 3.58
Pov = Pov.i =
i 1 10
i 1
i x b, i)

Substituting Eq. 3.54 and Eq. 3.54 bis in Eq. 3.58. the geostatic pressure, Pov, can be
expressed directly:
In terms of interval transit-time:
Vint .1 Eq. 3.59
Vmax Hi
Pqv = max 2.11 x
i.1 Vint .1 10
In terms of interval velocity:
t + t max Hi Eq. 3.60
Pov = max 2.11 x int .i. x
i= t t int .i + t fl 10
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Overburden Gradient Calculation

Dividing the geostatic pressure, Pov relating to the depth of interest, by the depth itself, the
over burden gradient value is determined:
10 x Pov Eq. 3.61
G ov =
The overburden gradient curve is obtained by plotting the values Gov as a function of the
depth H.

Calculation Example:
In order to clarify the concepts expressed above, the following calculation example is given,
using data from the velocity analyses in Table 3.5. and Eq. 3.54 and Eq. 3.54 bis, valid for
non-cemented formations.
The basic data under consideration are:
Depth (column 7)
Interval velocity (column 5)
Interval transit time (column 9).

1) H1 = 181.5m
Vint.1 = 1,815m/sec
tint,1 = 168 sec/ft.

168 47
b, i = 2.75 2.11 = 2.056g / cm 3
168 + 200

H1 x b, i 181.5 x 2.056
Pov .i = = = 37.32kg / cm 2
10 10

10 x Pov .1 10 x 37.32
G ov .1 = = = 2.056g / cm 3
H1 181.5
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2) H2 = 281.1m
H2 = 281.1 - 181.5 = 99.6m
Vint,2 = 1,992 m/sec
tint,2 = 153 sec/ft

153 47
b,2 = 2.75 2.11 = 2.116g / cm 3
153 + 200

H1 x b.i 2.116 x 99.6
Pov .2 = = 37.32 + = 58.40kg / cm 2
i =1 10 10

Pov .2 x 10 10 x 58.40
G ov .2 = = =2.078g / cm 3
H2 281.1

3) H3 = 386.4m
H3 = 386.4 - 281.1 105.3m
Vint,3 = 2106m/sec
tint,3 = 145sec/ft

145 47
b,3 = 2.75 2.11 = 2.151g / cm 3
145 + 200

n H1 x b, i 2.151 x 105.3
Pov ,3 = = 58.40 + = 81.5kg / cm 2
n =1 10 10

4) and so on, for all the following intervals up to the final depth.

The complete calculation data are collected in Table 3.6 and plotted in the diagram of
Figure 3.55. The same results will be obtained by applying Eq. 3.59 and Eq. 3.60 directly.
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Pore Pressure Gradient Calculation

The interval velocities take on a very important role in the prediction and calculation of pore
pressure gradients before beginning to drill a well, since they are frequently the only basic
data available.

Figure 3.55- Bulk and Overburden Gradient Curves for the Well in Table 3.6
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Bulk Density, Geost. Pressure, Over Gradient,

Depth, m Time, sec/ft
g/cm3 kg/cm3 g/cm3
181.5 168 2.056 37.32 2.056
281.1 153 2.116 58.40 2.078
386.4 145 2.151 81.05 2.098
496.3 139 2.177 104.98 2.115
610.3 134 2.200 130.06 2.131
125.4 128 2.229 156.67 2.147
855.3 122 2.259 185.00 2.163
988.3 114 2.300 215.64 2.182
1,133 105 2.349 249.63 2.203
1,285.1 100 2.377 285.78 2.224
1,450.5 92 2.425 325.89 2.247
1,629.7 85 2.469 370.13 2.271
1,802.7 68 2.450 412.52 2.288
1,928.3 85 2.469 456.68 2.305
2,166.7 83 2.482 502.63 2.320
2,364.4 77 2.552 552.49 2.337
2,570.0 74 2.542 604.75 2.353
2,776.7 74 2.542 657.30 2.367
2,995.0 70 2.570 713.40 2.382
3,227.8 65 2.607 774.09 2.398
3,477.4 61 2.637 839.91 2.415
3,732.1 60 2.645 907.28 2.431
3,976.5 62 2.629 971.53 2.443
4,231.9 60 2.645 1,039.08 2.455
4,497.9 57 2.668 1,110.05 2.468
4,752.3 60 2.645 1,177.34 2.477
5,011.4 59 2.652 1,246.03 2.468
5,276.1 57 2.668 1,317.19 2.496
5,555.9 55 2.684 1,391.75 2.505
5,832.2 55 2.684 1,465.91 2.513
6,102.4 56 2.676 1,538.22 2.521
6,362.3 59 2.652 1,607.15 2.526
6,617.8 60 2.645 1,674.73 2.531
6,869.5 61 2.637 1,741.10 2.535
7,115.0 62 2.629 1,805.64 2.538
7,362.7 82 2.629 1,870.76 2.541
7,620.5 59 2.652 1,939.13 2.545
7,885.6 57 2.668 2,009.86 2.549
8,156.8 56 2.676 2,082.43 2.553
Table 3.6 - Calculation Example Data
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Two methods of analysis of the data can be applied; these are:

1) Plotting of Interval Velocity versus Depth or, more commonly, Interval Transit Times
versus Depth graphs;
2) Method of Interval Velocity/Theoretical Velocity Ratio, V 1/V2.

Both methods allow for not only qualitative estimations, such as, for example, determination
of the top of the overpressures and their general trend with the depth, but also quantitative
evaluations with consequent calculation of the pore pressure gradient.
These methods, as such as those following, that are based on analysis of the drilling
parameters and electrical logs, are absolutely dependent on and influenced by the criteria
of interpretation of the curves used by the drilling engineer, so that adequate experience
and sensitivity are absolutely necessary.

1) Interval Velocity or Interval Transit Time vs. Depth Diagram

The most commonly used method consists of plotting interval transit times (or interval
velocities) as a function of depth on a semiIogarithmic diagram. It is preferable to use
interval transit times instead of interval velocities, since the resultant curve correlates
to and compares with the curve later obtained from the analysis and processing of the
Sonic Log.
The criteria for pore pressure gradient calculation are also the same The only
difference is that the Sonic Log, being a continuous log, allows for transit time
readings corresponding to the most suitable points, in other words corresponding to
the clean shale points, while the times obtained from the seismic survey refer to more
or less long intervals, and therefore are often average values related to different
lithological types and not to one well-defined lithology. This creates some problems
both in the interpretative phase (for example, overpressured shales and sandy
formations with high porosity can easily be confused) and in the pore pressure
gradient calculation (the pore pressure gradients from the seismic survey are often
lower than the actual ones).
The method gives the best results in quantitative terms in geological environments
characterised by classic sequences (sands, shales, marls, etc), as long as the seismic
survey is of good quality. In the presence of carbonates and evaporites, the seismic
data can give useful qualitative information, while they are more approximate from a
quantitative point of view.
Sometimes, if the results of the seismic survey are of bad quality and the lithology is
complex, the curves are difficult to interpret and, therefore, offer little help, especially
as concerns pore pressure gradient calculation.
The calculation procedure can be summed up in the following points:
Determination of the interval velocity, Vint,2
Determination of the depth H relative to each interval velocity;
Transformation of the interval velocities into interval transit times, tint,2
Construction of the graph tint versus H on semilog paper.
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Generally, two cycle semilog paper is used, with depth on the ordinate and tint on the
abscissa (logarithmic scale). It is also advisable to plot the depth in such a way as to
have 1cm corresponding to 100-200m; this offers the best visualisation of the data
and an easier interpretation of the curve.
Once interval transit-times as a function of depth have been plotted, it is time to go on
to the interpretation of the curve t this point, the following considerations become
As a rule, if compaction is normal and the lithology is sufficiently uniform and, above
all, characterised by a preponderance of classic formations, the interval transit times,
tint, tend to decrease with depth; consequently, the interval velocities tend to increase
with depth. This is explained by the fact that, with the increase of compaction, the
porosity of the rock and its fluid content decrease, and therefore the time required for
the sound to pass through the considered medium decreases (the propagation
velocity of the wave obviously increases).The points characterised by a progressive
and regular decrease of the values tint, with depth, can be joined by a straight line,
the normal compaction line, representing regular compaction and therefore a
hydrostatic pore pressure gradient. In other words, all the points lying on the normal
compaction line will have a normal pore pressure gradient equal to 1.03 kg/cm 10m.
If at a certain depth the interval transit times or the interval velocities do not decrease
or increase at the same rate, it indicates the presence of formations with greater
porosity than is considered normal for that particular depth. Speaking in terms of time,
if at a certain depth the values increase, remain constant or simply continue to
decrease, but at a lower rate than considered normal, it may indicate the presence of
impermeable formations in overpressure (for example, shales at abnormal pressure).
The presence of impermeable formations in overpressure (for example, shales
at abnormal pressure)
The presence of permeable formations at normal gradient and characterised by
high porosity and permeability (for example, thick sand beds).

If a detailed lithological description of the well exists, the two hypotheses can be
advanced and chosen between; if, on the other hand, the lithology is not sufficiently
known, the doubt remains as to what caused the increase in porosity and, therefore,
the observed increase of times. For reasons of caution and convenience, it is better to
adopt the more conservative hypothesis during programming, that is to say the
presence of formations in overpressure. This naturally does not exclude the
possibility, which must be readily accepted, that in the drilling phase formations at a
normal gradient and with high porosity might be met with.
In the absence of an accurate lithological description of the well, typical for
exploitation wells, the increase in interval transit times at a certain depth serves to
indicate with certainty only highly porous formations; whether this high porosity is due
to the presence of overpressure or to lithological variations with presence of sandy
formations, is a fact that can be established only during drilling of the hole It is
necessary, however, always to remember that even notable increases of tint do not
indicate with absolute certainty the presence of formations at abnormal pressure,
even if during planning they are considered as such.
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This assumption is made, as already specified, for reasons of caution, since it

represents the more conservative working hypothesis as already noted, the points,
used to prior the normal compaction trend line, are representative of formations that
have undergone a regular compaction and are, therefore, at hydrostatic gradient (Gp
= 1.03kg/cm x 10m).
When formations at abnormal pressure are met, the tint values tend to diverge from
the normal compaction trend line The extent of the displacement is strictly correlated
to the value of the overpressure; in fact, the greater the difference of tint from the
normal trend, the higher is the pore pressure gradient.
The depth, at which the abnormal pressures begin, is defined as the top of the
overpressures and the trend of the pore pressure gradient in the zone involved is
represented by the average curve passing through the significant points.
Once the top of the overpressures is fixed, the next phase concerns the pore pressure
gradient calculation as a function of depth. The method generally used is based on
the principle of equivalent depth. This principle establishes that, in conditions of
lithological homogeneity, formations characterised by the same physical quantity - in
the case in question by the same interval velocity or interval transit time - will have the
same porosity. It follows that if two formations have the same porosity, they will also
have been subjected to the same compaction pressure, even if they lie at different
The compaction pressure at the equivalent depth and, in consequence, at the
depth under examination;
The geostatic pressures at the equivalent depth and at the depth under
The pressure and the pore pressure gradient can easily be obtained through the
usual relations:


PP 10 10
GP = = (POV PC )
The calculation sequence is better explained by the following example:
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Computation Example
1) Initial Data

Two-way Time, Average Velocity, Vint, Hint, titot, tint,

sec m/sec m/sec m m sec/ft
0.200 1,815 1,815 182 162 168
0.300 1,876 1,992 100 282 153
0.400 1,936 2,106 105 387 145
0.500 1,991 2,197 110 497 139
0.600 2,042 2,280 114 611 134
0.700 2,095 2,388 119 730 128
0.800 2,151 2,508 125 855 122
0.900 2,214 2,665 133 988 114
1.000 2,291 2,893 145 1,133 105
1.100 2,369 3,041 152 1,285 100
1.200 2,461 3,308 165 1,450 92
1.300 2,565 3,585 179 1,629 85
1.400 2,639 3,460 173 1,802 88
1.500 2,689 3,313 166 1,968 92
1.600 2,727 3,243 162 2,130 94
1.700 2,743 2,988 149 2,279 102
1.800 2,752 2,903 145 2,424 105
1.900 2,753 2,771 139 2,563 110
2.000 2,770 3,075 154 2,717 99
2.100 2,780 2,973 149 2,866 103
2.200 2,800 3,191 160 3,026 96
2.300 2,815 3,127 156 3,182 97
2.400 2,850 3,561 178 3,360 86
2.500 2,865 3,024 160 3,520 95
Table 3.7 - Example Initial Data

Table of Initial data

1) Computation of Overburden Gradient
2) Applying the previously explained criteria, the trend of overburden gradient, as a
function of depth, is calculated (curve A of Figure 3.57).
3) Construction of Diagram tint versus H (Figure 3.56)
4) Interpretation of Diagram tint versus H

Interval travel times regularly decrease with depth down to 1,629m; at this depth,
values begin to increase progressively marking the beginning of the abnormal
pressured zone.
It is therefore possible to establish that:
the pore pressure gradient is normal from surface down to 1,629m and equal to GP =
1.03kg/cm x10m.
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From 1,629m to 3,520m the gradient is abnormal and higher than GP = 1.03kg/cm
x10m, tending to increase with depth. To determine how the pore pressure gradient
develops as a function of depth, the equivalent depth principle, described in the next
paragraph, is followed.
It must be pointed out that the normal compaction trend line, passing through points
characterised by diminishing tint was determined by linear regression using the
computer, whereas the curve representing the development of overpressure was
obtained by polynomial regression.
Of course, the interpretation can also be done by hand; differences may exist
between the computerised and the manual interpretations, but generally such
differences do not greatly affect pressure gradient values.

5) Calculation of Pore Pressure Gradients with the Equivalent Depth Principle

At Point 4 we have seen that formations from 0 to 1,629m have a hydrostatic gradient,
and the deeper ones have an abnormal gradient. The next step is to determine pore
pressure gradient quantitatively.
a) Computation of Gp at 1,800m
The GP at 1,800 m has to be determined (Point H, Figure 3.56).
Tracing a parallel line to the ordinates (depth) starting from point H, the normal
compaction trend line will be intersected at point H1 at 1,330m, in other words, at
the equivalent depth. The two formations, assumed to be homogeneous and
having the same tint will have the same porosity and compaction pressure.
Utilising Curve A of Figure 3.57 the overburden gradients at the two depths are
at 1,800m GOV,H = 2.290g/cm
at 1,430m GOV,H1 = 2.245g/cm

Compaction pressure, Pc, at the equivalent depth, is calculated by the relation:

p CH1 = (G OV ,H1 GP,H1 )

Gov,H1 = 2.245g/cm
Gp,H1 = 1.03kg/cm 10m

the equation is:

1430(2.245 1.03 )
Pch1 = = 174Kg / cm2
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Figure 3.56 - GP Determination of Example

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Figure 3.57 - Overburden Gradient Determination of Example

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The geostatic pressure at the depth of interest, that is at 1,800m, will be:

H 2.290 = 1800
Pov .H = G ov .H x = x 412kg / cm 2
10 10

Having established that the compaction pressures at the depth of interest and at
the equivalent depth are the same, i.e.
Pch,1 = Pch = 174kg/cm

the pore pressure at 1,800 m will be;

Pph = Pov,h Pch = H1 = 412 - 174 = 238kg/cm

The pore pressure gradient, Gp a 1,800 m will then be;

Pp x 10 238 x 10
G p.h = = = 1.32kg / cm 2 10m
H 1800

b) Computation of Gp at 2.000m
H = 2,000m (depth of interest)
H1 = 1,300m (equivalent depth)
Gov,H = 2.301g/cm3
G ov,H1 = 2.227g/cm
Gp,h1 = 1.03kg cm2 10m
Gp,h = 1.32kg/cm2 10m

G ov .h x H G ov .H1 G p,H1 x H1
G p.h =
10 10
10 2.301 x 2000 2.227 1.03 x 1300
= = 1.52kg / cm 2 10m
2000 10 10

c) Computation of Gp at Successive Points (every 200m)

The same calculation sequence is used at all successive points at which
knowledge of pore pressure gradient is required.
When calculating by hand, it is advisable to determine the gradient every 200m;
it will then be easier to draw the overpressure development curve.
Measurements can be made more frequently, for example every 50m, whenever
there are sudden variations in the curve tint versus H and at the beginning of
abnormal pressure zones. In the case discussed, for example, G, must also be
determined at 1,700m (Gp1700 = 2.17 kg/cm2 10m).
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d) Construction of the Gp versus H Diagram

After the pair of values depth and pore pressure gradient have been
determined at significant depths, they are plotted on a graph next to the
overburden gradient curve and interpolated. The curve obtained will show
variations in the pore pressure gradients with depth:
Ratio R = Vin t/V5
The interpretation of curves tint versus H can, at times, be uncertain and in any
case difficult for this reason AGIP has developed a new method to back up the
previous one, valid for elastic formations, to make the analysis and interpretation
of seismic data easier. This method is called the Interval Velocity, Vint/Sound
Velocity, V5, Ratio method and takes the effect of compaction pressure on the
velocity of sound propagation into consideration.
Figure 3.58. shows how the velocity of sound varies with the compaction
pressure in elastic and carbonatic formations. The curves in question come from
the central part of the Po Valley, where most of the deep exploration was carried
out by AGIP. Since the curves in Figure 3.58. are obtained from the analysis
and processing of experimental data, they relate to, and can be used with good
results, only in the area indicated; for other areas, of different lithostratigraphic
characteristics, adequate experimental curves will have to be drawn.
The following is valid and reliable only in the case of elastic formations; in such
cases, the interval velocity is essentially a function of porosity and it is possible
to establish a correlation between porosity, compaction pressure and velocity. In
carbonate rocks though, the velocity is greatly affected by the presence of micro
and/or macrofractures, and it is not possible to correlate compaction pressure
and sound transmission velocity since the latter may take on casual values.
Referring, therefore, to the elastic formations, the curve is obtained as follows:
Selecting wells with similar lithological sequences;
Determining their geostatic, pore and compaction pressures, restricting
the search only to the intervals with normal gradient;
Considering the interval velocities of these wells inferred directly from
seismics or obtained from processing of well velocity tests or from Sonic
Determining compaction pressures at the depths at which values Vint, are
available This is possible because geostatic pressure is directly
computed from seismic data or from logs and pore pressure is taken as
Velocities of normal gradient zones are plotted. as functions of
0compaction pressure;
The same sequence of calculations is repeated for all wells in the area;
An average curve is drawn through the points obtained representing
variations of sound propagation velocity (now defined as V 5 for the area.,
in clastic formations with normal gradient, as a function of compaction
pressure and, therefore, of depth.
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Figure 3.58 -Sound Velocity and Carbonates as a Function of the Compaction Pressure
(Curves Have Been Obtained From Well Data)
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This curve is mathematically expressed by an equation of the type:

Vmax x Pc Eq. 3.62
Vs = + Vmin
A x Pc + B
V5 = sound velocity, m/sec
Vmax = matrix velocity, m/sec (taken to be equal to 7,000m/sec for the
Central Po Valley)
Vmin = minimum velocity in the near-surface layer, m/sec (taken to be
equal to 1,500 m/sec for the Central Po Valley)
Pc = compaction pressure, kg/cm
A, B = coefficients (equal to: A = 0.85 and B = 650 for the Central Po
Both A, B and Vmax, Vmin vary from zone to zone depending on stratigraphy and
lithological composition of the formations;
The interval velocities of the shot-point, nearest to the well concerned,
are used to determine Pov, Pp (taken to be normal) and Pc at the depth
used in determining Vint;
The ratios between Vint and V5, at corresponding compaction pressure,
and therefore at corresponding depths, are determined:

V int

Vint = interval velocity at the depth being analysed, m/sec
plot the values of R as a function of depth;
interpret the resultant diagram, using the following criteria;
If R = 1, Vint, and V5, are more or less equal, and therefore the formation
may be considered to be at normal compaction and gradient;
If R > 1, the Vint are higher than those the area is characterised by; it will
then be a case of overcompacted formations, therefore having
abnormally high velocities for their depth setting
If R < 1, the Vint are lower than the theoretical ones and high porosity
formations (thick sand bodies) or shales in overpressure will therefore be
the case.
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The overpressure tops will be located at the depths at which the R ratio is less
than one. Obviously, in this case also, reference must be made to the
lithological types present; when it is not possible to distinguish between sands
and shales, reference will be made to the most conservative situation.
the method allows not only the determination of the top of abnormally
pressured formations but also a quantitative evaluation of pore pressure
gradients. This result is obtained with the following procedure:

1) having determined compaction pressures for points with available Vint, values,
these pressures are plotted on the reference curve V5, versus Pc. If
overpressure is present, Vint, will be Iower than the corresponding V.
2) project Vint, parallel to the abscissa, up to intersect the reference curve at point
of compaction pressure Pc.
3) read the Pc, determined from the intercept. This new Pc is the effective
compaction pressure to which the formation is subjected:
4) read the geostatic pressure Pov, depending on the depth of Vint
5) having thus determined Pov, and the effective Pc, it is easy to obtain Pp, and
the pore gradient, Gp that selected depth.
6) repeat the operation for all depths for which the interval velocities Vint, are

A second method of obtaining Pp, and Gp, is the following:

1) enter the Vint values into Eq. 3.61, solving for P
B x (V int V min )
Pc =
V max + V min A x V int

2) Knowing Pov, and Pc, Pp, and Gp, can be found.

