Attenuation mechanisms in fractured fluid-saturated porous rocks: a numerical modelling study

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Abstract

Seismic attenuation mechanisms receive increasing attention for the characterization of fractured formations because of their inherent sensitivity to the hydraulic and elastic properties of the probed media. Attenuation has been successfully inferred from seismic data in the past, but linking these estimates to intrinsic rock physical properties remains challenging. A reason for these difficulties in fluid-saturated fractured porous media is that several mechanisms can cause attenuation and may interfere with each other. These mechanisms notably comprise pressure diffusion phenomena and dynamic effects, such as scattering, as well as Biot's so-called intrinsic attenuation mechanism. Understanding the interplay between these mechanisms is therefore an essential step for estimating fracture properties from seismic measurements. In order to do this, we perform a comparative study involving wave propagation modelling in a transmission set-up based on Biot's low-frequency dynamic equations and numerical upscaling based on Biot's consolidation equations. The former captures all aforementioned attenuation mechanisms and their interference, whereas the latter only accounts for pressure diffusion phenomena. A comparison of the results from both methods therefore allows to distinguish between dynamic and pressure diffusion phenomena and to shed light on their interference. To this end, we consider a range of canonical models with randomly distributed vertical and/or horizontal fractures. We observe that scattering attenuation strongly interferes with pressure diffusion phenomena, since the latter affect the elastic contrasts between fractures and their embedding background. Our results also demonstrate that it is essential to account for amplitude reductions due to transmission losses to allow for an adequate estimation of the intrinsic attenuation of fractured media. The effects of Biot's intrinsic mechanism are rather small for the models considered in this study.

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