The elastic anisotropy of clay minerals

posted Aug 15, 2016, 8:36 AM by IARP Admin
Colin M. Sayers1 and Lennert D. den Boer2
1Schlumberger, Houston, Texas, USA. E-mail:
2Schlumberger, Calgary, Alberta, Canada. E-mail:

The layered structure of clay minerals produces large elastic anisotropy due to the presence of strong covalent bonds within layers and weaker electrostatic bonds in between. Technical difficulties associated with small grain size preclude experimental measurement of single-crystal elastic moduli. However, theoretical calculations of the complete elastic tensors of several clay minerals have been reported, using either first-principle calculations based on density functional theory or molecular dynamics. Because of the layered microstructure, the elastic stiffness tensor obtained from such calculations can be approximated to good accuracy as a transversely isotropic (TI) medium. The TI-equivalent elastic moduli of clay minerals indicate that Thomsen’s anisotropy parameters ϵϵ and γγ are large and positive, whereas δδ is small or negative. A least-squares inversion for the elastic properties of a best-fitting equivalent TI medium consisting of two isotropic layers to the elastic properties of clay minerals indicates that the shear modulus of the stiffest layer is considerably larger than the softest layer, consistent with the expected high compliance of the interlayer region in clay minerals. It is anticipated that the elastic anisotropy parameters derived from the best-fitting TI approximation to the elastic stiffness tensor of clay minerals will find applications in rock physics for seismic imaging, amplitude variation with offset analysis, and geomechanics.