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V S predictors revisited

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JACK DVORKIN and GARY MAVKO, Stanford University

Abstract
Various shear-velocity (VS) predictors dier from one
another, and this dierence aects a synthetic AVO gather
produced at a well or for a synthetic earth model. The dierence between gathers produced by using dierent predictors
might be well within the noise level of eld data and will
not necessarily aect site-specic seismic-based hydrocarbon
indicators.
Introduction
VS (shear-velocity) predictors are many, and so are
the choices the geoscientist faces when deriving VS from
VP in the well where shear-wave data are poor or absent.
As a result, we often encounter a multiple-choice situation in which the 100% correct answer (the ground
truth) is not available. To that end, our objective is to
investigate by how much various predictors dier from
one another and, most important, how that dierence
aects one of the ultimate goals of VS prediction producing a synthetic AVO gather catalogue to serve as a
eld guide for interpreting the observed seismic anomaly for rock properties and conditions.
Our modeling here concerns clastic rock, in which
we assume that the only two mineral components present in the matrix are quartz and clay.
For the properties of the pore uids,
we assume brine salinity of 150,000
ppm; oil API gravity 30; gas gravity 0.65; and gas-to-oil ratio (GOR)
160 (maximum GOR for these inputs, according to Batzle and Wang,
1992). By using these inputs in the
Batzle and Wang (1992) equations
and by assuming that the pore pressure is 30 MPa and temperature is
75C, we obtain the elastic properties and densities listed in Table 1.
The table also lists the properties of
the mineral components of the rock
matrix (from Mavko et al., 2009).
Modeling will be conducted for
sand with 95% quartz and 5% clay
and for shale with 10% quartz and
90% clay.
Predictors in wet sand and shale
We start with producing the
elastic properties of wet sand and
shale using the soft-sand model
(Mavko et al., 2009) in the porosity range of zero to 40%. We assume
that the dierential pressure is 30
MPa, critical porosity is 40%, and
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the coordination number (the average number of contacts per


grain) is six. The resulting VS is plotted versus compressional
velocity (VP ) in Figure 1. In this gure, we also plot the respective Poissons ratio (v) versus VP .
Next, we apply various VS predictors to the wet-soft-sand VP
and compute the respective VS and v. The rst predictor is by
Greenberg and Castagna (1992):

Component l(g/c3) K(GPa) G(GPa) VP (km/s) VS (km/s)


Brine
Oil
Gas
60% oil +
40% brine
80% gas +
20% brine
Quartz
Clay

1.094
0.724
0.205
0.872

3.245
0.725
0.073
1.051

0.000
0.000
0.000
0.000

1.722
1.001
0.597
1.098

0.000
0.000
0.000
0.000

0.383

0.090

0.000

0.485

0.000

45.00
7.000

6.038
3.429

4.121
1.647

2.650
2.580

36.60
21.00

Table 1. Density (l), bulk modulus (K), shear modulus (G), and P- and
S-wave velocity of the pore uid and mineral components used in modeling.

Figure 1. (left) VS versus VP and (right) Poissons ratio versus VP for (a) sand and (b) shale whose
elastic properties were computed using the soft-sand model, as explained in the text. The legend
in top left plot relates to all four plots. The mudrock line is marked in (b). GC indicates the
Greenberg-Castagna VS predictor.

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(1)
where L is the number of pure-mineral lithologic constituents; f i are the volume fractions of these constituents in the
whole mineral phase; aij are empirical coecients; Ni is the
order of polynomial for constituent i; VP is the measured Pwave velocity; and VS is the predicted S-wave velocity. The
velocity is in kilometers per second. The coecients aij are
given in Table 2. The results are plotted in Figure 1 as dotted curves.
The next predictor is by Vernik et al.
(2002) for wet sand,

ai2

ai1

ai0

Sandstone

0.80416

0.85588

Limestone

0.05508

1.01677

1.03049

Dolomite

0.58321

0.07775

Shale

0.76969

0.86735

Lithology

Table 2. Regression coecients for the Greenberg-Castagna predictor.


These coecients are valid only if the velocity is in kilometers per second.

