Assessment of dynamic material properties of intact rocks using seismic wave attenuation: An experimental study

W. A.M. Wanniarachchi, P. G. Ranjith, M. S. A. Perera, T. D. Rathnaweera, Q. Lyu, B. Mahanta

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The mechanical properties of any substance are essential facts to understand its behaviour and make the maximum use of the particular substance. Rocks are indeed an important substance, as they are of significant use in the energy industry, specifically for fossil fuels and geothermal energy. Attenuation of seismic waves is a non-destructive technique to investigate mechanical properties of reservoir rocks under different conditions. The attenuation characteristics of five different rock types, siltstone, shale, Australian sandstone, Indian sandstone and granite, were investigated in the laboratory using ultrasonic and acoustic emission instruments in a frequency range of 0.1–1 MHz. The pulse transmission technique and spectral ratios were used to calculate the attenuation coefficient (α) and quality factor (Q) values for the five selected rock types for both primary (P) and secondary (S) waves, relative to the reference steel sample. For all the rock types, the attenuation coefficient was linearly proportional to the frequency of both the P and S waves. Interestingly, the attenuation coefficient of granite is more than 22% higher than that of siltstone, sandstone and shale for both P and S waves. The P and S wave velocities were calculated based on their recorded travel time, and these velocities were then used to calculate the dynamic mechanical properties including elastic modulus (E), bulk modulus (K), shear modulus (μ) and Poisson’s ratio (ν). The P and S wave velocities for the selected rock types varied in the ranges of 2.43–4.61 km s−1 and 1.43–2.41 km h−1, respectively. Furthermore, it was observed that the P wave velocity was always greater than the S wave velocity, and this confirmed the first arrival of P waves to the sensor. According to the experimental results, the dynamic E value is generally higher than the static E value obtained by unconfined compressive strength tests.

Original languageEnglish
Article number170896
Number of pages10
JournalRoyal Society Open Science
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 11 Oct 2017


  • Attenuation
  • Attenuation coefficient
  • Dynamic mechanical properties
  • P and S waves
  • Quality factor

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