Pp = Pov - Pc
Gp = (Pp x 10)/H
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Example Of Computation
The following example is proposed to better explain the use of the R ratio method.
1) Initial Data Available
The data from three wells (A, B, C), previously drilled in the area, are used. These
wells are characterised by;
Essentially elastic formations
Hydrostatic pore pressure gradients
Known overburden gradient (Figure 3.59,Figure 3.60,Figure 3.61,)
Available seismic data (Vint versus H)

2) Processing of Initial Data

Well A

Depth, m Vint , m/sec Pov , kg/cm2 Pp, kg/cm2 Pc, kg/cm2

160 1,660 31 16 15
480 1,780 98 49 49
970 2,200 202 100 102
1,140 2,450 297 144 153
1,600 2,880 344 165 179
1,740 2,800 376 179 197
1,970 2,950 431 203 228
2,260 3,000 502 233 269
2,600 3,250 585 268 317
3,120 3,600 711 321 390
3,600 3,750 832 371 461
3,900 4,050 909 402 507
4,400 4,150 1,038 453 585
Table 3.8 - Example Data Well A

Well B

Depth, m Vint , m/sec Pov , kg/cm2 Pp, kg/cm2 Pc, kg/cm2

150 1,500 30 15 15
320 1,649 64 33 31
1,000 2,227 210 103 107
1,290 2,781 275 133 142
1,580 2,831 341 163 178
1,876 3,030 415 193 224
2,835 3,556 646 292 354
5,270 4,530 1,275 543 732
Table 3.9 - Example Data Well B
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Figure 3.59 -Overburden Gradient Trend for Well A

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Figure 3.60 - Overburden Gradient For Well B

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Figure 3.61 - Overburden Gradient For Well C

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Well C

Depth, m Vint , m/sec Pov , kg/cm2 Pp, kg/cm2 Pc, kg/cm2

400 1,780 78 41 37
510 2,000 100 53 47
630 2,080 126 65 61
740 2,200 150 76 74
920 2,410 190 95 95
1,140 2,360 238 117 121
1,300 2,500 274 134 140
1,380 2,580 293 142 151
1,830 2,970 397 188 209
2,050 3,180 449 211 238
2,300 3,140 511 237 274
2,570 3,520 578 265 313
3,100 3,700 710 319 391
4,140 3,870 973 426 547
5,600 4,520 1,350 577 773
Table 3.10 - Example Data Well C

3) Construction of the Reference Curve V5 versus Pc

Values of Vint and the corresponding Pc, for the three wells are plotted as in Figure
A curve passing through these points is traced, destined in this case by the equation:
7000 Pc
Vs = + 1500
A Pc + B

A = 1.16
B = 850

4) Sample Well Data Analysis

Analysis and processing of seismic data from the well to be drilled permit depths,
interval velocities and geostatic, pore (taken to be normal) and compaction pressures
and gradients to be determined as given in the following table:
at 160m depth:
Vint = 1,730m/sec
7000 X 16
V5 = + 1500 = 1629m / sec
1.16 X 16 + 850
R= = 1.062
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and so on up to the final depth of 6,000m

Vint = 3950m/sec

7000 x 811
Vs = + 1500 = 4670m / sec
1.16 x 811 + 850

R= = 0.846

The values of R, listed in the following Table 3.11, are plotted against depths as
shown in the following Figure 3.63
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Figure 3.62 - Construction Of The Reference Curve Vs vs Pc

(Using Data OF The Three Wells A,B,C)
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Figure 3.63 - Detection Of Overpressure Top By The R=Vs Nint Technique

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Depth, Vint, GOV, POV, PP, P C,

m m/sec g/cm3 kg/cm2 kg/cm2 kg/cm2
80 1,630 1.980 8 8
160 1,730 2.000 32 16 16
250 1,770 2.018 80 26 24
400 1,840 2.030 81 41 40
510 1,920 2.044 104 53 51
600 2,000 2.054 123 62 61
700 2,080 2.068 145 72 73
800 2,190 2.080 166 82 84
880 2,220 2.088 184 91 93
950 2,280 2.100 200 98 102
1,000 2,400 2.103 210 103 107
1,160 2,570 2.127 247 119 128
1,250 2,640 2.138 267 129 138
1,320 2,730 2.148 264 136 148
1,390 2,640 2.155 300 143 157
1,500 2,540 2.162 324 155 169
1,590 2,750 2.170 345 164 181
1,640 2,720 2.175 357 169 188
1,730 2,840 2.182 377 178 199
1,800 3,050 2.190 394 185 209
1,920 3,140 2.202 423 198 225
1,990 3,120 2.210 440 205 235
2,360 3,300 2.242 529 243 286
2,450 3,420 2.245 550 252 298
2,520 3,570 2.250 567 260 307
2,680 3,390 2.270 608 276 332
2,750 3,490 2.275 626 283 343
2,880 3,750 2.285 638 283 361
2,980 3,680 2.290 682 307 375
3,070 3,630 2.295 705 316 389
3,300 3,490 2.310 762 340 422
3,500 3,400. 2.318 811 361 450
3,750 3,390 2.328 873 386 487
3,900 3,410 2.332 909 402 507
4,200 3,450 2.340 983 433 550
4,450 3,470 2.346 1,044 458 588
4,800 3,550 2.354 1,130 494 636
5,150 3,630 2.360 1,215 530 685
5,500 3,790 2.370 1,304 567 737
6,000 3,950 2.382 1,429 618 811
Table 3.11 - R Values Plotted Against Depth
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5) V5/Vint Ratio
The interval velocities Vint of the sample well, listed at step 4, are compared at the
same depth, and therefore at the same compaction pressure, to the reference
velocity, Vs, characteristic of the zone, according to the ratio:
R = Vint/V5

Values of V5 calculated from Eq. 3.62 at the depths for which the Vint are available for
the well.
The first value of Vint in the well (Point 4) is at the depth of 80m and at Pc = 8kg/cm2
and is equal to 1,630m/sec. The theoretical V5, that should have been obtained is
given by:
7000 8
Vs = + 1500 = 1565m / sec
1.16 8 + 850
The R ratio, at the above depth will be:
Vint 1630
R= = = 1.042
Vs 1565
6) Qualitative Interpretation of R Vs H Diagram
0-3100m: R values are generally near to or greater than 1; this indicates normally
compacted or slightly overcompacted formations. Such overcompaction in the sample
well is due to the formation being in a higher position here than in the reference wells.

3,100-6,000m: R constantly takes on values less than 1 indicating the presence of

under-compacted, and therefore overpressured, formations. The possibility that
decrease in R is caused by the presence of thick sand layers can be excluded
considering that shales are very frequent in the Lower Pliocene.

7) Calculation of Pore Pressure Gradient

The quantitative evaluation of pore pressure gradients can be carried out through two
Procedure A
The curve R shows a normal gradient (Gp - 1.03kg/cm2-10 m) from surface to 3,100m
and overpressure thereafter up to the final depth.
The pore gradient in the overpressure zone is calculated as follows:
Calculation of geostatic pressure. Pov,(Figure 3.64)
at 3,300m:
Gov = 2.30g/cm
Pov = 759 g/cm
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at 3,500m:
Gov = 2.31g/cm
Pov, = 809kg/cm

at 6,000m:
Gov = 2.37g/cm
Pov = 1,422kg/cm

Calculation of effective compaction pressure, Pc.eff, Pc at 3,300m:

B x Vint Vmin )
Pc ,eff =
Vmax + Vmin A x Vint
850 x (3490 1500 )
= = 380kg / cm 2
7000 + 1500 1.16 x 3490
at 3,500m:

850 x (3400 1500 )

Pc .eff = = 354kg / cm 2
7000 + 1500 1.16 x 3400
at 6,000m
850 x (3400 1500 )
Pc ,eff = = 532kg / cm 2
7000 + 1500 1.16 x 3950

Calculation of pore pressure, Pp

at 3,300m:
Pp = Pov - Pc = 759 - 380 = 379kg/cm

at 3,500m:
Pp = 809 - 354 = 455kg/cm

at 6,000m:
Pp = 1422 - 532 = 890kg/cm

Calculation of pore pressure gradient, Gp

at 3,300m:
PP x 10 379 x 10
Gp = = = 1.15kg / cm 2 x 10m
H 3300
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at 3,500m:
455 x 10
Gp = = 1.30kg / cm 2 x 10m
at 6,000m
890 x 10
Gp = = 1.48kg / cm 2 x 10m

Procedure B
This is a manual procedure, although less exact is speedier than the previous
procedure A:
On the reference curve Pc versus H the values of Vint, are plotted corresponding to
the available depth and Pc, (Figure 3.65);
up to Pc, = 400kg/cm (H = 3070 m), the pore pressure gradient is normal and equal
Gp = 1.03 kg/cm x 10 m;
From the above Pc onward, the Vint are lower than the reference curve V5, and
consequently abnormal gradient formations will be present. To calculate the
pore pressure gradient in the overpressure zone, proceed as follows:
From the point, whose Gp has to be determined (point A in Figure 3.64.), draw a
parallel line to the abscissa to intersect point B on the reference curve;
Read, on abscissa, the effective compaction pressure, Pc,eff, to which the point is
subjected to have that calculated interval velocity (in this case, Pc,eff is about
355kg/cm );
Knowing the geostatic pressure, Pov of point A and its effective compaction
pressure Pc,eff, the pore pressure, Pp is calculated.

In the example:
Pov = 762kg/cm (at point A)
Pc.eff = 366kg/cm
Pp = 762 - 366 = 396kg/cm

Dividing Pp, by the depth at Point A, i.e. 3,000 m, the pore pressure gradient Gp,
is obtained:
396 x 10
Gp = = 1.20kg / cm 2 / 10m
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Figure 3.64 - Calculation Of Overburden Gradient As A Function Of Depth

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Figure 3.65 Example Calculation of the Effective Compaction Pressure

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Methods of analysis based on seismic data are available before commencing with drilling
operations and are therefore very useful particularly when planning the well.
The quality of the seismic data being processed is of great importance as regards the
reliability and precision of the results obtained. Consequently, it is very useful and
recommended that forecasts made by using other methods be obtained and comparisons
made, so as to be able to appropriately modify the drilling programme in the shortest
possible time and with the least amount of difficulty.
A quite reliable and important group of methods for the determination of overpressure is the
one based on drilling parameters. With these methods, the readings regarding the drilling
operations are obtained in real time, reflect the actual well conditions that are encountered
and are recorded and processed with a minimum of time delay.
Although most of these methods do not give the actual overpressure picture, they do signal
the presence of an abnormal condition due to the presence of an abnormally behaving
zone. Such methods, therefore, give appropriate warnings that more careful and strict
monitoring must be kept on what is happening in the well and that a more accurate and
critical interpretation must be made of the methods used for obtaining a quantitative
evaluation of the pore pressure gradients.
The drilling parameters, the recording and interpretation of which only give a qualitative
evaluation of overpressure (i.e., its possible presence and the location of its top), include
the following :
Drilling rate
Caving and hole tightening
Pump pressure and flow rate
Level in mud pits
Amount of cuttings at shale-shaker
Mud pH and resistivity
Resistivity of shales collected at shale-shaker
Amount of gas present (gas shows)
Mud temperature
Montmorillonite percentage.

Whereas the changing of just one parameter does not justify the assumption of the
presence or absence of an overpressure zone, when many parameters change in such a
way as to lead to this conclusion, the presence of an abnormally behaving zone is
considered highly probable.
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The recording of these parameters and the understanding of the reasons for their changing
is very important to properly interpret the methods, which give quantitative evaluations of
over-pressure, such as:
D-exp and dc-exp (respectively, drilling and corrected-drilling exponent)
Shale-density measurement at surface.

The reliability of the results obtained with both the qualitative and quantitative methods has
improved considerably, by the use of appropriate sensors mounted on the rig for monitoring
and measuring the more significant and important drilling parameters and the continuous,
automatic computer processing of the obtained data, which represents a remarkable
technological advancement and which has permitted the achievement of what can be
considered satisfactorily reliable results.
With the advent of a wider application of the MWD (Measuring While Drilling) systems,
further benefits and improvements will be obtained. This system not only involves the real-
time measurement and recording of the drilling parameters at the surface, which is the more
general case today, but also the parameters down at the bit. With this system, the desired
information is obtained in its uncontaminated form that is not shielded from the multitude of
continuous interactions that occur between the drillstring and the wellbore.


4.2.1. Drilling (Penetration) Rate
All the factors which come into play when drilling through the various formations, of course,
affect the drilling rate, The most notable of these variable factors are the following:
Physical and chemical characteristics of the formation
Shape and physical characteristics of the bit
Drilling parameters
Hydraulic parameters
Physical and chemical characteristics of the drilling fluid.

These factors can be mathematically inter-related to arrive at a certain drilling rate

prognosis. There are various equations which permit this, but the procedure most commonly
used is the one developed by Jorden and Shirley.
It has been shown that all conditions and parameters being equal and constant, the drilling
rate is inversely proportional to the depth, i.e. it decreases with depth. The decrease is
mainly due to the increasing degree of rock compaction and differential pressure. If the
reverse occurs, the situation is abnormal.
The following analysis of each parameter is made for the sake of better understanding how
the various factors influence the drilling rate.
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a) Physical and Chemical characteristics of the Formation

As regards the chemical characteristics, these affect the drilling rate because of the
interaction between the drilling fluid and the formation and will be briefly discussed
The physical properties or characteristics of a formation are directly connected with
the resistance to compressive forces and, thus, the amount of resistance offered to
the bit. The factors contributing to the characteristics of a formation are rock type,
porosity, permeability, geostatic pressure, temperature and the well pressure of
contained fluid.
As normally would bev conclude, the rate with which a bit cuts into a formation
increases with formation porosity, since the bit can more easily break the more porous
formation. The permeability and porosity are directly related to the ease with which
pressure equilibrium can be reached in the portions immediately above and below the
zone being drilled. More will be said about this later on. Both geostatic pressure and
fluid pressure contribute, concomitantly, to the stress conditions in the rock and, thus,
to its behaviour under the bit weight. It has been shown that brittle materials, when
under high hydrostatic pressure compounded by straight compression, undergo
plasticisation when a certain value of shear stress is reached, causing the material to
deform considerably. Temperature also affects the characteristics of the rock.Figure
4.1. shows an example of behaviour change with changes in depth (triaxial
compression state) and temperature (at room temperature and with geothermic
gradient of 3 C/100m).

b) Shape and Physical Characteristics of Bit

There has been a rapid development, over the recent years, in the design of bits and
the types of materials used. Today, bits can be classified as roller bits, diamond bits
and stratapax type bits, the latter being better known as PDC (Polycrystalline
Diamond Compact) bit. An in-depth discussion of bit design is beyond the scope of
this writing, so we will discuss their main characteristics.
Roller bits are classified as tooth-and-insert type. The main features which determine
their operating characteristics are journal angle and offset, cone geometry, bearing
size and the number and height of the teeth. The drilling rate, of course, is affected by
the amount of wear on the teeth, soft bits wearing more rapidly than hard bits.
Insert-type bits undergo negligible wear and drilling rate is not affected at all, or only
slightly, by any wear that does occur. On the other hand, however, if the cutters
should break or become detached, the drilling rate is very seriously affected.
As the amount of wear increases, the teeth tend to become dull and, in soft
formations, the penetration rate will decrease unless the weight on the bit is
increased. With hard formations, this effect is less marked because the teeth shatter
the rock by compression rather than by cutting into it. With lower tooth height, cuttings
are furthermore removed with difficulty and the result is a lower drilling rate.
Working in a totally different manner than roller bits, diamond bits remove material by
abrasion and are characterised by being cone-shaped (conicity being either double,
internal and external, or simple, on the inside only, or flat). with extended gauge
(shearing surface extending a certain distance along the bit shoulders) and with a
particular fluid-course profile (radial, spiral, with flow collectors). Diamond bits can be
also custom-made to a particular design and size for specific jobs.
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PDC bits are a sort of hybrid between roller and diamond bits. Instead of the diamonds
being held in a matrix, as with the normal diamond bit, the PDC bit has button-shaped,
tungsten-carbide inserts covered with a thin layer of diamond crystals.

Figure 4.1- Example Of Rock Behaviour Changes

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c) Drilling Parameters
The two parameters that most significantly affect drilling rate are : 1) the weight on the
bit, and 2):the rotary speed. The amount of weight on the bit depends on the type of
formation being drilled and. thus, the type of bit being used and its diameter.
When the formation is soft, increasing the weight on the bit increases the amount of
penetration accomplished by the cutters and, therefore the amount of rock being
removed. This continues until total penetration is reached, after which bit balling
occurs and performance is consequently reduced. With hard formations, a threshold
value has to be reached and surpassed before formation failure takes place and the
removal of cuttings begins.
Furthermore, assuming perfect cleaning under the bit, the drilling rate increases in
proportion to the rotary speed. In practice, however, increased rotary speed in hard
formations hampers the complete failure of the formation cuttings. In medium-hard
formations cuttings are simply removed while in soft formations, when bits with
adequate scraping action are provided the cuttings are immediately lifted and
removed and the drilling rate tends to remain proportional to the rotary speed.

d) Hydraulic Parameters
Hydraulic parameters contribute considerably to bit performance. Flow rates greatly
affect the removal of the cuttings and cooling of the bit. The hydraulic horsepower
used at the bit is not only a measure of how efficient the cleaning is beneath the bit,
burr, in the case of jet bits, also of the penetration rate of the bit.
There are three following behaviour characteristics:
1) With insufficient hydraulics, cleaning beneath the bit and cuttings removal are
2) Increase in hydraulic horsepower improves penetration rate;
3) Further hydraulic horsepower increase only marginally improves performance
and would only be an unjustified expense. More importantly, reduction of bit life,
caused by abrasion due to the power increase, is an additional cost

What the optimum hydraulic horsepower at the bit should be depends on the type of
bit, the formation and the hole diameter. It is generally defined in terms of HSI:
Hydraulic Horsepower per Square Inch.
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e) Physical and Chemical Characteristics of the Drilling Fluid

The characteristics, briefly considered here, concern the following:
Mud density
Apparent viscosity
Spurt loss
Solids content.

The density of the mud determines how much differential pressure exists at the
bottom of the well between the hydrostatic pressure imposed by the column of mud
(even under dynamic conditions, considering friction losses in the annulus between
the drill string and the well-bore walls) and the pressure exerted by the formation fluid.
When the pressure exerted by the mud is greater than that exerted by the formation
fluid (positive imbalance), the result is that, as porosity and permeability decrease, it
becomes more difficult for the pressures above and below the cuttings to become
equalised. The cuttings, therefore remain stuck to the bottom and are reground,
thereby reducing the drilling rate.
When the pressure imbalance is negative (mud pressure lower than formation fluid
pressure), there is an increase in drilling rate which, all other parameters being equal,
depends on the type of rock and, in particular, on its porosity and permeability. A
negative imbalance (or under-balance) is, therefore, theoretically an advantage, with
the imbalance favouring the drilling action of the bit by the explosion occurring in the
rock, immediately under the bit.
The lower the fluid viscosity, the greater the turbulence created and the better the
cuttings are removed, while at the same time. the velocity of the spurt loss of the fluid
in the formation increases The increase of spurt loss velocity precedes normal
filtration and helps the pressures to become equalised. The spurt loss velocity at a
near-zero value is one of the reasons for the drop-off in drilling rate when using oil-
based mud. If the spurt loss volume increases, the pressures are more likely to
equalise. A high solids content decreases the amount of initial filtration and, thus,
reduces the drilling rate.
When drilling is done in formations having elastic behaviour, microfractures are
created. These microfractures tend to close by molecular attraction but various types
of fluids tend to keep them open. The use of surfactants in drilling fluids facilitates the
microfiltration process and thus keeps the microfractures open making the drilling
action easier.
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4.2.2. Determination Of Overpressure Trends From Penetration Rate

One of the first ways attempted to determine the qualitative trend of an overpressure and its
top was by calculating a normalised drilling rate.
As mentioned previously, the drilling rate decreases as the depth increases. With the
normalised conditions, formation being the same and the mud density held constant an
increase in drilling rate implies a probable underbalance and, therefore, a probable increase
in pore pressure gradient. Figure 4.2. shows the behaviour of some formations at various
values of differential pressure. A certain range can be noted within which a linear
relationship exists between percent increase of drilling rate and differential pressure. The
trend of the curve has been demonstrated experimentally but the characteristic values have
not been demonstrated, since the percent change in drilling rate not only depends on the
type of rock (as mentioned previously) but, also, on its porosity and permeability. The
values of differential pressure are plotted on the abscissas in Figure 4.2 and the relative
percent changes in drilling rate on the ordinates. The origin of the graph is the point where
the differential pressure is zero.
Of all the factors previously mentioned and briefly discussed, there are several which only
have a slight influence as compared to others. These can accordingly be considered as
negligible as regards the calculation of overpressure. All those factors that are not easily
definable in mathematical terms because of the complexity of the required expression, are
analysed by the operator and constitute part of the interpretative criteria.
It can thus be inferred that a preliminary, approximate idea regarding formation pressure
can be obtained by analysing the drilling rate values. There are however so many external
factors that come into play that a correct evaluation of formation pressure is only possible
under special conditions (homogeneity of drilled-through formations, small changes in
drilling parameters etc.)
The previously mentioned normalised drilling rate permits the calculation of a reference
drilling rate by the use of functions, which correlate the various parameters and factors that
are responsible for the actual drilling operations. An increase in the normalised drilling rate
indicates improved rock drillability, brought about, possibly, by a change in formation or by a
gradual underbalance condition. A change in type of formation generally causes a sudden
change in drilling rate, where an increase in pore pressures causes a gradual change in
drilling rate.
Shale has unique characteristics and represents the ideal medium for the location of
overpressure zones. All the methods used for identifying overpressures based on drilling
parameters were originally conceived for drilling in elastic formations.
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A mathematical model developed by GD Combs; adopts the following general formula for
drilling rate:
aq Eq. 4.1

R = R
x x
f (P) f (T)
3500 D h D hD n
R10 = Drilling rate with new bit P =0ft/h

W = Weight on bit, lbs/ins hole diameter (Dh)

Dh = Hole diameter
N = Rotary table revolutions per minute, rpm
Q = Pumping rate, gal/min
Dn = Bit nozzle diameter, 32 ths of an inch
aw = Exponent of weight on bit
an = Exponent of rotary table speed
aq = Exponent of hydraulics
P = Differential pressure psi
T = Bit teeth wear index

R10 represents the drilling rate that would be attained with a new bit, zero differential
pressure, weight on bit W = 3,500lbs/in, rotary table speed N = 200rpm and the hydraulic
term equal to 3gpm/(hole diameter times bit-nozzle diameter, in 32ths of an inch).
The exponents and parameters appearing in this equation have been derived empirically.
Only a few of the previously discussed variables are included because according to the
author, these are the ones which most affect drilling rate. This rather complex equation
requires knowing and calculating certain coefficients, which are not always very easily
determinable. Furthermore, the equation does not provide a quantitative analysis of the
pore pressure gradient, containing a term that is a function of differential pressure. For
practical use in the field and for the inevitable approximations of the system, it is easier and
more convenient not to be concerned with certain parameters for the sake of simplicity and
ease of computation.
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Figure 4.2 - Experimental Results % Variation Of Drilling Rate

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4.2.3. D-Exponent And dc-Exponent

In 1965 Bingham proposed the following relationship between the drilling rate, weight on bit,
rotary speed and bit diameter.
d Eq. 4.2
R = Drilling (penetration) rate ft/h
N = Rotary speed, rpm
D = Bit diameter, ft
W = Weight on bit, lbs
a = Matrix constant, dimensionless
d = Drillability exponent, dimensionless
This mathematical relationship was revised and adapted to field requirements by Jorden
and Shirley in l966, solving for d by introducing constants to take into account the units of
measurement commonly used in the petroleum industry and to obtain values that vary
within an acceptable range of limits. The a term was assumed to be unitary, thus making
the determination of d easier despite its dependence on Iithology:
R Eq. 4.3
60 N
d exp = ln
12 W
D 10 6
R = Drilling or penetration rate. ft/h
N = Rotary speed, rpm
W = Weight on bit, Ibs
D = Bit diameter, ins
d-exp = Drilling exponent. dimensionless
Using metric units and changing from natural to common Logarithms, Eq. 4.3 becomes
3.21 R Eq. 4.4
60 N
d exp =
2.64 W
100 D
R = Drilling or penetration rate (m/h)
W = Weight on bit (t)
D = Bit diameter (ins)
N = Rotary speed (rpm)
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Since both numerator and denominator are negative (the logarithm of a number less than
one), the dexp term is positive and increases as the drilling rate decreases. In other words,
all conditions being equal, the dexp becomes gretar as the depth increases. As seen
previously, the drilling rate also depends on the differential pressure which, in turn, depends
on the pore pressure and mud weight. A change in mud weight implies a change in dexp
value. With the introduction of an empirical correction in 1971, the amount of dexp change
was held to within acceptable limits. The final form of the equation, the measured parameter
being indicated as dc-exp (corrected drilling exponent) is as follows:
R Eq. 4.5
dc exp = 60N x GpN
In 6
100 D
W = Weight on bit
Gpn = Normal pore pressure kg/cm 10m
ECD = Equivalent Circulating Density (mud density plus friction losses) kg/l
or metrically
3.21R Eq. 4.6
dc exp = 60N x GpN
2.64 W ECD