(2)
and for shale,
(3)
It is followed by the Krief et al.
(1990) equation
(4)
where VPf is the velocity in the pore uid and VPs and VSs are the P- and S-wave
velocities, respectively, in the mineral
matrix.
We also use the Williams (1990) relations for wet sand,
(5)
and for shale,
(6)

Figure 2. Same as Figure 1 but using the sti-sand model.

where VP and VS are in kilometers per


second, as they are in all the preceding
equations.
To the shale curves (Figure 1b), we
also add the famous mudrock equation
by Castagna et al. (1985),
(7)
where, as before, velocity is in kilometers per second.
In wet sand, all the predictors produce essentially identical results, barring
Krief et al.s (1990) equation, which predicts Poissons ratio slightly smaller than
predicted by the other relations. For wet

Figure 3. Same as Figure 1a but for gas sand.

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shale, all predictors, including the mudrock equation, produce


practically identical results.
Figure 2 shows the results of the same exercise but
now using the sti-sand model (Mavko et al., 2009) for
both sand and shale. As before, Krief et al.s (1990) equation
produces Poissons ratio in wet sand smaller than all other
predictors. In addition, unlike in the soft-sand case, the stisand model-predicted Poissons ratio in wet sand is smaller
than that predicted by the other equations (Greenberg and
Castagna, Vernik, and Williams) and falls closer to that predicted by Krief et al. (1990).
Predictors in gas sand
To compute the elastic properties of gas sand, we rst use the softsand (or sti-sand) model to compute
the elastic properties of the sand at
100% brine saturation, including the
wet-rock P-wave velocity VPwet and
its bulk density lbwet. Next, we apply
a VS predictor to the wet-rock VPwet
thus obtained. The result is VSwet from,
e.g., the Greenberg-Castagna predictor. The respective shear modulus G is
then computed as lbwetVSwet. Finally, by
assuming that the shear modulus does
not depend on pore uid, the gas-sand
S-wave velocity is computed as

(8)
where lbgas is the bulk density of the gas sand with 20%
water saturation:
(9)
where lw is the density of water and lfg is the density of the
composite pore uid with 80% gas and 20% water (Table 1).
The corresponding VP in gas sand was computed by
Gassmanns uid substitution performed on the wet-rock elastic properties obtained from the respective eective-medium

Figure 4. Same as Figure 2a but for gas sand.

Figure 5. Synthetic earth-model and seismic gathers at wet sand for VP computed using the soft-sand model and for VS predicted using the softsand model and the Greenberg-Castagna, Vernik, and Williams equations. (a) The VS predicted by the soft-sand-model. From left to right: clay
content; porosity; water saturation; bulk density; VP and VS ; P-wave impedance; Poissons ratio; and synthetic gather. In the gather, the bounding
trace on the left is for normal incidence, whereas the bounding trace on the right is for the incidence angle of about 45. (b) From left to right,
Greenberg-Castagna, Vernik, and Williams equations. Here, only Poissons ratio and respective gathers are shown because all other inputs are the
same as used for the soft-sand-model gather generation.

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model, namely the soft- or sti-sand model. This process


was used with all VS predictors except for that of Krief et al.
(1990), in which VS in the sand with hydrocarbons was computed directly by using equation 4 with the respective uid
properties listed in Table 1.
Figure 3 shows the results using the soft-sand model.
There is no discernable dierence between the model curves
in the VS-versus-VP plot. However, because Poissons ratio

is very sensitive to VS variations, the v-versus-VP plot better


serves to elucidate the dierences among various predictors
used here. We observe that for VP > 3 km/s, all Poissons ratio
values group around 0.10. For smaller VP , v can fall below
0.10 or become as high as 0.20 (the Vernik equation) or even
0.25 (the Williams equation).
For sti gas sand (Figure 4), the sti-sand model and Krief
et al.s (1990) equations both predict Poissons ratio at about

Figure 6. Same as Figure 5 but for sand with oil (40% water saturation).

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0.10. At the same time, the Greenberg-Castagna, Vernik, and


