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Gas Saturation in Formation fluid for Anomalous High Sonic Velocities

Hitoshi Mikada, Takahito Banno, Tada-nori Goto, Junichi Takekawa

Kyoto University
The velocity of sound waves in fluids in the subsurface could be greatly influenced due to the existence of gas
bubbles in the fluids. In the past, sound velocities in formation water have been analyzed mainly to knock down
in seismic exploration. However, it is well known that the sound velocities has frequency dependency, i.e., a
dispersive feature, in a medium composed of both liquid and gas, in particular when spherical gas bubbles
vibrate in the fluids. When the gas bubbles resonate with the pressure fluctuation in the fluids, high sound
velocity anomalies could be observed. Since anomalous velocity depends on the size of gas bubbles and the
fraction of gas in the fluids, we need to consider that the sound velocity for formation fluids may not always be
knocked down to show lower velocity than in mono-phase fluid. We focused on the high velocity anomalies to
see if the gas saturation could be estimated.
In this study, we looked at the resonant effects of bubbles that depend on the size of gas bubbles, the volume
fraction of bubbles and frequency dependency and found theoretically that the gas volume fraction could be

1. Introduction
Gas-hydrate attracts attention as non-common type resources in recent years. However, there are also
many unknowns remained as research themes, such as accumulation process of gas-hydrate, etc. One
of them is the supply of the gas, which probably exists below the methane hydrate layers in the
sediment structure.
The formation fluid including gas below methane hydrate layer is considered to be the cause of strong
seismic reflection known as the bottom simulating reflector (BSR) that serves as an index of a
methane-hydrate layer in reflection seismic prospecting. Since methane-hydrate is generated in a lowtemperature high-pressure condition with gas, it is meaningful to make it clear how methane gas
migrates to the methane-hydrate layers, what the rate of the migration.
Mikada, et al. (2008) presented that the sediments, which could be interpreted to include gas in the
formation fluid from log data, below methane hydrate layers could show high sonic velocity
anomalies. Since gas in the formation fluid in general knocks down the seismic compressional phase
velocities, their results could not be interpreted with the present gas-water models that are applied in
log interpretation nor gas fraction in the formation water could not be estimated. It is, therefore,
difficult to estimate an exact quantity of gas in the log interpretation as well as in the surface seismic
reflection methods.
Sonic logging performed for the well with the Nankai Trough shows the feature of gas but high
velocity of sound wave. The interpretation of the sonic logging data leads partly high sonic phase
velocities at depths corresponding to what is called free-gas zone that lies beneath the methanehydrate layers under physicochemical hydrate-stable conditions (Mikada et al., 2008). If the formation
fluid in the zone contains gas, the possibility of high sonic velocity anomaly could be caused by the
existence of gas bubbles. Since we know the sound speed in fluid-gas mixture is dispersive, we
hypothesize that the high velocity anomaly could be observed depending on wave frequencies. Here,
we focus an effect of the gas bubble motion to the sonic phase velocities and its frequencies
The dynamics of gas bubbles in fluids has been studied by many researchers. Rayleigh (1917) studied
about the motion of a bubble in infinite incompressible liquid. Minnaert (1933) derived the resonant
frequency of a bubble considering both potential and kinetic energies. The resonant bubble behaves
like a harmonic oscillator of the spring-bob type (Devaud et al., 2008). Anderson and Hampton
(1980a; 1980b) studied phase velocities and attenuations of sound waves propagating in the shallow
marine sediments. They all applied a theory of Silberman (1957) to derive the phase velocity and the
attenuation of compressional sound waves in fluid with bubble mixture. Bedford and Stem (1982)
studied about the sonic phase velocities of a medium that contains gas bubbles in pore water after
taking the motion of bubbles in the fluid into account. They used the Hamilton's principle and
calculated the potential and kinetic energies of bubbles, liquid and solid phase to derive the equation
of motion of the bubble-saturated medium. But they didn't consider the bubble-bubble interaction or
the bubble-solid phase interaction explicitly.
In this paper, we introduce a simple new method to derive the sonic phase velocities of the sediment
that contains bubbles in pore water by integrating fluid mechanics and rock physics theory. Since this
method is based on macroscopic scale, we want to study about frequency dependence of bubble
resonance in more microscopic scale and refer the resonant frequency is affected by interaction of
bubbles and sand particles. And we focused the effects of the bubble-bubble interaction as well as the
bubble-particle interaction to frequencies.
2. Methods and Theory
In this study, we first analyzed the oscillation of a gas bubble in water to see the frequency
dependency of the sound velocity.