The most important of the factors not considered in the dc-exp are hydraulics, rock drillability,
bit wear and the effect of high differential pressures, adequate correction of the date is
therefore hindered. Furthermore, the relationships and exponents used in the formula are
not adequate for covering all, the at times, complex situations encountered in practice,
especially when drilling deep wells. This implies making changes in the assumed dc-exp that
are not properly corrected by the above relationship.
Notwithstanding the above stated limitations, the dexp and dc-exp represent a considerable
step forward in the determination of overpressure during drilling. This method was originally
worked out for a particular zone in the United States and gave excellent qualitative and
quantitative results, especially since the interpretative criteria were originally developed for
applying the method to that particular area. When the method was used in other parts of
the world, the above mentioned limitations became more evident. One advantage of this
new method was its having marked the beginning of the use of a new methodology, which
promoted further research on the origin and evaluation of abnormal pressures.
The dc-exp calculation should begin when the drilling operations begin, and be carried out,
as a rule, every 2 to 3m (5ft). Since the calculation and plotting is usually done manually, for
high drilling rates this can be done every 5 to 10m or at even greater intervals. With the dc-
exp graphic analysis, therefore, a combined evaluation of all parameters and causes
contributing to the determination of overpressure cannot be neglected.
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As it can be clearly seen in Figure 4.3 which shows some examples of d c-exp evaluation, the
final result is a normalised curve which takes into consideration the changes in value that
are due to causes that are external and not attributable to changes occurring in the
differential pressure. The application of this type of interpretative criteria to the dc-exp is
however quite recent and again considers a simplified form of the shift or change in
normal compaction trend line concept which was formally introduced by Eni-Agip for the
Sigmalog. Thus the determination of overpressure tops and how overpressures develop is
reflected by a shift to the left, that is, the dc-exp value decreases as a result of the increase
in the normalised drilling rate.
In order to quantitatively evaluate the pore pressure gradients, it is necessary, at this point,
to perform an interpretation which essentially clears the curve of all the extraneous effects
attributable to external causes and in effect, normalises the curve. For example, if a bit
has teeth that are quite worn and enters a medium-to-soft formation in an overpressure
zone, the curve shift to the left will be partly masked by the decreased efficiency of the bit,
the latter representing a reduction of the drilling rate and hence, a shift of the curve to the
right. As a matter of fact, in this case, the dc-exp' takes on values that are higher than they
would be if the bit were not worn. The wear effect is not usually well-defined on the dc-exp
curve due, among other things, to the low data sampling rate. To overcome the occasional
masking of the overpressure zone, it is advisable to reduce the changes in drilling
parameters as much as possible, especially near the expected top.
As the degree of compaction increases with depth, the dc-exp values also increase,
depending on how the overburden gradient develops. Changes in depth. lithology and
geological age produce changes in the slope of the curve. The following formula gives the
mathematical relationship between pore pressures gradient and dc-exp:
(d c exp)N Eq. 4.7
(d c exp)P
PO = Actual pore pressure at considered depth, psi
PN = Normal pore pressure
(dcexp )O = dc-exp value at considered depth

(dcexp )N = Extrapolated dc-exp value with normal pore pressure gradient at

considered depth

Solving for (dcexp )O in the foregoing equation we obtain the following:

PN Eq. 4.8
(dC exp)P =(dC exp)N
For known values of (dc exp )N and PN at various depths, the known value of PO can be
substituted in the expression to obtain the corresponding (dcexp )O value. By using this
formula and assuming the normalised dc-exp' line as having a constant tendency, lines can
be drawn parallel to the various pore pressure gradient reference lines (Figure 4.4).
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As previously noted, the slope of the reference line (which is also known as the normal
compaction trend line and is the focus of the normal pore pressure gradient points) is not
constant. Therefore, the choosing of the slope of this reference line and the positioning of it
must be done as carefully and as early as possible. Since the slope of the reference line
can change, any shifting that may be necessary to correct and reliably interpret the curve
largely depends upon the operators sensitivity and experience. For this reason, it would be
advisable and recommended that the operator avail himself of the other methods and
parameters which can help facilitate the estimate of the pore pressure gradients.

Figure 4.3 - Examples Of d-exp Evaluation

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Figure 4.4 - d-exp Lines Drawn Parallel To Various Pore Pressure Gradient Reference Lines
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Some technicians for example, first obtain a value towards which the dc-exp curve tends in
the near surface formations and then, extrapolate this value for greater depths. Other
technicians interpret the dc-exp value for selected intervals and then modify the position and
slope of the line according to the distribution of the values obtained. Both techniques are
prone to interpretative errors of considerable errors of considerable magnitude with evident
and understandable effects on the reliability of the quantitative pore pressure gradient
forecasts. It has also been said that the dc-exp values should approximately fall on the same
straight line. This however only holds for small intervals of depth. As a matter of fact, a
mathematical error is introduced by doing this, once the dc-exp function is assumed
exponential with respect to depth, while, in fact, it close to being a logarithmic function. If
the dc-exp values however are plotted on semilogarithmic graph paper, the resulting curve
gradually approaches the vertical as depth increases. This behaviour has been widely noted
in zones having normal compaction and normal pore pressure gradients. Consequently, as
depth increases, the slope of the reference line has to be changed in accordance with the
actual distribution of the values. From these observations, it is evident that not only it is
wrong to perform an extrapolation on the basis of the noted tendency of the d c-exp curve for
the near surface formations, but also that the evaluation of the gradient values is too
subjective to give reliable results in all situations.
As it has already been seen, the difference between the dexp and the dc-exp consists
essentially in the latter being corrected for mud density,. In the broad sense, the purpose
of the correction is to take the effect of differential pressure on drilling rate into
consideration, thereby eliminating the masking of the abnormal pressure zones which
occurs when plotting only the dexp values. However, a closer look at the dc-exp equation will
show that, from a mathematical point of view, the dc-exp' value decreases as the mud density
increases and is not a function of the imbalance between the pore pressure gradient and
the mud density.
In actual practice, it is a good rule to plot both the dexp and dc-exp curves. The values to be
plotted as a function of depth should be taken from clean shale levels (although in some
cases, dirty shale or even marl could be taken into consideration) and at intervals that are
strictly dependent on the drilling rate. If a drilling control unit, complete with sensors, and a
computer is available on the site, the values can be recorded at every metre of depth, for
example. Subsequently the shale points, the points through which the reference line must
pass, will be taken into account only when the curve is to be interpreted.
As previously underlined, with formations having a normal gradient, the dexp and dc-exp do
not reach the same absolute values but increase with depth because of the increasing
compaction pressure and especially because of the differential pressure. As the zone of
transition is entered and the mud density is kept constant, the dc-exp values will gradually
decrease, thus indicting the decrease in differential pressure. In reality, however keeping
the mud density constant, while entering the overpressure zone, is such a remote possibility
that it may be disregarded. Consequently the dc-exp values corrected for mud density will
decrease with depth in the abnormal gradient/zone, whereas the d-exp values will tend to
increase or at least not diminish in the same way, according to the actual differential
pressure. The greater the shift of the actual points from the reference line, the greater the
pore pressure gradient.
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As a normal calculation procedure, it is still recommended to plot both the dc-exp and dexp
curves simultaneously. It is the comparison of these two curves in fact, which makes it
possible to show the following aspects of well conditions:
If the shale points on the dexp curve reveal a shift from the normal compaction
line, notwithstanding the increase in mud density, the indication is that there is a
condition of persistent imbalance and the mud density has to be increased
further until the new dexp values fall on the normal compaction line.
Notwithstanding the previously described limitation, the dc-exp curve will always
indicate the actual pore pressure gradient development and permit the gradients
to be calculated.

In conclusion it can be said that the dexp and dc-exp curves can be a valuable help in
identifying and calculating pore pressure gradients, especially where data have to be
gathered and processed manually because none of the up-to-date sophisticated equipment,
such as a drilling control unit is available.
To better understand the calculation and logic connected with the dc-exp it would be
advisable to study an actual example. As previously mentioned, the dexp curve alone does
not permit easy calculation of trends in pore pressure gradient. Therefore we need to at
least have the lithologic column of the formations, the bit runs and the mud density used.
We should also have if possible, recordings of the weight and the rotary speeds applied to
the bit. The list of data shown in the example in Figure 3.5 includes the IADC code
description of the bits, their runs and a lithologic column.
4.2.4. Sigmalog
The concept underlying the Sigmalog is the same as that underlying the dc-exp: the
obtainment of a normalised drilling rate by means of empirical drilling parameter
relationships. The term normalised refers to the maintenance of a constant relationship
value, for a particular formation, when one or more of the considered parameters (weight on
bit, rpm, drilling rate, well diameter) is changed.
It became evident that the dc-exp method was not completely satisfactory when deep drilling
was undertaken in the Po valley, where carbonatic formations involving considerable
overpressures, were encountered. The logic of Sigmalog computation and interpretation is
still evolving and attempts are still being made to find solutions for the inaccuracies and
uncertainties encountered with previous methods. The real and most important innovation is
the interpretative criterion introduced by this method which while being more difficult to
come by, at least initially, is much more versatile and dependable. The calculation can be
subdivided into two parts. One part concerns rock drillability and the other concerns the
condition of imbalance existing between the hydrostatic pressure of the drilling fluids and
the pressures of the formation fluid. The logic of the method is not strictly analytical since it
derives from empirical considerations and laws. mathematical consistency in the various
steps therefore, is not possible. The validity of the system is based on in-depth extensive
experimentation and on practical application confirmed by results obtained.
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Figure 4.5 - Example Of dc-exp Interpretation

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As regards the d-exp. the Sigmalog begins with the determination of the drillability index,
called t :

WOB 0.5 x RPM 0.25 Eq. 4.9

t = 0.25

D h x RPM
WOB = Weight on bit, (t)
ROP = Rate of penetration (m/min)
Dh = Hole or bit diameter (in)
RPM = Rotary speed (rpm)

The existing experimental and theoretical correlations concerning the various parameters,
when the bit and formation remain unchanged, should compensate for the variations in
these parameters. In practice, however. the considered experimental equations are not
generally valid. For big changes in drilling parameters (weight, rotary speed or hole
diameter), compensation is incomplete and an important change in the t value is,
sometimes, noted. In other words t , is equivalent to dexp.

It has been shown experimentally that the values of t , are extremely affected by
changes in the drilling conditions, especially at minor depth, which results in a wide range of
values. To reduce or attenuate this range of values, a correction value has been introduced,
which is tied-in with depth and which gives the following:
H Eq. 4.10
1t = t + 0.028 7
At this point, this value needs to be correlate with the differential pressure existing at bottom

P = MW G p ) 10H Eq. 4.11

MW = Drilling fluid pressure gradient (or, more simply, mud weight), kg/cm .
10m (kg/l)
GP. = Formation fluid or pore pressure gradient (kg/cm . 10m)
H = Depth (m)

As previously noted, the drilling rate and differential pressure relationship is not a linear
one. It is affected by other factors. This has been taken into account by introducing an
experimental n coefficient and by relating it to the differential pressure in accordance with
the following law:
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1 1 + n 2 P 2 Eq. 4.12
F* = 1 +
3. 2 Eq. 4.13
n= if 1t 1
640 1t

1 0. 75
Eq. 4.14
n= 4 if 1t > 1
640 1t

In fact, when calculating P, it is not the actual but unknown pore pressure gradient that is
considered, but the one taken as normal (GP = 1.03kg/cm 10m). This approximation leads
to a fictitious evaluation, but permits the interpretation to be less time-consuming and more
reliable. In fact. when the actual P value is used, the changes are much more limited and
thus could make the overpressure zone difficult to recognise. The term used for the
interpretation is:

0 = F* 1t Eq. 4.15

which is equivalent to the dc-exp.

The general interpretation criterion is the same as for the dc-exp. A shift of the 2 , value
curve indicates greater drillability and therefore overpressure. The Sigmalog interpretation is
based on the comparison of the 2 values with the previous ones, and stems from the
hypothesis that overpressure develops gradually and never suddenly, apart from rare
exceptions. A gradient increase as may be found in a porous formation, necessitates the
presence of a transition zone with low porosity and permeability where the pressure
gradient increases gradually. The thickness of the transition zone is a function of the
gradient increment, the rock porosity and permeability, and the geological time during which
the phenomenon evolved. A shift to the left, therefore, does not necessarily mean a
gradient increment.
In normal pressure situations, the reference line r will, therefore, intersect values
of 2 , (Fig 6a). In the case of overpressure, on the other hand, the reference line will
pass to the right of the 0 values (Fig. 6c). The reference line should have a changing
slope in accordance with the Gov trend (compaction trend). Since the affected intervals are
usually short and the slope can reasonably be considered constant below a certain depth,
the slope of the reference line is maintained constant at 0.088. This approximation
obviously introduces an error, but this error has been proved to be within the tolerable error
margin and is hence acceptable. This fact provides the considerable advantage of not
having to adjust the slope of the reference line according to the operators sensitivity.
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While drilling is taking place, the 2 have to be checked against the stratigraphy and
lithology of the well (as deduced from analysis of the cutting), so as to be able to recognise
any possible gradual shift to the left caused by gradual increase in drillability nor, ascribable
to overpressure. such as those caused by thin sandy intercalations in shales (dirty shales).
As a rule, a transition in the formation causes a sudden shift in the 2 values. These are
easily seen because the mechanical characteristics of rocks do not change gradually. To
compensate for these changes, the reference line becomes a broken line (Figure 4.6a) and
joins the higher 2 values, in the case of a normal gradient. and runs to the right in the
case of overpressures.
The shift can also be caused by significant changes in drilling parameters, well geometry,
bit type, etc. These can be categorised as formational, mechanical or external shifts. While
determining the causes of shifts may not be of prime importance, identifying significant
shifts is of extreme importance (Figure 4.6a).

For normal gradients the broken reference line goes through the main 2 values and is
thus known by definition. This is not the case, however, when overpressure conditions exist.
In practice the shifting of the line tends to normalise the 2 curve by eliminating the
discontinuities (Figure 4.6b) When gradients are higher than normal, the amount of shift
must be enough to restore the 2 , curve continuity.

The amount of overpressure is thus a function of the departure between r and 2 .

The relationship which defines Gp is also derived both logically and empirically W is used
in the place of 0 ,

Although this is not strictly correct. It does, however, make for a simpler calculation. The
various segments of the broken line r will then have the following value:

H Eq. 4.16
r = 0. 088 +b
where b is the intercept on the ordinate. The following then obtained:
20 (1 F) Eq. 4.17
Gp = MW
nHF (2 F)
1t (not to be confused F with F*)
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The amount of shift is calculated by:

Calling r1 , the reference line value in correspondence of the shift

Calling 01 the curve value

Calling 02 the curve value after shift

Calling r2 the unknown value

this now give the following (Figure 4.6c).

o2 Eq. 4.18
r 2 = r1 x
Since b (the reference line intercept value on the ordinate) is usually entered into the
computer programme, it follows that:
H Eq. 4.19
b2 = r 2 0. 088
and, with a small approximation, the following can also be considered (Fig 6d):

02 Eq. 4.20
b 2 = b1 x
There is only a negligible difference in the values obtained by the two) methods.
The above calculations are repeated for all subsequent shifts (Figure 4.6e).
If the drilling rate is increased with the other parameters remaining unchanged (only a
change in ROP is assumed for the sake of simplicity and so that its effect on W and R
will be clearer), we would have a decrease in W . If the mud weight remained unchanged
P would also remain constant and R , would decrease as a consequence. If such
changes were to take place gradually, with the lithologic conditions remaining unchanged,
this would probably indicate an overpressure condition. If we increase the mud density, we
have an increase in P and a consequent reduction in the drilling rate in accordance with
the concepts mentioned previously. Following this, we have an increase in 1t .
Consequently, both n and F* decrease in an attempt to compensate for the effect of the
P change on drilling rates.
Let us consider the following example:
H = 2,520m
WOB = 12 t
RPM = 100
Dh = 12.25ins
ROP = 9m/h
P = 45s kg/cm
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Carrying out the calculations, we obtain:

W = 0.52

W = 0.65
n = 7.8125 x 10
F* = 0.83
Let us assume an increase in mud weight, such as to obtain a P = 150kg/cm with a

consequent decrease in drilling rate to ROP = 5m/h. Performing the calculations, we obtain:
W = 0.60

W = 0.73
n = 6.9563 x 10
F* = 0.57
If the relativity of the system is exceeded, that is, the drilling rate does not vary noticeably
with the differential pressure changes, a positive P change (overbalance) corresponds to a
decrease in F * without an opposing change in W . In this case, the Sigmalog will give
erroneous data because the Sigmalog will react to a condition of overbalance by showing a
marked shift to the left and, therefore, a theoretically greater formation drillability (Figure
In the equations considered so far, some parameters that can greatly affect drilling
efficiency, namely hydraulics and bit wear, do not appear. As far as hydraulics are
concerned, we can say that change in the hydraulics will affect the drilling rate in a more or
less marked manner and cause the 0 curve to shift. Then, with the hydraulic conditions
remaining unvaried, the curve will only be further affected by changes in the other
parameters mentioned previously. The same can be said as regards the changes in bit
type. Compensation can be made for this deficiency by making a shift (Figure 4.6g).
The amount of bit wear considerably affects drilling performance when the bit is designed
for soft formations. In this case, the 0 , curve shifts suddenly to the right. If the same
type of bit is used again after having tripped out the former one and the formation type
remains the same, the 0 curve will continue on with values that are congruent to those
recorded with the first bit, just before it was tripped out (Figure 4.6h).. In fact, with frequent
trips in and out (short hole intervals drilled with each bit), a considerable amount of
confusion can occur in the interpretation of the curve, especially if overpressure is present
and the operator does not have much experience. A study on bit wear is currently being
carried out. As mentioned earlier, diamond and roller bits work in quite different ways, which
makes the relationships for obtaining normalised drilling rates, when using diamond bits,
considerably different from those required for roller bits. For example, diamond bits can be
used with turbines with rotary speeds over 800rpm with very little weight on the bit (2-3t). In
this case, therefore, it can easily be seen that the Sigmalog exponential relationships are
not optimal.
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In practice, the use of a diamond bit in an overpressured formation causes a masking effect
(the curve shift to the left is less than when using a roller bit). This behaviour is defined by
the abnormal rpm value, when using the turbine, or by the uncorrected exponential indexes,
when the rotary drilling is used. In this case compensation depends on the operators
It should be noted, furthermore, that this system has been used effectively and with
excellent results both for making geological correlation logs and porosity logs. This
therefore has made it possible the calculation of the overburden gradient and,
consequently, of the fracture gradient, since pore pressure gradients are directly evaluated
during drilling. A final consideration must be made as regards the logic of shifts before
going into the analysis of a practical sample. That is the amount of shift has to be
determined, in order to compensate for sudden 0 changes and in order to obtain a curve
which is free of any discontinuities.
After making a preliminary interpretation by calculating the various b intercept values, it is a
good idea to check the continuity of the R curve. If any serious discontinuities result, the
b intercept values involved in the discontinuities have to be modified, so as to obtain a
series of R values having a logical distribution. To facilitate this operation, a computer
programme has been purposely designed to make a normalised curve obtainable (Figure
All that has been mentioned thus far refers to classic formations. In carbonatic formations,
porosity conditions do not directly correlate to actual pressure conditions. In fact, the
contrary occurs because, when there is an abnormal increase in porosity, the permeability
generally increases and the pressure status, therefore tends to remain the same. When the
carbonatic formation is compact and impermeable an overpressure condition results in a
perceptible increase in drilling rate because of the pressure imbalance between the drilling
fluid and the formation fluid. In classic formations the increase in drillability can also be
attributed to greater shale porosity. Although these are not ideal Sigmalog conditions, it is
still possible to obtain reliable results by making an accurate interpretation. A method is
currently being studied to distinguish between zones of primary porosity and secondary
porosity (induced by fracturing). The Sigmalog has a wide range of application and, as
mentioned earlier, its computational and interpretative logic is still in evolution.

Example of Sigmalog Interpretation

For the sake of simplifying the interpretation, we have chosen an example of a well drilled in
classic rocks (Figure 4.7.). In addition to R , 3 , shift normalised R , Gp, and MW,
lithologic log, casing setting depths, bit runs, IADC code bit types, as well as the main
overpressure indications are shown on the graph, all done completely by means of a
computer programme that can also be used in the field.
The data are collected with the aid of an off-line system (manual data input to computer),
beginning at a depth of 763 m and ending at a depth of 3975m. The upper part of the well
consists almost exclusively of sandy formations.
The gradient is normal (Gp = 1.03 kg/cm x 10 m) down to the depth of 800-850m, where a
small shift of R , occurs to the left. This corresponds to the first level of shale. This
tendency, confirmed by the small kick occurring at 1,050m and caused by the intrusion of
salt water from a sandy formation layer continues down to about 1,200m where a closure is
seen. A second overpressure zone begins at about 1,500m.
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Figure 4.6 - Examples of Pressure Gradients

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Figure 4.7 - Well Drilled in Elastic Rocks

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This slight over pressure increase is confirmed at the first porous interval (1,600-1,700m)
where drilling breaks occur, together with slight pipe connection gas (3% max). The breaks
again occur from 1,900-1,950m with the same features. A very small re-entry of values is
noted between 2,000 and 2,100m. Equilibrium conditions are confirmed at each porous
level, with small amounts of pipe correction gas being present. Negative imbalance
conditions may occur while drilling through the porous and permeable zones but without the
intrusion any formation fluid. This probably happens because the formation fluid friction
losses through the rock are greater than the existing differential pressure. This slightly
positive, or slightly negative pressure, imbalance can be verified by carrying out a short trip
(raising the bit a few tens of metres from the bottom) so as to partially relieve the hydrostatic
pressure at bottom hole of the amount due to the friction losses and; also to have the drill
string in a safer position. By doing this, the intrusion of any small cushions of formation fluid
is facilitated. These cushions can then be circulated to the surface and the imbalance
conditions judged according to their size.
The presence of the most significant overpressure zone is at about 2,300m. This presence
persists all the way down to the bottom without any indication of it disappearing. Sudden
value shifts to the left can be observed in correspondence of sandy levels, such as at the
intervals 1,500-1,600m, 1,900-1,970m, 2,250-2,280m and 2,790-2,840m. Shifts also occur
because of change of bit type, such as at about 2,450m, where a type 1.2.4 bit was
replaced by a type 1.3.4 bit. Another shift occurs at the next run at 2,490m when the bit is
replaced by a type 5.2.7 insert bit. Shifts due solely to the change in bit diameter are not
visible on the curve. An example of bit wear can be seen between 1,500-1,560m, at the end
of a type 1.3.1 bit run. The course of the curve here, while not actually being due to a
closure, could be interpreted as such. Another point to be verified is in the 2,500-2,555m
interval. The inexperienced interpreter could identify this as a gradient reversal, but this is
not the case. This type of interval can be sub-divided into three different shifts, the first at
2,520m, the second; 2,540m the last at 2,555m. Each of these small intervals clearly shows
a gradient increase tendency: the contrary to what could be concluded from a hurried
An example of how shifts can be calculated in this 2,500-2,555m interval is shown below:

at 2,500m:
r1 = 0. 51 01 = 0. 415 02 = 0. 44

r2 = x 0.51 = 0.54
b 2 = 0.54 0.088 = 0.32
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at 2,520m:
r1 = 0.54 + 0.088 = 0.54 01 = 0. 44 02 = 0. 47

r2 = x 0.54 = 0.58

b 2 = 0.58 0.088 x 2520 / 1000 = 0.36

at 2,540m
r1 = 0. 58 + 0. 088 = 0. 58 01 = 0. 475 02 = 0. 51

r2 = x 0.58 = 0.62

b 2 = 0. 62 0. 088 = 0. 40

4.2.5. Torque
The amount of torque required during drilling can be an indication of the presence of an
abnormal pressure formation.
In undercompacted shales where the mud hydrostatic pressure is lower than the formation
fluid pressure (an underbalanced condition), the plastic behaviour of the rock will cause
hole tightening to occur. If the torque value for a given rotary speed and bit weight have
been plotted before encountering an overpressure formation, the underbalance condition is
recognisable by an increase in torque. The torque increase will be significant, if the string
stabilisers and bit are of the same size.
It must be remembered that the amount of required torque depends on the resistance met
by the bit, which is a function of the weight on the bit, the coefficient of friction of the
formation and the amount of restoring torque, the latter being dependent on the amount of
frictional force developed against the wellbore walls. Any change in the torque value can,
therefore, be due to a change in weight, a change in the type of formation or balling of the
bit. A correct evaluation of the effect of these parameters will permit a correct interpretation
of the abnormality.
If the torque values increase considerably during drilling. we have a critical situation. This
can, however, be confirmed by measuring the other drilling parameters, such as overpull,
mud flow rate, etc.
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4.2.6. Overpulls
When tripping out a string, the amount of hook load is approximately proportional to the
depth reached. For various causes not always imputable to the presence of an abnormal
pressure, the predicted value may be exceeded, thus causing an overpull condition. The
main causes of hook load increase can be due to the following:
a) Bit balling
b) Stuck drill string
c) Unusual swabbing effects
d) Dog-legs
e) Hole tightening.

