Sensitivity of seismic properties to temperature variations in a geothermal reservoir

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Geophysical characterization plays a key role for the definition of the deep structures of geothermal reservoirs and the consequent assessment and validation of the geothermal conceptual model. Seismic methods may provide a valuable contribution for this purpose. This involves a deep and reliable understanding of the sensitivity of seismic-wave propagation to physical and temperature variations, with complex interactions. We present the theory and sensitivity analysis based on rock's mechanical Burgers model including Arrhenius temperature equations, integrated with Gassmann model for fluid saturated porous rocks, pressure effects for bulk and shear moduli, as well as permeability and squirt flow effects. Assuming a temperature gradient model, the analysis applied at low seismic frequencies compares the interpretation of the sensitivity effects for different typical seismic elastic quantities, showing the different performance in relation to physical effects, including melting, supercritical conditions, and observability obtained in different temperature regions. With a quantification of the physical properties, the results of the study show that in deeper zones the main expected contributions in terms of variations in seismic velocity, moduli and seismic attenuation due to temperature come from melting transition, while in shallower porous fluid-saturated formations the trends are governed by pressure effects, with minor contributions of permeability and possible effects related to soft porosity. The new calculated elastic moduli are complex-valued and frequency-dependent, and temperature dependent through the fluid properties. In this complex scenario, not always the increments in the velocity and elastic wave moduli correspond to an increment in the temperature. Moreover, with mobility decreasing as a function of depth, the analysis shows that the shear quality factor is sensitive to permeability, which introduces moderate effects for velocity and attenuation of shear waves. The analysis applies to active exploration seismic and passive seismology.




Poletto, F., Farina, B., & Carcione, J. M. (2018). Sensitivity of seismic properties to temperature variations in a geothermal reservoir. Geothermics, 76, 149–163.

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