The effect of compaction on complex electrical resistivity of shaly sands
F. Börner, E. Müller-Huber, D. Branka and C. Rücker
Journal name: Near Surface Geophysics
Issue: Vol 15, No 6, December 2017 pp. 633 - 643
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Pore space properties of sedimentary rocks are of fundamental importance with regard to reservoir evaluation and fluid flow modelling or special geotechnical applications such as stability considerations for reservoirs, dams, or embankments. Processes such as compaction due to pressure drawdown in weakly consolidated reservoirs, effects caused by stimulation of reservoirs with decreasing productivity, or the compaction of building ground can be effectively studied by verifying and monitoring changes in porosity. The close connections between electrical resistivity or conductivity and pore space geometry as well as a high sensitivity to even slight changes in pore space characterising parameters are well-established. Therefore, the results of complex electrical conductivity measurements in the frequency range from 0.05 Hz to 1 kHz on a set of heterogeneous shaly sand samples during increasing compaction are presented in this study. The major objective of these investigations was to quantify the porosity reduction in shaly sands during the step-wise compaction of the samples in a specially designed measurement cell. Overall, ten unconsolidated shaly sand samples with varying grain size distribution were analysed. In addition, selected shaly sandstone data are presented to enhance the observations made for the sand samples with regard to the potential influence of cementation as expressed by the cementation exponent. With increasing compaction, the measured complex conductivity data of the fully water-saturated samples show two co-occurring effects. On the one hand, the real part decreases due to the dominating effect of Archie’s law. On the other hand, the imaginary part increases due to the increasing contribution of interface conductivity. This effect is due to an increase in the internal surface-area-to-porosity ratio. Cementation exponent and the considered porosity range seem to be controlling the magnitude of this effect. These observations may be explained by using a simple complex conductivity model that relates conductivity components to porosity, specific surface area, and cementation exponent. An interpretation algorithm is proposed that allows determining relative porosity variations based on a baseline and a single repeat measurement without prior knowledge of further rock characteristics. To demonstrate the applicability of the algorithm on field measurements, data from spectral induced polarization soundings obtained at a test site for compaction techniques were interpreted. It could be shown that these observations bear further potential for enhancing the prediction of porosity, changes of compaction, and, hence, changes in hydraulic permeability.