If these above stated causes can be ruled out, the overpull may be attributed to
underbalance conditions and then to the possible presence of an overpressured zone with
consequent hole tightening.

4.2.7. Pumping Pressure

Being the density of the fluids flowing into a well usually less than the density of the mud
used while drilling, it derives a decrease in the hydrostatic pressure, which is not anymore
sufficient to counterbalance the formation pressure. The flow of the formation fluid (and its
expansion, if gaseous reduces the pressure of the mud in the well annulus, thereby
reducing the pressure of the mud in the drill pipe due to the drill pipe/annulus imbalance.
This holds true when the fluid influx is slow and a steady flow condition is maintained. When
the pressure is differential between the formation fluid and the mud is high and the
permeability of the formation is also high, instead of a pressure decrease a sudden increase
may occur. This is due to the sudden pressure increase at bottom hole and to the inertia of
the system. The values will tend, however, to drop depending on the flow conditions and
annulus imbalance.

4.2.8. Mud Pit Levels

The volume of mud required to carry out operations is recorded by the pit level sensor,
which provides a constant check on the amount of mud being used. Any volume of
formation fluids flowing into the well bore will cause a corresponding volume change in the
pits, the level sensor indicating the volume increase. Pit levels are monitored to be able to
correctly evaluate the pressure and type of formation fluids.

4.2.9. Mud Flow Rate

The measurement of the amount of mud pumped into the well can give an indication of any
influx of formation fluid, even before any appreciable indication of mud level increase can
be observed in the pits. The measurement, to be a valid indication of fluid influx, must
however be done very accurately, even before a minimal increase in the mud pit level is
reliably recorded.
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4.2.10. Hole Fill-up

After tripping out the drill string, if there is any difference in the amount of mud required to
fill up the well bore, this can be an indication of pressure imbalance between the hydrostatic
mud column and the formation.
If there are no pressure balance problems, the volume of mud required to fill the well bore
will be equal to the volume of the extracted string. In porous and permeable formations, the
negative pressure difference between the formation fluids and the mud will cause the influx
of formation fluid and so the amount of mud needed to fill the well bore may diminish

4.2.11. Increase Of Cuttings At Shale Shaker

Drilling rate increases considerably when a shale formation is undercompacted and
underbalance conditions prevail. The number of shale cuttings brought to the surface in this
case, will be greater than when conditions overbalance exist. Any cavings will also increase
the number, the cuttings being of a particular shape which is not the result of the action of
the bit.
An increase in the number of cuttings depends on the three following factors:
Length of interval drilled under underbalance conditions
Pressure differential between formation and mud
Drilling rate.

A systematic evaluation of the quantity of cuttings present at the shale shaker makes it
possible to recognise the occurrence of new well conditions.

4.2.12. Mud Salinity

A valid method for determining underbalance conditions is measuring the chloride content in
the mud, providing that a fresh-water base mud is being used.
Salt water, contained in the formation drilled can enter the well bore and cause an increase
of chlorides in the mud. If conditions warrant, a periodic measurement of the chloride
content of the mud will signal any abnormal conditions by showing an increase in the mud
chloride content.

4.2.13. Percentage Of Montmorillonite

Montmorillonitic clays are the most porous and the least permeable of all clays. Any
increase in the percentage of montmorillonite present indicates a decrease in overburden
density. This can lead to the conclusion that abnormal pressures exist.
Montmorillonitic clays are often associated with marine environment clay in which sand is
totally absent. Owing to this lack of sand, drainage is impeded and the marine clays will be
overpressured. These considerations have led many authors to conclude that the presence
of these clays is synonymous with abnormal conditions and, therefore, any increase in
abnormality is considered a prediction of the presence of marine clay formations affected by
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4.2.14. Mud Resistivity And pH

This method consists of plotting one or more of the mud characteristics, such as resistivity,
salinity and pH, as a function of depth.
The method is based on the fact that when drilling begins in an overpressure zone having
impermeable layers, the mud hydrostatic pressure can no longer balance the formation
pressure. The result is that, as soon as the formation gradient exceeds the mud density,
formation fluid flows into the well. The amount entering the well can be small at the start,
but can increase in a very short time and cause the level in the mud pits to rise. If salt water
enters the well, this can reliably determined by measuring the resistivity of the mud which,
along with the pH, gradually diminished as the salinity of the mud gradually increases
(Figure 4.8
The same results can be obtained, when permeable layers are absent, by making very
accurate measurements. Since shales at normal pressure are undercompacted and,
therefore, more porous, part of the salt water is given up to the mud during drilling thus
causing the above-mentioned changes in resistivity and pH.

Figure 4.8 - Reistivity pH and Salinity

(Caused by Water Inflow into the Well Due to Overpressure)

4.2.15. Shale Resistivity

This method is based on the principle that the resistivity of a rock is equal to the sum of the
resistivities of the rock matrix and fluid contained in the pores of the rock. Therefore,
overpressured shales in salt water have less resistance than shales at normal pressure,
since the latter are more porous. With this method, resistivity measurements are carefully
carried out on cuttings that have been properly prepared. The cuttings must be from the
bottom of the well, must consist only of shale and must be carefully washed free of any
mud. by means of fresh water, without being dried.
The resistivity values, that are shown in Figure 4.9 are plotted as a function of depth, and
we see that shale resistivity increases with depth in accordance with its increased
compactness and consequent decrease of porosity, when the pressure is normal. On the
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other hand, in the overpressure conditions, the opposite occurs with the resistivity gradually
decreasing with depth.

Figure 4.9 - Decrease of Resistivity in Overpressured Shales

4.2.16. Gas Shows

During drilling operations, the use of a gas log and appropriate detectors provide a
continuous check on the presence of gas in the mud. The proper interpretation of the
recorded values can also reveal the presence of overpressures. Reliable indications can be
obtained more from the evaluation of the increase background gas and appearance of pipe-
connection gas than from the gas shows related to the hydrocarbon-bearing level. In this
regards, it must be remembered that background gas is the percentage of the total amount
of gas recorded while drilling dry or impermeable layers. This is generally a very low value
and is taken as the base reference level for the measurement of the shows.
If the background gas value (base reference level) increases upon drilling through
hydrocarbon-bearing strata, an overpressure situation is considered to exist which is caused
by gas flowing from the porous Iayers into the mud, when the hydrostatic pressure of the
mud no longer balances the formation pressure. Every time the mud circulation is
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interrupted and cushions of gas coming from hydrocarbon bearing strata can quickly form in
the well, there is likely to be overpressure.
The gas log can be used to identifying overpressure when:
a) Recirculation of CLS in the well is avoided. which would otherwise give rise to a
gradual increase in the background gas value and which could erroneously be
interpreted as a gas cushion entering the well during a pipe connection. The
continuous use of a degaser is ,therefore,. necessary for eliminating all gas from
the previous show s from the mud.
b) No swabbing of any importance takes place during pipe and bit changes.
Swabbing would cause the formation of gas cushions not usually formed under
normal conditions, in correspondence to the mineralised level or at bottom hole.

4.2.17. Shale Density

This is a method that was frequently used in the past but is now neglected. The method is
based on the measurement of shale density and states that in overpressured shales the
porosity is higher and the density is lower than with shales under normal compaction.
The term density refers to the overall density; that is, the density of the matrix plus the
density of the fluid filling the pores. Consequently, the samples (cutting and core fragments)
used for the density determination must be clean shale which has been dried but not
desiccated, so as to avoid dehydration.
Under normal conditions of compaction, which means the pressure is normal, density
values can be plotted against depth (Figure 4.10). The graph shows the density increasing
gradually with depth. When an overpressure condition exists, we obtain the graph shown in
Figure 4.11. The density starts to decrease gradually, beginning at 1,230m. which is an
indication that undercompacted (and, thus, overpressured)e shales are present.
This methods is no longer used because cuttings that are not contaminated with grains of
silt, sand, mica or heavy minerals (which alter the density of the otherwise clean shale
cuttings) are not readily available. Furthermore, it is often difficult to identify cuttings that
have precipitated from overlying layers and these, if used, would alter the normal
compaction trend and thus erroneously indicate an overpressure zone.
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A 350cc glass cylinder, graduated from 0 to 350, is commonly used for routine
measurements. Two solutions having different but comparable densities are poured into the
cylinder, so as to create a linear density gradient. Small disks of known density are put into
the cylinder. The Levels at which they float in the liquid will be difficult, of course. The level
values are read on the cylinder and then plotted on a graph. The line joining the points is
the calibration line and is used to determine the density of the shale cuttings, following the
above described procedure. The level The level in millimetres at which the clay sample
floats inside the cylinder is plotted and the density value is read on the ordinate, as shown
in Figure 4.12

Figure 4.10 - Increase in Clay Density as a Function of Depth (Normal Pressure)

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Figure 4.11 - Increase In Clay Density as a Function of Depth (Overpressure)

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Figure 4.12 - Density Gradient Calibration Curve

Figure 4.13 - Barrier Prevents Heat Coming up from Below

4.2.18. Mud Temperature

This method is occasionally used, because the results are not always reliable, and consists
of identifying overpressure tops by measuring the temperature of the mud at the surface.
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The method is principally valid for sandy-shaly formations and is based on the principle that
fluids are poor heat conductors. It is known that overpressured shales contain a
considerable amount of water because of their being less compact and, as a consequence,
more porous. In practice, they constitute a thermal barrier which prevents the heat coming
from below from spreading upwards uniformly (Figure 4.13.) From the surface downwards,
there is a constant geothermal gradient that suddenly increases in correspondence to the
overpressure top. It has also been noted that this gradient or temperature increase already
makes itself felt at about 100m above the overpressure top. Consequently an early
prediction of the starting point of an overpressured zone is thus obtained.
In practice, mud temperatures out are plotted against depth. The resulting curve is
somewhat unusual and requires some explanation. Analysing Figure 4.14, it can be seen
that each bit trip out corresponds to a series of increasing temperature values which can be
interpolated from the curve a. At the beginning of a bit run, the circulation is restarted and
the mud, that was heated at the bottom of the well during the stop for changing the bit,
comes to the surface at a rather low temperature, having lost much of its heat to the
surrounding formations that become colder at the shallower depths. While drilling is going
on, the heat exchange decreases because the layers have taken on sufficient heat. The
mud temperature at the surface, therefore, gradually increases (curve a). Under ideal
conditions, the shape of curve a is a function of the geothermal gradient. If the gradient
remains unchanged for each bit run, curve a retains the same shape. Of course, it is also
necessary to consider the rise in temperature at the beginning of the run, since the
formation temperature increases with depth. When the geothermal gradient is constant,
curve a is a straight line and its slope is constant, too. Furthermore, if the bit run is long
enough as happens when diamond bits are used, the temperature increase becomes
minimal from a certain point onward, due to the circulating mud having reached thermal
equilibrium with the surrounding formations. In practice, we observe the drop indicated by
curve a in Figure 4.14.
If the temperature suddenly increases, as in the case of an overpressure zone, the shape of
the curve becomes as shown in Figure 4.15. The interpolated curve a, which is constant
for all sections having a normal geothermal gradient, undergoes a change and the new
trend is the one shown by curve a. This indicates that the mud out tends to reach thermal
equilibrium in a shorter span of time and reaches higher values. The trend represented by
line b in Figure 4.15 will then be valid for the normal geothermal gradient and line b will be
valid for the abnormal gradient.
This is quite a simple method, but the following conditions have to be observed during
drilling in order to obtain reliable results:
No new mud must be added to the mud in circulation.
No mud correction must be made.
The pumping must remain constant.
The circulation must not be interrupted during bit run.
The external mud course (well head-pits-well head) must be held constant.
The external temperature must not undergo sudden changes.
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All the above stated conditions have the express purpose of maintaining thermal equilibrium
of the mud at all times, but it is not difficult to see why actually fulfilling all of them during
drilling operations is not very likely.

Figure 4.14 - Temperature Trend for Each Bit Run

Figure 4.15 - Temperature Increase Corresponding to Overpressure

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As already seen, the overburden pressure at a given depth, H, equals the cumulative
weight of the rocks above that depth:
n n

(H d )
POV = POVi = i hi
i =1 10 i =1

dhi = Formation bulk density as a function of depth H, (g/cm )
Hi = Interval of depth considered, m
Dividing the overburden pressure, Pov, by the depth, H. the corresponding overburden
gradient, Gov can be calculated:
G OV = 10 x

In order to draw the overburden gradient curve, the formation bulk densities must first be
determined. Bulk densities are usually derived from density logs (specifically, from the FDC
log) and from other density measurement made during drilling. The FDC log. however, is
only generally available for limited intervals of a well. The cutting density measurement is
time-consuming and is affected by several limitations, such as sample preparation.
To permit the accurate calculation of overburden gradients and, consequently, valid pore-
pressure and fracture gradients, AGIP has developed methods based, as already seen, on
the processing of seismic data. on Sonic Log readings (Refer to section 5) and on the
evaluation of drilling parameters by Sigmalog analysis.
The method, which is discussed in detail later on, follows this sequence:
1) Starting from Sigmalog computations, drilling porosities in sands and shales are
estimated using appropriate formulas:
2) These porosities are then transformed into bulk densities;
3) The bulk densities are converted into overburden gradients:
4) The pore pressure and overburden gradients make the calculation of fracture
gradients possible during drilling.

At present the Seismology determination of overburden gradients is only limited to elastic

formations while the possibility of obtaining these values in carbonatic and evaporitic rocks
is under study.
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4.3.1. Drilling Porosity Calculation

The determination of drilling porosities from which overburden gradients are subsequently
derived mainly depends on the correct positioning of the reference trend lines, r for the
overpressure evaluation, and for the porosity calculation.

To indicate overpressure, the standard Sigmalog curve is plotted versus depth. An initial
Gp= 1.03kg/cm x 10m is assumed. This is a valid assumption if the drilling takes place in
normal pressure zones, while the Sigmalog deviates to the left when overpressured zones
are entered. Therefore, the obtaining of drilling porosities in overpressures requires
correcting the standard Sigmalog curve both for the shifts and for the differential pressure
effect. In other words, a standard Sigmalog curve (Figure 4.16a) is transformed first, into a
Sigmalog curve normalised for shifts (Figure 4.16b) and then to take care of the possibility
of overpressure, into a Sigmalog curve normalised for both shifts and P (Figure 4.16c).
The new values are indicated with the symbol 0 and, once the appropriate shift
correction has been made for the curve and, for formations that are abnormally pressured,
the actual P acting on the formation has been considered, the values can be traced.
Obviously, for formations under normal pressure, only the shift correction is required.
In normal pressure formations, the reference trend lines, r and on the normalised
Sigmalog curve are coincident. At this point there are two alternatives possible:
1) The formations are shales and show values of normalised Sigmalog which are 0

r = .
In this case, the points lying on the reference trend line, or those having higher
values, are considered shakes and their drilling porosities are calculated by means of
the following equation:
sh [
= 1 / 1 .4 + 9 +K
r = ] Eq. 4.21

sh = Drilling porosity in shales, percentage fraction

K = Intercept value at surface of first reference trend line

2) The formations are sands and show normalised R values departing to the left of
the reference trend lines; that is, R < U = . The drilling porosity of these
points is given by:
sa = 1/ 1.4 + 9 o + K ] Eq. 4.22

sa = Drilling porosity in sands, percentage fraction
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In overpressured intervals, the standard Sigmalog curve has to be corrected for both
shifts and P. in order to obtain a normalised Sigmalog. The porosity reference line
(indicated as ) does not coincide with r and, also in this case. two
alternatives are possible:
The normalised o , points lying on the porosity reference line , or those
having higher values, are considered shales. Their drilling porosities are simply
calculated by entering the values in Eq. 4.21. The curve is computed,
using a polynomial regression and traced, after having selected the significant points
on the normalised Sigmalog curve corresponding to the shale points.
The points showing o values which are lower than are considered sands
and their porosities are calculated using Eq. 4.22.

Figure 4.16 - Drilling Porosities

(Obtained From Normalised Sigmalog Curves
(By Directly Entering the o * And 0 * Values into Eq. 4.20/Eq. 4.21)
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4.3.2. Bulk Density Calculation

Once the drilling porosities are defined for each point as a function of depth, the
corresponding bulk densities and overburden gradients are easily obtained (Figure 4.17).
Bearing in mind the relationships found between the transit times and the porosities, the
equations relating porosity to bulk density are as follows:
for shales:
t sh t max Eq. 4.23
sh = 1.568
t sh t ft
sh = Drilling porosity in shales from Sigmalog, percentage fraction

t sh = Transit time in shales (sec/ft)

t max = Matrix transit time (sec/ft) assumed equal to 47 sec/ft for shakes

t ft = Fluid transit time (sec/ft) assumed equal to 200 sec/ft

Eq. 4.23 can be solved in term of t sh :

200 sh + 73.70 Eq. 4.24

t sh =
1.568 sh
The tsh, transit times are then transformed into bulk densities as follows:
t sh 47 Eq. 4.25
db, sh = 2.75 2.11
t sh 200
For sands:
t sa t max Eq. 4.26
sa = 1.228
t sa t ft
sa = Drilling porosity in sands from Sigmalog, percentage fraction
tsa = Transit time in sands, sec/ft
max = Matrix transit time, /sec ft (assumed equal to 50sec/ft for sands)
tn = Fluid transit time, sec/ft (assumed equal to 200sec/ft
Defining Eq. 4.26 in terms of tsa, we obtain:
200sa + 61.4 Eq. 4.27
t sa =
1.228 sa
The tsa transit times are transformed into bulk densities by means of the following
t sa 50 Eq. 4.28
dbsa = 2.75 2.11
t sa + 200
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Figure 4.17 - Normalised Sigmalog

(Corrected from s.Shifts and P (B) allows the calculation of Drilling Porosities and Bulk
Densities in Overpressured Intervals. Drilling Porosities are compared with porosities (+)
obtained from SL analysis (Adriatic Offshore Well))
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4.3.3. Overburden Gradient Calculation

Once bulk densitiesof the formations have been determined and the depth intervals
defined, the bulk denties are summarized and trasformed into Overburden Pressures and
gradients using the following well-known equations:

H i x dbi
and G OV = 10
10 Hi

To obtain correct values for the overburden gradients in the case of offshore wells. it is
necessary to consider the effect of water depth, Hm and the air-gap between the rotary table
and the sea level, Hag. Assuming the density of sea water as 0 = 1.03g/cm , the sea-bed
pressure is:
1.03 x Hm Eq. 4.29
Pseabed =
while the overburden gradient at the sea-bed is:
Pseabed x 10 Eq. 4.30
G ov =
H m + Hag
Hm = Sea depth (m)
Hag = Air gap between rotary table and sea level (m)

4.3.4. General Considerations

The main problem with this method lies in the determination of the term K, which
represents the first reference trend line to which all the other reference trend lines obtained
from shifts refer. Generally, the recording and processing of drilling parameters begins at a
certain depth and usually after the surface casing string has been set. No data being
available for the interval between the surface and the surface-casing shoe consequently
introduces uncertainty as to the positioning of the first reference trend line. Extrapolation of
the first available r , to the surface is not recommended, since, in this interval, some
shifts could be present which could affect the subsequent r values.
This limitation is easily overcome, however, by deducing the first reference line by means of
one of the following methods:
Analysis of seismic data. Interval velocities, or the corresponding interval travel
times are transformed into bulk densities.
Sonic Log of reference wells. The transit times are also converted into bulk
Test measurements of soil densities.
Where there is a complete absence of data, an initial bulk density ranging
between 1.95-2.00g/cm can be assumed in most cases.
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A computer at the rig site is used to process the drilling data and present them on a plotter
and printer, to obtain the automatic computation of overburden gradient during drilling, the
conventional Sigmalog programme has to be modified. A computer code enables the
processing and plotting of the normalised Sigmalog according to the various, successive
shifts of the reference trend line which are stored in the memory of the computer. The
results are plotted as a function of depth on a 1/10,000 scale, reporting any of the following:
Standard Sigmalog
Normalised Sigmalog
Standard and normalised reference trend lines
Drilling porosity
Bulk density
Overburden gradient
Pore pressure gradient
Fracture gradient.


