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GAMMA RAY SPECTRAL DATA

ASSISTS IN COMPLEX
FORMATION EVALUATION*
BY
WALTER H. FERTL
Dresser Atlas Division, Dresser Industries, Inc.
Houston, Texas

quent transformations into daughter nuclei characterized by


different atomic numbers and, in some cases, by different
mass numbers.

ABSTRACT

I
I

Recent experiences with gamma ray spectral logging


in open hole and cased boreholes illustrate its broad scope of
problem-solving capability in formation evaluation.

As early as the 1950's, field tests in boreholes were


carried out to study the feasibility of detecting some of
these nuclides by gamma ray spectroscopy techniques which
identify characteristic gamma rays. Of particular interest
are those of potassium and the uranium and thorium series.

Application of such gamma ray spectral data may be


made either qualitatively, such as in detailed stratigraphic
correlation, recognition of rock types of different facies,
high permeability and fracture identification, location of
watered-out intervals, etc., or on a quantitative basis to
determine reservoir shaliness, source rock potential of
'argillaceous formations, potash concentration, etc.

Both uranium and thorium arecharacterized by specific


decay series. Potassium consists of three isotopes which
exhibit a mass of 39, 40, and 41 with abundances of 93.08,
0.01 19, and 6.9 percent. The only unstable isotope of potassium is the nuclide potassium-40, the major contributor,
which emits a single, easily identifiable gamma ray at 1.46
MeV. Table I lists the nuclides, mode of integration, and
half life of members in the uranium and thorium series and
also presents the observed gamma ray lines of theimportant
naturally occurring radionuclides.'

The present discussion focuses on the basic measuring


principles and illustrates interpretive experiences in open
and cased wellbores penetrating clastic and carbonate
reservoir rocks, argillaceous formations, evaporite zones,
igneous rocks, and mineral deposits such as coal, uranium,
and potash.

l
I

In addition to total gamma ray counts, the Spectralog


measures the gamma rays emitted by potassium (K40) at
1.46 MeV, the uranium series nuclide bismuth (Bi2I4)emanating gamma rays at 1.764 MeV, and the thorium series
nuclide thallium (T1208) emanating gamma rays at 2.614
MeV.

BASIC PRINCIPLES OF GAMMA RAY


SPECTRAL LOGGING

f \

Gamma rays are the radiations originating within an


atomic nucleus. A nucleus gives off excessive energy (gamma
rays) as the result of radioactive decay or an induced nuclear
reaction. Radioactive decay consists of the emission or
capture of elementary or composite particles with conse-

DESCRIPTION OF SPECTRALOG TOOL

Pertinent instrument specifications, a schematic of


instrumentation, and the energy window calibration applied
are shown in Figure 1.

*This paper was presented at the SPWLA Sixth European Symposium, March 26-27, 1979, London.
THE LOG ANALYST
I

TABLE I
Gamma-Ray Lines' in the Spectra of the
Important Naturally Occurring Radionuclides

NATURAL GAMMA RAY EMITTERS


T H O R I U M SERIES

U R A N I U M SERIES

NUCLIDE

M O D E OF
DISINTEGRATION

90 Th234

24.1 d

pa234m
91

8. IT

91

6.66 hr

92

2.48 x 10' yr

lo

90 Th230

8.0 x 10' yr

Ra

88 Ra226

1620 yr

ux2

uz
UII

u234

1.18 min

3.82 d

Rn

86Em222

RaA

84P0218

a,P

3.05 min

a, P

2 sec

RaA'
RaA"
Ra B
RaC

RaC'
RaC"
RaD
RaE
RaF
RaE'
RaG

85 At218

86Em218
82 Pb214
Bi214
83

26.8 min

a,P

19.7 min
1.6 x lo-' sec

TI2''

1.32 min

82 Pb2Io

19.4 yr

a. P

5.01 d

Bizlo
83
84 PO2I0
81

82 Pb206

138.4 d

4.2 min

1.42 x 10'" yr

MsThl

88

Ra228

6.7 yr

MsTh2

89 Ac228

6.13 hr

RdTh

90

Th228

1.91 yr

ThX

88 Ra224

3.64 d

Tn

86Em220

51.5 sec

ThA

84

Po216

0.16 sec

ThB

82 Pb2I2

10.6 hr

Bi2I2

a, P

60.5 min

Po212

0.30 gsec

ThC"

T 208

3.10 min

ThD

82 PbZo8

83
84

81

90 Th232

ThC'

po2I4

84

HALF LIFE

Th

ThC

1.3 sec

M O D E OF
DISINTEGRATION

NUCLIDE

4.51 x 10' yr

UI
UX I

H A L F LIFE

Stable

Stable

NUCLIDE

Bi2 I d ( Rac)

NUMBER OF P H O T O N S
PER DISINTEGRATION
IN EQUILIBRIUM MIXTURE

G A M M A - R A Y ENERGY.
Mev
0 609

0 769
I I20
1.238
1.379
1.764
2.204

0 17

0.06
0 05
0. I6
0 05

T12"(ThC')

0.51 I

0533
2.614
-

0 II
C.28
0.35

*With intensities greater than 0.05 photons per disintegration and energies greater than 100 kev

SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER, 1979

DRESSER ATLAS SPECTRALOG@

INSTRUMENT SPECIFICATIONS

SCHEMATIC OF INSTRUMENTATION

2703

Series:

2703

Diameter:

3.63"

(9.22 cm)

3.5"

(8.89 cm)

Length

7.0'

(2.13 m)

7.0'

(2.13 m)

Weight:

115 Ib

(52.2 kg)

97 Ib

(44.63 kg)

Min. Borehole Diameter:

4.0

(10.2 cm)

4.0"

(10.2 cm)

Max. Temperature:

400F

(204C)

400" F

(204' C)

Max. Pressure:

20,000 psi

(137.9 MPa)'

15:OOO psi

(103.4 MPa)'

Recommended Logging Speed:

10'lmin

(3.05 m/min)

* MPa

Megapascal ( I psi

(10'/min)

(3.05 mlmin)

6.895 E-03 MPa)

ENERGY WINDOW CALIBRATION

1:o
210
Gamma Ray Energy - MEV

3.0

FIGURE 1
THE LOG ANALYST

5
..

,, .

. .

Spectral Stripping. Thorium, located at the high


energy end of the gamma ray spectrum, is scaled and recorded
directly. Downscattered gamma rays from thorium are
stripped from the uranium channels, whereas downscattered gamma rays from uranium and thorium are stripped
from the potassium channels.

Basically, the vacuum flask assembly in the pressure


housing of the logging sonde contains a high-resolution
gamma spectrometer. The spectrometer consists of the
thallium-activated sodium iodide crystal (2 inch by 12 inch)
optically coupled to a photomultiplier (PM) tube. A downhole high-quality electronic amplifier assures voltage
amplitude proportionality when transmitting the pulses
uphole through either a single conductor or multiconductor
logging cable to the surface panels, which include an electronic amplifier, multichannel analyzer, digital panel, and
conventional logging camera.

Spectralog Calibration is based on four calibration


buckets which contain precisely measured concentrations
of potassium, uranium, thorium, and a mixture of the
three.3 The spectra corresponding to each of these calibrators are shown in Figure 2.3 With the mix bucket calibrator in position, the gain of the surface amplifier is adjusted so that the 2.614 MeV thorium peak is in channel 192
and the 1.46 MeV potassium peak in channel 105. This
calibration then automatically assures 1.764 MeV uranium
peak to be positioned in channel 126.

Pulse signals reaching the surface pass through the


electronic amplifier (its gain being set during calibration)
to the multichannel analyzer, which not only displays the
entire spectrum but also selects pulses within preselected
energy windows, and to the digital panel, which computes
background radiation corrected count rates from the raw
logging data by means of a mathematical spectrum stripping technique.

Unstripped count rates based on an average scintillation crystal and the mix bucket calibrator now in use are
for potassium: 11200 CPM k 400 CPM (corresponds to
approximately 15% K by volume), uranium: 7300 CPM k
300 CPM (corresponds to approximately 125 ppm U),
thorium: 4400 CPM k 150 CPM (corresponds approximately to 465 ppm Th), total counts: 180000 CPM k 1200
CPM.

The energy window and corresponding peaks utilized


by the multichannel analyzer are for potassium (K4, 1.46
MeV, peak channel #105, energy window 94-1 13), uranium
(Bi2I4, 1.764 MeV, peak channel #126, energy window
115-139), and thorium (T1208, 2.614 MeV, peak channel
# I 92, energy window 173-2 1 1).
Four count rate meters (CRM) are available to accumulate the total number of gamma rays measured (total
count rate, counts/ minute) and the background corrected
count rates in each of the above windows for potassium,
uranium, and thorium. The outputs from each CRM as a
function of depth are displayed on the camera and logging
film. Recording of raw or background corrected ratios, for
example uranium/potassium or uranium/ thorium, is also
feasible.

SPECTRALOG APPLICATIONS IN OPEN AND


CASED BOREHOLES
Distributionof Potassium, Uranium, and
Thorium in Several Rocks and Minerals

Many long-lived radioactive nuclides occur in nature.


