Geophysical Research Letters

Evolution of microstructure and elastic wave velocities in dehydrated gypsum samples



[1] We report on changes in P and S-wave velocities and rock microstructure induced by devolatilization reactions using gypsum as a reference analog material. Cylindrical samples of natural alabaster were dehydrated in air, at ambient pressure, and temperatures between 378 and 423 K. Dehydration did not proceed homogeneously but via a reaction front moving sample inwards separating an outer highly porous rim from the remaining gypsum which, above approximately 393 (±5) K, concurrently decomposed into hemihydrate. Overall porosity was observed to continuously increase with reaction progress from approximately 2% for fully hydrated samples to 30% for completely dehydrated ones. Concurrently, P and S-wave velocities linearly decreased with porosity from 5.2 and 2.7 km/s to 1.0 and 0.7 km/s, respectively. It is concluded that a linearized empirical Raymer-type model extended by a critical porosity term and based on the respective time dependent mineral and pore volumes reasonably replicates the P and S-wave data in relation to reaction progress and porosity.