Starting with the pore pressure and overburden gradients calculated from recorded drilling
parameters, the corresponding fracture gradients can be easily obtained by means of the
usual well-known formulae. in accordance with the particular lithology involved.
Figure 4.18. and Figure 4.19. show some examples of pore pressure, overburden and
fracture gradient curves obtained from drilling parameter processing for formations having
normal and abnormal pressure conditions.
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Figure 4.18 - Example of Pore Pressure, Overburden and Fracture Gradient Curve
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Figure 4.19 - Example Pore Pressure, Overburden and Fracture Gradient Curve
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5.1.1. Spontaneous Potential (SP)
The Spontaneous Potential (SP) curve is a record of the differences in spontaneous
potential which develop between a surface electrode and one immersed into the conductive
mud column when the latter electrode is positioned at the levels of different formations. The
electrodes are made of relatively stable materials (such as lead) and any difference in
constant potential between the surface electrode and the one in the well can be offset by a
voltage-, which can be regulated by a potentiometer. Due to the fixed position of the surface
electrode its potential remains constant, so that the SP log is a record of the variation of
potential in the electrode, being lowered into the well. Figure 5.1 shows a simple circuit for
measuring spontaneous potential; the potentiometer is not shown.
On the SP curve, the differences in potential, read from left to right, are positive. It is usually
possible, on the SP curve, to distinguish a well-defined base line corresponding to the shale
zone, positioned on the recorded film on the right-hand side of the SP column. Any shift in
the SP curve to the left of this base line (i.e. in the negative direction) usually indicates the
presence of permeable beds such as sands (Figure 5.2). but there is no direct relationship
between the magnitude of the SP shift and the permeability or porosity of the bed.
Later in this chapter it will be seen that SP curve characteristics are largely dependent on
the drilling mud and on the type of formations encountered.
In general, except when dealing with oil- or fresh-water-based mud, a certain salt
concentration produces a good SP curve by which it is possible:
To locate the permeable beds;
To establish their boundaries (except in cases were the formations are too
To correlate these beds;
To obtain good Rw, values, where Rw, is the formation water resistivity.
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Figure 5.1 - Basic Arrangment for SP Recording

Figure 5.2 - -Example of SP Log in a Sand Shale Series

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5.1.2. Origin Of Spontaneous Potential

Since the surface electrode potential remains constant, all variations of difference in
potential which are recorded on the SP log, are due to differences in potential in the
electrode run in the well. These variations in potential in the well are the result of resistive
differences in potential in the mud column caused by currents moving around the contact
zones between permeable beds, adjacent shales and the mud column. Currents flowing
through closed circuits are mainly due to electromotive forces ( EMF ) of an electrochemical
nature, which develop at contact points between the drilling mud (or its filtrate) and the
formation water within the pores of the permeable beds, and through the adjacent shales.
Another phenomenon, which may cause an EMF to occur in the mud cake at the level of a
permeable bed, is Electro-filtration. In passing through the cake, the mud filtrate produces a
positive EMF in the direction of the flow, which adds to the electrochemical EMF Extensive
practical experience has shown this additional effect to be relatively small and in most
cases negligible. Recent experience has, in fact, shown that, although the EMF passing
through the mud cake can be quite large; it is largely offset by the Electro-filtration EMF
generated through the adjacent shales. Hence, from here on the Electro-filtration effect will
not be considered, and only the electrochemical effect will be discussed.
To clarify the concept, the case of clean sands is analysed here. Figure 5.3. shows a
borehole filled with conductive mud, intersecting a clean sand formation interbedded with
two shale beds. In the lower part of the figure, the SP currents are shown schematically;
they flow in the direction: mud -----> mud fiItrate ----- > formation water --- > shale ---- > mud.
For the mud ---- >mud filtrate circuit, the EMF appears to be practically nil due to the fact
that, though mud and mud-filtrate resistivities may differ, their electrochemical activities are
usually the same.
For a more accurate examination, the chain just described may be divided into two parts.
The portion formation-water ---- > shale ----> mud makes up one part of the circuit and
gives rise to the membrane potential, EM. The second part is made up, instead of the mud-
filtrate ----- > formation-water circuit and determines the liquid-junction potential, E.
For the chain as a whole, the total EMF is obtained from the algebraic sum:

E c = Em + EJ Eq. 5.1

Ec = Total SP current generating EMF

Membrane Potential
Figure 5.4. indicates Em to be the EMF between two different electrolytes (formation water
and mud) separated by shale. The formation water may also be considered to be a salt
solution with a concentration always higher than that of the mud. It can also be assumed, as
it happens in most cases that both electrolytes are made up essentially of rhodium chloride
Shales, as we have seen, are made up of Iayers of aluminium, silicon and oxygen atoms.
Other elements may be present as well, but the important thing is that the structure of the
shale is such that the edges of the layers hold negatively charged oxygen atoms. This
makes for a negative charged structure which will, therefore, attract and allow the flow of
positive ions (such as sodium), while repelling and preventing the flow of negative ions
(such as chloride).
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Shales behave as ion screens by letting sodium ions through while keeping out chloride
When a shale bed separates two sodium chloride solutions of different concentrations, the
sodium ions of both solutions may migrate through the shale, but the number of these ions
passing from one solution to the other will depend on, the number of sodium ions present in
each of the two solutions. The flow will be greater from the more highly concentrated
solution C1than it will be from the one at a lower concentration C2. As a result the contact
area between the shale and the weaker solution will become positively charged, whereas
the more concentrated solution will acquire a predominantly negative charge. A difference
in potential, or em.f. will thus exist through the shale bed, and this will be the membrane
potential, EM.
In the case considered above, only a few minutes are required for a condition of equilibrium
to be reached so that, upon opening the circuit, there will be a more consistent flow of ions.
If the circuit is closed, ion migration will resume and, with very small quantities of solution,
the concentration tends to equalise and EM will become zero only after a considerable lapse
of time. In fact, at depth, the circuit is always closed through the mud column and the
adjacent formations. However, solution volumes are quite large and the current due to ion
migration is very small (on the order of milli-amps), so it is as if no ion migration were taking
place between the two solutions and there is practically no variation in the value of EM. The
same is true for liquid-junction potential, which will be dealt with in the next paragraph.

Liquid-Junction Potential.
This potential, within permeable beds, appears at the contact between mud filtrate and
formation water. Its origin is more complicated than that of EM, but it can be briefly explained
the following way. Suppose again that formation water and mud filtrate are sodium chloride
solutions with concentrations C1 and C2 respectively, where C1 > C2. The two solutions
being now in direct contact, both sodium and chlorine ions are free to move from one
solution to the other since there is nothing separating them.
Since C1 > C2, a definite migration of both sodium and chloride ions will take place from the
more concentrated solution into the more diluted one. The sodium ion, however, is larger in
size and has more affinity for water, whereas the chlorine atom is smaller and with less
affinity for water: hence the chloride ions move faster than the sodium ions. As a result the
weaker solution becomes negatively charged whereas the other becomes positively
charged: the resultant potential different is the so-called liquid-junction potential, EJ.
This liquid-junction potential reaches a lower value than it would in the case of the
membrane potential for the same solution, because, in the former case, both sodium and
chorine atoms can migrate. EJ is only due to the excess of chloride over sodium ions and, in
practice, its value for sodium chloride solutions is found to be about one fifth that of Em
Figure 5.4. is a schematic drawing showing the upper portion of a clean sand bed, overlaid
by shale, with the borehole to the left and a small-invaded area present in the sand. EM and
EJ are shown in the form of tiny cells with polarities as said previously (CW > Cmf or RW <
Rmf). These EMFs; are responsible for the SP current i flowing into the sand through the
clay, into the bore hole and back into the sand. The resistive potential drop due to the flow
of current throughout the circuit, is equal to EC. At point P, within the mud column, at the
level of the shale bed, the potential will be positive as compared to the potential at point N,
at the level of the sand layer.
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Because deviations in SP are read in reference to the shale base line, they will have
negative values in the presence of permeable beds (sand).
It can be shown thermodynamically that for ideal solutions or even relatively diluted sodium
chloride solutions, EM and EJ are related to their respective concentrations by the following

EM = K1 log10 Cw/Cmf Eq. 5.2

EM = K2 log10 Cw/Cmf Eq. 5.3

Cw = Formation water concentration
Cmf = Mud filtrate concentration
K1, K2 = Coefficients (which are a function of the absolute temperature, among
other factors).
For real solutions, in place of the concentrations Cw and Cmf, one should use the chemical
activities of the solutions, aw and amf. A reference temperature, i.e. 75F (24C), could also
be assumed in order to fix the values of K1 and K2. So, in real sodium chloride solutions at
75F at any concentration, we have:

EM = 59 log10 aw/amf Eq. 5.4

EJ = 12 log10 aw/amf Eq. 5.5

aw = formation water chemical activity (at 75F)
amf = mud filtrate chemical activity (at 75F)

The total EMF Ec in millivolts, is the sum of EM and Ej, so that:

Ec = 71 log10 aw/amf Eq. 5.6

Eq. 5.6 is generally applicable, as long as both formation water and mud filtrate are
essentially - sodium chloride solutions, at any concentration and at 75F.
The chemical solutions activities are closely related to resistivities.
Within a wide range of values the activities of sodium chloride solutions are inversely
proportional to their resistivities so that, for practical purposes, the ratio aw/amf may be
substituted by the resistivity ratio Rmf/Rw. This provides the basis for calculating formation
water resistivity from the SP curve.

5.1.3. SP Current Flow

The lower part of Figure 5.3. is a sketch showing the SP currents flowing around the contact
areas between the mud, the invaded zone, the water bearing sand, the shale and again
mud; Figure 5.4. shows all this in even more detail. Each line indicates a flow of current;
each current must pass through the three bordering zones, A, B, and C. In normal cases,
when the formation water has a higher salt concentration than the mud, Ec is positive and
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currents flow as indicated by the arrows.

The potential different between any point within the mud column in front of sands, and
another point in front of shales, has a negative value when referred to Figure 5.4.
The SP current has to pass through a series of resistances along its path, in both the
ground and the mud; along a closed path the total resistive potential drop must be equal to
the algebraic sum of the EMFs along the path.
Furthermore, since the value of the current flow remains constant throughout, the potential
drop varies with the resistance of the section through which the current is flowing. This
means that the total potential drop (which is equal to the sum of the EMFs) is divided
between the mud and the various formations in a manner proportional to the resistances
met by the current in each medium. It follows that the potential drop within the drilling mud is
only a part of the total EMF. Though, in general, this represents a large portion of this total,
the mud resistance being much larger than the resistance due to the formations.

5.1.4. Static SP (Clean Formations)

For reasons of convenience an ideal case is considered for which it is assumed that
insulating zones, arranged as shown in the upper part of Figure 5.3. prevent the SP
currents from flowing.
Under such conditions the potential of the zones just mentioned will remain constant within
each medium. In any case the potential itself will vary form one medium to another and the
potential difference in the various media will be equal to the EMF in the various contact
If one could record the potential for this ideal case, a log would be obtained like the one
shown by the dashed line on the left side of Figure 5.3. Such a diagram, when traced with
no current flowing, i.e. under static conditions, is called a Static SP Diagram. The
difference in the potentials within the mud, between the two insulating zones and outside of
them, is called Static SP, SSP in the bed and is equal to Ec.
However, from Eq. 5.6, Ec is equal to K log10 aw/amf (where K = 71 at 75F); hence, for
NaCl solutions, we have:

PSS = - K log aw/amf Eq. 5.7

The total EMF which accounts for the SP current, and the SSP may vary with different
boreholes, due to differences in salinity in the mud and/or in the formations. In a given well,
however, there is a definite tendency for the EMFs to reach the same value for all beds for
the same type of formation and for depths of the same order of magnitude. Fresh water
sands and those with high salinity will produce low and high amplitude peaks respectively.
The peak polarity may also reverse when the salinity of the water in the sand is lower than
that of the mud.
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Permeable beds, having different porosities or different grain sizes, all other factors being
equal give rise to equal EMFs. The EMFs. Are also independent of permeability even when
it reaches values on the order of fractions of a millidarcy.

Figure 5.3 - Potential and Current Distribution in and Around a Permeable Bed
(Schlumberger: Log Interpretation Principles)

Figure 5.4 - SP Currents Due to Membrane Potential (Em) and Liquid Contact Potential (Ej)
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5.1.5. Effect Of Interstitial Shale On SP - The Pseudostatic SP

Due to its prevailing negative charge, the presence of shale within a permeable bed cuts
down the negatively charged chloride ions flow and favours the flow of the positively
charged sodium ions. This causes a reduction in the liquid-junction potential and, as the
percentage of shale within the bed increases, EJ may fall to zero, in which case Ec = Em
As the clay content of the sand increases still further, EJ increases: in a direction opposite to
EM In this way, the effect of interstitial clay is a reduction of the total EMF value Ec. in the
extreme case of 100% clay content, Ej = EM and Ec becomes zero; i.e., the sand is now
made up entirely of clay and is not distinguishable from the surrounding shales.
If it is further assumed that the SP currents are blocked by the insulating zones placed at
the level of the bed faces, the potential different between the mud, within these zones and
the mud outside of them, is called Pseudostatic SP, PSP.
For equal values of mud and formation water activities, the Pseudostatic SP for shaly sand
is lower than the Static SP for clean sand. The PSP/SSP ratio is called the reduction
factor and is represented by CXD. The reduction factor is dependent on the quantity and
nature of the interstitial clay.
The presence of oil within a shaly sand tends to enhance the effect of the clay since the oil
has a tendency to force sodium and chloride ions to migrate along paths closer to the
negatively charged clay surfaces. Hence the diffusion through a clay network within the
sand becomes relatively more important than in the case of water-bearing sand.
For these same reasons, if two sands, both 100% saturated with water, contain the same
quantity of the same type of clay per unit volume, and assuming equal chemical activities
for mud and formation water, the less porous sand will also have a lower PSP. For low-
porosity formations, a small amount of clay is enough to produce a rather large reduction in
the SP deflections.
In addition, the PSP far highly porous water-saturated sands is practically equal to the SSP
as long as the clay content remains rather low (a few percentage points).
This same effect may be described by considering that the PSP is a function of the
resistivity of the formation. Within a given formation, with all other parameters remaining
unchanged, a higher resistivity corresponds to a lower PSP.
Figure 5.5. Shows, in a theoretical way, the effect of the thickness of the beds and of
formation resistivities. For the sake of comparison, the Static SP has been assumed to be
the same for all permeable beds and equal to - 100mV. In addition, to make calculations
easier, the invasion depth in the permeable beds has been assumed to be so weak as to be
Figure 5.5. Also shows that the SP anomaly goes well beyond the boundaries of the bed,
when Rt,/Rm is large; this effect becomes more noticeable the larger, the value of Rt.
It seems evident that mud salinity has a predominating effect on the SP curve. Due to the
unusually high salinity of formation water, when the mud has a high salt content, the
electrochemical potentials are also low. Furthermore, the lower the mud resistivity as
compared to that of the formation the wider the excursion above and below the permeable
beds. It can also be noted that the SP log shows very small excursions and appears almost
fiat when the well contains mud with high conductivity. With water relatively free of salts,
conductive mud may show inverted peaks (excursions toward the positive side), when its
resistivity is low enough.
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The curves in Figure 5.5. refer to a sequence of beds with equal or very close resistivity
values. This does not always occur in actual practice, and the resistivity of subsequent beds
can be quite different, as it is the case with shales interbedded with oil-bearing sands. In
this case the SP curve appears more rounded for the formation with higher resistivity. The
position of the points of inflection will change depending on the peaks, but they will continue
to indicate the boundaries of the beds.
An increase in hole diameter has approximately the same effect as an increase in the RJR,
ratio. This means that it tends to round off the excursions on the SP log and to lower the
peak amplitudes at the level of the beds.
In general, the permeable beds are invaded by mud filtrate. As shown in Figure 5.3. a
fraction of the SP current lines moves directly from the shale to the invaded zone without
entering the mud column. As a result, the presence of the invaded zone has an effect on
the SP curve similar to that due to an increase in the diameter of the hole. Hence the peaks
are wider than in case of no invasion.

Figure 5.5 - Comparison of SP Curves for Different Values of the Rt/Rm Ratio
(Schlumberger Log Interpretation Principle)
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Hard Formations
These formations usually have a high resistivity with the exception of the two following
types of conductive zones:
Permeable beds, both oil and water-bearing, which are conductive because of
capillary water (usually having high salinity) present within their pores;
Shales which are impermeable.

The permeable beds are not usually adjacent to the shale beds, but are separated from
them by compacted formations.Figure 5.6. shows a sequence of permeable and compacted
beds and shales. It shows very schematically the circulation of SP currents.
The SP currents, generated by the various EMFs, flow into the permeable zones. In order to
cross the hard adjacent formations, which have a high resistivity, these currents are forced
to penetrate deeply into the permeable bed in order to have a wide transversal section of
rock available. From here it is easier for the currents to continue their flow into the hard
formations through the large transversal section, rather than converging rapidly toward the
hole. They continue to do so until they encounter the conductive beds of impermeable shale
through which they can return to the mud in the well and, through the mud, to the
permeable bed, thereby; completing the circuit. They cannot return to the mud through
adjacent permeable beds because of the EMF that obstruct their path. If they happen to
encounter a productive permeable bed first, they will simply cross it until the shale beds are
reached: This is the case with currents entering bed P3. Those currents flowing upwards
must cross the P2 permeable bed in order to reach the shale Sh1; those flowing downwards
return to the well in part through the shale Sh6. This seems to be the reason why the
peaks, corresponding to the level of the permeable zones, broaden above and below these
zones, in such an apparently abnormal way
So as to make it impossible to accurately establish the boundaries of the permeable zones
by means of the SP log.
All along the well, at levels where hard formations are present, SP currents remain
practically unchanged. This implies that the potential drop as well is constant per unit well
length, thus generating a constant slope in the SP log as shows by the straight lines on the
log in Figure 5.6
A portion of the SP current enters or leaves the mud column, at the level of each conductive
bed thus changing the slope of the log. As an example, the curve of the SP log changes at
the level of bed P2, since a part of the current leaves the well and flows into the bed.
As a general rule for hard formations, permeable beds are characterised by changing
slopes or curvatures with the convexity facing the negative side of the log. Shales are
characterised by curvatures with the convexity toward the positive side of the log. High
resistivity formations correspond to those parts of the SP log, which are practically straight.
What said in the preceding paragraph regarding the salinity effects of the mud, it is equally
applicable in the case of hard formations.
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Figure 5.6 - SP Behaviour in Highly Resistive Formations

(Schlumberger Log Interpretation Principle)
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5.1.6. Shale Base-Line Shifts

In general, the base line from which all SP deflections are measured is easily determined on
the log. For some wells this line undergoes some shifting or skidding. This occurs mainly
when formation waters with different levels of salinity are separated by a shale layer which
does not constitute a perfectly cationic membrane.
Figure 5.7. Shows a simplified example of a real case. The well enters a series of porous-
permeable layers (B, D, F, H) separated by thin shale or shaly sandstone layers (C, E, G).
The SSP within. interval B is indicated by a deviation equivalent to -42mV with respect to
clay base line A. With C shale we do not have a perfectly cationic membrane behaviour
and the SP curve does not return to the conditions in A. The SP deflection within the
interval D is positive in comparison to both C and EM this indicates basically fresh
formation water, rather than the presence of mud filtrate. At E one notices a deviation
equivalent to +44 mV with respect to D and this value indicates a good cationic membrane
behaviour in the concerned shale.
Analysis of the other cases in the example, which shows another anomalous situation for
the shale in the interval CL may be done similarly. The situation just described will further
deteriorate in the case of absence of shale beds, which separate porous-permeable beds of
different salinities.

Figure 5.7 - SP Base Line Shift (Schlumberger Log Interpretation Principle)

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5.1.7. Factors Affecting the Shape And The Amplitude Of The SP Peaks
As shown in Figure 5.3. Currents move through the mud now just in front of the permeable
formation but also at a short distance from its boundaries.
As a result, although in the Static SP Diagram the boundaries of the permeable bed are
indicated by a sudden jump. The SP log indicates a gradual change in potential extending
along the well beyond the boundaries of the bed.
By observing the circulation of the current, it is seen that the bed boundaries are located at
the points of inflection of the SP curve. This makes it possible to determine the bed
thickness from the SP curve.
The SP log records only that portion of the drop in potential which takes place in the mud;
therefore the amplitude of the peak on the SP log approaches the Static SP amplitude (or
that of the PSP for shaly formations) only when resistance to the current flow by the bed
under examination and by the adjacent formations is negligible as compared to resistance
by the mud in the well. This result is reached when the bed is sufficiently thick.
At the level of a given bed, the amplitude of the peak recorded on the log naturally depends
on the SSP values in clean formations and on the PSP values in shaly formations. In
addition, the shape and amplitude of the peaks can be influenced by the following factors:
Bed thickness
Resistivity of the bed, of the surrounding formations and of the mud
Borehole diameter
Diameter of the zone contaminated by mud filtrate.

The SP log may also be influenced by a lack of mud homogeneity: a change in mud salinity,
at a certain level, shows up as a jump in the clay base line at that level. In actual practice
however, such changes in salinity have been found to be quite rare.
The way in which the above mentioned factors affect the SP will be explained first for
permeable formations interbedded with shales, as shown in Figure 5.3. In this case, the
resistivity of permeable beds is usually slightly higher than, or about equal to, that of
shakes. This is typical of the so-called soft formations, such as series of sands and shales.
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Soft Formations
a) Theoretical calculations and field experience have shown that the amplitude of
the SP excursions is practically equal to that of the static Sp (for clean sand) or
to that of the Pseudostatic SP (for shaly sand) when the permeable beds are
thick and when formation resistivities are not much higher than those of the
mud. In addition, in this case, the SP curve defines the boundaries of the bed
with a high degree of accuracy. The amplitude of the elongation is smaller than
for the Static SP or for the Pseudostatic SP in the case of thin beds, and the
thinner the bed, the smaller the excursion.
b) On the other hand, when formation resistivity R, is considerably greater than
mud resistivity R1 the SP curves are rounded, the boundaries are less
accurately defined, and other conditions being equal, the peak amplitude is
lower, magnetic field which induces a so-called 'signaI' EMF into the receiving
coil. The intensity of the current induced into the formation is proportional to its
conductivity. As a consequence, also the signal induced into the receiving coil is
proportional to the conductivity of the formation, or inversely proportional to its
resistivity. The signals are amplified, transformed into direct current and then
sent to the recording apparatus at surface.

