P-wave seismic reflection data, with variable offset and azimuth, acquired over a fractured reservoir can theoretically be inverted for the effective compliance of the fractures. The total effective compliance of a fractured rock, which is described using second- and fourth-rank fracture tensors, can be represented as background compliance plus additional compliance due to fractures. Assuming monoclinic or orthotropic symmetry (which take into account layering and multiple fracture sets), the components of the effective second- and fourth-rank fracture compliance tensors can be used as attributes related to the characteristics of the fractured medium. Synthetic tests indicate that using a priori knowledge of the properties of the unfractured medium, the inversion can be effective on noisy data, with S/N on the order of 2. Monte Carlo simulation was used to test the effect of uncertainties in the a priori information about elastic properties of unfractured rock. Two cases were considered with Wide Azimuth (WAZ) and Narrow Azimuth (NAZ) reflection data and assuming that the fractures have rotationally invariant shear compliance. The relative errors in determination of the components of the fourth-rank tensor are substantially larger compared to the second-rank tensor, under the same assumptions.
Elastic properties of background media, consisting in horizontal layers without fractures, do not cause azimuthal changes in the reflection coefficient variation with offset. Thus, due to the different nature of these properties compared to fracture tensor components (which cause azimuthal anomalies), simultaneous inversion for background isotropic properties and fracture tensor components requires additional constraints.
Singular value decomposition (SVD) and resolution matrix analysis can be used to predict fracture inversion efficacy before acquiring data. Therefore, they can be used to determine the optimal seismic survey design for inversion of fracture parameters. However, results of synthetic inversion in some cases are not consistent with resolution matrix results and resolution matrix results are reliable only after one can see a consistent and robust behaviour in inversion of synthetics with different noise levels.