The presence of gas hydrate in marine sediments alters their physical properties. In some circumstances, gas hydrate may cement sediment grains together and dramatically increase the seismic P- and S-wave velocities of the composite medium. Hydrate may also form a load-bearing structure within the sediment microstructure, but with different seismic wave attenuation characteristics, changing the attenuation behaviour of the composite. Here we introduce an inversion algorithm based on effective medium modelling to infer hydrate saturations from velocity and attenuation measurements on hydrate-bearing sediments. The velocity increase is modelled as extra binding developed by gas hydrate that strengthens the sediment microstructure. The attenuation increase is modelled through a difference in fluid flow properties caused by different permeabilities in the sediment and hydrate microstructures. We relate velocity and attenuation increases in hydrate-bearing sediments to their hydrate content, using an effective medium inversion algorithm based on the self-consistent approximation (SCA), differential effective medium (DEM) theory, and Biot and squirt flow mechanisms of fluid flow. The inversion algorithm is able to convert observations in compressional and shear wave velocities and attenuations to hydrate saturation in the sediment pore space. We applied our algorithm to a data set from the Mallik 2L–38 well, Mackenzie delta, Canada, and to data from laboratory measurements on gas-rich and water-saturated sand samples. Predictions using our algorithm match the borehole data and water-saturated laboratory data if the proportion of hydrate contributing to the load-bearing structure increases with hydrate saturation. The predictions match the gas-rich laboratory data if that proportion decreases with hydrate saturation. We attribute this difference to differences in hydrate formation mechanisms between the two environments.
Additional publication details
An effective medium inversion algorithm for gas hydrate quantification and its application to laboratory and borehole measurements of gas hydrate-bearing sediments
Geophysical Journal International
Oxford University Press
Coastal and Marine Geology Program, Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center