Each coupling between transmitting and receiving coils is balanced. Within a zero
conductivity medium, as in the case of a sonde suspended in air and away from conductive
materials, the tool will give a zero reading.
In addition to the two main windings (transmitting and receiving), the apparatus is equipped
with several other coils. Main and secondary winding characteristics, their setting and
relative positions are such as to minimise the effects on the measurements of the mud
column and the formations above and below the device. Such sondes are called focusing
Probe 6FF40 is the tool normally used. The abbreviation stands for a total of 6 windings and
a spacing of 40 between the main windings. This device also allows the simultaneous
recording of the SP curve and of the 16 normal. The device now used or the induction Log
provides an accurate and detailed recording of the formations across a wide range of
conductivitys. The accuracy is very high for conductivity values above 20mmho/m
(resistivities below 50ohm-m) and it is acceptable for lower conductivity values (down to
5mmho/m). Outside of this range the Induction Log continues to register any variations
within the formation, but the accuracy falls off.
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Induction Log Scales

Since conductivity is the reciprocal of resistivity and the ohm-m is the unit for measuring
the resistivity of electric logs, the obvious unit for measuring log conductivitys is 1/ohm/m
or mho/m. If the mho/m unit is used, however, all resistivity values higher than 1/ohm/m
would have to be expressed in decimal fractions. To avoid this, one-thousandth of a mho is
used as a unit and al! Induction Log readings are recorded as millimho/meter (mmho/m),
so that formations with resistivity values of 10, 100, or 1,000ohm/m will have conductivity
values of 100, 10 and 1 respectively.
Induction Logs make use of a linear scale for measuring conductivity. The zero value
(representing infinite resistivity) is placed on a line on the right side of the film; as the
conductivity increases (and the resistivity drops) the curve shifts to the left. The resistivity
scale, which runs from right to left, is hyperbolic. The lower values of resistivity are
emphasised and the high ones de-emphasised.
The resistivity curve is a reciprocal curve, recorded at the same time as the conductivity
curve. It records the same data but on a linear resistivity scale thus simplifying any
comparisons between the Induction Log, the Short Normal Log and other conventional
resistivity logs.
Keeping with the terminology in current use, resistivity rather than conductivity will
frequently be used in the following discussions.
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Anomalies in the SP Curve due to Invasion Conditions

Many permeable formations often show anomalies, which may lead to erroneous
evaluations of the SP curve unless properly interpreted.
For example, if a permeable formation containing high-salinity formation water is invaded by
'fresh' mud, the filtrate, being lighter than the formation water, will tend to flow towards the
highest part of the bed and the invasion will be relevant, whereas it will be hardly noticeable
in the lower part of the bed (Figure 5.8). The SP will be affected in the following manner:
In upper part, the: SP curve becomes rounded off on account of !he in-depth
invasion by the filtrate
Corresponding to the level of the thin layer of impermeable shale, the SP curve
has a typical saw-tooth shape as shown in the lower part of Figure 5.8; just
below the thin shale bed, the SP deflection is lower than for the SSP while
above the bed it is larger. This anomaly is due to different filtration above and
below the shaly bed

At times the invasion may completely disappear at the lower part of a highly permeable bed
with a profile such as the one shown in Figure 5.9. With no invasion, a small deflection in
the SP may be noticed; at this point filtrate and formation water are not directly in contact
with each other, but are separated by the mud cake which acts as a cationic membrane
even though its effect is smaller than it is in the case of a pure shake. It follows that there is
no liquid-junction potential, EJ, hence the total EMF is given by the shale membrane
potential, EM, and the mud cake membrane potential, EMP opposite to that of EM; hence the
reduced SP deviation.

5.1.8. Induction Log - IES

The Induction Log is a method for measuring the conductivity (the reciprocal of resistivity) of
formations through the induction of an alternating current. Since it is an induction method,
the current is supplied to the formation by means of insulated coils rather than electrodes
and the well may contain any type of fluid: water and oil-base mud, gas or air (empty well),
as long as it is not cased. The Induction Log was introduced in 1946 for logging wells drilled
with oil-base mud and it soon became a standard method far such operations. Later on
(1952) its use was extended to wells drilled with water-base mud, when its advantages over
the conventional Electric log in most cases became evident.
The advantage of the Induction Log lies in the improved possibility it offers for study of thin
beds because of its focusing characteristics and its wider range. The combination of the
Induction Log (the 16ins Normal device) and the SP curve, commonly known as the
Induction-Electric Log is the most common electric logging method used with fresh muds.
Figure 5.10. presents a sketch of a simple inductive log apparatus with a transmitting and a
receiving coil wound coaxially over an insulated cylindrical support. The distance between
the two windings is called spacing. The point of measurement is halfway between the two
coils. An alternating current of constant amplitude and frequency is sent from an oscillator
to the transmitting coil. The magnetic field created by this current induces current circuits
(and more properly Foucaults currents, also called parasitic currents) into the formation
surrounding the sonde.
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Geometric Factor
Through use of the Induction Log, the data supplied by the instruments can be
automatically calculated, assuming the media being measured to be separated by
horizontal planes and cylindrical surfaces coaxial with the sonde centred along the
borehole. This model actually offers a very effective representation of The subsurface
distribution of shallow dipping formations. Calculations are relatively easy when mutual
electric circuit inductions within the ground (i.e. the skin effect) are negligible.
These calculations show that each medium falling within the induction Log measurement
range contributes a portion of the Signal proportional to the product of its conductivity
multiplied by a geometric factor G which depends upon the geometry of the medium.
These G factors are fractional and their total over the entire space is equal to 1.
Figure 5.11 is a sketch of a permeable bed, of resistivity Rt with an invaded zone, of
resistivity Rs, and intersected by a borehole filled with mud of resistivity Rm. Each of these
media will have its own geometric factor (a function of its geometry), Gt,Gs, Gm
The apparent conductivity Ca, as indicated by the induction Log when the probe is placed
at the level of a permeable bed, will be:

Ca = CmGm + CiGi + CsGs + CtGt Eq. 5.8

G m + Gi + Gs + Gt = 1 Eq. 5.9

Using resistivities:
1 G G G G Eq. 5.10
= m + i + s + t
Rm Rm Ri Rs R t
In actual practice Ri may be taken to be equal to the resistivity of the displaced zone. Rx0
The apparent conductivity Ca, when the sonde is placed at the level of an impermeable bed
will be:

Ca = Cm Gm + Cs Gs + Ct Gt Eq. 5.11

In this case the term Ci Gi is missing because of the absence of an invaded zone.
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Figure 5.8 - Effect of Filtration on SP (Schlumberger Log Interpretation Principle)

Figure 5.9 - SP Reduction Due to Mud Cake Effect (Schlumberger Log Interpretation Principle)
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Figure 5.10 - Schematic Induction Log System (Schlumberger Log Interpretation Principle)

Figure 5.11 - Induction Log Geometrical Factors

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Investigation Of Characteristics By Induction Log

The radial characteristics may be defined as being representative of the geometric factor
of the medium held within a cylinder.
Figure 5.12. shows the diagram of this geometric factor as a function of cylinder diameter
when using sonde 6FF40. It also shows the geometric factor for a 40: diameter cylinder to
be extremely small; so that the portion of the signal coming from the mud column is always
relatively small unless the mud is very salty or the formations highly resistive.
In the case of these radial characteristics, the cylinder is assumed to be infinitely long, i.e.
the beds to be infinitely thick and hence with no adjacent beds. So that by neglecting the
effect of mud and adjacent bed Eq. (Eq. 4.11.) reduces to:
1 G G Eq. 5.12
= i + t
Ra Ri R t
Where now:
G i + Gt = 1

It is obvious that the contribution due to the uncontaminated zone is higher for sonde 6FF40
than it is for sonde 6FF28. This means that the first has a larger radius of investigation, i.e.
It records values for Rt closer to reality than those recorded by the second sonde. The skin
effect does not alter sensibly the radial characteristics upon recording when compared
against those obtained by considering the geometric factor. The skin effect may also be
neglected when the following conditions are met:
Rt larger than 1 ohm/m, for a moderate invasion (Rt not to exceed 5d);
Rt larger than 2-3 ohm/m, for a rather deep invasion.

These are the conditions encountered most often in actual practice.

The vertical characteristics represent the geometric factor of a horizontal bed when the
sonde is centred within the bed and the bed thickness increases from zero to infinity. When
the skin effect is taken into consideration, the Induction Log data, for beds of finite
thickness, may be noticeably different from those obtained with the geometric factor. In
such a case the adjacent formation resistivity Rs constitutes the important parameter. When
Rs is less than about 15ohm-m the effective contribution due to adjacent formations, as
calculated with the inclusion of the skin effect, is much lower than the value obtained when
this effect is neglected. This can be expressed by saying that the effect improves the
focusing features of the Induction Log apparatus.
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Figure 5.12 - Geometric Factors, Infinitely Thick Beds

(Schlumberger Log Interpretation Charts)

Effects Due To The Column of Mud

The conductivity signal due to the mud column increases for increasing hole dimension and
for decreasing mud resistivity. In other words the Gm/Rm factor of Eq. 5.10 increases as Gm
increases or as Rm gets smaller.
In addition, that portion of the total signal which is due to the column of mud increases as
the formation resistivity becomes larger.
If it is assumed, far simplicity, that the formation is not invaded and that it is enough to
minimise the effect of the adjacent formations, then Eq. 5.10, which gives the values of the
apparent resistivity, may be written as:
1 G G Eq. 5.13
= m + t
Ra Rm R t
It seems evident from this equation that, under equal conditions of resistivity and hole
dimensions, the higher Rt, the lower the ratio Gt/Rt, and the higher the effect due to the mud
In practice however, when using sonde 6FF40 and for normal borehole diameters (10" or
less) and with common mud (Rm < 5ohm-m), the effect of the hole may be neglected where:
the sonde is centred within the well. It is to be mentioned, at this point, that the more recent
sondes are provided with a centring device. For those logs that are recorded without a
centring device, the sonde lies along the wall and the signal, due to the borehole, becomes
relatively important when the formation resistivity is in the range of 20ohm-m. This effect,
however, can be corrected with the use of appropriate charts.
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With salty mud the signal due to the hole becomes quite large especially with an off-centre
sonde. The use of Induction Logs is not recommended with mud resistivities lower than 0.2
ohm/m at bottom hole temperature except when the resistivities of the formation to be
probed are very low.
In wells with oil-base mud the corrections to be applied for eliminating the effect due to the
column of mud are usually negligible, except for the very unusual case of very huge

Effect of Bed Thickness

In general case, Induction Log measurement in correspondence of a given bed are much
less affected by the presence of adjacent formations than those carried out with
conventional resistivity tools. The exception is the case of the Short Normal with moderate
to low formation resistivities. In such a case the vertical resolution of the Short Normal is
comparable to the one obtained with the Induction Log.
The effect of adjacent formations on the apparent conductivity signal given by the Induction
Log, when the sonde is at level with the bed being tested, is largely dependent upon their
resistivity value Rs This is so because the ground-induced currents will preferably flow
through media having lower resistances. If Rs is larger than Rt the effect due to adjacent
formations is relatively small. Calculations and experiments have shown that in such a case
and for layer thickness above 4ft sonde 6FF40 measurements are practically free from
outside interference. Minor and simple corrections are made with thinner beds.
When the adjacent formations have resistivities lower than the Layer being tested, the
induced currents will run through them and their effect on Rs will become more noticeable.
Even so, for Rs, only slightly lower than Rt the influence exerted by the adjacent formations
is not too important; it may be neglected when using 6FF40 type sondes, when the Ra/Rs,
ratio does not exceed a value of about 10 and with beds thicker than 6ft however, when Rs
is much lower than Rt the adjacent formations may have noticeable effect which can be
corrected by the use of appropriate charts.
IES Equipment and Graphical Representation
The instruments used for IES are:
The electrode for measuring the SP;
A conventional instrument for measuring the resistivity such as the 16 Normal.
which is less subject to interference by adjacent formations. This instrument
measures the short range resistivity within an area close to the hole.
An instrument such as the 6FF4O with a long range measurement for an in-
depth examination.

In the presence of shales the conventional and the induction apparatuses should give the
same value because of the absence of a mud-filtrate invaded zone.
Figure 5.13. Shows a typical example of IES (Induction-Electrical Survey). The SP is
recorded on track 1; track 2 is the recording of resistivities as measured with the 16ins
Normal (Short Normal, SN, and Amplified Short Normal) and with the 6FF40; while on track
3 is the recording of conductivity as measured by the 6FF40.
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Figure 5.13 - Example of an Induction Electrical Log

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5.1.9. Acoustic Logging: Sonic Log

The Sonic Log is essentially the recording of the time required for a compression sound
wave to cross a given formation thickness.
These travel transit times are recorded as a function of depth while the sonic sonde is being
lifted within the well; these times are inversely proportional to the velocity of sound through
the various formations.
The velocity of sound within the formations below surface level is dependent on the elastic
properties of the rock, formation porosity, contained fluids and pressure.
Below the aerated zone, characterised by low velocity and which may extend to 10-30m,
sound velocity may vary from a value of 2,000m/sec, as it is the case with shallow shales, to
8,000m/sec in the case of dolomites. This very wide spread of values, about fourfold
between maximum values, is certainly well below the extreme resistivity values that may be
encountered, that may be 1,000 and even 10,000 times as large.
Even so, the Sonic Log offers a high degree of resolution with such a faithful reproduction
of lithologic variations as to be perhaps the log best suited for correlating purposes.
With hard or moderately compacted formations and with low-porosity shales, the Sonic Log
is much affected by the amount of formation fluid so that it offers a dependable indication of
their porosities. It is however necessary that the fluid be the same at any depth to avoid the
porosity values to be affected.
On the part of the Drilling Engineer, the Sonic Log is mainly used for calculating overburden
and pore pressure gradients.
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BHC (Bore-Hole Compensated) Sonic Log

Figure 5.14. Is a sketch showing three types of sondes used for Sonic Log recording. To the
left (Figure 5.14a) is the simplest type comprising a sound generator and a receiver below
it, set at a predetermined distance. The body of the sonde, between receiver and generator,
must be made of slow-speed material so as to delay the detection of the energy through the
sonde itself up to the time when the round pulse passing through the formation has been
received. Once the sound pulse has been generated, the energy crosses the mud and the
cake within the formation and propagates throughout the space.
That part of this energy pulse, which excites the receiver, moves through the formations
close to the walls of the hole following the path of shortest time. Some ten or one hundred
microseconds later the energy, which has crossed the mud and the body of the sonde,
reaches the receiver which has been de-sensitised in the meantime by an appropriate
circuit: this energy pulse is not recorded.
The actual path covered by the sound is marked, very schematically, to the very right of the
sonde. The total time T1, between sound generation and its detection obviously includes
twice the time for crossing the mud and the cake. Though its numerical value is low, this
interval of time is appreciable and it must be accounted for. Any deviation in the diameter of
the borehole will also bear on the travel time by quantities which are more or less known.
Figure 5.14b, to the right, shows the two-receiver sonde as used by Schlumberger. Each of
the two spacings must be chosen (with the receivers one or two ft apart), on the basis of the
amount of details desired. In actual practice, the two receivers record the time difference
between detection and pulse generation. This system offers some immediate advantages
over the one-receiver sonde.
A careful check of the energy path (to the right of the sonde), reveals that the travel time
through the mud and the cake are left out, as long as the hole diameter does not change
within the zone between the receiving units or as long as the sonde is kept in a position
parallel to the hole; this can be obtained because of the use of centring devices.
The travel time recorded, t, is the time required for the energy to cross one foot of
formation, so that it is the reciprocal of the velocity of sound through that same foot of
Furthermore, the signal is only affected by that portion of the formation between the
receivers, so that, for layers thicker than one foot, the effect due to the adjacent layer is
All told, the one-receiver sonde reduces the effect of travel time through mud and cake as
the distance between generator and receiver is increased, it provides a very detailed log,
but it is more sensitive to variations in hole diameter and to the effect of bed thickness and
requires a larger energy output from the generator. None of these disadvantages affects
the two-receiver sonde.
Figure 5.15. Shows the more recent BHC-SL sonde developed by Schlumberger. It
essentially consists of two pulse generators, S1 and S2, and four receivers; R1-R2-R3,-R4; the
distance R1-R3, and R2-R4 is two ft. The speed is calculated by measuring the transit time
difference for a pulse moving from S1 to R2 and R1 and, similarly, for a pulse from S2 to R1,
and R3, the two differences are then averaged.
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Of more recent application is the Long Spacing, Sonic Log with further improvements meant
to eliminate the influence of the borehole. A further improvement should be obtained by the
introduction of the DD-BHC (Depth Derived Borehole Compensated) Sonic Log, having
construction features likely to achieve more accurate t measurements.

Figure 5.14 Schematic of Sonic Probes

Figure 5.15 - Sonic Log Example

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Sonic Log Presentation

Delta t being the reciprocal of speed, it has a value somewhere between the lower limit of
43.5ft/sec for porositys next to zero and the upper limit of 190-200ft/sec for water.
The values for t (Interval Transit Time) is recorded on log tracks 2 and 3 while track 1 is
commonly, though seldom, used far SP or Gamma Ray recording (Figure 5.16). On track 2
the integrated Travel Time (ITT) is also recorded and it shows as a series of dents called
pips. It is a Sonic-Log recording after automatic integration over a well-defined interval and
represents the average time required for the wave to cross a given formation interval.
Each small pip represents a 1msec increment of the total time while a larger pip represents
a 10msec increment. The ITT is used, as shown later on, for a quick calculation of the
apparent density value for a given formation interval.
Alongside its use for SP or Gamma Ray, track 1 may be used for the Calliper by means of
which the diameter of the borehole may be obtained and hence, far establishing whether it
is representative or not of the formation being investigated.

5.1.10. FDC (Formation. Density Compensated) Log

FDC Basic Principle
The FDC measures the densities of formations as they are being drilled SO that it accounts
for matrix density as well as the densities of the impregnating fluids.
It is also used to identify zones with abnormal pressure. It is known in fact that the
overpressured formations have lower densities than normal ones because of the higher
water content.
The measuring instrument consists of a radioactive source, applied the walls of the hole
within a shielded skid which sends off gamma rays into the surrounding formations. These
gamma rays may be considered as high-speed particles (photons) colliding with the
electrons of the atoms of the formation being tested. For each collision, the gamma ray
gives up part of its energy to the electrons of the atoms while the photon continues on along
its path with decreased energy. Such an interaction is known as Compton scattering and
Figure 5.17. Shows this phenomenon.
The gamma rays, ensuing from the collisions and reaching the detectors located at a pre-
determinate distance from the source, are the data with which the formation density is
calculated. The number of Compton scattering collisions bears a direct relation to the
number of electrons within the formation. As a result, the instrument response is essentially
a function of the formation electron density (number of electrons per cm3) directly related to
the formation density, which in turn depends on matrix density, formation porosity and fluid
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Figure 5.16 - BHC Sonde Schematic

Figure 5.17 - Compton Effect Principle

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FDC Apparatus
For a satisfactory measurement of the density of the formations, the instrument being used
must be in direct contact with the rock to be tested and, therefore, it must be capable of
overcoming the mud cake between the well and the formation. This is the reason why the
skid, on which source and receiver are mounted, is plough-shaped and provided with an
eccentric arm which allows the application of a force such as to favour the opening of a
crack on the wall of the hole, thus allowing a more accurate measurement. In the normal
case, it is easier to cut through the soft cakes usually encountered at shallow and medium
depths, while at higher depths the harder cake offers a higher resistance. In the latter case
the cake, or the mud left between the instrument and the formation, is considered to be part
of the formation and an erroneous density value is the result.
When the contact between skid and formation is not perfect a correction is needed and,
when a single gamma ray detector is used, it is not easy to determine the error because it
depends on the thickness, the weight and even the composition of the mud cake.
For this reason the FDC instrument is equipped with two detectors, one for short and one
for long-range measurements (Figure 5.18.).
Using the diagram in Figure 5.19 uses short and long-range measurements for obtaining
the correct value for the formation density. In the normal case the instrument automatically
provides the correction; in fact the correction curve is also normally present alongside the
apparent density curve. The distance between the face of the skid contacting the formation
and the eccentric arm provides a Calliper Log and, hence, a continuos measurement of
borehole diameter.

Effect due to the Hole

Figure 5.20. and Figure 5.21. Show the corrections needed when hole diameters are larger
than 15ins in the presence of gas and filled with mud. These corrections are negligible for
holes smaller than 10ins.

The log is as shown in Figure 5.22. The FDC curve is recorded on tracks 2 and 3 with
density values given in g/cm; the correction curve (showing the compensation for the cake
and the irregularities of the hole) is recorded on track 3.
The Calliper instead, is recorded on track 1 (sometimes simultaneously with the Gamma
Ray curve) and it turns out to be very important to establish those points where density
readings are not correct.
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Figure 5.18 - FDC Schematic Representation

Figure 5.19 - Mud Cake Effects on FDC Response

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Figure 5.20 - Borehole Corrections for FDC in Mud-Filled Holes

Figure 5.21 - Bore Hole Corrections for FDC in Empty Holes

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Figure 5.22 - FDC Log Presentation

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The electrical logs described above, allow for a qualitative and quantitative evaluation of
pressure gradients:
The Overburden Gradient is calculated from the SL and FDC logs;
The Pore Pressure Gradient is calculated from the IES, SL and FDC logs;
The Fracture Gradient, although it does not use any log, is a direct consequence
of their application.

5.2.1. Overburden Gradient Calculations

Overburden Gradient Calculations using the Sonic Log
The present chapter describes the currently used method for calculating overburden
gradients using FDC and SL. While the FDC method is simple and direct, the one based on
the SL is more complicated since it involves converting transit times into bulk densities and
then into overburden gradients (also defined as the integrated sediment density).
The set-up of this method has been considered necessary since pore pressure and fracture
gradients, which are essential during planning and drilling of a well, can be calculated from
the overburden gradients.
While the FDC is only available for a few wells and is limited to short intervals, the Sonic
Log is recorded for all wells and covers almost the whole drilled section; for this reason a
relationship between transit times and density has been sought.
Due to the fact that bulk and transit times are closely related and dependent on porosity,
type of fluids within the rock, minerals making up the solid frame, pressure and elastic
property of the medium, the porosity/transit times relationship has been checked by using
the cp. = t values obtained in the laboratory. The transit time-apparent (or bulk) density
relationship has also been checked, and the density values obtained in both cases have
been matched against those read directly from the FDC.
The analysis, covered in detail in the following paragraphs, has confirmed the general
validity of the relationships found and the reliability of the density values obtained from
reading the Sonic Log, both in the case of elastic and Carbonate formations.
This method was developed and refined by Eni-Agip.

