Diffraction imaging of sub-vertical fractures and karst with full-resolution 3D Ground-Penetrating Radar

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Vertical fractures with openings of less than one centimetre and irregular karst cause abundant diffractions in Ground-Penetrating Radar (GPR) records. GPR data acquired with half-wavelength trace spacing are uninterpretable as they are dominated by spatially undersampled scattered energy. To evaluate the potential of high-density 3D GPR diffraction imaging a 200 MHz survey with less than a quarter wavelength grid spacing (0.05 m × 0.1 m) was acquired at a fractured and karstified limestone quarry near the village of Cassis in Southern France. After 3D migration processing, diffraction apices line up in sub-vertical fracture planes and cluster in locations of karstic dissolution features. The majority of karst is developed at intersections of two or more fractures and is limited in depth by a stratigraphic boundary. Such high-resolution 3D GPR imaging offers an unprecedented internal view of a complex fractured carbonate reservoir model analogue. As seismic and GPR wave kinematics are similar, improvements in the imaging of steep fractures and irregular voids at the resolution limit can also be expected from high-density seismic diffraction imaging.

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