Of particular interest to the petroleum industry are those of
potassium, uranium, and thorium. In various amounts, all
are found in subsurface formations and as constituents of
potential reservoir rocks. Related data based on an extensive literature search and our recent field experiences have
been compiled in Table 11. In addition, the most important
thorium and thorium-bearing minerals are tabulated in
Table I I f , whereas uranium minerals are listed in Table IV.

Spectralog Format. Total counts are recorded in the


left-hand track in either countslminute or API units. In
the 5-inch right-hand track, the potassium curve is recorded
in percent, uranium in parts per million, and thorium in parts
per million.
Logging Speed. Sensitivity settings, time constants,
and logging speeds are recorded on log heading. Standard
minute markers also appear on the log to confirm logging
speed. To retain satisfactory vertical bed resolution and
minimized statistical fluctuations, the logging speed (LSP,
ft/min) should not exceed 10 ft/min. Frequently applied
time constants (TC, sec) range from 6 to 8. In other words,
drag (ft) = (TC LSP)/60.

Comparisonof Spectralog and Core Analysis

Based on the quantitative calibration technique used,


the Spectralog provides reliable quantitative measurements.
For example, in a clastic sediment sequence in the southwest
area of the U.S.A.4 at a depth of 8056 ft to 8067 ft, the core
analysis yielded an average uranium concentration of 16.5
ppm, compared to the Spectralogderived average uranium
concentration of 17.0 ppm. However, uranium ore deposits
have to be in secular radioactive equilibrium, since any
disequilibria would result in U-overestimation.

Depth of Investigation is primarily a function of gamma ray energy, borehole size, type of fluid in borehole, and
cement and casing thickness. Studies have shown that for
I .764 MeV gamma rays reaching a 6-inch uncased borehole
containing 10 lb/gal mud, the distance of 100 percent response extends to 16 inches horizontally from the borehole
and intersects the wellbore 25 inches above and below the
detector.

In crystalline basement rock located in the Valles


Caldera, New Mexico7, detailed core analysis yielded an
average K2O-value of 4.18% compared to 4.05% from the
Spectralog.

SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER, 1979

u
aJ

0.
v1
L

r.

IJ)

P
-

G
O
U

FIGURE 2
THE LOG ANALYST

TABLE II
Potassium (K), Uranium (U), and Thorium (Th) Distribution
in Several Rocks and Minerals
U
(PPm)

K
(O h )

Th
(PPm)

Accessory Minerals

30-700
5-150
20-50
500-3000
100-700
500-3.4XlO'
300-3000

500-5000
20-1 50
50-500
O4
2 . 5 ~O4-2Ox1
1
100-600
Low
100-2500

1.7
2.9

0.8
2.0

1.9
2.0

0.61
0.61
<1.4
<0.6
<1.3
1.7

0.99
0.53
<1.4
0.25
0.50
1.7

4.6
1.96
3.9
<0.05
<2.0
6.8

Allanite
Apatite
Epidote
Monazite
Sphene
Xenotime
Zircon
Andesite (av )
A , Oregon
Basalt
Alkali basalt
Plateau basalt
Alkali olivine basalt
Tholeiites (orogene)
(non orogene)
Basalt in Oregon
Carbonates
Range (average)
Calcite, chalk, Limestone,
dolomite (all pure)
Dolomite, West Texas (clean)
Limestone (clean)
Florida
Cretaceous Trend, Texas
Hunton Lime, Okla.
West Texas
Clay Minerals
Bauxite
Glauconite
Bentonite
Montmorillonite
Kaolinite
lllite
Mica
Biotite
Muscovite
Diabase, Va.
Diorite, Quartzodiorite
Dunite, Wa.
Feldspars
Plagioclase
Orthoclase
Microcl ine

<
<

0.1-9.0(2.2)

0.0-2.0(0.3)
<O.l
0.1-0.3

< 0.4

<0.3
<0.2
<0.3

5.08-5.30
<0.5
0.16
0.42
4.5

0.1-7.0(1.7)

<l.O
1.5-10

<0.5
<2.0

2.0
1.5-15
<l.O
<1.5

< 2.0

1.5

<1.5
<1.5

3-30

10-130

1-20
2-5
1.5-3
1.5

6-50
14-24
6-19

< 0.01

6.7-8.3
7.9-9.8

<O.Ol

<l.O
1. I
<0.02

<l.O
2.0
<O.Ol

0.54
11.8-14.0
10.9

2.4
8.5
0.01

<
< 0.01
< 0.01
< 0.01

Gabbro (mafic igneous)

0.46-0.58

.a4-.9

Granite (silicic igneous)


Rhode Island
New Hampshire
Precambrian (Okla.)
Minnesota, Col. Tex.)
Granodiorite
Colorado, Idaho

2.75-4.26
4.5-5
3.5-5
2-6

3.6-4.7
4.2
12-16
3.2-4.6

19-20
25-52
50-62
14-27

2-2.5

2.6
2.-2.5

9.3-1 1
11.0-12.1

Oil Shales, Colorado


Peridodite

5.5
<4.0
0.2

Phosphates
Rhyolite

'4.2

Sandstones, range (av.)


Silica, quartz, quartzite, (pure)

0.7-3.8 (1.1)

< O 15

Beach Sds, Gulf Coast


Atlantic Coast (Flo , N C )
Atlantic Coast (NJ, Mass )

<I2
0 37
03

Shales
"Common" Shales (range (av ))
Shales (200 samples)
Schist (biotite)
Syenite
Tuff (feldspatic)

2.7-3.85

up to 500

1-30

0.01

Q.05

100-350

1-5

5
0.2-0.6(0.5)

< 0.4

1 6-4 2(2 7 )
20

27
2 04

0.7-2.0(1.7)
<0.2

0.84
3.97
0.8

2.8
11.27
2.07

1.5-5.5(3.7)
6 .O
2.4-4.7
2500
5.96

8-la(12.0)
12.0
13-25
1300
1.56
SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER, 1979

TABLE 111
Thorium and Thorium-BearingMinerals (After Frondel et al., 1956)

Name
,

I
I
I

I
I

Com posit ion

Thorium minerals
Cheral ite
Huttonite
Pi1barite
Thorianite
Thorite**
Thorogu m m ite* *

Tho, content,

(Th,Ca,Ce) ( P04Si04)
ThSi04
T h o 2 U 0 3 PbO 2Si02 4H20
Tho;!
ThSi04
Th(Si0,)l-x(OH)4-x; x 0.25

<

Thorium-bearing minerals
Allanite
( Ca,Ce,Th)2(AI,Fe,Mg)3Si30,2(OH)
Bastnaesite
( Ce, La) Co3F
Betafite
About (U,Ca)(Nb,Ta,Ti),Og nH,O
Brannerite
About (U,Ca,Fe,Th,Y)3Ti50,6
Euxenite
(Y,Ca,Ce,U,Th) (Nb,Ta,Ti),05
(Ce ,Ca,Fe,Th) (Ti,N b)206
Eschynite
Ferg uson ite
(Y ,Er,Ce,U,Th)(Nb,Ta,Ti)04
Monazite*
(Ce,Y ,La,Th)P04
Samarskite
(Y ,Er,Ce,U, Fe,Th) ( Nb,Ta),06
Hydrocarbon mixture containing U, Th,
Thucholite
rare earth elements
U 0 2 (ideally) with Ce, Y, Pb, Th, etc.
U raninite
Yttrocrasite
About (Y ,Th,U,Ca)n(Ti,Fe,W),O,,
Zircon
ZrSiO,

**

OO
/

30, variable
81.5 (ideal)
31, variable
lsomorphous series to U 0 2
25 to 63 - 81.5 (ideal)
24 to 58 or more

0 to about 3
Less than 1
0 to about 1
0 to 12
0 to about 5
0 to 17
0 to about 5
0 to about 30; usually 4 to 12
0 to about 4
0 to 14
7 to 9
Usually less than 1

Most important commercial ore of thorium. Deposits are found in Brazil, India, USSR, Scandinavia,
South Africa, and U.S.A.
Potential thorium ore minerals.
Repeatability of Spectralog

Since random natural formation radioactivity is


measured, statistical fluctuations are always present and no
perfect repeat of the K, U, or Th-curvesshould beexpected,
particularly at low count rates. Several repeat runs and data
averaging are recommended for specialized quantitative
analysis attempts.
Figure 3 shows repeat runs in two wells in Kansas,
including distinctive correlation features in these Permian carbonates.

TABLE IV
Uranium Minerals

AUTUNITE
TYUYAMUNITE
CARNOTITE
~ L T W O O D I T E
WEEKSITE

THE LOG ANALYST

Effect of Borehole Environment

Ca(UO2)2(PO4)2 10- 12 H20

Similar to conventional gamma ray logging, the Spectralog response is affected by borehole size and fluid, casing,
and cement. These effects will increase for centralized versus
non-centralized logging tools.

Ca(UO2)2(V04)2 5-8 H20


KZ(UG)~(UO~)L
1-3H2O
U-silicate high in K

Figure 4 shows the effect of potassium mud on the


potassium and total counts curves in an Austin Chalk well
in Texas.

