Comparative review of theoretical models for elastic wave attenuation and dispersion in partially saturated rocks
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Saturation of porous rocks with a mixture of two fluids (known as partial saturation) has a substantial effect on the seismic waves propagating through these rocks. In particular, partial saturation causes significant attenuation and dispersion of the propagating waves, due to waveinduced fluid flow. Such flow arises when a passing wave induces different fluid pressures in regions of rock saturated by different fluids. As partial fluid saturation can occur on different length scales, attenuation due to wave induced fluid flow is ubiquitous. In particular, mesoscopic fluid flow due to heterogeneities occurring on a scale greater than porescale, but less than wavelength scale, is responsible for significant attenuation in the frequency range from 10 to 1000 Hz.Most models of attenuation and dispersion due to mesoscopic heterogeneities imply that fluid heterogeneities are distributed in a periodic/regular way. In 1D this corresponds to periodically alternating layering, in 3D as periodically distributed inclusions of a given shape (usually spheres). All these models yield very similar estimates of attenuation and dispersion.Experimental studies show that mesoscopic heterogeneities have less idealised distributions and that the distribution itself affects attenuation and dispersion. Therefore, theoretical models are required which would simulate the effect of more general and realistic fluid distributions.We have developed two theoretical models which simulate the effect of random distributions of mesoscopic fluid heterogeneities. The first model assumes that one fluid forms a random ensemble of spherical inclusions in a porous medium saturated by the other fluid. The attenuation and dispersion predicted by this model are very similar to those predicted for 3D periodic distribution. Attenuation (inverse quality factor) is proportional to at low frequencies for both distributions. This is in contrast to the 1D case, where random and periodically alternating layering shows different attenuation behaviour at low frequencies. The second model, which assumes a 3D continuous distribution of fluid heterogeneities, also predicts the same lowfrequency asymptote of attenuation. However, the shapes of the frequency dependencies of attenuation are different. As the 3D continuous random approach assumes that there will be a distribution of different patch sizes, it is expected to be better suited to modelling experimental results. Further research is required in order to uncover how to relate the random functions to experimentally significant parameters.
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Toms, J. and Mller, T. and Ciz, R. and Gurevich, B. (2006) Comparative review of theoretical models for elastic wave attenuation and dispersion in partially saturated rocks, Soil Dynamics and Earthquake Engineering 26(67):548565.
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