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ABSTRACT

Natural fractures in hydrocarbon reservoirs can cause significant seismic attenuation and dispersion due to wave induced fluid flow between pores and fractures. We present two theoretical models explicitly based on the solution of Biot's equations of poroelasticity. The first model considers fractures as planes of weakness (or highly compliant and very thin layers) of infinite extent. In the second model fractures are modelled as thin penny-shaped voids of finite radius. In both models attenuation is a result of conversion of the incident compressional wave energy into the diffusive Biot slow wave at the fracture surface and exhibits a typical relaxation peak around a normalized frequency of about 1. This corresponds to a frequency where the fluid diffusion length is of the order of crack spacing for the first model and the crack diameter for the second. This is consistent with an intuitive understanding of the nature of attenuation: when fractures are closely and regularly spaced, the Biot's slow waves produced by cracks interfere with each other, with the interference pattern controlled by the fracture spacing. Conversely, if fractures are of finite length, which is smaller than spacing, then fractures act as independent scatterers and the attenuation resembles the pattern of scattering by isolated cracks. An approximate mathematical approach based on the use of a branching function gives a unified analytical framework for both models.