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Understanding seismic anisotropy from fractures observed in

Chérel L., Bruneau J.; Dubos-Sallée N., Labat K., Barthelemy J.F., Daniel J.M.


The description of fracture networks is a critical input for the building of reservoir models and
reservoir simulation. This paper presents the integration of the physical characteristics of fractures
defined in wells to interpret the azimuthal anisotropy of the amplitude of seismic signals.
The proposed method converts the well data into elastic tensors to compute anisotropic reflection
coefficients. Synthetic traces are then created by convolving the resulting reflection logs with source
wavelet. The comparison of the synthetic seismograms with real azimuthal seismic data is used to
evaluate the effect of fractures on these data. It turns out that taking into account the fractures in the
forward modelling has only a minor effect on the correlation between synthetic and real traces: the
variations observed between azimuthal sectors are strong and inconsistent with an anisotropic
behaviour. These variations are probably due to poor seismic quality or to other causes such as
layering or stress effects.

72nd EAGE Conference & Exhibition incorporating SPE EUROPEC 2010

Barcelona, Spain, 14 - 17 June 2010

The description of fracture networks is a critical input for the building of reservoir models and
reservoir simulation. Seismic anisotropy, measured by azimuthal surface seismic or borehole seismic,
can be linked to fracture patterns provided the other sources of anisotropy have been properly
corrected for. Good knowledge of fracture characteristics can be obtained from well data including
cores, borehole imaging (FMI, UBI) and production logs. However this information remains localized
in the close vicinity of the wells. Most often, seismic anisotropy information and well data are only
qualitatively compared (Prioul and Jocker, 2009, Panien et al., 2009).

This paper presents the integration of the physical characteristics of the fractures detected in wells to
interpret the azimuthal anisotropy of the amplitude of the seismic signals in terms of parameters.
Triclinic elastic tensor elements are computed from well information to obtain the theoretical
anisotropic reflection coefficient profiles for several azimuths. Synthetic traces derived from these
reflections coefficient series can be subsequently used to evaluate the impact of fractures on the
anisotropy measured in real data.


Static characterization of natural fractures from well data

Borehole acoustic and imaging logs are analysed to define by intervals of depth characteristics of the
fractured matrix and parameters describing the fracture patterns.
In practice, fractures are interpreted from the resistivity imaging (FMI) logs along the well. The
fractures are grouped into families (figure 1), each characterized by a direction and a dip. For each
family, a log of fracture density (P32) corresponding to the fracture surface per unit volume is
calculated from the number of fractures intercepting the well per unit length using the method
described by Barthelemy et al. (2008) (figure 2). The logs of fracture density are then compared with
other data (gamma ray, rock density, P- and S-wave slownesses, figure 3) to define depth intervals in
side which these properties are homogenized to be represented by an equivalent triclinic elastic tensor.

m Vp density Vs

x050 x050

x100 x100

x150 x150

315 45 x200 x200

270 90 x250

225 135 x300

180 x300

Figure 1: Four x350

sets of fractures
characterized by Figure 2: Log of fracture Figure 3: Logs of rock density
direction and dip density per set (colour) and (g/cm3) and sonic velocity
per depth interval. (m/s) sampled at 5 m
Homogenization of elastic properties and elastic tensor computation

72nd EAGE Conference & Exhibition incorporating SPE EUROPEC 2010

Barcelona, Spain, 14 - 17 June 2010
This step aims at estimating the elastic tensor of a fractured rock from the elastic properties of the
rock matrix (Young's modulus and Poisson's ratio) and from the characteristics of the fracture system
in several depth intervals. The network consists of N sets of fractures modelled by penny-shaped
inclusions. One set corresponds to a given radius, fracture density and orientation (dip and direction).
The dispersions of size and orientation are neglected. The fractures affect the macroscopic elastic
compliance by simple addition to the inherent compliance of the host medium (Kachanov, 1993).
Various homogenization schemes can be implemented to estimate these additional compliances, one
of the simplest being the Mori-Tanaka or non interacting fractures scheme. The latter leads to the
following elasticity tensor (1):

( )
hom −1  ( )
4 1 −ν m2 P32i  s s ν m n ⊗ n ⊗ n ⊗ n  

C hom
= S =  s m + ∑
πEm (1 −ν m 2) i πRi2 
 n i ⊗1⊗ n i −
2 i i i i 

where sm, Em and νm respectively denote the compliance tensor, Young's modulus and Poisson's ratio
of the medium, Ri, P32i and ni are the radius, density and normal vector of the ith fracture set, 1 the
second-order identity tensor, symbol ⊗ stand for the tensor product and ⊗ followed by a
symmetrization with respect to its two adjacent indices. As the size of fractures is generally unknown,
we choose to launch simulations considering several values of radii. This provides an anisotropic
macroscopic elastic tensor Chom.

Calculation of seismic reflectivity in any anisotropic medium

In this step, we compute logs of PP reflectivity coefficients for different azimuth and incidence angles
by considering the triclinic elastic tensor determined previously from the identification and
characterization of fractures in well data.
The expression of the PP reflection coefficient between two triclinic media (with no specific
symmetry) as a function of azimuth and incidence angle is given in Rasolofosaon (2000), namely,
1 1
RPP (θ , λ ) = RPPiso (θ ) + ∆δ ( λ ) sin 2 θ + ∆ε ( λ ) sin 2 θ tan 2 θ + ∆RPPtriclinic (θ , λ ) (2)
2 2
Angles θ and λ are defined in Figure 4 as the phase angle of the incident qP wave and its azimuth,
respectively .
far ms
near mid far




Figure 4: Definition of θ and λ angles. The AZ2
arrow represents the qP phase velocity vector.