U-silicate high in Ca

Spectralog Repeats and Regional Correlation Features in


Permian Carbonates. Kansas

TOTAL COUNTS

DEPTH

COUNTS PER MINUTE

TOTAL COUNTS

COUNTS PER MINUTE

DEPTH

REPEAT SECTION

RFPFAT SFCTION

Two Spectralogsand their repeatsare shown overa PermianCarbonatesection intwo wells, located in Kansas. Since the
Spectralog records the natural formation radioactivity, statistical variations become important and no perfect repeatsof
the K, U or Th curves should be expected, particularly at low count rate levels.
Also noteworthy are thecorrelative geologic features in the shales and particularlyin the Permian. Carbonates(inc1uding
the U-hot streak). Correlative Spectralog features are shown in both wells which are located in adjacent counties,
Kansas.
FIGURE 3
10

SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER, 1979

This effect has to be kept in mind if different mud systems have been applied in area wells and the Spectralog is
used for detailed correlation, sand quality studies, or quantitative shaly sand analysis.

Effect of Potassium Mud on Spectralog Response

TOTAL COUNTS

DEPTH

COUNTS PER MINUTE


Potassium

Furthermore, deep invasion by highly concentrated


potassium fluids into permeable formations might, to some
extent, affect the Ibg response. However, under controlled
and properly applied conditions, the same principle could
be utilized to locate channeling behind pipe, tagging of
major fracs, monitoring the flow behavior in highly stratified reservoirs and secondary recovery operations, pinpointing major natural fracture systems, etc.
Geological Significance of Spectralog Data

Spectralog data and resulting ratio values assist in


many geological and engineering studies. Table V lists
application possibilities of Spectralog-derived ratios, such
as Th/U, U/K, and Th/K.
Distribution and Precipitation of Uranium and Radium

Generally speaking, precipitation from subsurface


formation waters is principally controlled by pH and redox
(Eh) potentials.
Downward movement (infiltration) of meteoric waters,
concurrent loss of oxygen, bacterial action, geochemical
reactions with host rocks, etc., cause Eh-changes from
positive (oxidizing environment) to negative (reducing
environments).

Reducing Environment. Subsurface waters associated with petroleum occurrences normally exhibit a negative
redox (Eh) potential. In presence of organic matter, hydrogen sulfide, and sulfur dioxide, the available uranium ions,
transported in migrating subsurface waters, will precipitate
as UOZ.

Similar t o gamma ray logs, the Spectralog responds to


potassium, regardless if it is present in the formations
and the cased or uncased wellbore.

f ihslc

The Spectralog shown was logged in 7% in. open hole,


in the Austin Chalk, LaSalle Co., Texas. Mud in thewell
contained caustic soda (potash). Area experience in
relatively clean Austin Chalk intervals normally shows
the potassium (K) curve not to exceed 2 chart divisions
(CD) (i.e., <0.5%K) when run on a scale of 0.24%K/
CD. However, in the subject well the potassium curve
reads approximately twice as high as normal. Why?
,The potassium content in the mud shiftsthe totalcounts
and potassium curve to higher than normal values, the
being a function of the potassium concentration
in the mud and the size of the borehole.
FIGURE 4
THE LOG ANALYST

Therefore, precipitated uranium may be found concentrated along geologic fault planes, natural fracture and
fissure systems of some areal extent, or - under the proper
conditions - in any permeable clastic, argillaceous and
igneous rocks, carbonates, etc. Among the probable source
rocks of uranium, one has to consider tuffaceous, arkosic,
and granitic rocks.

In petroleum exploration, such intervals may then


become candidates for selective perforating. For a complete formation evaluation, however, additional standard
well logging suites and their interpretive results will have to
be taken into account, since over geologic time, some of the
natural radioactive fracture or otherwise high permeability
systems may again be sealed off by mineral precipitation,
such as secondary calcite. U-precipitation being a long time
process under dynamic flow conditions, severe calcite
plugging can be caused by even minor variations in pH.
Extensive field experience has already shown that
wireline gamma ray spectral logging techniques, such as
the Spectralog, greatly assist in pinpointing zones for selective perforating which (1) produce from an open, natural

curie/l) is one to two orders of magnitude higher than that


in regular formation waters.

fracture system or (2) concentrate properly engineered well


stimulation efforts at a fracture system which is sealed at
the vicinity of the borehole but may still be open some distance away.

This radioactive fringe in the flooded reservoir rock is


postulated to have been formed due to migration of the Ra
out of the oil, along the surfaces of the surrounding rock
matrix, and into the water. In unperforated reservoirs, intervals of increased radioactivity then correspond to
flooded-out parts of a potential reservoir. In already perforated intervals, the reliability of this technique may decrease slightly.

Oxidizing Environmenr bositive Eh). Under oxidizing


and slightly alkaline conditions, the uranyl ion (U02") is
soluble in subsurface waters containing carbonate, bicarbonate, or hydroxyl ions.

Some of this dissolved uranium may be absorbed on


ferric hydroxide, which in turn often coprecipitates with
calcium. Furthermore, radioactive salts are usually found
to coprecipitate with barium sulfate (inasmuch as barium
is a chemical analog to radium), which is the least watersoluble salt. Depending on variations in temperature, pressure, flow, and geochemical conditions, this radioactive
salt precipitates in a non-reversible manner on the cement
annulus or the pipe (i.e., casing) itself. In other words, microcrystals of water-insoluble "radio-barite" (Ba(Ra) so4)
formed suspended in colloidal solutions may, under dynamic
flow conditions, be transported through permeable reservoir rock, such as during primary production or waterflood operations, until final precipitation occurs at perforated or around unperforated cased wellbores which
penetrate the subject formation.

Application of such concepts is also well known in the


U.S.A. For example, use of conventional gamma ray logs
to successfully locate behind-the-pipe saltwater invasion
in six Texas oilfields was recently discussed'*, but it is also
well established in several other domestic areas, including
several Alaskan oilfields.
Here again, the Spectralog has a unique application
in cased wellbores to assist in locating watered-out and/or
bypassed oil stringers and simultaneously provides a reliable
shaliness estimate. Recent use of the Spectralog under these
conditions has been extremely successful. (Figure 6).

Application of the Spectralog as a workover tool to


detect and locate faulty cement jobs, such as channeling
behind @pe, is warranted. In another unique Spectralog
application, reliable shaliness estimates across already cased
"hot" (radioactive) intervals can be obtained (Figure 5).

Radioactive Scaling around Open Perforations


TOTALCOUNTS

DEPTH

I
I

OpprnThlM

Russian investigations of radioactive elements in subsurface waters have established correlations of radium (Ra)
with water salinity, geologic age of formations, gas component of subsurface waters, etc. Generally speaking, subsurface waters in contact with hydrocarbon reservoirs show
an increase in Ra-content. Also, Ra was found to be higher
in chloride-calcium waters compared to bicarbonatesodium waters.

m
I

In Bashkirian oil fields, U.S.S. R., abnormally high


gamma ray values (i.e., < 10 times above normal) have been
logged near and at oil-water contacts, particularly where
the tar and asphalt fractions and sulfur content of the oil is
high. Movement of Ufrom theaquifertotheoilcontact under
conditions of a reducing environment has been postulated."
Under such conditions, application of gamma ray spectral
logging principles will provide a practical means to study
such phenomena on a detailed, field-wide basis.

Abnormally high level of radioactivity over perforated


intervals in old wells is frequently observed. This field
case shows a Spectralog run across open perforations.
(After Wichmann et al., 1975). Note that presence of
"radiobarite" [Ba(Ra)S04] causes localized, excessively high total counts measurements (i.e., high
gamma ray readings), which are easily correlated to
the high values on the U-curve. Also note that both the
potassium (K) and thorium (Th) curves show relatively
low values. In other words, the reservoir is actually
clean, i.e., of low shaliness. Hence, the Spectralog's
unique application gives reliable shaliness estimates
and concurrently pinpoints the intervals of largest
water entry.
FIGURE 5

The well-known application of gamma ray logging


techniques for locating oil-depleted, water flooded strata
and, hence, by assed oil has been discussed by several
investigators. 1 1 13 14 15
Under controlled field test conditions16, it was found
that during displacement of oil by water in the forward part
of the replacement front, a radioactive fringe, that is a zone
of increased concentration of radium isotopes in the flooded
layer, is generated. This Ra-concentration ( low8to lo-'
12

SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER, 1979

Radioactive Scaling Around Perforated and


Unperforated Section of Reservoir Rock

TOTAL COUNTS

DEPTH

COUNTS PER MINUTE

Radioactive "hot" zones may be encountered across


cased-off pay zones which are produced from in adjacent and structurally higher offset wells. It has been
frequently observed that buildup of radioactive scaling
[Ba(Ra)S04] is restricted to the hydrocarbon bearing
section of the reservoir rock, whereas it is absent in
the underlying waterbearing zone. In other words,
radioactive scaling selectively builds up in the part of
the reservoir which is under dynamic flow conditions.

