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Gamma Ray Logging

GR Principles

GR response to lithology
The GR log records the abundance of the radioactive isotopes of K, Th and
K, Th and U are usually concentrated in shales and less concentrated in
sandstones and carbonates (owing to differences in mineralogy)
Common GR readings, in API units*, are:

Limestones and anhydrites, 15-20 API

Dolomites and clean (shale-free) sandstones, 20-30 API
Shales, average 100 API, but can vary from 75 to 300 API
Other lithologies: coal, salt (halite, NaCl) and gypsum usually give low readings
while volcanic ash and beds of potash salts (sylvite, KCl) give high readings

Therefore, the GR log is a good first-pass indicator of lithology

*1 API unit = 1/200th of the response generated by a calculated standard that
has 2x the average radioactivity of shale with 6ppm U, 12ppm Th and 2% K

Factors affecting tool response

Radiation intensity of the formation

Counters efficiency
Time constant (TC)
Logging speed
Borehole environment

Time constant/logging speed

Gamma Ray Logs never repeat
exactly! The minor variations are
statistical fluctuations due to the
random nature of the radioactive
pulses reaching the detector.
Typical ranges are 5 - 10 API Units
in shales, and 2 - 4 units in clean
Reduce statistical fluctuations by
optimizing the time constant and
logging speed.

Time constant/logging speed

Effect of Time Constant
and Logging Speed on
bed resolution

Time constant/logging speed

The faster the logging speed, the less time the tool can sufficiently react and
properly count the radiation intensity.
Two effects:
The tool response is shifted in the direction the tool is moving. This lag or critical
thickness (Hc) is given by Hc = LS*TC; where LS is logging speed (ft/sec) and TC is
the time constant (sec).
The log cannot properly respond when H < Hc

Time constant/logging speed

LS (ft/hr)

TC (seconds)

Borehole Effects

Borehole Effects
A GR-CNL-LDT combination is run eccentered. What is the
corrected response if the log response is 40 API units in a 9
hole with 8.3 ppg mud? ...16 hole ...?
A GR - BHC combination is run centered. What is the
corrected response if the log response is 40 API units in a 9
hole with 16 ppg mud? ....16 hole....?

Spectral GR
Eagleford Fm: Shale and source
rock. High U content associated
with high TOC (organics)
Buda Fm: Limestone. Very low
radioactivity (<20 API)
Del Rio Fm: Typical shale. High K
content associated with illite

Gamma Ray Emission Energy Spectra

Intensity of radiation per gram per second

U-Ra series 26000 photons per gram per second

Th series 12000 photons per gram per second

3 photons/g/s

Scattering and Attenuation

Gamma rays with energy >3 MeV. These
interact with the nucleus of the materials that
they are travelling through and are converted
into an electron and a positron in the process
(pair production). The efficiency of the process
is low, so these gamma rays may be measured
by a sensor. However, they contribute only
small amounts to the overall signal.

Scattering and Attenuation

Gamma rays with energy 0.5 to 3 MeV. These
gamma rays undergo compton scattering,
where a gamma ray interacts with the
electrons of the atoms through which they are
passing, ejecting the electron from the atom,
and losing energy in the process. A gamma ray
in this range may undergo several of these
collisions reducing its energy from its initial
value to an energy of less than 0.5 MeV in a
stepwise fashion.

Scattering and Attenuation

Gamma rays with energy <0.5 MeV. These
gamma rays collide with electrons of the
atoms through which they are passing, and
are adsorbed. The gamma ray energy is either
used to promote the electron to a higher
energy level or to eject it from the atom. This
process is called photo-electric adsorption,
and is important in the Litho-Density tool.

Determination of Shale content

IGR is Gamma Ray Index

Other uses

Depth matching
Cased hole correlations
Recognition of radioactive mineral deposits
Radio-isotopes tracer operations
Facies and depositional environment