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Cavings Analysis Provides Information on

mode of wellbore failure


the need to improve wellbore cleaning
necessary remedial actions
Types of Cavings and Wellbore Failure Modes:
Regular cuttings

Cavings are distinguished from regular cuttings by not having bit marks. Typical cavings are 1 to 5
cm in size, but can range from 1mm to 10cm. Large blocky cavings are most likely to have fallen in
from pre-existing natural fracture/joint sets in relatively hard rock, or a rubble zone near to a fault

Cavings are generally of three main types: angular, tabular and splintery.
Regular cuttings

Angular:
Characterized by conjugate shear surfaces curved, rough/gouged surfaces intersecting each other
at acute angles splintery

Produced from rock shear failure. When the sheared surfaces are fresh, they are from borehole
breakouts drilling induced near-wellbore shear failure.
When the sheared surfaces are old, the cavings are most likely come from a rubble zone. Angular

UBI/FMI logs will see symmetric failures on both sides of the borehole wall in this case.
Borehole wall
Remedial actions: top view

Sheared surfaces
For angular cavings:
Raise mud weight if pore/frac window allows
Manage hole cleaning if no extra mud weight
window available oblique view

Sheared surfaces Optimize well trajectory in future wells

Tabular
Characterized by one or more flat and smooth surfaces; parallel surfaces are common
Typically from failures along weak bedding planes, or cleavages in pre-existing fracture/joint sets
UBI/FMI logs show failures are much more pronounced on one side of the borehole.
Typical cavings from preexisting planes
Remedial actions: of weakness mostly tabular

Bedding planes For tabular cavings:


Minimise fluid loss
Reduce surge, swab forces and drill string
Preexisting cleavages in nature fracture/joint sets
vibration
Avoid back reaming

Splintery
Characterized by long, thin morphologies with fresh plume structure a key feature of Typical cavings from rubble zone near a fault
mostly angular

tensile splitting in rocks


Typically from near-wellbore tensile spalling in the radial direction due to drilling too splintery angular

fast through low permeability shale, or because the mud weight is lower than the pore
pressure in the adjacent formation
Failure should be evenly distributed around the borehole in homogeneous formations, but
could show some preferential enlargement where tectonic or unequal stresses also exist
Remedial actions:
Top view
For splintery cavings:
Side view Increase mud weight
Reduce penetration rate