IJRANlllM

-41

SPECTRALOG 11978)

THORIUM

The field case shown is a well completed in the Mississippian Madison Limestone, Colorado. The formation is a light t o dark gray, pink and buff limestone,
dolomitic limestone, dolomite, and limey dolomite,
which is predominately crystalline and fine-grained.
Parts of the formation are porous and caverneous with
calcite fillings. A gamma ray log, run in 1967, and the
Spectralog, run in 1978, are shown for comparison.
The well produced oil over several years from perforations at x738-ft. t o x754-ft. When the zone watered
out, thru-casing logs were run t o investigate the recompletion potential in several permeable stringers
above these perforations. These logs indicated the
entire interval t o be essentially depleted. Note that the
Spectralog (i.e., total counts and U-curves) clearly
confirms the depleted reservoir condition. A faulty
cement job (despite several squeeze attempts in the
past) probably allowed complete reservoir drainage,
despite the limited perforations within this thick Madison limestone reservoir.

CI:
FIGURE 6
13

THE LOG ANALYST


4

Uraniumand Radium in SubsurfaceWaters

zoic black shales have shown linear correlations between


the carbon content (in %) and the uranium content, and the
thoriumluranium ratio. In 1945, the radioactivity and
organic content of 5 10 samples of sedimentary rocks were
studied 2 3 and a marked relation between certain types of
organic content and radioactivity was observed.

Ra-rich oilfield waters are frequently low in sulfates.


Russian data include Ra-content of 5-30
in Bibi-Eibat
area; 1O-ll-5 *
in Caspian Sea region (Grozny); 1.2 *
in Dagestan; 0.9-75 * lo- g/1 in Russian Plateau
region, etc. Ra-concentrations (in lo- g/l) in German subsurface waters include: 0.7 in Wietze; Nienhagen, 2.5; Rossleben, 14.3; Volkenroda, 5.5; etc.17

In 1978, a patent was issued 24 for the in-situ evaluation


of the source rock potential of earth formations based on
downhole gamma ray spectral logging application based on
the concepts investigated in the 40s.

U-concentrations in springs along the tectonic fault


systems in the Vienna Basin, Austria, range up to 12 ppb
(ppb = parts per billion), whereas other waters in Lower
Austria range from 0.5 to 1.5 ppb only. Thermal waters may
have up to 0.5 ppm U, subsurface waters in Texas up to 0.01
ppm, sea water from 0.0025 to 0.0035 ppm.I8

The Spectralog, hence, allows a continuous monitoring of the source rock potential of shales in both open and
cased wellbores. The potential of the Spectralog to hydrocarbon exploration thus becomes obvious (Figure 8). New
and old wells can be logged to determine source rock potential variations both versus depth and on a regional basis
using the appropriate mapping techniques.

Figure 7 illustrates the probable paths of uranium


leached out of source rocks.

(oxygenated)

(Inorganic or organic)

Typical organic-rich shales are well known on a worldwide basis (Kimmeridge Shale, North Sea; Lower Mississippian and Devonian Shales in U.S.A.; Miocene Monterey
Shale in California, etc.).

a Decay

Potassium, Thorium, and Uranium Distribution


in Clay Minerals and Shales

As shown in Table 11, various clay minerals have


different K, U, and Th concentration. Generally speaking,
most shalesexhibit high K and Th-content, but low U-values.
Kaolinite, a K-deficient clay mineral, is a notable exception.
Bentonites, frequently used as important stratigraphic time
markers over large areal extent, show excessively high
Th-content.

Leacning
Solution

Probable paths of uranium leached out of source rocks.


(After Huang. 1978)
FIGURE 7

Analysis25 of over 200 shales showed the following


distribution: approximately 2% K. 6 ppm U, and 12 ppm Th.

Uranium in Crude Oil

U is easily absorbed by clays in reducing environments,


particularly in presence of carbonaceous material and
sulfides.

Uranium can occur in oil-soluble form.20 U-content in


the ash of several crude oils from Oklahoma ranges from 2
ppm to 10 ppm. Libyan crude oils show U-concentrations of
about 1.5 loT2ppm.

Thorium content and Th/ K-ratios for several clay


minerals are shown in Figure 9.26Related geological applications have been compiled in Table V.

Recently, U-concentrations of several U.S. crude oils


have been compiled.21 These data include U-concentration
(in
ppm) for Arkansas: 0.5-2.5; Colorado: 0.17-0.7;
Kansas: 0.28-2.6; Montana: 0.12; New Mexico: 0.54; Oklahoma: 0.32-1.98; Utah: 0.04, Wyoming: 0.24-13.5.

Spectralog Response in
PotentialShale Reservoir Rocks

Typical organic-rich shales are well known worldwide. These highly radioactive, black, organic-rich shales
are encountered in several areas in the U.S.A. and elsewhere.
Localized, these shale formations become potential
reservoir rocks due to presence of natural fracture systems,
interbedded silt, chert, or carbonate beds.

Determination of Source Rock Potential


In Argillaceous Sediments

Extensive investigations have suggested that organic


compounds in a host rock play a significant role in subsurface uranium accumulation.

Antrim-Chattanooga- Woodford Shales of Lower Mississippi and Upper Devonian age are well-known examples
of black, organic shale formations. The Woodford Shale in
Oklahoma and Texas is a dark-brown to black, fissile, carbonaceous shale, which is locally interbedded by thin beds of
black pyritic chert, siliceous shales, and siltstones.

As early as 1944, it was stated22that use of radioactive


elements as tracers in the study of sedimentation may aid in
defining the source beds of oil. Laboratory data for Paleo-

14

SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER, 1979

SOURCE ROCK POTENTIAL OF ARGILLACEOUS SEDIMENTS

W
-J

v)

ORGANIC CARBON, %

ORGANIC CARBON, %

Organic Carbon Content (%) versus Uranium/potassium ratio (left) and Uranium content (right) in
New Albany Shale. (After Supernaw et al., 1978)
FIGURE 8

FIGURE 9
Potassium and Thorium Variations in
Several Clay Minerals

.)----.

K-Feldspars

Bauxite

--

Glauconite

am-

Muscovite.lllite

--

Mixed

Kaolinite

Layer

Kaolite.Chlorite

I Ilite.Muscovite
Montrnorillonite

..._

0.25
0.5
0.75
Al2O3I(AI2O3 + S O 2 )

1 .o

1.oo

THE LOG ANALYST


I

.rl
10

. ,..

Bauxite

100

T~IK

Thorium/potassium ratio (Th/K) variations in potassium-rich feldspars, glauconite, muscovite, illite,


mixed layer, kaolite, chlorite, and bauxite minerals.
(After Hassan et al., 1976).

Thorium content variations in glauconite, montmorillonite, illite, muscovite, kaolinite, and bauxite
minerals. (After Hassan et al., 1976)
I

15
I

!I

The Eagle Ford Shale of Cretaceous age, located within


the Cretaceous Carbonate Trend in Texas, is sandwiched
between the Austin Chalk and Buda Lime. The Eagle Ford
formation is the potential source rock for the oil in the
carbonate reservoirs. It exhibits a wide range of lithology,
varying from a typically dark, organic-rich shale to a limey,
chalky, dolomitic formation, or shales sometimes interbedded with siltstone. Porosity in the Eagle Ford formation
is usually less than 5 percent. Even though by itself not to be
considered the sole target for exploratory drilling, the formation is frequently fractured and then becomes a potential
completion target of more than just localized interest.

Similar conditions have been observed in the Heehner


Shale of Pennsylvanian age in Kansas, the Devonian gas
shales along the U.S. East Coast, the Miocene Monrerey
formation in California, and many more.
Several of these organic-rich shales frequently owe
their production potential, i.e., permeability, to natural
fracture systems in an otherwise essentially impermeable
rock. Natural fracture systems are concentrated in brittle,
usually calcareous or silty zones. The Spectralog easily pinpoints the calcareous or silty zones, both being characterized
by low potassium and low thorium, but extremely high uranium concentration. Based on this concept, the Spectralog
has already assisted in many successful completion or recompletion attempts in the fractured intervals of these shale
formations.

Fractured Shale Reservoirs in Colorado and northwest


New Mexico are of Cretaceous age and occur in the Front
Kange flank, northwest Colorado, and along the rim of the
San Juan Basin.

Whereas Figure 10 shows the Eagle Ford Shale as a


tight source rock, Figure 1 1 illustrates an oil-productive
Eagle Ford interval in Frio County, Texas. For comparison,
Figure 12 presents the log response OvertheentireEagle Ford
Shale-Buda Lime-Del Rio Shale section in the Cretaceous Carbonate Trend, South Texas.

Their cumulative oil production comes to 3 percent of


Colorados total and 1 I percent in northwest New Mexico.
Parts of the Niobrara, Mancos, and Pierre formations are
the principal formations that produce hydrocarbons.

TABLE V
Geological Significance of Spectralog Ratio Values

REMARKS

RATIOS
Thorium/Uranium
(Th/U)

* In sedimentary rocks Th/U varies with depositional environment

Th/U

> 7: continental, oxidizing environment, weathered soils, etc.

