Anisotropic P-wave attenuation measured from a multi-azimuth surface seismic reflection survey

Roger A. Clark, Philip Benson, A. Carter, C. Guerrero Moreno

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A system of aligned vertical fractures produces azimuthal variations in stacking velocity and amplitude variation with offset, characteristics often reported in seismic reflection data for hydrocarbon exploration. Studies of associated attenuation anisotropy have been mostly theoretical, laboratory or vertical seismic profiling based. We used an 11 common-midpoint-long portion of each of four marine surface-seismic reflection profiles, intersecting each other at 45° within circa 100 m of a common location, to measure the azimuthal variation of effective attenuation, Q−1eff and stacking velocity, in a shallow interval, about 100 m thick, in which consistently orientated vertical fracturing was expected due to an underlying salt diapirism. We found qualitative and quantitative consistency between the azimuthal variation in the attenuation and stacking velocity, and published amplitude variation with offset results. The 135° azimuth line showed the least apparent attenuation (1000 Q−1eff= 16 ± 7) and the fastest stacking velocity, hence we infer it to be closest to the fracture trend: the orthogonal 45° line showed the most apparent attenuation (1000Q−1eff= 52 ± 15) and slowest stacking velocity. The variation of Q−1eff with azimuth φ is well fitted by 1000Q−1eff= 34 − 18cos[2(φ+40°)] giving a fracture direction of 140 ± 23° (±1SD, derived from ‘bootstrapping’ fits to all 114 combinations of individual common-midpoint/azimuth measurements), compared to 134 ± 47° from published amplitude variation with offset data. The effects of short-window spectral estimation and choices of spectral ratio bandwidth and offset ranges used in attenuation analysis, individually give uncertainties of up to ±13° in fracture direction. This magnitude of azimuthal variation can be produced by credible crack geometries (e.g., dry cracks, radius 6.5 m, aspect ratio 3 × 10−5, crack density 0.2) but we do not claim these to be the actual properties of the interval studied, because of the lack of well control (and its consequences for the choice of theoretical model and host rock physical properties) and the small number of azimuths available here.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)835-845
Number of pages11
JournalGeophysical Prospecting
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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