A new paper with experimental observation of water saturation effects on shear wave splitting in synthetic rock with fractures aligned at oblique angles has recently been published, by G&G member Kelvin Amalokwu and colleagues, in Geophysical Journal International.
Fractured rocks are known to exhibit seismic anisotropy and shear wave splitting (SWS). SWS is commonly used for fractured rock characterization and has been shown to be sensitive to fluid type. The presence of partial liquid/gas saturation is also known to affect the elastic properties of rocks. The combined effect of both fractures and partial liquid/gas saturation is still unknown. Using synthetic, silica-cemented sandstones with aligned penny-shaped voids, we conducted laboratory ultrasonic experiments to investigate the effect fractures aligned at an oblique angle to wave propagation would have on SWS under partial liquid/gas saturation conditions. The result for the fractured rock shows a saturation dependence which can be explained by combining a fractured rock model and a partial saturation model. At high to full water saturation values, SWS decreases as a result of the fluid bulk modulus effect on the quasi-shear wave. This bulk modulus effect is frequency dependent as a result of wave-induced fluid flow mechanisms, which would in turn lead to frequency dependent SWS. This result suggests the possible use of SWS for discriminating between full liquid saturation and partial liquid/gas saturation.