Exploring hydrocarbon-bearing shale formations with multi-component seismic technology and evaluating direct shear modes produced by vertical-force sources
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It is essential to understand natural fracture systems embedded in shale-gas reservoirs and the stress fields that influence how induced fractures form in targeted shale units. Multicomponent seismic technology and elastic seismic stratigraphy allow geologic formations to be better images through analysis of different S-wave modes as well as the P-wave mode. Significant amounts of energy produced by P-wave sources radiate through the Earth as downgoing SV-wave energy. A vertical-force source is an effective source for direct SV radiation and provides a pure shear-wave mode (SV-SV) that should reveal crucial information about geologic surfaces located in anisotropic media. SV-SV shear wave modes should carry important information about petrophysical characteristics of hydrocarbon systems that cannot be obtained using other elastic-wave modes. Regardless of the difficulties of extracting good-quality SV-SV signal, direct shear waves as well as direct P and converted S energy should be accounted for in 3C seismic studies. Acquisition of full-azimuth seismic data and sampling data at small intervals over long offsets are required for detailed anisotropy analysis. If 3C3D data can be acquired with improved signal-to-noise ratio, more uniform illumination of targets, increased lateral resolution, more accurate amplitude attributes, and better multiple attenuation, such data will have strong interest by the industry. The objectives of this research are: (1) determine the feasibility of extracting direct SV-SV common-mid-point sections from 3-C seismic surveys, (2) improve the exploration for stratigraphic traps by developing systematic relationship between petrophysical properties and combinations of P and S wave modes, (3) create compelling examples illustrating how hydrocarbon-bearing reservoirs in low-permeable rocks (particularly anisotropic shale formations) can be better characterized using different S-wave modes (P-SV, SV-SV) in addition to the conventional P-P modes, and (4) analyze P and S radiation patterns produced by a variety of seismic sources. The research done in this study has contributed to understanding the physics involved in direct-S radiation from vertical-force source stations. A U.S. Patent issued to the Board of Regents of the University of Texas System now protects the intellectual property the Exploration Geophysics Laboratory has developed related to S-wave generation by vertical-force sources. The University’s Office of Technology Commercialization is actively engaged in commercializing this new S-wave reflection seismic technology on behalf of the Board of Regents.