<7: marine deposits, gray and green shales, graywackes


<2: .marine black shales, phosphates.
* In igneous rocks high Th/U indicative of oxidizing conditions by magma

Uran ium/Potassi um *
(U/K)
*
*
*

Thorium/Potassium
(Th/K)

*
*
*

*
*

before crystallization and/or extensive leaching during postcrystat Iizat io n history


Source rock potential estimates of argillaceous sediments (shales)
Major geologic u nconf orm it ies
Distance to ancient shore lines or location of rapid uplift during time
of deposition
Stratigraphic correlations, transgression vs. regression, oxidation vs.
reduction regimes, etc.
Source rock potential of argillaceous sediments
Stratigraphic correlations
Unconformities, diagenetic changes in argillaceous sediments, carbonates, etc.
Frequent correlation with vugs and natural fracture systems in subsurface formations, including localized correlation with hyrocarbon shows
on drilling mud logs and core samples both in clastic and carbonate reservoirs
Recognition of rock types of different facies
Paleographic and paleoclimatic interpretation of facies characteristics
Depositional environments, distance from ancient shore lines, etc.
Diagenetic changes of argillaceous sediments
Clay typing: Th/K increases from glauconite*muscovite+illite+mixed
layer clays-, kaolinite +chlorite+bauxite
Correlation with crystallinity of illite, average reflectance power, paramagnetic electronic resonance
16

SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER, 1979

Source Rock, Organic-Rich Eagle Ford Shale,


Cretaceous Carbonate Trend, Texas

Spectralog Response in Eagle Fort Shale,


Cretaceous Carbonate Trend, Texas

>

TOTAL COUNTS

COUNTS PER MINUTE

ocpw

Polowum
0

(121

CD

Uranium

1 2 4 w m CD

Thorium

CPM
0

15wo

1 1 0"m CD

Spectralog response over Austin Chalk, Eagle Ford,


Shale and Buda Lime in Cretaceous Carbonate trend,
Caldwell Co., Texas (After Fertl et al., 1978).The relatively thin Eagle Ford Shale in the subject well is characterized by very high potassium and thorium values,
and excessively high uranium concentration. These
Spectralog response characteristics are typical for an
organic-rich shale.
FIGURE 10

This Spectralog is shown over the Eagle Ford Shale


formation in the Pearsallarea, Frio County, Texas.
The total counts (gamma ray) response appears t o be
completely unrelated t o the "shaliness" of the formation. The K curve indicates a relatively "clean", calcareous Eagle Ford formation, particularly between
5450 feet and 5500 feet. Note the frequent correlation
between decreasing K and increasing U concentration.
Selective perforating in such zones often yields commercial production without any massive well
stimulation.
FIGURE 11
THE LOG ANALYST

17

Eagle Ford Shale-Buda-Lime-Del Rio Shale Sequence


in Cretaceous Carbonate Trend, Texas

TOTAL COUNTS

DEPTH

Clastic Reservoir Rocks (Sands, Sandstones)

Clean clastic reservoir rocks exhibit very low values for


K, Th, and U. However, presence of highly radioactive
minerals (monozite, zircon, etc., see Tables 11, 111, and IV)
may causesubstantial increases in K, Th, or U-concentrations
in clean clastic rocks.

COUNTS PER MINUTE

Both K and Th concentrations provide reliable shaliness estimates based on either linear or exponential
correlations.

VSHI= (A-AMIN)(AMAXAMIN)
where
A

= value from Spectralog (K in %, or Th in ppm)


in zone of interest.

AMIN

= minimum log value (K in %, or Th in ppm)


in nearby clean, shale-free formations

AMAX = maximum log value (K in %, or Th in ppm)


in nearby essentially pure shale zone.
This linear mathematical relationship can be applied
by simply scaling the proper logging curve from 0 to 100%. In
some areas a value of Vsh = 0.5 VSHl has been found to be a
good approximation. More refined relationships include:
Vsn

= 0.33 (yVSH11.O) -Highly Consolidated and


Mesozoic Rocks

VSH

0.083 (23'7VSH
- 1.0)-Tertiary

Clastics

Th versus K crossplots have been proposed to quantitatively determine the quartz, clay, and radioactive mica
components in the Jurassic North Sea reservoir sands.27
Figure 13 shows the effect ofthese radioactive heavy minerals
on conventional log responses, whereas Figures 14 through
17 present SEM photos of the mica in this Jurassic rock.
Figure I8 shows the laboratory-derived relationship
between Th-gamma spectral measurements and clay volume
determinations based on X-ray diffraction analysis for
Jurassic core samples from the North Sea.28 Such relationships apply despite the presence of various amounts of K-rich
but Th-deficient mica minerals.

THORIUM

Radioactive sandstones are encountered worldwide,


including U.S. Gulf Coast, Mid-Continent, California,
North Sea, Nigeria, etc. Figure 19 shows a typical sand-shale
sequence, including a slightly feldspatic sand interval,
Figures 20 and 21 show radioactive sands in California,
whereas Figure 22 suggests a correlation between oil shows
and high U-values in the San Miguel sand, South Texas.
Similar observations have been made in the Mid-Continent
area, U.S.A.

An empirical correlation between K-values and the


presence of tuffaceous, shaly sandstones has been developed
for the Chubutiano formation, located in the San Jorge basin
in southern Argentina. The subject formation contains low
but also varying formation water salinities and locally varies
from non-permeable pure tuffites to shaly formations.
Figure 23 illustrates the basic concept for wellsite cased-hole
evaluation based on the Spectralog and Carbon/Oxygen

Spectralog shows drastically different response in the


organic-rich (source-rock), partly calcareous, Eagle
Ford Shale (>K, >>U,>Th) down to 4122-ft., over the
relatively clean and tight Buda Limestone (<K, <U,
O h ) from 4122-ft. to 4218 ft., and illustrates the
typical shale response in the Del Rio Shale (>>K,>U,
>>Th) below 4218-ft.
FIGURE 12

LO^.^^

18

SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER, 1979

Radioactive Heavy Minerals, Micaceous Jurassic


Sandstones, Northern North Sea Region

COMPENSATED NEUTRON

lAPl UNITS1

CALIPER
~1

(INCHES1

,dl

DENSITY
.-..-. . .

gm cc

Response of gamma ray, density and neutron logs in


the radioactive micaeous Jurassic sandstones, North
Sea area, shows increasing mica content with depth
(After Hammack et al., 1974). Presence of K-rich
mica (muscovite) causes the gamma ray increase. Note
the effect of the high-density mica (>3.0 g/cc) on the
density log, whereas the neutron response is only
slightly affected. Also note the uniform filter cake
response on the caliper.

Initial core and subsequent well test data confirmed


the presence of relatively uniform porosity over the
entire pay zone.

Under these conditions the Spectralog, particularly


the thorium curve, would allow quantitative clay
volume estimates despite the presence of varying
amounts of radioactivemica.

Photos of mica "seam" which forms dense, essentially tight horizontal barriers. The latter not only affect
response of several geophysical well logging tools but
also drastically change vertical reservoir rock permeability. Magnification 1OOX (above) and 500X
(below).

FIGURE 13

FIGURE 14

THE LOG ANALYST

19

6L6 1 I33 8 0130I4 38VU 31d 3S

oz

I2

/
/
/
/

///

I S A l VN W 901 3 H l

Radioactive "Hot" Sands a t Shallow Depth in


California

Sand-Shale Sequence in Santa Barbara Co., California

TOTAL

COUNTS

COUNTS PER MINUTE

DLPTM

Poloaium
n

29uICD

Radioactive sands are encountered worldwide. For


example, radioactive mica is present in Jurassic pay
sands in the Northern N-Sea area, potassium feldspar
is encountered in Nigerian sands, a combination of
clays, mica, and feldspars is frequently present in the
Granite Wash, etc.

Spectralog response typical for clastic sediments in


an open-hole Californian well; sands (low total counts,
<K, <U, O h ) ; shales (>total counts, >K, medium to
high U,>Th). Presence of potassium feldspar between
x5OO-ft. to x580-ft. causes the potassium values to
increase, despite the simultaneous decrease in the
thorium curve. Also note the overall high U-content in
the argillaceous sediments present.

The Spectralog example shows a massive, shallow


sand sequence, located in Kern Co., California. Note
the presence of "hot" streaks due to uranium salt precipitation in selective intervals within these thick potential pay sands.
FIGURE 20

FIGURE 19
22

SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER, 1979

Spectralog Response versus Oil Shows in


Cored San Miguel Sand, South Texas

Radioactive "Hot" Sandstones at 5,000 ft. to 10,000


ft. in California

TOTAL COUNTS

10

oEPw

COUNTS PER MINUTE

lhorium

CPM

487ppmCI

20 wo

TOTAL COUNTS

COUNTS PER MINUTE

DEPTH

Potassium
0

0145%iCD

Uronium
073pr,m/cn

CPM
0

Thorium
14 a4 ~ l l ~ i c o

3wM)

m
0

Note that the high total counts (i.e., gamma ray curve)
values in the top part of the sand are caused by the
localized excessively high U-concentration. The latter
was found to correlate closely with oil shows found
in the full sized core samples taken. Similar observations have been made in other area wells and elsewhere
in the U.S.A. (After Fertl et al., 1978)

Spectralog was run in cased hole with oil in the borehole. Zone between x420-ft. t o x490-ft. shows presence of low potassium, but high uranium and high
thorium content. Gamma ray (total counts) "hot"
zone at x 450-ft. is believed to be bentonitic, tuffaceous streak due t o >>Th but decreasing K-values.
Lower section between x775-ft. to x960-ft. again
clearly shows the complete ineffectiveness of the
gamma ray (total counts) curve, as a shaliness indicator, due t o sporadic but drastic increase in uranium
concentration within several sandstone formations.

