Volume 39, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 0263-5046
  • E-ISSN: 1365-2397



Seismic characterization of flow properties is a difficult prospect, due to the indirect relationship between permeability and seismic velocity and attenuation. At best, seismic time-lapse changes can detect the effects of saturation and pressure changes in a reservoir due to fluid flow. Even in this case, the interpretation of the seismic observation in terms of the state of the reservoir depends intimately on the properties of the rock physics model, which are usually poorly known. The onset time, the calendar time of geophysical changes, provides an alternative datum for characterizing properties such as reservoir permeability. The main advantage of an onset time is that it is sensitive to the flow properties of the reservoir yet insensitive to the details of the rock physics model. Two examples of the utility of onset times are discussed: the use of travel time shifts induced by the injection of carbon dioxide between two wells, and the time-lapse time shifts for elastic waves propagating through a reservoir undergoing enhanced oil recovery. In both examples, the onset times are mapped into permeability estimates using a trajectory-based approach akin to seismic tomography.


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