The effects of pressure variations and chemical reactions on the elasticity of the Lower Tuscaloosa sandstone of the Cranfield Field, Mississippi



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Compliance with current and evolving federal and commercial regulations require the monitoring of injected carbon dioxide for geological sequestration. The goal of this project is to provide geophysicists with tools to quantitatively interpret seismic data for the amount of carbon dioxide retained in subsurface reservoirs. Rock physics can be used to predict the effects on the seismic response of injecting carbon dioxide on the reservoir. However, classical rock physics models fail when chemical reactions alter the microstructure of the host rock. These chemically induced changes can stiffen or soften the rock frame by precipitation or dissolution, respectively, of minerals in the pore space. Increasing pore pressure is another effect of sequestering carbon dioxide. The amount of change in the microstructure due to chemical reactions and pressure variations depends on the reservoir into which the fluid is injected. Therefore, measuring velocities on site-specific subsurface core samples may provide the ability to differentiate between chemical reactions and pressure variations on the elastic properties of the reservoir rock. Core samples come from the Lower Tuscaloosa Sandstone of the Cranfield study area in Mississippi. The experiments consisted of injecting core plugs with carbon dioxide rich brine and measuring compressional and shear velocities at different effective pressures. The elastic moduli of the rock frame are calculated from the measured elastic wave propagation velocities at specific injected pore volumes and effective pressures. Injecting carbon dioxide rich brine into sandstone core samples, which are composed on average of 80% quartz and 20% clay minerals, resulted in softening of the rock frame due to the dissolution of iron bearing minerals. The moduli exponentially decreased with injected pore volumes and were linearly proportional to effective pressure. The bulk modulus and rigidity of the more quartz rich sample decreased by 13% and 6.5%, respectively, due to a combined effect of changing differential pressure from 35 MPa to 27 MPa and injecting CO₂-rich brine. For the more clay rich sample, the moduli decreased by even larger percentages (39.0% and 20.1%, respectively), which could have significant implications on time-lapse seismic data and subsequent estimations of injected CO₂ volumes.