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Estimation of the apertures of water-saturated fractures by nuclear magnetic resonance well logging

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Fracture aperture is an important transport property in subsurface hydrology because it influences well productivity and the volume of the water resource. Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) well logging measures the hydrogen-bearing fluid molecules in porous or fractured strata, and the NMR signal intensity increases with the amount of fluid in the sensed region of the NMR sonde. Fluid confined in a large fracture of >>0.2 mm in aperture has T2 (i.e. spin-spin relaxation time) values as long as those of the bulk fluid. The bulk-fluid porosity (i.e. porosity calculated using this long T2 component in a T2 histogram data) increases linearly with aperture. Therefore, NMR logging enables quantitative estimation of fracture apertures of >>0.2 mm using the bulk-fluid porosity data if the calibration of the NMR sonde is performed adequately. We applied NMR logging to a borehole in a Holocene andesite lava at Sumikawa, Japan, to estimate the aperture of open fractures within the lava. A test well of 100 m depth and 20 cm diameter, filled with bentonite drilling mud, was scanned with an NMR sonde to obtain a profile of the porosity and the T2 histogram of the andesite. The bulk-fluid porosity was calculated from the T2 histogram data, as the porosity at which the T2 value is larger than or equal to a threshold T2 of bulk bentonite mud. The bulk-fluid porosity of a specific inclined fracture responsible for the total loss of circulation at 61.2 m depth during drilling was calculated assuming a threshold or T2 cut-off of 33 ms, and again for a cut-off of 100 ms. Calibration of the NMR sensor in a laboratory and measurement of the fracture dip angle by electrical microimaging logging enabled us to estimate the fracture aperture as 1.7 cm, assuming a T2 cut-off of 33 ms, or 1.6 cm for a T2 cut-off of 100 ms. The method of aperture determination described in this study is independent of fluid species and lithology, and is applicable to various hydrogen-bearing borehole fluids (clean water, mud and oil) and geological settings.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), Central 7, Higashi 1-1-1, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305–8567, Japan

Publication date: March 1, 2007

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