Figure 5: Anisotropic synthetic traces for two

perpendicular sectors (AZ1 and AZ3) and
three incidence angles
Quantity RPP (θ ) corresponds to the reflection coefficient between two isotropic media that can be
found in Aki & Richards (1980). :

72nd EAGE Conference & Exhibition incorporating SPE EUROPEC 2010

Barcelona, Spain, 14 - 17 June 2010
1 ∆Z 1  ∆VPvert  VSvert  ∆µ  2
1 ∆VPvert
R (θ ) =
+  vert − 4  vert   sin θ + sin 2 θ tan 2 θ (3)
 VP  µ 
PP vert
2 Z 2  VP 2 VP

The bar (¯ ) and ∆ respectively means the average or the difference value of the parameter between the
two layers separated by this interface. Z is the acoustic impedance, µ is the shear modulus
The triclinic correction ∆RPP
takes the expression (4):
 VSvert 
∆R ( )
θ λ = −  vert  sin θ ( ∆γ sin λ + ∆ε 45 sin λ cos λ )
triclinic 2 2
PP , 4 (4)
 VP 
Where γ and ε45 are introduced in Mensch & Rasolofosaon (1997).

Results: Comparison between synthetic traces with anisotropy and real seismic traces
We can now compare the logs of the synthetic reflectivities to real 3D seismic traces in order to
measure the contribution of the anisotropy related to fracture parameters.
The comparison is performed for each available 3D azimuth seismic sector by using a 1D convolution
of the synthetic reflectivities with a unique wavelet. In this study, four azimuthal sectors of 45° and
two classes of incidence angles ("mid" between 20-30° and "far" between 30-40°) are available, i.e
eight data cubes plus one near offset full azimuth dataset (Figure 5). A synthetic log is associated with
each seismic partial stack. The comparison is made only in the time window corresponding to the
reservoir (about 150 ms) and with the seismic traces contained in a 21x21 bins surrounding the wells
considered. Our objective is here to measure the similarity of the synthetic and real traces by
determining the time shift and phase shift to obtain the best correlation coefficient. The delay and the
phase shift should be identical for all azimuth sectors.
This comparison has been performed between the synthetic anisotropic traces discussed above and
real data (top of figure 6), and also between the synthetic isotropic traces (as computed from the Aki
& Richards formula) and real data (bottom of figure 6). Top of figure 6 displays the optimal set of
fracture lengths leading to the best agreement between synthetic anisotropic traces and real data.
A strong difference in correlation is observed between the azimuthal sectors. The higher correlations
are not in same locations for each azimuth. These maps show the AZ2 mid sector, yields better results
than the AZ1 mid and AZ4 mid. The best correlation coefficients are obtained for the AZ4 far sector. .
These remarks hold for either anisotropic or isotropic synthetic traces: the correlation patterns are
similar in a given azimuth, but the correlation level is higher for the anisotropic calibration.
The variations observed between azimuths are not due to anisotropic modelling but could be due to
the variability of the signal-to-noise ratio related to the acquisition geometry or to the processing
sequence. These variations could also be due to local stress or to the layering. Anisotropy appears is a
second-order effect compared to reflectivity and noise level. The rapid variations observed on the
different panels could be explained by the short correlation window (150 ms) which is very sensitive
to the quality of the seismic data.
The correlation map for the near incidence data (not shown here) displays very low values due to the
low quality of the seismic stack and is identical for the isotropic and anisotropic cases. The near offset
modelling is created from rock density and sonic logs Vp, and does not take into account the
compliance created by fractures.


The description of fractures and sonic logs measured in wells make it possible to define via
homogenisation elastic tensors with triclinic anisotropy in depth intervals selected for their relative
homogeneity. These tensors allow use to compute reflectivity logs for all azimuths and synthetic
traces via a simple convolution with a wavelet. The resulting theoretical seismogram can be used to
confront the full azimuth seismic data with fracture data defined in well. Our study shows that
modelling accounting for anisotropy yields better results than isotropic modelling.. The comparison
opens up the possibility to quantitatively interpret seismic anisotropy observed in wide azimuth 3D

72nd EAGE Conference & Exhibition incorporating SPE EUROPEC 2010

Barcelona, Spain, 14 - 17 June 2010
seismic data in terms of fracture networks by supervised interpretation of the seismic facies or by
anisotropic elastic inversion. Anisotropy shows up as a second-order effect compared to reflectivity
and noise effects. Therefore, the analysis of the fracture-related anisotropy based can be only
performed with seismic data optimally acquired and processed for this purpose.
The determination of the equivalent elastic tensors can be improved by taking into account the
effective permeability to estimate fracture length and to constrain the actual compliance as much as
possible. This could be bone by generating synthetic traces for many configurations of fracture
geometries to find the best match with the real data for the entire 3D data. The forward modelling of
response of fractured media in term of seismic anisotropy is recent. The inversions can be done with
new methods and improved tools which consider all azimuths simultaneously.
A: anisotropic




B: isotropic



Figure 6: Correlation maps between seismic traces and synthetic (isotropic or anisotropic) traces at
the well which is located in the centre of the maps for four azimuths: AZ1 (0-45°) AZ2 (45-90°) AZ3
(90-135°) and AZ4 (135-180°) and for two incidence angles: mid (20-30°) and far (30-40°). Each
map is composed of 21 crosslines and 21 inlines. The colour scale indicates the correlation coefficient
between real traces and synthetic traces.


The authors would like to thank GDFSuez and its partners for permission to publish this paper.


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4th North African/Mediterranean Petroleum and Geosciences Conference & Exhibition – TUNIS
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72nd EAGE Conference & Exhibition incorporating SPE EUROPEC 2010

Barcelona, Spain, 14 - 17 June 2010