Also note that application of the total counts or gamma


ray curve for determination of sand thickness or sandshale ratio studies, would have resulted in erroneous
and, hence, misleading geologic interpretations.

FIGURE 21

FIGURE 22

dj
I

THE LOG ANALYST

23

Cased Hole Evaluation of Tuffaceous, Shaley


Sandstones
San Jorge Basin, Southern Argentina

Carbonate Reservoir Rocks

Pure carbonates (limestone, chalk, dolomite) are


characterized by very low K, Th, and U contents (Table 11).
However, presence of alkalies, such as authigenic feldspars, argillaceous material, etc., may significantly increase
the K-content.

Whereas precipitation of uranium is inhibited by the


presence of carbonate ions, which is reflected in the generally low uranium concentration in limestones and dolomites,
U-precipitation from aqueous solutions (subsurface waters)
easily takes place in reducing environments in presence of
carbonaceous material and sulfides. Such conditions, combined with precipitation during ground-water movement
over geologic time through zones of high fluid transmissibility (i.e., high permeability intervals, natural fissure and
fracture systems, fault zones, etc.), may be the cause of Uenrichment in excess of 20 ppm.

eb4

t C 1

Hence, in carbonates, the Spectralog assists in the


description of rock types, detailed zone correlation, and
reliable shaliness estimates (Figure 18) and frequently assists
in locating those intervals which (1) provide high production rates from natural fracture systems and (2) pinpoint
target zones for well stimulation such as fracturing or
acidizing.

1
ZONE OF TUFFACEOUS
SWALV SANDSTONE
1.60

1.58

0.50

1 .oo

Application of the U/K-ratio curve is shown in an


Austin Chalk well, Texas (Figure 24), increased oil production based on recompletions using Spectralog is illustrated
in Figure 25 and Figure 26, an important correlation between
mud log shows and Spectralog response is presented in Figure 27, Spectralog response in the naturally fractured
Mississippian Limestone, West Texas, is shown in Figure 28,
in the Lower Permian Carbonates of Kansas in Figure 29,
the response in vuggular and caverneous complex reservoir
rocks of Permian age, West Texas, in Figure 30, and the
usefulness of the Spectralog in a West Texas recompletion
attempt is presented in Figure 3 1.

1 .so

POTASSIUM, '10

An empirical correlation between the Spectralogderived potassium (K) values and the presence of tuffaceous, shaley sandstones (based on detailed core
analysis data) is successfully being used in Argentina.
The Chubutiano formation, located in the San Jorge
Basin in Southern Argentina, contains low and abruptly varying formation water salinities and locallychanges
from non-permeable tuffites to more or less shaley
formations.

Evaporite Formations

Representative logging constants for several radioactive and non-radioactive evaporite minerals are listed in
Table VI.30

The cased-hole evaluation program was initiated using


the Spectralog and Carbon/Oxygen log in old area
wells t o explore for and evaluate initially bypassed potential pay zones. The empirical production prediction
pattern illustrated above was developed by Sacco
(1978) for immediate decision making at the wellsite.
Note that the potassium (K) cutoff of 0.6% separates
the tuffites and tight rocks from the reservoir rocks,
with the degree of shaliness increasing t o the right. In
the San Jorge Basin an empirical "production window" has been established above a C/O value of 1.66.

Potash minerals are among the radioactive evaporites


most extensively explored. Commercially valuable potash
salts (sylvite, langbeinite) only occupy small portions of
evaporite basins, whereas the non-commercial minerals
(carnallite, polyhalite) are of widespread distribution.
The Spectralog is well suited to evaluate thinand spotty
ore bodies that may be amenable to solution mining. It also
provides an in-situ, continuous, nondestructive analysis.
Potash deposits can be evaluated using proper well logs, such
as gamma ray versus K 2 0 , gamma ray versus density (or
neutron-type) log, density versus neutron, or the solution of
simultaneous equations based on gamma ray and porosity
log information.

FIGURE 23

24

SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER, 1979

Perforation Selection Assisted by U/K-Ratio in


CarbonaceousCarbonateTrend, Texas

TOTAL COUNTS

COUNTS PER MINUTE

DW-

POTASSIUM

Spectralog is shown over the Austin Chalk section in a


Pearsallarea well. Inaddition, the U/Kratioispresented
on the righthand side of the log. This continuous recording of the U/K ratio, feasible on Dresser Atlas'
new digital Spectralog panels, allows a convenient
quick look or eye-ballinganalysis, particularly in reservoir rocks exhibiting drastic shaliness variations due to
its normalization effect.
In this Austin Chalk well the U/K ratio concept is illustrated under several conditions, such as:

Zone B -

Zone A

Zone D Zone C

Shales overlying the Austin Chalk. Note uniformity of U/K ratio.


Organic-rich shale streak (>>total counts,
>>K, >>U, >>Th). Again note uniformity of
U/K ration.
Austin Chalk with localized hot streak, the
latter one is easily pinpointed by U/K ratio.
Austin Chalk pay zone exhibits varying shaliness (K-curve) and drastically changing Uconcentrations. Note that U/K ratio clearly
simplifies interpretation.

Ina similar approach, the U/Th ratio can be utilized.


FlGUR E 24

THE LOG ANALYST

25

Acoustic-Type Fracture Identification and Spectralog


in Austin Chalk Zavala Co., Texas

Reperforation in Austin Chalk, Cretaceous


Carbonate Trend, Bexar Co., Texas

L
TOTAL COUNTS

DWH

..

COUNTS PER MINUTE

Uranium
0 13 porn/CD

Thorium

The Spectralog was run over the Austin Chalk section


in a well located in Bexar Co., Texas (After Fertl et al.,
1978). Initially perforated from 1400-ft.to 1456-ft. in
the "cleanest" chalk, the well tested at 3 BOD. Based
on a subsequent Spectralog run the operator also perforated the two intervals of low potassium but excessively high uranium values at 1360-ft.to 1366-ft.and
from 1380-ft.t o 1384-ft.

Ln acoustic-type log for fracture identification (Microseismogram) was used t o initially perforate the well in
the intervals marked on the log. Based on this completion the Austin Chalk reservoir tested at less than
20 BOD.

Note that on a conventional gamma ray curve these


zones would look "dirty", whereas the Spectralog
clearly shows the Austin Chalk t o be relatively shale
free.

The operator decided t o re-evaluatethe well by running


the Spectralog and perforated the clean zones of low
K-values but high U-concentrations (see shaded areas
under U-curve). The well was successfully reperforated
and put on production at a rate exceeding 400 BOD, a
more than 20-fold production increase over the initial
completion attempt. (After Fertl et al., 1978).
FIGURE 26

The recompletion attempt based on the Spectralog


proved successful, with production increasing sixfold
t o 18 BOD.

FIGURE 25

26

SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER, 1979

LZ

lSA7WNW 901 3 H l

6L6L 'ki38013O-ki38W32d3S

82

Application of the Spectralog to potash exploration


has been investigated in the extensive evaporite series in
New M e ~ i c o . ~Figure

32 shows a comparison of the total


counts and potassium curve data in one of the New Mexico
test holes. Note that the Spectralog count rate data can be
converted to a quantitative K% by comparing itwitha known
calibration standard. Also note that comparison of the total
counts and K-curve allows an easy differentiation between
potassium salts and shale stringers.

