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Attenuation and dispersion of elastic waves in a poroelastic medium with

spherical inclusions

Radim Ciz
CSIRO Petroleum, ARRC, Kensington, Perth, Australia

Julianna Toms and Boris Gurevich

Curtin University of Technology, Department of Exploration Geophysics, Perth, Australia

ABSTRACT: Mesoscopic heterogeneity in a fluid-saturated poroelastic host medium causes significant atten-
uation and dispersion of seismic waves due to wave-induced flow of the pore fluid between more compliant
to less compliant areas and vice versa. This paper analyzes the model of a plane elastic wave propagating in
a poroelastic medium with spherical mesoscopic heterogeneity of another porous material. The resulting scat-
tered wavefield consists of the scattered normal compressional and shear waves and Biots slow wave, which
attenuates rapidly with distance from the inclusion and represents the main difference with the elastic case. The
obtained analytical expressions for reflected fast compressional wave and Biots slow wave amplitudes can be
used in conjunction with the multiple scattering method of Waterman & Truell (1961) to compute frequency
dependent velocity and attenuation in a fluid-saturated medium with a random distribution of spherical inclu-
sions. The frequency dependence of the attenuation has a form of a relaxation peak, with the maximum of the
dimensionless attenuation at a frequency at which the wavelength of the Biots slow wave is approximately
equal to the characteristic size of the inclusion. Attenuation scales with at low frequencies and with 1/2
at high frequencies. These asymptotes are consistent with the double porosity model of Pride and Berryman

1 INTRODUCTION medium (White et al. 1976) consisting of alternating

layers of gas and liquid saturation. Along with a 3-D
Seismic attenuation and dispersion are wave field model of an array of spherical gas patches embedded
characteristics that can provide important information in a homogeneous liquid-saturated porous background
about the structure and composition of a medium. It is (White, 1975). The results of these studies were later
well known that Biots (1962) theory of elastic wave rederived using Biots (1962) theory of poroelastic-
propagation in homogeneous porous media underes- ity by Norris (1993) and Dutta and Ode (1979a,b),
timates the observed attenuation and dispersion by respectively.
at least one order of magnitude. One-possible cause Common to all of the above formulations, was
of the larger than predicted attenuation; is associated the fact that, they modeled regular (periodic) het-
with the presence of spatial heterogeneities. When a erogeneities of the porous medium. For 1-D media,
porous medium contains regions of variable compli- this was recognized as a limitation by Gurevich and
ance, the passing compressional wave can cause pore Lopatnikov (1995), who developed a theoretical model
fluid to flow from more compliant to less compliant for elastic wave attenuation and dispersion in randomly
areas and vice versa. Analysis of this phenomenon layered porous materials. They showed that behavior
requires a theoretical model of wave propagation in of the frequency dependent attenuation and dispersion
an inhomogeneous porous medium. is quite different for random and periodic layering.
Theoretical studies of elastic wave attenuation and For 3-D heterogeneities, Johnson (2001) developed
dispersion in saturated porous media due to the pres- an approximate theory, which generalizes the results
ence of small-scale heterogeneities were initiated in of White (1975) to a periodic ensemble of fluid patches
the 1970s, when J.E. White and his colleagues intro- of arbitrary shape. Recently, a more general model
duced two theoretical models of this phenomenon. was proposed by Pride and Berryman (2003a,b) which
They developed a 1-D model of a finely layered porous allows for an ensemble of inclusions with contrast in

