Ultrasonic velocity measurements on thin rock samples: Experiment and numerical modeling
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The ultrasonic pulse transmission (UPT) method has been the gold standard for laboratory measurements of rock elastic properties for decades, and it is used by oil and gas industry and service companies routinely. In spite of the wide acceptance and use of the UPT method, experimentalists are still looking for ways to further extend the limits of its applicability and to improve its state-of-the-art practices. One of the problems that limits wider application of the method is the length of the standard samples used (approximately 40-100 mm). This is a crucial limitation either in the case of a damaged core when preparation of a standard size sample is impossible or in the case when an ultrasonic experiment is combined with saturation or desiccation processes that might be extremely time-consuming on the long samples. On the other hand, thinner samples are not typically used due to the implication of inhomogeneity of stress fields inside and whereas few results of the measurements on thin disc samples have been reported in the literature, detailed justifications of the procedures have not been done yet. To fill this gap, we compare ultrasonic velocities measured at confining stresses up to 50 MPa done on standard and thin samples with lengths of 60 and 15 mm, respectively. First, we evaluate a new developed experimental setup for ultrasonic measurements on thin discs and develop a detailed experimental procedure. Then, we use finite-element modeling to numerically simulate stress fields in both types of samples. Finally, we compare the ultrasonic velocities measured on the thin discs and on standard samples and determine how to obtain reliable elastic properties on thin samples.
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