Vuggular and Caverneos Porosity in Permian


Complex Reservoir Rock, West Texas

OROSITV AND FLUID

U BULK VOLUME

to

_______s.lzlroa
1

Jb

0125

OllW

FORMAlIDN
Jb BULK VOLUME

Figure 33 shows the computerized crossplot3*of Spectralog-derived K-versus the Densilog (g/cc) response in the
Salado formation located in Eddy and Lea Counties, New
Mexico. Such crossplots provide the basis for continuous
quantitative in-situ potash evaluation.
Coal Seam Evaluation

Detection and evaluation of coal seams using geophysical well logging techniques is a well-established and
commonly used method.
Coal seams usually exhibit low total radioactivity.
Presence of clay minerals in the seam as thin dirt partings,
however, will cause an increase in the measured natural
radioactivity. Under localized conditions, the ash content of
coal has been empirically related to the gamma ray response.
Presence of large and drastically varying clay mineral
content, such as the potassiumdeficient kaolinite and/or
localized secondary enrichment of uranium (U02) under
prevailing reducing conditions (i.e., negative Eh-potential),
will make such gamma-ray-derived ash content determinations totally unreliable. Thoriumderived correlations using
the Spectralog, however, are still applicable.
Numerous coal seams, particularly low rank coals, are
known to contain excessively high uranium content. This
includes: Eocene sub-bituminous coal at Rosa, Yugoslavia
(G300 ppm U); sub-bituminous Hungarian coals (<100
ppm U): coal at Wackersdorf, West Germany; Trimmelkamm, Austria (GO, 5%); Sweetwater County, Wyoming;
Paleocene lignite in Harding County, South Dakota; etc.
High uranium content of coals is well known from the
U.S.A., U.K., France, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, U.S.S.R., etc. In general, coals have
been encountered with U-concentrations up to a few thousand ppm, but concentrations above 100 ppm are not too
common.
Well established prolific oil accumulation is contained
within this complex reservoir rock of Permianage. Production comes from a series of formations containing
anhydrite, sandstone, and dolomite with vuggy to
caverneous porosity and very high permeability. Note
that the presence of an oil-filled, natural cavern from
x260-ft. to x288-ft. is defined by response of caliper,
porosity, and the Spectralog (>>U). A check of the old
drilling records revealed that the bit dropped over the
distance of about 204% during drilling at this depth,
thus confirming the presence of this natural subsurface cavern.
FIGURE 30
THE LOG ANALYST

Laboratory investigations have shown that low rank


coals remove over 98% of U irreversible from solution,
probably in metallo-organic form. In contrast, clays, shale,
and limestone will retain only up to 28% of U in solution.
Occasionally, carnotite-stained coal (i.e., exhibiting
radium [Ra] content) or zirconium content (i.e., < 100
ppm Hf [hafnium]) may be encountered.
Thorium (Th) and potassium (K) content of coals will
generally reflect the amount of dirt partings (clay, shale)
within the coal seam. Hence, clean coals usually exhibit
minute concentrations of Th and K. However, tests of coal

29

SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER, 1979

Spectralog Assists Recompletion Attempt, West Texas

F
l

DEPTH

API UNITWCD

COUNTS PER MINUTE

POTASSIUM
2WCD

URANIUM

ACOUSTILOU POROSITY

NEUTRON RATIO

2U))pmlCD

THORIUM

Spectralog and Dual Detector Lifetime log (DNLL) were run in an old, cased West Texas well t o investigate recompletion targets in the Mississippian Lime section. Also available in this well was an openhole acoustic log.
The calculated C-derived porosity is used in comparison with the DNLL Ratio porosity and acoustic log porosity
values for qualitative hydrocarbon identification. Note the slightly increasing porosity trend below 0x790-ft.,
which corresponds t o a drastic increase in gamma ray deflection. Also note that the Spectralog over this higher
porosity interval clearly shows a marked buildup in U-concentration. Well was successfully perforated in this U-rich
interval between 0x790-ft. t o 0x822-ft. and put on production at over 100 BOD.
FIGURE 31

SPECIFIC
Pma
Atma +NEU GR(d=8in) K 2 0
GRAVITY (g/cm3) (psec/ft) (%)
(API)
(%)

MINERAL

CHEMICAL COMPOSITION

ANHYDRITE
GYPSUM
HALITE
TRONA
TACHYDRITE

CaSO,
CaSO, 2H20
NaCl
NaCO, NaHCO, H 2 0
CaCl 2 (MgCI,) 12H20

2.96
2.32
2.16
2.1 2

2.97
2.35
2.03
2.10
1.66

50
52
67
65
94

0
49
4
40
62.5

0
0
0
0
0

0
0
0
0
0

SYLVITE
CARNALLITE
LANGBEINITE
POLYHALITE
KAI N ITE

KCI
KCI MgCI, * 6 H 2 0
K2S0, 2MgS0,
K2S04 MgSO, 2CaS0,
MgSO, KCI 3H2O

1.98
1.61
2.83
2.78
2.13

1.86
1.57
2.82
2.79
2.1 2

74
78
52
57.5

0
65
0
15
45

500
200
275
180
225

63
17
22.6
15.5
18.9

2H20

TABLE VI
Logging Constants Representativeof
Several Evaporite Minerals (After Tixier et al., 1967)

30

SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER, 1979

In granites, a well-defined linear relationship between


U and Th is frequently observed (Figure 37). Deviations
result from weat hering effects or late magmatic intrusions
of basic dikes (Figure 38). Generally speaking,
U-concentrations of subsurface rocks may not be representative due to the relative mobilization of uranium,
However, accessary minerals (Zircon, sphene, rutile, cassiterite, etc.) can exhibit a significant effect on the natural
radioactivity of igneous rocks (Tables 11 and 111).

samples from the Donetz Basin, U.S.S.R., have shown up


to 10 ppm Th, with the mean Th-content of the Kutznetsk
coals at 1.7 ppm Th.
A gamma ray resistivity crossplot of a radioactive coal
seam is shown in Figure 34. Spectralog applications in coal
seam evaluations appear warranted.
Uranium Ore Deposits

Figure 39 shows the relationship of U and Th content


versus the potassium feldspar/plagioclase ratio of granitic
rocks.35

Spectralogging assists in exploration and evaluation


of uranium ore deposits. However, the ore deposit has to be
in secular radioactive equilibrium, since any disequilibrium
will cause an overestimate of U-concentrations.

Recent applications of the Spectralog in crystalline


basement rocks penetrated by boreholes of the Los Alamos
Scientific Laboratories Dry Hot Rock Geothermal Project
clearly indicated the Spectralog's usefulness for determination of rock types, detection of fracture zones, and examination of the heat-producing elements U, Th, and K.

Two field case examples are shownin Figures 35and 36.


Igneous Rocks
Average concentrations of K, U, and Th for several
groups of granitic rocks are listed in Table VII.35 In granite,
the K-concentration varies from 2 to 6%. Also, U and Th,
concentrations in igneous rocks vary with their silica content, granites are rich in U and Th, whereas ultramafic rocks
exhibit low K, U, and Th concentrations.

Figures 40 and 41 illustrate the Spectralog response


in open and closed fracture systems in the crystalline basement rock, Valles Caldera, New Mexico.'
Potassium, uranium, and thorium distribution in
basalts and associated rocks is shown in Figure 42, whereas
data for several Italian lavas are presented in Figure 43.
Density-Potassium Crossplot of Radioactive and
Non-Radioactive Evaporites

Spectralog Application in Potash Exploration


740

742

744

K VS DEN

746

Li
W
Y

748

.ANHYDRITE

___._

tw 750
0

752
754
756

2000
COUNTS PER MINUTE

1000

3000

4000

SYVlTE 163, 1.861

PI

5%
10%
APPARENT POTASSIUM

15%

20%

Application of the Spectralog in potash exploration and


evaluation is shown in a massive evaporite series, located in New Mexico (After Locket al., 1971). Boththe
total counts and potassium curves are presented. Note
that the Spectralog count rate data has been converted
t o a quantitative K% based on a correlation with a
known calibration standard.

This is a crossplot of Spectralog derived potassium


concentrations versus the Densilog (g/cc) response
in the Salado formation, located in both Eddy and Lee
Counties, New Mexico (After Dragoset, 1977). Such
crossplots differentiate radioactive and non-radioactive
evaporites and provide the basis for an in-situ, continuous quantitative potash evaluation.
FIGURE 33

Also note that comparison of the total counts and


potassium curves allow the differentiation between
potassium salts and shale stringers.
FIGURE 32

c/'

THE LOG ANALYST

31

Radioactive Coal Seams

Spectralog Response in Cored Uranium-Rich Interval


Southwest United States

r
'

1m.m

..

I I
DEPTH

COUNTSPER MINUTE

1m.m

.
-

6L.w

2o.m

xow.~xzw.

140.00

OR

TOTAL COUNTS

RTVS.GR

.................................................................................
0.63
63
6.32

26

632.46

RT

Emphasis on coal deposits as an alternate energy resource has again brought into focus the development
and improvement of logging techniques and associated interpretation concepts for in-situ evaluation of
coal seams and the log-derived determination of the
elastic rock constants.

This Spectralog was run in a 9% borehole filled with


fresh mud. Over the interval from 8056 feet t o 8067
feet the U-content of 17.0 ppm based on core analysis
compares well with an average U-concentration of
16.5 ppm measured by the Spectralog (After
Wichmann, et al., 1975).

A typical crossplot of gamma ray and resistivity data is


shown for a multi-seam coal deposit containing some
radioactive seams. (After Fertl et al., 1977).Application of the Spectralog would not only give reliable and
detailed coal seam correlations but also allow the
study of the amount of dirt-partings, despite the presence of laterally and vertically varying U-concentrations
in individual coal seams.

Note, however, that equilibrium has t o exist between


uranium and its daughter products should any quantitative uranium ore assessment be made on the sole
basis of the Spectralog.

FIGURE 35

FIGURE 34

32

SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER, 1979

TOTAL COUNTS

-I

COUNTS PER MINUTE

UN-STRIPPED

OUTPUT

Spectrum Stripping and Uranium Ore Logging

A uranium-rich sandstone formation in the southern


U.S. was logged by recording both the raw data (including repeat) and the stripped spectrum values
(including repeat).