2.1 Bubble Oscillation and frequency Dependency of sound phase velocity

Figure 1 depicts the fluctuations of radius of
a gas bubble in fluid whose oscillation may be
expressed by the Rayleigh-plesset equation. We
used the 4th order Runge-Kutta finite difference
method to solve the equation. Because of the
difference in the frequencies, the behavior
shows strong frequency dependencies. The
pressure variation for frequencies less than 1
kHz, the gas bubble shrinks and expands in a
oscillatory manner according to the change in
the pressure. At 3 kHz, the bubble, however,
starts resonating with the pressure fluctuations.
When the frequency goes up, the bubble could
behave as a solid sphere. Therefore, it is clearly
obvious that the apparent bulk modulus of the
whole system becomes a function of
frequencies (Fig. 2).

Figure 2. Apparent bulk modulus of a fluid

including a gas bubble as a function of
the frequency of the pressure
Using the apparent modulus of the system,
we may derive the apparent sound phase
velocity as shown in Figure 3. The behavior of
the gas bubble may schematically be illustrated
in Figure 4. It is important that the bubble
could behave as a solid sphere depending on
the frequency of the pressure fluctuation in the
surrounding medium. We think that the cause
of high velocity anomaly in the sonic log in
bubbly fluid would sometimes be caused by the
dispersive behavior of bubbles.

Figure 1 Variation in radius of a gas bubble of

1mm to pressure variation of 4 difference

Figure 3. Apparent phase velocity of

compressional waves in a fluid system
including a gas bubble.

Figure 4. Schematic bubble oscillation in fluid. Pg

and PL are the pressure inside the bubble and
the surrounding fluid, respectively.

2.2 Interactions between bubbles

We, then, try to simulate the interactions between
bubbles (Fig. 5) to see the effects of the
interactions on the phase velocity of
compressional waves.
Each bubbles oscillates under the
condition that the pressures from the other
bubbles influence the surrounding pressure
variation. This problem becomes that of multiple
scattering theories.
For simplicity, we used a system of
equations proposed by Takahira et al (1994) to
see the influence on the resonant frequency. We
also assumed that bubbles are aligned on grid
points in an equi-spaced cubic coordinate system.
The radius of the bubbles are assumed to be 100

Figure 5. Schematic Interactions between

plural bubbles in fluid.

Figure 6 depicts the variation of resonant

frequencies derived by two different methods. It
is clearly seen that the resonant frequencies
decrease with the number of bubbles in fluid.
3. Frequency dependency of sound phase
velocity and the gas saturation.
We finally try to estimate gas saturation from the
anomalous high velocity of sonic data using the
relationship we have driven in the previous
Figure 7 depicts sonic phase velocities
against both frequency and gas saturation. Again,
we assumed 100 micro meters for the average

Figure 7. Sonic phase velocity against both the

frequency of pressure variation and gas
saturation. When frequencies go up
beyond the resonant frequency, high
velocity anomalies would be observed.

Figure 6. Resonant frequency change against

the gas saturation in fluid. Two methods
are tried: one using Takahiras analytical
solution, while the other from numerical

Figure 8. Simulated log for unconsolidated

sediments as described in the text. Red,
Green, and Blue logs are for gas
saturation, sonic log for 100Hz and
1MHz signals, respectively.

radius of the bubbles but the normal distribution of 10 micro meter variation is added to the
If we model some marine environment having unconsolidated sediments and partially
saturated by the formation water of gas-water mixture, we may simulate a modeled sonic log as
shown in Figure 8. For the gas saturation estimation using sonic data, it is visible that multiple
frequency measurements would be effective to see not only the saturation but the distribution of gas
bubble radii in formation fluid.
4. Summary
We simulated sonic velocity variations as a function of frequencies for a single bubble and plural
bubble cases and found out that the phase velocity of compressional waves may show high velocity
anomalies even in the bubble mixture conditions.
For the gas saturation analysis, we could confirm that multiple frequency measurements could be used
to estimate both the saturation and the size distribution of bubbles in formation fluid.
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