Williams equations all predict higher v, approaching and
even exceeding 0.20.
Eect on AVO in clastics: Synthetic examples
An earth model used here is a thick blocky gas sand embedded in shale. The clay content is, as before, 5% in sand
and 90% in shale. The synthetic seismic traces were produced
using a convolutional-model-based ray tracer with a 30-Hz
Ricker wavelet.
We start with modeling the reections at soft wet sand.
Figure 5 shows these synthetic results for 20% porosity shale
and 30% porosity sand using the soft-sand model combined
with the Greenberg-Castagna, Vernik, and Williams VS predictors, as explained in the preceding section. Because Krief
et al.s (1990) model produces a relatively small Poissons ratio, similar to the soft-sand and sti-sand models, now we
will include in consideration only the three above-named predictors because they produce larger v.
Figure 5 shows the results for the four VS variants (the
rst one according to the soft-sand model). The wet sand
appears seismically transparent because of the very small
dierence between shale and sand impedances. The AVO
eect is virtually nonexistent, no matter which VS predictor
we use.
Our next exercise is for soft oil sand with 40% water
saturation and the uid properties listed in Table 1 (Figure
6). Figure 7 shows the respective AVO curves using the
amplitudes picked at the trough marking the top of the
oil sand.
All four VS predictors show amplitude reduction (increase
in absolute values) versus the incidence angle at the top of
the oil sand. As expected, this AVO eect becomes smaller
as the oil-sand Poissons ratio becomes larger because of the

dierence between predictors. Still, the AVO eect is well


pronounced for all four predictors.
Two questions to ask before selecting a single VS predictor
to be used in a concrete case study are (1) whether the dierence in the AVO response is above the noise in seismic data
and (2) whether the dierence carries additional information
pertaining to oil-reservoir detection and characterization.
Our next exercise is for soft gas sand with 20% water saturation and the uid properties listed in Table 1 (Figure 8).
The respective AVO curves extracted at the upper trough of

Figure 7. AVO curves picked at the troughs form the gathers shown in
Figure 6 (marked as Soft sand oil) and in Figure 8 (marked as Soft
sand gas). The upper curve in each set is for the Williams predictor
(green), the next one for the Greenberg-Castagna predictor (dotted),
the next for the Vernik predictor (red), and the lowest for the soft-sand
model predictor (black).

Figure 8. Same as Figure 6 but for sand with gas (20% water saturation).
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each gather are also shown in Figure 7, along with the curves
extracted for the oil sand. As in the latter case, the oset
behavior diers, depending on which predictor we choose.
At the same time, qualitatively, these AVO curves are very
similar to one another. The main discriminator between oil
and gas is the intercept rather than the gradient. Hence, we
speculate that in the example presented here, the choice of the
VS predictor is not of primary importance as far as hydrocarbon identication is concerned.
Let us now examine the eect of consolidation and cementation on the elastic properties of the interval by using
the sti-sand model for both shale and sand. In this example,
we set the porosity at 10% in shale and 25% in sand. All
other parameters and methods remain the same as in the softsand example. Figure 9 shows the synthetic gathers computed
for sti wet, oil, and gas sand. The AVO response changes
from a weak Class I for wet sand to weak Class II for oil sand
and weak Class III for gas sand.
The AVO curves extracted at the top of the sand interval
for the oil and gas cases are plotted in Figure 10. As in the
soft-sand case, the main discriminator for uid detection appears to be the AVO class. Still, for each class (II for oil and
III for gas), the gradient varies depending on the VS predictor

Figure 9. Synthetic gathers computed for a (a) wet, (b) oil, and (c)
gas sti sand interval surrounded by shale. In each row, the gathers
from left to right are for the sti-sand model, Greenberg-Castagna
predictor, Vernik predictor, and Williams predictor.
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used. Once again, before selecting a concrete predictor, the


interpreter needs to nd out whether the predictor-related
dierences in the synthetic seismic response are above the
noise level and how crucial those dierences are for hydrocarbon detection.
Real well example
Figure 11 shows depth curves from an oshore gas well,
including gamma ray (GR), total porosity, water saturation,
bulk density, and VP . The S-wave velocity data are not
available, and hence, VS has to be predicted in order to generate synthetic seismic gathers.
Rock-physics diagnostics conducted on this well data
indicate that the velocity-porosity-clay behavior in the interval under examination can be explained quantitatively by
the soft-sand model (Figure 12). To generate the diagnostics
plot (Figure 12b), we rst computed the wet-rock velocity in the interval by using the VP -only uid substitution
(Mavko et al., 2009). The model curves superimposed on
the wet-rock VP -versus-porosity crossplot are from the softsand model computed in the range of zero to 0.40 porosity
and for clay content ranging from zero to 100%. The uid
used in the model had the formation brine bulk modulus
and density.
The rst VS predictor (Figure 11a) uses the soft-sand
model. The three other predictors (Figure 11b) are the result
of the Greenberg-Castagna, Vernik, and Williams equations.
The respective VS and v at in situ conditions were obtained in
the same way as in the preceding examples.
The respective synthetic traces generated using a 30-Hz
Ricker wavelet show Class III AVO response with the gradient

essentially the same for the rst three predictors (soft sand,
Greenberg-Castagna, and Vernik) and a less steep gradient for
the Williams predictor (Figure 13). Once again, we speculate
that in this case, any of the examined VS predictors could be
used will little or no dierence for predicting the expected
AVO response and, by so doing, for establishing a site-specic
hydrocarbon indicators.
Lesson and conclusion
Exercises presented here exemplify the problem-avoidance approach: Instead of arguing which VS predictor is
most appropriate at a given location, let us rst clarify what

