Laboratory studies of the seismic signature of fluids in the Earth's crust

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Fluids are expected to profoundly modify the seismic properties of the cracked rocks of the Earths upper crust but so far there are few relevant laboratory measurements. With funding from the Australian Research Council we are developing novel experimental techniques to build a better laboratory-based understanding of the seismic properties of fluid-saturated crustal rocks.

The outcome will be an improved capacity to monitor the presence of fluids in diverse situations ranging from geothermal power generation and waste disposal to upper-crustal fault zones. This project involves international collaboration with the research group led by Professor Douglas Schmitt at the University of Alberta (Canada).

There are exciting opportunities for the participation of students in (i) establishing procedures for measurement of seismic properties through low-frequency forced flexural oscillation of cylindrical rock specimens; (ii) undertaking exploratory measurements in torsional and flexural oscillation of suitable cracked media (pictured) with fluid saturants of contrasting viscosity; and (iii) performing complementary measurements with high-frequency ultrasonic and low-frequency forced-oscillation methods.

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