Pure and Applied Geophysics

, Volume 176, Issue 4, pp 1673–1689 | Cite as

Porosity Estimation and Geometric Characterization of Fractured and Karstified Carbonate Rocks Using GPR Data in the Salitre Formation, Brazil

  • Iurianne M. M. Conti
  • David L. de CastroEmail author
  • Francisco H. R. Bezerra
  • Caroline L. Cazarin


Three-dimensional distribution of karstic zones and estimated porosity were obtained in fractured carbonate units of the Salitre Formation (Brazil) from GPR data. Low-amplitude (shadow) GPR zones could be associated with mineral dissolution halos that developed around fractures and bedding planes. GPR volumes show a 3D mazelike geometry of the vertical karstified carbonate zones, similar to the set of passages controlled by ~ N–S and E–W oriented fracture systems, observed on the surface in unmanned aerial vehicle images. Measurements in plug samples indicate that the mineral dissolution caused bulk density and dielectric permittivity decline and incipient increase in porosity from 0.95 to 1.01%. These changes in the rock properties affect the EM impedance contrasts between carbonate bedding, causing loss of the reflected GPR signal. The correlation between dielectric permittivity and porosity could be analyzed using the complex refractive index model (CRIM), which is used to convert the relative dielectric permittivity into porosity. The CRIM porosities are somewhat lower than plug sample porosities due to different estimation methodologies and measurement scales. However, the fact that porosity is slightly higher in the dissolved carbonates was maintained. In addition, GPR amplitude and frequency instantaneous attributes were used to estimate spatial variability in porosity throughout the whole GPR data volume. The crossplot of these two GPR attributes show that altered zones generally cluster in narrow ranges of instantaneous GPR amplitude and in broad range of instantaneous GPR frequency. Assuming empirical correlation between physical properties and GPR attributes two predicted porosity volumes were established for the karstified carbonates in the studied area.


Karst carbonates fractures porosity dielectric permittivity GPR 



This research was supported by Petrobras and Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Norte (UFRN), Advanced Project of acquisition and interpretation of parameters for characterization and modeling of carbonate reservoirs—Procarste Project—Grant No. 2015/00369-0. The authors are grateful to the Laboratório de Análises Estratigráficas (LAE—UFRN), coordinated by Francisco P. Lima Filho, the CNPq Project INCT-ET, coordinated by Reinhardt A. Fuck (Universidade de Brasília), who supported the GPR surveys with equipment and vehicle, and the Brazilian Oil Agency (Agência Nacional do Petróleo, Gás e Biocombustíveis, ANP). We also thank Narendra K. Srivastava for his help with petrographic analysis and dissolution processes. IMMC thanks Petrobras for her MSc scholarship and DLC and FHRB thank the Brazilian Scientific Council (Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico, CNPq) for their research grants. We are grateful to the associate editor P. Keating, A. Casas and another anonymous reviewer for valuable comments that helped to improve this manuscript.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Programa de Pós-graduação em Geodinâmica e GeofísicaUniversidade Federal do Rio Grande do NorteNatalBrazil
  2. 2.Petrobras, Centro de Pesquisa e Desenvolvimento, Leopoldo Américo Miguez de Mello (Cenpes)Rio de JaneiroBrazil

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