Transit Time (t) - Porosity () Relationship

The time required for a sound wave to pass through a given formation is a function of the
transit time through the solid frame, of the porosity and of the transit time through the pore
Wyllie, after much testing, carne to the conclusion that for sands compacted and cemented
according to a well-defined porosity distribution, the following relationship between t and .
t = tmax (1-) + tn Eq. 5.14
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t = Transit time of sound through the formation (sec/ft)
tmax = Transit time of sound through the solid frame (sec/ft)
tn = Transit time of sound the pore fluid (sec/ft)
Eq. 5.14 may be expressed in terms of porosity:
t t max
t n t max

tn = Is assumed to have a value of 200sec/ft (a conservative value for pore
pressure gradient calculations)
tmax = Values are assumed to be those in Table 5.1.
Solid Frame
Dolomite 43.5
Limestone 43.5 47.5
Anhydrite 50.0
Gypsum 66.7
Various Grain Types 47.6 55.6
Shale 47.0 (ass.)
Table 5.1 - Transit Times Through Solid Frame

Wyllies equation also equals zero in the case of compacted limestones and dolomites,
where no secondary porosity is present.
In the case of uncemented or under-compacted formations, the preceding relationship no
longer holds when determining the primary porosity of the formation. In fact, the values are
higher than those obtained in the subsurface. .
Eni-Agip, after a series of laboratory tests on rock cores determined the following
relationships to be valid:
t t max Eq. 5.15
= 1.228 for sands
t + 200
t t max Eq. 5.16
= 1.268 for shales
t + 200
The above relationships have been confirmed during actual drilling. In fact, density values
deter-mined by the FDC and total density values calculated from the relationship shown
above have been found to correspond very closely.
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Porosity () Density (b) relationship

The relationship between porosity and density of a rock may be obtained using the effective
tension principle.
For each subsurface rock volume within a defined depth interval, the following equation

Pov = Pc + Pp Eq. 5.17

This represents the pressure change between the two surfaces at different depths.
In the above-mentioned interval a constant value far density can be assumed, and a certain
volume for the rock formation can be defined.
Eq. 5.17 may therefore be written in the following way:

bVb = max Vmax + flVfl Eq. 5.18

b = Total density
max = Density of the solid frame
fl = Density of the pore fluid
Vb = Total volume
Vmax = Volume of the solid frame
Vfl = Volume occupied by the pore fluid
When Eq. 5.18 is solved for b the result is:
Vmax V Eq. 5.19
b = max + n n
Vb Vb
The volume Vb is connected to Vmax and Vfl by the following relationship:

Vb = Vmax + Vfl Eq. 5.20

and by defining:
= if SW = 100%

the following is obtained:

Vb Vfl V Eq. 5.21
b = max + fl fl
Vb Vb
so that:

b max (1 ) + fl Eq. 5.22

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Transit Time (t) Density (b) relationship

By combining the relationships ( - t), ( - b) the relationships (b - t) are obtained
For cemented and compacted formations:
t Eq. 5.23
= 3.28
For uncemented formations
t t max Eq. 5.24
b = 2.75 2.11
t + 200
When expressed in terms of velocity, these same relationships become:
For cemented and compacted formations
3428.89 Eq. 5.23
b = 3.28
V Bis

For uncemented formations

V Eq. 5.24
6489.36 Bis
b 2.75 2.11
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It should be noted that 2.75 (g/cm ) is the value assumed for max and 1.03(g/cm ) for fl.
3 3

Eq. 5.23 and Eq. 5.24 give approximately equal values for low transit times (t between 40
and 60sec/ft) and therefore for high velocities (Figure 5.23. -Figure 5.24.); for high t
values, instead, they are quite different.
In order to check these relationships, density values obtained through Eq. 5.23 and Eq.
5.24 were compared with those values obtained from the FDC, which gives bulk density
values as a function of depth.
In the cases examined, referring to different areas around the World and different
formations, it was noted that the values given by Eq. 5.23, which were assumed to hold for
uncemented formations, are actually close to FDC density values under all conditions.
Figure 5.25 - Figure 5.32show the FDC density values (dashed line) and those obtained by
Eq. 5.24 (dotted line) as a function of depth.
In particular for Figure 5.29 and Figure 5.30., both the values obtained from Eq. 5.23 (dots)
and those obtained from Eq. 5.24 (dashes) were reported. In the first case the two
relationships give results which are quite similar, because of the presence of Limestones
(low t values). In the second case, with altering sands and shales, the values are
noticeably dissimilar and it can be noted that the values from Eq. 5.24 match quite faithfully
the average density values from the FDC.
In conclusion it can be said that for calculation ease, Eq. 5.24 may be applied to all types of
formations in order to avoid distinguishing between cemented and uncemented formations,
which is sometimes difficult.
Table 5.2 gives a list of the most common values for max:

Solid Frame max

Quartz 2.654
Limestone 2.710
Dolomite 2.87
Anhydrite 2.96
Shale 2.70
Table 5.2 - Density Values of Solid Frames
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Figure 5.23 - Density Travel Time Relationship

(For some Rock Types)
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Figure 5.24 - Sound Velocity- Bulk Density Relationship

(For some Rock Types)
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Figure 5.25 - Comparison Between Bulk Densities from FDC and Sl (Central PO Valley)
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Figure 5.26 - Carbonatic Rocks Eq. 5.22/Eq. 5.23

(Give the same Bulk Density and are in good accordance with FDC values)
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Figure 5.27 - Sand and Shale Interbeddings

(Buld Density derived from Eq. 5.23 are in better accordance with FDC values than those
obtained from Eq. 5.22)
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Figure 5.28 - Comparison Between Bulk Densities from FDC and SL (Indonesia Offshore)
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Figure 5.29 - Comparison Between Bulk Densities from FDC and SL (Mauritania Onshore)
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Figure 5.30 - Comparison Between Bulk Density from FDC and Sl (Nile Delta-Egypt)
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Figure 5.31 - Comparison Between Bulk Densities from FDC and SL (Adriatic Offshore)
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Figure 5.32 - Comparison Between Bulk Densities from FDC and SL (Adriatic Offshore)
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Procedure for Deriving GOv form Sonic Log

The SL gives the transit time value, t, as a function of depth.
Eq. 5.24 changes the t values into the corresponding density values (bulk density).
For each AH interval there is a corresponding density value.
Therefore, the geostatic pressure increment, Pov far that interval can be calculated. The
equation used for calculating the increment is:
Hi bi Eq. 5.25
POVi =
The pressure exerted by the sediments at a depth Hi = Hi is obtained from the sum of the
pressures exerted by each formation interval, having a height of H that is:
(H i bi ) = POVi Eq. 5.26

From this relationship, the overburden gradient can be obtained by distributing the resulting
pressure value over the whole interval H, so that:

G OV =
x 10
Eq. 5.27
H i H

For a correct evaluation of the At corresponding to a given Hi, the following procedure is
1) The number of milliseconds elapsed for the sound wave to cross the formation interval
having thickness AH is read (this is done by counting the ITT pips on the SL to the
2) This value is multiplied by 1,000 to change milliseconds into microseconds, and is
divided by the value of AH; in order to obtain the values of At, measured in sec/ft, H
must be changed from meters to ft by dividing by 3.28.
3) The final expression takes the form:
K x 1000 Eq. 5.28
t =
3.28 x H
K = Milliseconds required far passing through a section of formation of
height H.
This value for t represents the average transit time in the interval H.
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Sample Calculation
The following example refers to a well in which the SL recording started at 279m and ended
at 1,500m.
1) In the interval 279-307m; the readings are:
K = 7
H = 28m
so that by applying Eq. 5.28, the following value is obtained:
7 x 1,000
t = = 76.2 sec/ ft
3.28 x 28

SL recordings (and even more so, FDC recordings) almost always start at a given depth.
For this reason it is necessary to extrapolate the values up to the surface. The procedure is
as follows:

for on-shore wells the surface Gov value may vary between 1.9 and 1.95 g/cm
10m (depending on the area being investigated)
for off-shore wells, given that the depths read from the logs refer to the Rotary
Table level, the air gap (height of rotary table-sea level) and sea depth have to
be taken into account.
If a density value of 1.03 g/cm is assumed for sea water, the pressure on the sea
floor is calculated:

P =
1.03 x Hm
kg / cm 2 ) Eq. 5.29

Hm = Water depth, m
So that the Gov value on the sea floor is given by:
10P Eq. 5.30
Hm + H1
H1 = Ar gap, m
2) in the interval 307-327m:
K = 4
H = 20m
4 x 1000
t = = 61 sec/ ft
3.28 x 20
3) and so on, as given below:
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H(m) t(sec/ft)
279-307 76.2
307-327 61
327-344 53.8
344-354 61
354-375 58
375-397 55.4
397-420 52
420-461 52.7
461-487 59
487-510 53
510-636 51
636-710 62
710-777 54.6
777-815 56.2
815-925 56.6
925-1,275 52.3
1,275-1,500 53
Table 5.3 - Example Calculation

The transit times are then changed to b, Pov and Gov, as shown in Table 5.4 and in Figure
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Figure 5.33- Comparison Between Gov from SL and FDC (In Carbonates PO Valley Basin)
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H t b Pov Gov
400.0 465.0 52.0 2.71 112.90 2.43
465.0 485.0 60.0 2.65 118.21 2.44
485.0 640.0 52.0 2.71 160.34 2.51
640.0 690.0 61.0 2.65 173.59 2.52
690.0 710.0 66.0 2.61 178.81 2.52
710.0 775.0 55.0 2.69 196.33 2.53
775.0 805.0 57.0 2.67 204.37 2.54
805.0 900.0 53.0 2.71 230.11 2.56
900.0 975.0 52.0 2.71 250.50 2.57
975.0 1,050.0 54.0 2.70 270.77 2.58
1,050.0 1,200.0 51.0 2.72 311.66 2.60
1,200.0 1,300.0 52.0 2.71 338.84 2.61
1,300.0 1,400.0 54.0 2.70 365.86 2.61
1,400.0 1,500.0 53.0 2.71 392.92 2.62
1,500.0 1,550.0 52.0 2.71 406.55 2.62
1,550.0 1,600.0 53.0 2.71 420.10 2.63
1,600.0 1,700.0 52.0 2.71 447.28 2.63
1,700.0 1,850.0 53.0 2.71 487.94 2.64
1,850.0 1,925.0 52.0 2.71 508.32 2.64
1,925.0 2,015.0 51.0 2.72 532.85 2.64
2,015.0 2,150.0 46.0 2.76 570.20 2.65
2,150.0 2,225.0 47.0 2.75 590.89 2.66
2,225.0 2,250.0 50.0 2.73 597.72 2.66
2,250.0 2,410.0 54.0 2.70 640.96 2.66
2,410.0 2,450.0 47.0 2.75 651.99 2.66
2,450.0 2,495.0 52.0 2.71 664.22 2.66
2,530.0 2,537.0 52.0 2.71 675.81 2.66
2,537.0 2,590.0 50.0 2.73 690.30 2.67
2,590.0 2,750.0 54.0 2.70 733.54 2.67
2,750.0 2,800.0 47.0 2.75 747.53 2.67
2,800.0 2,900.0 52.0 2.71 774.53 2.67
2,900.0 3,150.0 60.0 2.65 840.93 2.67
3,150.0 3,400.0 44.0 2.78 910.50 2.68
3,400.0 3,550.0 44.0 2.78 952.25 2.68
Table 5.4 - Gov Calculations from Sonic Log
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Gov Calculation from FDC

The FDC Log gives the bulk density of the sediments as a function of depth. In order to
arrive at the value of the overburden gradient, it is necessary to calculate the pressure at a
given depth as the sum of the load exerted by the individual layers, each one having a
density value obtained from the Log reading:
POV POVi = (Hi bi ) / 10 Eq. 5.31

Once the Pov value has been calculated using Eq. 5.31, it is necessary only to divide it by
H=Hi in order to obtain Gov.
POV 10
(Hi bi )/ 10
G OV = 10
Povi =
Eq. 5.32

b = Sediment bulk density (g/cm3) as read from the FDC
Hi = Depth interval for the formation having the same b value
Gov = Overburden gradient, kg/cm *10m
H = (Hi) Depth for which Gov is calculated, m
The procedure for calculating Gov is as follows:
1) Plot the density readings as a function of depth onto graph paper. The density value
obtained for each depth interval is an average density value for that interval.
The choice has to be made with a degree of accuracy as to minimise the effect of the
corrections made.
When reading the total density particular attention must be paid to the Calliper which
is recorded on track 1 of the log. This makes it possible to determine the reliability of
the density value; in fact, a variation in the bore diameter from its nominal value could
increase the effect of the mud on the value of Qb, thus introducing false values into
the calculation of the overburden gradient.
A line is thus obtained through which a continuous curve can be drawn.
2) Integration is then carried out as follows: in the equation, which gives the integrated
sediment density, the summation is replaced with the integral and Simpsons rule is
3) Choose an interval Hi - Hi-1 , = H; and divide it into an equal number of parts ( n = 4).
4) Calculate the value of GOV, over the first interval with the equation:
10 H
(H) dH = ( b1 + b 2 + b 3 + b 4 + b5 )
10 Hi Eq.
G OV1 =
H H0
H1 4 x 3 x 10
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b,1 = (H0) Is the density as read at a depth H = H0

b 2 = H0 +

2 H
b 3 = H0 +

b 4 = H0 + up to b5 = (H1)
5) Once the pressure value Pov1 and the integrated density Gov1 for depth H1, have been
calculated, the pressure increase Pov2 for the next interval H2 H1 = H2 is
calculated, so that for depth H2:
POV 2 = POV1 + POV 2

G OV 2 =
10 POV 2 (P + POV 2 )
= 10 OV1
H2 H2

and so on.
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Sample calculation
Let us assume the following FDC log readings to be available:

H(m) b(g/cm3)
279-300 2.62
300-307 2.47
307-325 2.57
325-350 2.63
350-395 2.62
395-405 2.60
405-475 2.63
475-628 2.65
628-710 2.55
710-725 2.62
725-835 2.65
835-860 2.62
860-1,000 2.65
1,000-1,050 2.63
1,050-1,175 2.62
1,175-1,200 2.63
1,200-1,250 2.64
1,250-1,300 2.63
1,300-1,350 2.65
1,350-1,375 2.66
1,375-1,400 2.64
1,400-1,450 2.63
1,450-1,500 2.64
Table 5.5 - Example FDC Data

These values have been plotted in Figure 5.34 and a broken line has thus been obtained
through which a continuos curve has been grown.
By choosing H = 200 and n = 4, a value of = 50m is thus set for each individual
In this way the density values on the continuous curve have been read every 50m.
Integration was then carried out according to the procedure just explained and the results
are shown in Table 5.6:
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Figure 5.34 - Bulk Density and Overburden Gradient Calculation (from FDC)
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Readings: Pressures Gov

H(m) Kg/cm2 Kg/cm2 10m
0 1.95
50 2.15
150 2.27
200 2.35 44.85 2.24
250 2.42
300 2.47
350 2.53
400 2.57 95.23 2.38
450 2.59
500 2.60
550 2.61
600 2.62 147.43 2.46
650 2.63
700 2.64
750 2.64
800 2.64 200.22 2.50
850 2.64
900 2.64
950 2.65
1,000 2.65 253.11 2.53
1,050 2.65
1,100 2.65
1,150 2.65
1,200 2.65 306.19 2.55
1,250 2.65
1,300 2.65
1,350 2.65
1,400 2.66 359.29 2.57
1,450 2.66
1,500 2.67
1,550 2.68
1,600 2.69 412.74 2.58
Table 5.6 - Sample Calculation for Gov from FDC

The density values could have also been read at the selected depths (every 50m) on the
broken line rather than the curve.
This procedure would not have changed the resulting Gov values substantially.
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5.2.2. Pore Pressure Gradient Calculations Form Electrical Logs

Shale Formation Factor Method Fsh
Rock Resistivity and/or Conductivity
The resistivity of a given material is defined as the resistance of a unit volume to the
passage of electric current. This is expressed as:
VS Eq. 5.34
V = Potential differenceI = current
I = Current
S = Cross section
L = Length
In dimensional terms, it is a resistance per unit of length. The unit commonly used is the
ohm m.
a) Resistivity of Minerals
Minerals, like all substances, may be classified as metallic conductors, semi-
conductors and insulators depending on their conductivity.
In metal conductors, electricity is conducted by means of valence electrons that are
free to move from one atom to another. This conductivity is limited only by the
presence of impurities and lattice defects and by thermal agitation. Resistivity values
are in the range of 10 10
-3 -6

Semiconductors include those metals in which conduction still occurs through the flow
of electrons but in which the conductivity value is lower than in the case of pure
The majority of the most common minerals within the lithosphere belongs to the
insulator group with resistivities on the order of 10 10
-6 -14
ohm. m at room
temperature. The flow of current takes place by means of ions, mostly metallic cations
which, because of the smaller ionic radius, move more easily within the crystal lattice.
a) Resistivity of Subsurface Fluids
In additions to the minerals, there are also fluids present in porous rocks.
In most cases, these fluids are made up of water with some salt content; in some
cases, liquid or gaseous hydrocarbons are present.
While hydrocarbons, gases and air have very high resistivity values, highly saline
water may be very conductive thereby affecting the resistivity of the rocks in which it is
present. It is the presence of ions that makes water a conductor and its conductivity is
a function of their concentration and mobility. Furthermore, it is also a function of
temperature. Chlorides (NaCl being extremely common), carbonates and sulphates
are most common salts in subsurface waters.
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The resistivity of rock depends on the resistivity of the minerals present and their
texture but, most of all on the presence (or absence) of water within pores or
Consider the case or porous or fractured rocks with water present and let us
differentiate between rocks with quite wide pore sizes and clays, with such small pore
sizes that the movement of the water present in hindered.
The first group includes the water-saturated porous-permeable rocks.
As a rule, except for some sealed voids which are typical of some rocks, the various
rock pores make up a continuous system filled with material which is definitely more
conductive than the rock-forming materials. These materials, therefore, do not
contribute anything towards the flow of electricity which is in fact due essentially to the
It has been proved experimentally that when a sample of rock is filled with a sequence
of waters having different resistivity values R,, the resistivity of the rock will vary in
such a way that the ratio of its resistivity to that of the water remains constant:
R Eq. 5.35
The constant F called the Formation Factor, is a unique characteristic of each type of
rock; it makes it possible to calculate the rock resistivity once the resistivity of the
absorbed water is known. It has been proved that the F factor is inversely
proportional to porosity. On the basis of experimental tests, it was been observed that
this relationship can be expressed by an equation such as Archies Law:

F=a x
m Eq. 5.36

= Porosity
a = Constant
m = Cementation factor, related to the intricate nature of the channels and
to the variations in their cross-section.
Let us now examine a rock made up of clay minerals. Even though these rock are
very porous, because of the very fine grain of the minerals, they have a very low
permeability and very high surface activity.
Experiments carried out on shale samples have given results which do not concur with
Archies Law. The disagreement in the resistivity values is due to the likelihood of
interchange between the cations present in the absorbed water and those absorbed
on the surface of the clay minerals.
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Therefore, when shale is impregnated with water at low salinity, a portion of the
absorbed cations will migrate into the water which as a result becomes more
conductive. On the contrary, when water is highly saline, part of the cations will be
adsorbed by the shale and, because of the lower mobility of the adsorbed ions, the
shale shows a higher resistance than would be expected when Eq. 5.35 is applied.
If the actual value of Rw could be measured, this would make Eq. 5.35 applicable and
would make subsequent evaluation of porosity possible.
When the Fsh method is introduced later on, the procedure for calculating the actual
Rw will be looked at.

Calculation Of The Shale Formation Factor "Fsh"

How Fsh is Defined
As we have seen in the paragraph covering rock resistivity, a Formation Factor for shales
may also be defined and expressed as follows:
R sh 1 Eq. 5.37
Fsh = ; Fsh = x 1000
RW C shR W
Rsh = Shale resistivity
Csh = Shale conductivity
Rw = Resistivity of the water contained
(Rm)e = Mud filtrate equivalent resistivity
(Rw)e = Water equivalent resistivity
For the case of muds essentially containing sodium chloride, (Rmf)e, is obtained as follows:
If Rmf at 75F is higher than 0.1ohm m, correct Rmf for the formation temperature
using the Gen-9 diagram and use the following relationship: (Rmf)e = 0.85 Rmf
If Rmf at 75F is lower than 0.1ohm/m. use the SP-2 A-12 diagram in order to
obtain (Rmf)e, at formation temperature. (Rw)e is calculated from (Rw)e =

* Schlumberger SP-2 A-12 diagram which makes the evaluation of Rw possible once (Rw)e
is known (Figure 5.35)
In the case of salt-water mud or mud containing gypsum, the diagram makes the evaluation
of Rw (possible beginning with (R), at formation temperature.
Before describing the procedure for calculating the R, curve, the quantities (Rmf)e and (Rw)e
presented above need to be made clear. As we have seen in the chapter on logs, the SSP
far a clean sand formation is related to the activity of the filtrate and that of the formation
water by the following expression:
aw R Eq. 5.38
PSS = K log = K log mf
a mf Rw
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In NaCI solutions, which are not too highly concentrated, the activity is, in fact, inversely
proportional to the resistivity of the solution.
For higher NaCI concentrations or other kinds of solutions, the linear relationship between
resistivity and activity for the solution does no longer hold ; in order to maintain the linearity,
the quantities (Rmf)e and (Rw)e are introduced; the SSP is then given by:
(Rmf )e Eq. 5.39
PSS = K Log
(R w )e
By following the procedure just described, the sampling of formation water which is
necessary to measure resistivity is by-passed and under favourable conditions. The K,
curve obtained is quite reliable.

How to Evaluate the SSP

The SSP value is measured against the shale base line (reference line) which may be
traced by joining the peaks on the positive side of the curve. Usually the shale is a straight
vertical line. Figure 5.36. Shows a typical shale fine along a section of a shaly-sandy
It is also a good idea to trace a similar line along the negative side of the curve,
corresponding to the permeable layers. This is the sand line which, for appreciable
stretches of the log, runs parallel to the shale line.
It is highly probable that for all layers where the SP peaks reach the sand line the following
conditions will be encountered:
Water formation resistance will be practically the same.
The layers will be practically free from shaly materials.
The amplitudes of the excursions will be equal to the SSP.

For the other layers, the excursion amplitudes as measured from the shale base line are
usually less than the difference between the readings at the sand base line and those taken
at the shale line, i.e. of the SSP. This may be due to the effect of geometrical distribution of
the media along the path of the SP current, i.e. effects of layer thickness, of the well, of the
invasion, etc.
The reduced excursion amplitude may also result from the presence of appreciable
amounts of interstitial shale in the sands.
Laboratory experiments, using a resistive network, have been made, in order to establish
the effect of geometric distribution and resistivity of the media on the SP and also with the
objective of evaluating the corrections due to such factors. As an example, Figure 5.37
shows some data for a formation with a thickness of e = 10 d (i.e., ten times the diameter of
the well), with invasion diameter Di = 2.05 d, and Rs = Rm.
It seems necessary that all these factors be known in order to arrive at the correct value for
the ratio between SP and the SSP.
It can be expected, at least in the most favourable instances, that these factors will be
determined through the application of resistivity measurement methods. In the meantime
approximated corrections can be made by using simplified empirical charts.
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Figure 5.35 - Rw vs (RW)e and Formation Temperature

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(Schlumberger Log Interpretation Charts)

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Figure 5.36 - Example of SP Curve in Shale Sand Interbeddings

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Figure 5.37 - SP Curves Departure and Relevant Parameters (for a 10d thickness layer)
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Evaluation of Formation Temperature

For each SP reading, the formation temperature is also calculated using the curve drawn
with the temperatures obtained at the Iog headings.

Evaluation of Rmf as a Function of Depth

The value of Rmf as given on the Schlumberger log headings, is corrected by means of the
Gen-9 diagram for the formation temperature.
Figure 5.39 Gives a sample calculation for Rmf at a given temperature.
Point A gives the value of Rmf (Rmf = 1.2ohm/m) at the temperature at which the
measurement was taken, i.e., at 75F. The value of Rmf at the temperatures expected for
the various formations, is obtained by following the trend of the slanted lines (constant
salinity). in the case being considered, at a temperature of 106F, the value of Rmf is 0.56
ohm/m. This same procedure is to be followed for all points being considered.

Evaluation of (Rmf)e, at Formation Temperature

After temperature correction, the Rmf values are changed into the corresponding (Rmf)e
values (Figure 5.40). The change is performed as follows:
For NaCl solutions
1) if Rmf at 75F is higher than 0.1 ohm/m, then (Rmf)e = 0.85-Rmf
2) if Rmf at 75F is lower than 0.1 ohm/ m, (Rmf)e is obtained by using the
SP-2 A-12 diagram.
For other types of solutions:
For gypsum-based muds the same diagram as before is used, while, for muds
containing Mg and Ca, there are special calculation procedures.
In any case, however, calcium-rich muds usually contain negligible
percentages of Ca in solution so that they may be treated like normal muds.