D
UN-STRIPPED

OUTPUT

TOTAL COUNTS

STRIPPED

REPEAT

COUNTS PER MINUTE

Uraivm

Note that secular equilibrium has t o exist between


uranium and its daughter products for the quantitative
ore assessment on the sole basis of the Spectralog
response, since disequilibria would cause an overestimate of the U-concentration.

ILwppnllCD

7
M
r
n

U.34ppnlCI

FIGURE 36

OUTPUT

I
STRIPPED

THE LOG ANALYST

OUTPUT

REPEAT

33

TABLE VII
Gamma Ray Spectral Average Data for Various Groups of
Granitic Rocks (After Whitfield et al., 1959)

CLASS1FICAT1ON

Rocky Mountains

Canadian Shield
Pre-Cam brian
Post-Cam brian

U.S. West Coast

K
(O h )

3.3
2.5
3.2
2.2
1.8

Th/U

(PPm)

Th
(PPm)

Average Th
Average U

2.9
1.8
2.6
3.0
3.1

15.7
11.0
14.0
8.6
8.5

6.9
5.9
5.6
3.3
2.9

5.4
6.1
5.4
2.9
2.7

Uranium and Thorium Content versus the Potassium


Feldspar/Plagioclase Ratio of Granitic Rocks

Uranium and Potassium versus Thorium Content


in Granitic Rocks
6 r

lo
4 -

2ix
w
v)

10

15

20

4
0

25

THORIUM.Th(pprnl

Uranium (U) and Potassium (K) versus Thorium (Th)


content in Granitic rocks (After data from Whitfield
et. al., 1959).
FIGURE 37

--

1
.5

---

o/
$/
."/

4*'

-1

a
--a

.I

Uranium versus Thorium in Igneous Rocks

'

--

I
I

.05

B
WEATHE RING EFFECTS

.01

INTRUSION OF
BASIC D I K E S

1 1 1 1 1

10

20

1..y

40 60

100

Uranium (U)versusThorium (Th)correlation in granites.


Shown is "typical" trend and possible effects due t o
weathering or intrusion of basic dikes.
FIGURE 38

Uranium (U) and Thorium (Th) content versus Potassium Feldspar/Plagioclase ratio of Granite rocks.
(After data from Whitfield et al., 1959).
FIGURE 39
34

SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER, 1979

Open Natural Fracture System in Crystalline


Basement Rock, LASL Dry Hot Rock Geothermal
Project, Valles Caldera, New Mexico

1.1
TOTAL COUNTS

COUNTS PER MINUTE

Sealed Natural Fracture System in Crystalline


Basement Rock, LASL Dry Hot Rock Project,
Valles Caldera, New Mexico

I
TOTAL COUNTS

COUNTS PER MINUTE

DEPTH

Potassium
0

041% I CD

Uranium

4200

CPM

ZBwm/CD

Thorium
0

6 B m I C D

9100

4250

9150
43w

'

'

4350

Coincidence of high U-peaks with natural fracture


zones has been observed in test wells GT-2 and E.l,
located on the western flank of the Valles Caldera, New
Mexico (West et al., 1976). Presence of an open, unhealed natural fracture at approximately 4237 feet
coincides with an excessively high U-peak and was also
confirmed by full wave acoustic data and electric logging information. The Spectralog response between
4250 feet t o 4305 feet is characteristic of a monzogranite dike.
FIGURE 40

The Spectralog shows the response in test well GT-2,


located on the western flank Valles Caldera, about
32 km west of Los Alamos, New Mexico. Inthe interval
shown the homogeneous biotite granodiorite is cut
by a sealed fracture system that is enriched in U. Note
that from the Spectralog alone one cannot distinguish
between open and sealed natural frcture or fissure
systems.
FIGURE 41

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I.

9.

10. Komarov, V. L., Koshuak, V. A., Usmanov, M. G., 1967,


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b

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THE LOG ANALYST

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u. Wesrf:,10301-214, Krefled. Oct.

35

Potassium, Uranium, and Thorium Distribution in Basalt and Related Rocks

lo

10

b "

2Q

b 4

,4+

2Q

1.o
m

a0-A

-0

0
0

/'

0.
I .I I
0

Palisades

a Columbia river

"0

0
0

Hawaii
Karroo
Bushveld
Pidgeon Pt.
Japan

A
0
4

0.1

-_

i gh - A l -basalt
-h--/ X

Japan

-alkali
----basalts
---Japan

Oslo province

1.o

0.1

rrrr~l
10

I I

lIId

0.01

100

THORIUM, Th(ppm)

0.01

1.o

0.1

10

URANIUM, U (ppm)

Ioo1

e3
0 7

85

/
a

0.01

0.1

I I aaaa.8

1.o

1
10

URANIUM, U (pprn)

POTASSIUM, K(%)

Basalts and related rocks: potassium versus thorium, potassium versus uranium, and thorium versus uranium.
Lower right: potassium versus Th/U ratio in primary basic magma, (1) Japan, tholeiite; (2)Japan, high-aluminum
basalt; (3)
Japan, alkali olivine basalt; (4)Duluth, layered gabbro; (5)South California batholith, gabbro; (6)Columbia
River basalts; (7)Palisades sill (After Heier et al., 1963).
FIGURE 42
36

SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER, 1979

Potassium, Uranium, and Thorium Distribution


in Several Italian Lavas

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120

19. Huang, H., 1978, Geochemical and sedimentologic problems of


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Petrol. Geol. Bull., 3812200.

100

ka

F
r'
3
-

21. Valkovic, V., 1978, Trace Elemenrs in Peiroleum. The Petroleum Publishing Co., Tulsa, Oklahoma, 269 pp.
22. Beers, R. F., Goodman, C., 1944, Distribution of radioactivity
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October.

80

60

23. Russell, W. L., 1945, Relation of Radioactivity, organic content,


and sedimentation, Amer. Assoc. Peir. Geol. Bull., 29: 1470-1494,
October.

40

24. Supernaw, 1. R., McCoy, Arnold D., Link, A. J., 1978, Method
for in-situ evaluation of the source rock potential of each formations, US.Pateni 4,071,744, Jan 31.

20

25. Belknap, W. B., Dewan, J. T., Kirkpatrick, C. V., Mott, W. E.,


Pearson, A. J., Rabson, W. R., 1959, API Calibration Facility for
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26. Hassan, M., Hossin, A., Combaz, A., 1976, Fundamentals of the
differential gamma ray log-Interpretation Technique, Paper H,
Transactions SP WLA.

[r

27. Hodson, G., Fertl, W. H., Hammack, G. W., 1975, Formation


Evaluation in Jurassic Sandstones in Northern North Sea Area,
Paper 11, TkansactionsSPWLA.

URAN I UM,u (ppm)

Thorium (Th) versus Uranium(U) in Italian lavas; lschian


lavas: A = phonolites, alkali trachytes; B = trachytes,
latites; Somma-Vesuvia: C = trachytic lavas, D =
leucite tephrites and tephritic leucitites. (After data
from Gasparini, 1963; Luongo and Rapolla, 1964.)

28. Fertl, W. H., 1978, Openhole crossplot concepts-A powerful


technique in well log analysis, EM 90, SPE of AIME, European
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24-27.
29. Sacco, E. L., 1978, Carbon/Oxygen Log Application in Shaley
Sand Formation Contaminated with Tuffite Minerals, Paper HH,
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mineral deposits. 7kansacrionsSPWLA.

100

8o
nr.

31. Lock, G. A., Hoyer, W. A., 1971, Natural gamma ray spectral
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32. Dragoset, M. A., 1977, An evaporite analysis in Southeastern


New Mexico, Dresser Ailas Internal Report, September.
33. Fertl, W. H., Stapp, W. L., Vaello, D. B., Vercellino, W. C., 1978,
Spectral Gamma Ray Logging in the Austin Chalk Trend, SPE
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Atlas Spectralog-A look at basic principles, field applications
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A m . , 17:248-271.

10

20

30

40

36. Gasparini, P., Luonga, G. e Davia, G., 1963, Misure di radioattivita alla Solfatara di Pozzuoli, Atri Conv. Assoc. Geofis. Iral.,
12, Rome. pp. 41-50.

50

U R A N IUM,u(ppm)

37. Luongo, G. e Rapolla, A., 1964, Contributo allo studio dell'evoluzione del magma Somma-Vesuviano mediante le determinazione
delleconcentrazioni in isotopi r a d i ~ a t t i v i ~ ~ 232Th,
* U , 226Ta,e40K,
Ann. Osserv. Vesuviano, 6:45-66.

Thorium (Th)versus Uranium(U) in Italian lavas; Roccamonfina lavas: A = Leucite bearing rocks; B = trachytes to basalts. (After Civetta et al., 1966).
FIGURE 43

THE LOG ANALYST

38. Civetta, L., Gasparini, P., Adams. J. A. S., 1965, Aspetti dell'evoluzione magmetica del vulcano di Rocmmonfina attraverso
misure di radioattivita, Ann. Osserv. Vesuviano, 7:77- 105.

37