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any material properties ( the so-called double-porosity, grains is characterized by bulk modulus K0 , shear mod-
dual permeability medium). However, common to all ulus 0 , density 0 and permeability . The inclusion
the 3-D models proposed so far, is the fact that, parameters are denoted by the same symbols with a
they are limited to regular spatial configurations of prime. These poroelastic constants are related as (Biot,
heterogeneities. An exception is the work of Gurevich 1962):
et al. (1998) who analyzed the propagation of an elastic
wave in a porous medium with randomly distributed
spheriodal inclusions. However this particular work
was based on the solution of a scattering problem using
the Born approximation. Thus, it was limited to small
contrasts in material properties between the inclusion
and host medium a situation of limited interest for
most applications.
In this paper we study the attenuation and disper-
sion of elastic waves in a porous medium, caused by the
presence of randomly distributed spherical inclusions where K is the undrained bulk modulus of the fluid
of another porous material. The size of the inclusions saturated medium.
is assumed to be mesoscopic, i.e., much larger than an The solution of a harmonic plane wave field in
individual pore size, but much smaller than the wave- spherical coordinates, in terms, of spherical Bessel
length of a fast compressional and shear wave. The functions and Legendre polynomials is well known
problem is solved by firstly considering the interac- (Yamakawa, 1962, Berryman, 1985). The solution
tion of a plane elastic P-wave with a single spherical must obey boundary conditions on the poroelastic
inclusion, then by applying an approximate theory of interface, i.e. continuity of normal and tangential
multiple scattering (Waterman & Truell, 1961), the stresses, and continuity of solid and relative fluid
effect of an ensemble of inclusions is estimated. displacements (Deresiewicz & Skalak, 1963). The
analysis and derivation of Biots slow wave amplitude
is given in (Ciz & Gurevich, 2005). We extend this
analysis and derive the fast P-wave amplitude scat-
tered by the spherical poroelastic inclusion embedded
in the poroelastic host medium. The expressions for
Following Berryman (1985) we consider the problem
the fast P-wave amplitude will be used for computing
of scattering of an elastic wave in a poroelastic medium
the attenuation and dispersion.
(called host or background medium) by a spherical
The solution for the radial component of the dis-
inclusion, having radius a, of another poroelastic mate-
placement of the scattered wave into the background
rial. Specifically, we consider a fast compressional
medium in the far field is
plane-wave incident on a spherical inclusion. When
this incident wave interacts with the inclusion, it pro-
duces fast and slow compressional waves and a shear
wave in the background (called scattered or reflected
waves) and waves of the same three kinds inside the
inclusion (called refracted waves). We assume the size
of the inclusion to be much smaller than the fast com-
pressional wave, no limitation is required with respect where k+ is the wave number of the fast compres-
to the wavelength of the Biots slow wave. This is sional wave, k represents the wave number of the
the main difference from Berrymans long-wavelength slow compressional wave and Pn ( cos ) is the Leg-
solution assuming the size of the inclusion to be much endre polynomial of the order n. The coefficients for
smaller than both wavelength of fast compressional the scattered fast wave are Bn+ for n = 0, 1, 2; for the
wave and wavelength of Biots slow wave. The elas- scattered slow wave, they are Bn for n = 0, 1, 2.
tic properties of both porous materials saturated by The higher order terms neglected for the scattered
a compressible fluid are assumed to be described by fast wave are of the order (k+ a)5 and therefore small
Gassmanns (1951) equation. The dynamic behavior of (Yamakawa, 1962). In the analysis below we also
both materials is described by Biots (1962) equations neglect the slow wave coefficient B1 and coefficients

of poroelasticity. We consider a porous background Bn3 . It has been shown by Ciz & Gurevich (2005) that
medium with uniformly distributed porosity whose the contribution from these terms are proportional to

pores are filled with a viscous fluid with bulk modulus k+ a, and thus these terms are small (B1,n3 <<B0 and

Kf , density f and viscosity . The grains of the solid B1,n3 <<B2 ) We can therefore conclude that for small
are characterized by bulk modulus Kg , shear modulus (compared to the wavelength of the incident wave)
g and density g . The solid skeleton formed from the inclusions the first-order term corresponding to the

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reflected slow wave can be neglected. The scattering 0 Born and present work - low contrast
amplitude for n = 0 is given by the expression: present work - high contrast
Born approx. - high contrast

Log Amplitude

where the prime denotes parameters inside the inclu- -8
sion, A0 is the amplitude of the incident P-wave, h1 , ~3/2
h0 , j0 , j1 define spherical Bessel functions of orders -10
0 and 1, H = K + 4/3,
= k a, and

= k a.
The full expression for n = 2 is very complicated, but -3 -2 -1 0 1 2 3
can be simplified assuming that the amplitude of the Log Frequency (normalized)
scattered fast (normal) compressional and shear waves
Figure 1. Scattering amplitude of the Biot slow wave versus
are well approximated by the solution of the equiva-
normalized frequency. Derived solution and Born approxi-
lent elastic problem. This assumption yields a simple mation (solid line) are identical for low contrast in material
approximation for the amplitude of the scattered slow parameters. Born approximation (dashed line) and derived
wave, which is quite accurate for a wide range of mate- solution (dotted line) are different for high contrast in material
rial properties and is sufficient for the analysis of the properties.
scattering amplitude as a function of frequency. This
expression reads attenuation analysis, we use the same concept. We
solve the 4 4 system of boundary conditions for
the coefficient of order n = 0 at the inclusion sur-
face and the 6 6 system of boundary conditions for
n = 2. These solutions give the expressions for the fast
compressional wave coefficients B0+ and B2+ :