Figure 10. Same as Figure 7 but for sti sand, as explained in the text.

Figure 11. Depth curves and synthetic gathers computed at an oshore gas well using four VS predictors (only VP is available in the original
data). The display is the same as used in Figure 5 with (a) the soft-sand model results and (b) the Greenberg-Castagna, Vernik, and Williams
results (left to right, respectively) (only Poissons ratio and the gather). In all graphs, the separation between horizontal gridlines is 10 m. The
maximum angle of incidence in each gather is about 45.
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we need this predictor for. If the goal


is synthetic AVO generation for hydrocarbon identication, the rst step
is to check the sensitivity of the response to a range of predictors. If this
sensitivity is relatively small, meaning that all tested predictors provide
qualitatively similar response and the
dierences between predictors could
be well within the noise level, arguing
about which predictor is best might be
simply pointless.
The main lesson is that precision
has to be commeasurable with the - Figure 12. Velocity versus porosity for the data shown in Figure 11. (a) In situ conditions. (b)
Wet conditions. The data are color-coded by GR. The color bar in the plot in (a) pertains to
nal objective: Good enough is good. both plots. (b) The model curves are from the soft-sand model computed for zero clay content
By no means do we encourage the (top curve) and 100% clay content (bottom curve), with the curves in between computed for the
reader to blindly extend the results pre- gradually increasing clay content with 20% increment.
sented here to all rock and uid types.
The geoscientist has robust quantitative tools to replicate these computations for site-specic
conditions and then, based on the results, select appropriate
models and predictors.
References
Batzle, M., and Z. Wang, 1992, Seismic properties of pore uids: Geophysics, 57, no. 11, 13961408, http://dx.doi.org
/10.1190/1.1443207.
Castagna, J. P., M. L. Batzle, and R. L. Eastwood, 1985, Relationships between compressional-wave and shear-wave velocities in
clastic silicate rocks: Geophysics, 50, no. 4, 571581, http://dx.doi.
org/10.1190/1.1441933.
Greenberg, M. L., and J. P. Castagna, 1992, Shear-wave velocity estimation in porous rocks: Theoretical formulation, preliminary
verication and applications: Geophysical Prospecting, 40, no. 2,
195209, http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2478.1992.tb00371.x.
Krief, M., J. Garat, J. Stellingwer, and J. Ventre, 1990, A petrophysical interpretation using the velocities of P and S waves (full-waveform sonic): The Log Analyst, 31, 355369.
Mavko, G., T. Mukerji, and J. Dvorkin, 2009, The rock physics handbook: Tools for seismic analysis of porous media, 2nd ed.: Cambridge University Press.
Vernik, L., D. Fisher, and S. Bahret, 2002, Estimation of net-to-gross
from P and S impedance in deepwater turbidites: The Leading
Edge, 21, no. 4, 380387, http://dx.doi.org/10.1190/1.1471602.
Williams, D. M., 1990, The acoustic log hydrocarbon indicator: 31st
Annual Logging Symposium, Society of Professional Well Log
Analysts, Paper W.

Acknowledgments: This work was supported by the Stanford Rock


Physics and Borehole Geophysics industrial consortium.
Recommended reading. All models and equations used in this
work are described and analyzed in Mavko, G., T. Mukerji,

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Figure 13. AVO curves extracted from the synthetic gathers shown
in Figure 12, at the trough corresponding to the top of the gas-sand
interval. The lower group contains three curves because of the soft-sand
model (black), Greenberg-Castagna (dotted, hidden behind the other
two curves), and Vernik (red) predictors. The upper curve (green) is the
result of the Williams predictor.

and J. Dvorkin, 2009, The Rock Physics Handbook: Tools


for Seismic Analysis of Porous Media, 2nd ed.: Cambridge
University Press.
Corresponding author: dvorkin@stanford.edu