24 February 2021

In this EAGE E-Lecture: “Permeability prediction from Induced Polarization data at field scale” we present the estimation of intrinsic permeability from time-domain spectral induced polarization (IP) data, measured in boreholes and along 2D surface profiles. The mapping of intrinsic permeability (k), which is a measure of the ability of a porous medium to allow fluids to pass through it, is the holy grail of hydrogeophysics, but it has eluded attempts of resolution in the past.
In this study full-decay IP data were inverted in terms of a re-parameterization of the Cole-Cole model, which present smaller parameter correlations and disentangles bulk and surface conduction. Permeability values were computed from bulk conductivity and the maximum imaginary conductivity, using the empirically-derived formulae presented in a recent study without any calibration. The IP-derived k estimates, obtained from data acquired along sixteen 2D surface profiles and three boreholes on unconsolidated formations, were compared to those estimated using grain size analysis and slug tests, for a total of 157 comparisons.
A good correlation, on average within one decade, was found between the k estimates over four orders of magnitude, with similar depth-trends. In conclusion, IP can be reliably used for estimating permeability on unconsolidated formations at the field scale, using the relations found in the laboratory without any further calibration.

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