(1) (1)
where h1 , h2 , j1 , j2 define spherical Bessel func-
tions of orders 1 and 2, , represent fluid saturated
Lam coefficients in the host and inclusion. In the
long-wavelength limit equation (4) reduces to the long- where K = K0 + C and K = K0 + C are fluid
wavelength approximation of B0 derived by Berryman saturated bulk moduli. Provided the coefficient B1
(1985). In the low-contrast limit equations (3) and is small, the coefficient B1+ can be approximated
(4) reduce to the solution derived by Gurevich et al. by the effective elastic solution given by Yamakawa
(1998) using the Born approximation. Figure 1 shows (1962). In the long-wavelength limit the coefficient B0+
the comparison between these solutions. As expected, from expression (5) converts to the long-wavelength
these solutions are identical in case of low-contrast approximation derived by Berryman (1985).
of elastic parameters between the inclusion and host It is easy to check that, if the fluid bulk modulus
medium. However, these two solutions differ when the vanishes Kf 0, then C 0 so B0 0 and both (5)
contrast is large as this violates the assumption for the and (6) reduce to the expressions B0 and B2 in the
Born approximation. In the low frequency limit, Biots elastic limit derived by Yamakawa, (1962). In sum-
slow wave amplitude scales with 3/2 while for inclu- mary, derived expressions (5) and (6) are therefore
sions larger than the wavelength of Biots slow wave, consistent in the limits with the known exact long-
the scattering amplitude is proportional to 1/2 . wavelength solution of Berryman, (1985) and with the
To derive the fast compressional wave coeffi- solution for elastic wave scattering from a spherical
cients of the scattered wave amplitude needed for the inclusion derived by Yamakawa, (1962).

Copyright 2005 Taylor & Francis Group plc, London, UK
To compute the frequency dependent velocity and INCLUSIONS
attenuation, the coefficients for the fast and slow com-
pressional wave amplitudes are used in the multiple To derive an analytical expression for the attenua-
scattering theorem of Waterman and Truell (1961). tion we substitute the scatter amplitude for the fast
The total wave field at any point is the sum of the compressional wave into equation (11).
incident and all scattered wave fields. From the multi-
ple scattering field calculation, the complex effective
wave number keff is:

where = (4/3)a3 is the fractional volume of the

scatterers. Substituting full expressions for B0+ and B2+
from (5) and (6), we obtain
where k+ = /v+ is the real wave number of the fast
P-wave, is the density or number of scatterers per
unit volume. Scatterer amplitudes f (0), f () are

where in general, the coefficients Bn+ are obtained

from the solution of a 6 6 system of boundary con-
ditions satisfied on the surface of a single spherical Noting that, only two terms (n = 0,2) of Biots slow
inclusion. wave amplitude significantly contribute to the atten-
By making a weak scattering approximation and uation (Ciz & Gurevich, 2005). Furthermore, the
neglecting quadratic terms, the effective wave number attenuation given by (13) is due to mesoscopic fluid
(7) reduces to flow induced at the boundary of randomly distributed
poroelastic spherical inhomogeneities in poroelastic
host medium.
In the special case of patchy saturation, where only
the fluid properties differ between the inclusion and
This situation arises physically under circumstances the host medium, the attenuation is
where the number of scatterers per unit volume is suffi-
ciently small or where the individual scatterer is weak.
The latter arises when the material of the scatterer has
elastic properties very similar to those of the matrix
medium or when the gradient of the elastic properties
is small.
The real part of equation (9) represents the effec-
tive velocity veff dispersion in media with a low
concentration of scatterers, it is given by Before we plot effective attenuation in the full fre-
quency range we analyze the asymptotical behavior at
low and high frequencies.

The imaginary part of equation (9) gives the dimen- 5 ANALYTICAL ASYMPTOTES AND
sionless attenuation (inverse quality factor) NUMERICAL EXAMPLE

To determine the effects of attenuation at low and high

frequency limits, we carry out the following deriva-
The above expressions (10) and (11) allow us to model tion. In the low-frequency limit we substitute into
the dispersion and attenuation caused by the scattering (13) spherical Bessel functions with their approximate
of a plane elastic wave by poroelastic inclusions ran- expressions for small arguments, i.e. | |<<1. After
domly distributed throughout a poroelastic medium. some manipulation we obtain
In this study we investigate the special case of disper-
sion and attenuation using the amplitudes derived in
the previous section.