Evaluation of (Rw)e,
Knowing the ratios (Rmf)e,/(Rw)e may be calculated for each point being considered.

Evaluation of RW
Once (Rw)e has been found Rw is obtained at the various formation temperatures by using
the SP-2 A-12 diagram.
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How to Construct the R, vs. Depth Graph

On semi-log paper, plot the Rw values obtained as a function of depth and draw a
regression curve through those points. This curve is called the Rw curve for the well. Each
point on the Rw curve represents the most probable Rw value at that particular depth, under
the assumption that the formation is 100% saturated with water (SW = 100%).
It is necessary to point out that the larger the number of points taken into consideration the
closer the curve will be to reality. It is obvious that if only a few measurements are taken a
precise reproduction of the actual subsurface situation cannot be made. In such a case the
difficulty can be overcome by using the. Average Rw Curve for the zone being investigated
when it is available from previous work. It is calculated by utilising all of the RW values
obtained from nearby wells drilled in that area, though at times RW values at the various
depths may differ from one well to another; a scarcely reliable value is thus introduced into
the calculation for Fsh and, as a consequence, the evaluation of pore pressure gradients is
also affected.

Calculation of Shale resistivity, Rsh under Shale Conductivity, Csh

To determine the most pertinent value for Rsh the procedure below is followed.

Choice of Shale Points and Csh, Readings

On track 2 of the IES log, short range and long range resistivity measurements are
recorded. The points where the two curves overlap, or where they come very close
together, are considered to be clean shale points; the conductivity Csh corresponding to
these points is read on track 3. It is obvious that those points where such overlapping
occurs have SP values that coincide with the shale base line.

Calculation of the Shale Formation Factor, Fsh

Once the Rw curve for the well concerned and the Csh values at the clean shale points
have been obtained, one proceeds as follows.

Reading Rw on the Rw vs. Depth Curve

The Rw values are read on the Rw vs. Depth Curve for the same depths at which the C
readings have been taken on the IES. The value obtained is the actual Rw, which then
makes it possible to apply Archies Law to the shales.

Evaluation of Fsh
Now that the Rw and Csh values are available, the value of Fsh can be calculated as defined
in Eq. 5.37.
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How to Plot Fsh vs. Depth

The Fsh values are now plotted as a function of depth on semi-log paper with Fsh on the X-
axis (log scale) and depth on the Y-axis. It is suggested that a depth scale of 1/2,000 (or
1/10,000) be used, so that 200m (or 100m) of well depth will correspond to 1cm on the
graph for easy reading and for a better evaluation of the curves.

Calculation of Pore Pressure Gradients

This method provides far qualitative evaluations, such as overpressure tops and their trends
as a function of depth, as well as for the quantitative evaluation of pore pressure gradient
when elastic formations are present especially with frequent sand-shale interbeddings. The
reliability of the results obtained during the predictive stage is highly dependent upon the
evaluation criteria used by the Drilling Engineers thus requiring experience and awareness
on their part.
The analytical method is based on plotting the Fsh values on a semi-log graph with depth on
the Y axis and the Fsh values on the x axis. Once the points read on the logs have been
plotted, interpretation follows and at this stage the same considerations are made as when
the seismic data were analysed which means the use of the equivalent depth principle.
The analytical procedure can be summarised as follows:
1) For elastic formations, characterised by sand and shale interbeddings under normal
sedimentation and compaction conditions, the points in the graph feature a regular
and progressive increase in values which approaches a straight line called the normal
compaction line. In this case the pore pressure gradient is hydrostatic.
2) If Fsh values decrease at a certain depth. This indicates the possible presence of
formations, which have porosity greater than what is considered normal at that
particular depth, The point at which the downtrend begins is defined as the
overpressure top. Once the top has been established the next step concerns the
calculation of pore pressure gradients at various depths. The procedure used for this
calculation, as noted above, is the equivalent depth principle.

According to this principle, under homogeneous lithological conditions, formations which are
characterised by the same Fsh value will have the same porosity and, therefore, will be
subject to the same compaction pressure, even if they are located at different depths.
Therefore, once the geostatic pressure has been calculated at a given depth, the formation
pressure, and hence the pore pressure gradient, can be determined by a simple
In order to clarify what has been described above, sample calculation is presented in the
following paragraph.
Fsh as defined above when pores are saturated, is a function of shale porosity and thus of
the compaction pressure of the formation at a fixed depth. Its measurement makes it
possible to distinguish between the normally compacted subsurface zones, i.e. with
hydrostatic gradient, and those which are undercompacted and thus to recognise those
formations with abnormal pore pressures and gradients
In fact, rock resistivity varies with salt content; in normally compacted formations, salinity in-
creases with depth, as does the resistivity of the shale with a consequent decrease in shale
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The opposite occurs in the case of undercompacted zones where resistivity increases with
a consequent increase in porosity.
The procedure for calculating Fsh is very tedious and complex because of the practical
impossibility of extracting shale samples for measuring R, from depth; the application of this
method is, therefore, limited to those particular lithologies made up of sand and shale
interbeddings for which an Rw vs depth curve can be drawn

Procedure for Calculating Fsh

The procedure for calculating Fsh (Shale Formation Factor) may be divided like this:
a) Calculation of the Rw vs depth curve and its evaluation as it corresponds to the
shale points;
b) Calculation of Rsh (shale resistivity) from the IES Log and/or calculation of Csh
(shale conductivity) at the shale points;
c) Calculation of Fsh

Calculation of Formation Water Resistivity, Rw

In order to calculate Rw values, the following must be available:
A spontaneous potential log in order to determine the static spontaneous
potential (SSP);
The mud filtrate resistivity Rmf and the temperature at which the measurement
has been taken (Figure 5.38). The value is given at the top of the IES Log. This
value is very important in - finding the formation water resistivity Rw since, as we
have already seen, the mud filtrate invades part of the formation volume
surrounding the hole. The value in that area is altered.
The sampling of the mud from which the filtrate is obtained must be carefully
checked in order to achieve a valid value for Rmf. It must always be a circulation
mud sample and not drawn from the reserve pits;
Temperature gradient curve for the well being tested. It is obtained by using the
bottom hole temperatures as read on the logs.
A plot is made of temperature Vs depth and a straight line or regression curve is
drawn with the points on the graph and from here a temperature gradient-depth
diagram is then plotted;
Schlumberger Chart Gen 9 A-6 diagram for calculating Rmf at various depth and
temperatures (Figure 5.39);
Schlumberger SP-1 A-10 diagram (Figure 5.40) for calculating the ratio (Rmf)/
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Figure 5.38 - Estimation of Formation Temperature

(Schlumberger Log Interpretation Charts)
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Figure 5.39 - Resistivity Graph for NaCl Solutions

(Schlumberger Log Interpretation Charts)
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Figure 5.40 - Determination from SSP

(Schlumberger Log Interpretation Charts)
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Sample Calculation of Fsh

The IES log provides the values listed in columns 1, 2, 3 and 4 of Table 5.5.
Using the Gen-9 diagram, the values for Rmf as listed in column 5, are
Column 6 is obtained by multiplying the Rmf values by 0.85, since Rmf at 75F is
greater than 0.1 ohm .m.
Diagram SP-1 is used in calculating the ratio (Rmf),/(Rw)e, show in column 7.
(Rw)e in column 8, is obtained by dividing the values in column 6 by chose in
column 7.
Diagram SP-2 is used in calculating Rw values, which are listed in column 9.

The values from Table 5.5 are plotted in Figure 5.41 on a semilogarithmic scale as a
function of depth.
Table 5.6. Shows the values of Fsh as calculated on the basis of Rw obtained from Figure
5.41, and Csh (shale conductivity) read directly from the log.
The Fsh values obtained are then plotted as shown in Figure 5.42. This figure also gives the
calculation of pore pressure gradients at two significant depths, 4,700m and 5,000m. An
examination of the curve reveals increasing Fsh values down to a depth of 4,100m, where
the overpressure top may be located; this indicates that formations down to 4,100m are
normally compacted and, therefore, also normally pressurised. From this point, the gradient
increases rapidly (rapidly decreasing Fsh values) so that at 4,700m Gp has already reached
a value of 1.63kg/cm 10m; below 4,700m, Fsh values increase again, but still show
overpressure conditions even though the gradient is decreasing (in fact at 5,000m, Gp =
1.53kg/cm 10 m). The same calculation procedure can be applied to any other point on the
curve. It is usually suggested, unless a computer is available to take readings every 100m
and, eventually, to increase the number of readings along the most important intervals of
the curve.

Shale Transit Time Method tsh

Definition of tsh
As it has been seen when dealing with the calculation of the overburden gradients from the
Sonic Log, interval transit time as measured by the instrument is the time it cakes for a
longitudinal sound wave to cross a certain interval of the formation under investigation. The
result depends on porosity, type of fluid and rock matrix.
When the analysis is limited to clean shales, the transit time, defined as tsh in this case, is
an excellent tool for determining the extent of their compaction or under-compaction when
the fluids contained are of the same type. In fact, a compacted shale will certainly have a
rather low tsh value, whereas for an undercompacted shale the tsh value will be rather
The preceding discussion is valid especially when clean shales are present; in the case of
silty-sandy shales, or those containing other fluids, tsh will be more or less affected
depending on the percentage in which these materials are present. They can be
responsible for the quantitative inaccuracy of this method. It is up to the person responsible
for the interpretation to undertake a careful analysis of all available data in order to make an
objective judgement about their importance.
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For clean shales under conditions of normal compaction, i.e. with a hydrostatic pore
gradient, transit times tsh should decrease with depth as a consequence of the lower shale
porosity; in conditions of undercompaction however, transit times will increase with depth.
In conclusion, the tsh method permits a precise measurement of the conditions of the
formations crossed, which will be much more accurate if the assumptions made above are
Depth Temp Temp SSP Rmf At (Rmf)e (Rmt)e/ (Rw)e Rw
m. C F Temp. F (Rw)e
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
1,100 33 90 44 0.41 0.35 4.2 0.083 0.1
1,150 35 95 43 0.39 0.33 3.9 0.084 0.097
1,295 38 100 43 0.37 0.32 3.85 0.083 0.096
1,420 40 104 43 0.36 0.31 3.8 0.0815 0.095
1,600 42 107 46 0.35 0.3 4.1 0.073 0.086
1,735 44 110 49 0.34 0.29 4.5 0.064 0.076
1,845 45 113 56 0.33 0.28 5.6 0.05 0.064
1,980 48 118 55 0.32 0.27 5.3 0.051 0.065
2,160 51 123 51 0.30 0.26 4.5 0.058 0.07
2,300 53 127 58 0.295 0.25 5.6 0.045 0.058
2,360 54 130 57 0.29 0.25 5.4 0.046 0.059
2,535 56 132 59 0.285 0.24 5.8 0.041 0.055
2,610 58 135 62 0.28 0.24 6 0.04 0.052
2,650 59 138 62 0.275 0.23 6 0.038 0.051
2,725 60 140 59 0.27 0.23 5.7 0.04 0.052
2,810 62 143 58 0.265 0.22 5.6 0.039 0.051
3,085 65 148 55 0.25 0.21 5.8 0.036 0.048
3,250 67 152 60 0.245 0.21 5.5 0.038 0.049
3,310 68 155 65 0.24 0.20 6.3 0.032 0.042
3,650 71 159 79 0.235 0.20 8.7 0.23 0.036
3,705 74 166 70 0.22 0.19 7 0.27 0.038
4,350 86 188 40 0.098 0.083 2.9 0.287 0.046
4,650 88 192 34 0.14 0.119 2.5 0.048 0.052
4,885 93 200 30 0.135 0.115 2.2 0.052 0.054
5,100 101 214 20 0.11 0.0935 1.65 0.067 0.068
N.B.: up to 2,270m has been used Rmf = 0.528 at 20C from IES
up to 3,190m has been used Rmf = 0.500 at 16C from IES
up to 3,770m has been used Rmf = 0.520 at 18C from IES
up to 4,500m has been used Rmf = 0.290 at 15C from IES
up to 4,915m has been used Rmf = 0.382 at 19C from IES
Table 5.7 - IES Log Data
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Figure 5.41 - Plotted Values of Table 5.7

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Figure 5.42 - Plotted Values of Table 5.8

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Depth Csh (Rw) Csh. Rw Fsh Depth Csh (Rw) Csh. Rw Fsh
m. Calc Csh Rw m. Calc Csh Rw
1,015 580 0.12 69.6 0.014 3,760 290 0.040 11.6 0.086
1,167 550 0.1 55 0.018 3,800 240 0.040 9.6 0.104
1,227 500 0.097 53.4 0.019 3,820 250 0.040 10.0 0.100
1,260 550 0.096 52.8 0.019 3,840 320 0.040 11.2 0.089
1,430 670 0.087 58.3 0.017 3,920 220 0.0405 8.9 0.112
1,513 490 0.083 40.7 0.025 3,970 210 0.041 8.6 0.116
1,532 600 0.082 49.2 0.02 3,990 200 0.041 8.2 0.122
1,558 400 0.081 32.4 0.031 4,030 210 0.041 8.6 0.116
1,635 500 0.078 39.0 0.026 4,070 210 0.041 8.6 0.116
1,700 480 0.076 36.5 0.027 4140 220 0.0415 9.1 0.110
1,793 515 0.072 37.1 0.027 4,120 250 0.0415 10.4 0.096
1,872 560 0.069 38.6 0.026 4,140 250 0.042 10.5 0.095
1,944 530 0.067 35.5 0.028 4,160 290 0.042 12.2 0.082
2,036 525 0.064 33.6 0.030 4,175 180 0.042 7.6 0.132
2,135 530 0.061 32.3 0.031 4,200 210 0.042 8.8 0.114
2,175 540 0.060 32.4 0.031 4,240 210 0.043 9.0 0.111
2,215 410 0.059 24.2 0.041 4,270 180 0.043 7.7 0.130
2,320 580 0.057 23.1 0.030 4,280 200 0.043 8.6 0.116
2,380 430 0.056 24.1 0.041 4,340 230 0.044 10.1 0.099
2,460 420 0.054 22.7 0.044 4,390 210 0.044 9.2 0.101
2,520 490 0.053 26.0 0.038 4,440 220 0.045 9.9 0.101
2,570 410 0.051 20.9 0.048 4,480 330 0.046 15.2 0.066
2,680 380 0.0495 18.8 0.053 4,560 330 0.047 15.5 0.065
2,760 390 0.0485 18.9 0.053 4,660 300 0.049 14.7 0.068
2,835 410 0.0475 19.5 0.051 4,700 320 0.0495 15.8 0.063
2,860 380 0.047 17.9 0.056 4,720 320 0.050 16.0 0.063
2,930 500 0.046 23.0 0.043 4,770 260 0.051 13.3 0.075
3,160 300 0.044 13.2 0.076 4,790 280 0.052 14.6 0.068
3,175 350 0.043 15.1 0.066 4,805 310 0.052 16.1 0.062
3,180 420 0.043 18.1 0.055 4,830 360 0.0525 18.9 0.053
3,210 300 0.043 12.9 0.078 4,870 270 0.054 14.6 0.068
3,230 380 0.043 16.3 0.061 4,890 280 0.054 15.1 0.066
3,330 300 0.042 12.6 0.079 4,950 220 0.055 12.2 0.083
3,370 240 0.042 10.1 0.099 5,025 180 0.057 10.3 0.097
3,390 290 0.042 12.2 0.082 5,100 190 0.060 11.4 0.088
3,435 260 0.041 10.7 0.093 5,200 120 0.062 7.4 0.135
3,520 290 0.041 11.9 0.084 5,275 110 0.0664 7.3 0.137
3,620 220 0.0405 8.9 0.112 5,300 90 0.0665 8.0 0.167
3,690 260 0.040 10.4 0.096
Table 5.8 - Sample Calculation of Fsh
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Procedure for Calculating tsh

In comparison to the procedure for calculating Fsh the values for tsh are obtained more
simply and more rapidly. Their determination is immediate, since the cumbersome
calculation of the Rw curve is avoided.
In order to determine the tsh values, the following logs must be available:
An induction log (IES), by means of which the purest shale beds can be
A Sonic Log, with a Calliper log when possible, for reading tsh.

In order to obtain the most significant tsh values, and thus a more reliable value for the
pore pressure gradient, the following procedure is used:
Each shale bed is located by using the IES; as already explained, the points
where the shale is cleaner will be identified by the overlapping of the SP curve
with the shale base line and the overlapping of the short radius and long
radius resistivity curves.
Once the depth of the significant shale points is established on the IES, the
value for tsh, is read, at that same depth, on the Sonic Log.
The Calliper is also carefully checked so as to determine any influence of the
borehole diameter on tsh.
The tsh values are plotted as a function of depth on semilog paper with depth
on the Y axis and - tsh on the X axis. In this cast also the use of 1/20,000 or
1/10,000 is suggested.

Pore Pressure Gradient Calculation from tsh,

The method, seen for the Fsh, can be applied in full to the tsh. The only difference is that
the resulting curve is symmetrical to the Fsh .Under conditions of normal compaction, the
tsh values decrease with depth, whereas in overpressure zones the value of tsh increase,
as well as when calculating the pore pressure gradient, the equivalent depth principle is
Obviously it is necessary to know the overburden gradient for the well, and this value can
be determined directly from the Sonic Log or from other sources. Past experience suggests
that the Fsh method provides reliable pore pressure gradient values, even though it tends to
give values far which are lower than the actual values in the well, particularly when not very
clean shales are present. However, this method is preferred over the Fsh method because
calculations can be done much more quickly. When dealing with difficult or doubtful cases,
both methods are used
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Sample Calculation
These values are then plotted as shown in Figure 5.43. The values of tsh decrease
regularly with depth until about 3,800m, thereby indicating normal compaction and pore
pressure gradient conditions. At 3,800m (overpressure top) values have a tendency to
increase, thus indicating the presence of abnormal pressure zones. The pore pressure
gradient value remains in the range G = 1.40-1.50kg/cm. 10m up to about 5,400m here a
further pore pressure increase can be noted.

Shale Bulk Density Method sh

sh Definition
As already seen in the paragraph dealing with overburden gradient calculation, the bulk
density of the formation is dependent on its matrix, on the type of fluids present and on its
Limiting the analysis to the case of clean shales, b , now defined as sh can be an excellent
tool for determining their degree of compaction and their porosity. In fact, under conditions
of normal compaction and hydrostatic pore pressure gradient, the shale density constantly
increases with depth; in the case of undercompacted shales, with a porosity higher than
normal far that depth, the density will decrease with depth, or increase irregularly.

Procedure for Calculating sh,

As in the case of tsh the calculation procedure is quite simple and rapid. Its reliability is
dependent on the purity of the formations.
In order to carry out the calculation, the following logs must be available:
An IES log for locating the shale beds;
An FDC log for calculating the density values, and possibly a Calliper Log.

The calculation is carried out as follows:

The clean shale points are established by, using the same procedure as in the
case of tsh
At these points, the density value is read on the FDC;
The sh values are plotted as a function of depth.

Pore Pressure Gradient Calculation from h

When calculating the pore pressure gradient. the usual equivalent depth principle is
applied once the overburden gradient, that can be obtained directly from the FDC or from
other sources, has been determined.
This method is not used very much since the FDC is generally recorded only at those
intervals which are possibly oil bearing, and therefore it is not available for the entire profile
of the well.
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Figure 5.43 - Plotted Values of Sample Calculation t sh

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5.2.3. Limitations Of The Use Of Methods Based On The Processing Of Electrical Logs
Fsh Limitations
For a reliable quantitative evaluation of pore pressure gradients from Fsh, the following
points must be kept in mind:
The method is not applicable when dealing with carbonate formations; it can be
used only in the case of elastic formations.
When elastic formation are present, the method may be applied to frequently
interbedded sands and shales only; in fact the Rw curve cannot be determined in
zones where only shale is present.
If the shale formations under investigation contain fresh water the resistivity
value is higher, and, therefore, the calculated Fsh value is changed. The
compaction trend or the overpressure curve may undergo shifts that change the
value of the pore pressure gradient; shale formations are not normally pure
because they contain silt and sand; in consequence the resistivity (or
conductivity) value increases.
The SP value can be modified because of poor membrane behaviour of the
The SP value is difficult to choose the SP curve does not always perfectly
overlap the shale base line.
When evaporitic formations are located nearby, the salt content of the formation
water can be altered.
Borehole cavings or tightenings alter shale resistivity.
The presence of fluids other than water, such as gas or oil, can alter shale
Differences in the geological ages of the formations, as well as transgressive or
regressive phenomena, can change the electric properties of the rock medium.

In order to arrive at a reliable quantitative evaluation of pore pressure gradient by means of

tsh the following points must be considered:
The method is not applicable when dealing with Carbonate formations; it can be
used with elastic formations only;
With elastic formations the method is best applied in the presence of fairly clean
shales. The amount of sand present can change the transit time of the sound
The presence of other fluids, such as gas or oil, can change the value of tsh
Changes in geological age, as well as unconformity, can change the value of
Borehole cavings or tightenings can affect the value of tsh
The tsh readings on the Iog can present some difficulties: In fact, after having
established the depths of the shale points on the IES log, it is difficult to choose
a value for tsh that is representative of the shale because of the irregular at
times, trend of the curve. The choice of a proper value for tsh is left up to the
person responsible for the interpretation who, on the basis of his experience and
sound judgement, will adopt the criterion which is best suited to this case:
Cycle skipping, if they are not located, can give erroneous t, values.
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sh Limitation
For a correct application of the sh method the following points must be considered:
The method may be used with elastic formations only
Application is limited since the FDC log is usually available only far short
sections of the borehole.
Depth m. t Depth m. tsh
1,015 170 4,030 74
1,167 138 4,070 73
1,227 127 4,110 73
1,260 125 4,120 73
1,330 130 4,140 75
1,513 120 4,160 75
1,532 120 4,175 73
1,558 100 4,200 75
1,635 118 4,240 74
1,700 110 4,270 70
1,793 105 4,280 72
1,872 110 4,340 75
1,944 110 4,390 70
2,036 109 4,440 69
2,135 99 4,480 75
2,175 99 4,560 76
2,215 96 4,660 74
2,320 94 4,700 75
2,460 90 4,720 72
2,520 90 4,770 71
2,570 90 4,790 70
2,680 88 4,805 72
2,760 90 4,830 73
2,835 88 4,870 70
2,860 84 4,890 69
3,210 80 4,950 70
3,230 80 5,025 69
3,330 75 5,100 69
3,370 74 5,200 66
3,435 75 5,275 68
3,620 70 5,375 68
3,690 78 5,390 62
3,760 72 5,420 63
3,800 75 5,465 67
3,820 76 5,475 68
3,840 77 5,490 69
3,920 73 5,520 73
3,870 73 5,540 83
3,990 73 5,580 76
Table 5.9 - Example tsh Calculation