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where, -1


Log Attenuation


-6 ~-1/2
For the high-frequency limit we substitute into (13) a = 0.1 m
spherical Bessel functions with their approximations a = 0.01 m
for large arguments, i.e. | | >>1. This gives the high
frequency asymptote for effective attenuation -2 0 2 4 6
Log Frequency

Figure 2. Effective attenuation of seismic P-wave seismic

velocity in the poroelastic medium with spherical poroelastic
inclusions.Attenuation maximum shifts to higher frequencies
Expressions (15) and (18) represent asymptotes of as the inclusion radius a decreases.
elastic wave attenuation in poroelastic media having
low concentrations of spherical inclusions of another cubic cells. Each cell is approximated using a con-
porous material. centric sphere geometry, where the inner sphere is
The high frequency asymptote (18) is consistent saturated by one fluid type and the outer shell is sat-
with asymptotic behaviour of solutions to the gen- urated by another fluid. The porous frame properties
eral diffusion equation at high frequencies. Diffusive are everywhere uniform.
processes scale in the high frequency limit as 1/2 Johnson (2001) developed a patchy saturation
and Biots slow wave is described by the diffusion model for a periodic ensemble of fluid patches of
equation. Our high frequency asymptote is also con- arbitrary but identical shape. For a given shape,
sistent with the Born approximation (Gurevich et al., Johnson (2001) derived asymptotic solutions for
1998), whereas our low-frequency asymptote differs. low and high frequencies. The solution for interme-
The Born approximation scales with frequency as diate frequencies was constructed using a branching
1/2 . As near field terms in the wave field expan- function that ensures causality of the solution and
sion were neglected by Gurevich et al. (1998), their convergence to low and high frequency results. For
low frequency asymptote is incorrect. Our low fre- comparison we assume the simple geometry of con-
quency asymptote (15) shows that attenuation scales centric spherical patches, equivalent to those used
with frequency as . by White (1975).
Since the derived expression for effective attenua- A recent model proposed by Pride & Berryman
tion (13) is rather complex, we carry out numerical (2003) considers the porous medium as a double-
computations to study the attenuation effect in the porosity dual-permeability medium, that is, an
whole frequency range. The frequency dependence of ensemble of representative volumes each contain-
the attenuation has a form of a relaxation peak, with ing two distinct porous materials. For our study we
the maximum of the dimensionless attenuation at a use one variant of this theory which assumes that
frequency at which the wavelength of the Biots slow all frame properties of the two materials are the
wave is approximately equal to the characteristic size same and only fluid properties differ. Although the
of the inclusion. Figure 2 confirms the asymptotical model of Pride et al. allows arbitrary geometries to
behavior derived. The attenuation maximum shifts to be considered, explicit analytical solutions are hard
higher frequencies as the inclusion radius decreases. to formulate for geometries other then concentric
The scattering model is limited to low concentration
of inclusions and therefore the following situations
were compared: (a) water inclusions (030% satura-
We consider three mesoscopic models with regular
tion) in a gas filled background medium, and (b) low
distribution of patches:
concentration of gas inclusions (05% saturation) in
The first model of patchy saturation was proposed water-filled background medium. The models were
by White (1975). It consists of a periodic array of tested for three different gas types with bulk moduli

Copyright 2005 Taylor & Francis Group plc, London, UK

The main result of this study is the developed quanti-

tative model of scattering of elastic waves by spherical
poroelastic inclusions randomly distributed in a poro-
elastic host medium. We have studied the attenuation
and dispersion of the incident fast compressional wave
due to mode conversion into Biots slow wave. This
mechanism concerns wave-induced flow caused by
heterogeneity in the elastic moduli at mesoscopic
scales. Mesoscopic heterogeneity over the scale of a
wavelength can be responsible for considerable atten-
uation. At low frequencies, the attenuation scales with
frequency as 1/2 and in the high frequency limit the
attenuation is proportional to frequency as 1/2 .
The quantitative comparison of compared models
shows very good agreement for water inclusion satu-
rations of up to 30%. The scattering model slightly
underestimates the attenuation in comparison with
Figure 3. Attenuation due to water saturated spherical
other models. We conclude that, in contrast to 1-D case,
patches (10% water saturation) in an air-filled poroelastic
host medium. random but isotropic distribution of heterogeneities
in a porous medium produces essentially the same
attenuation and dispersion as their regular distribution.


This work was supported by the Centre of Excellence

for Exploration and Production Geophysics, Curtin
Reservoir Geophysics Consortium, CSIRO Postdoc-
toral Fellowship Program and CSIRO postgraduate


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