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Lithological and stress anisotropy control large-scale seismic velocity variations in tight carbonates

Trippetta, F.; Barchi, M.R.; Tinti, E.; Volpe, G.; Rosset, G.; De Paola, N.

Lithological and stress anisotropy control large-scale seismic velocity variations in tight carbonates Thumbnail


F. Trippetta

M.R. Barchi

E. Tinti

G. Volpe

G. Rosset


Our knowledge of subsurface structures often derives from seismic velocities that are measured during seismic acquisition surveys. These velocities can greatly change due to lithological, fracture frequencies and/or effective pressure/temperature variations. However, the influence of such intrinsic lithological properties and environmental conditions at the large scale is poorly understood due to the lack of comprehensive datasets. Here, we analyze 43 borehole-derived velocity datasets of 3 end-member tight carbonate sequences from Central Italy, including massive pure limestone (Calcare Massiccio, CM), thick-layered (20–50 cm) pure limestone (Maiolica, MA), and thin-layered (2–20 cm) marly limestone (Calcareous Scaglia, CS). Our results show that the main rock parameters and environmental conditions driving large scale velocity variations are bedding and paleostresses, while mineralogical composition and current tectonic stress also play a role. For each of the 3 end-members, measured VP values vary differently with depth, as the thin-layered CS units show a clear increase in Vp, while velocity slightly increases and remains constant for the thick-layered MA and massive CM units, respectively. Such observations show that velocities are affected by specific characteristics of lithological discontinuities, such as the thickness of bedding. Counterintuitively, larger Vp values were recorded in the deformed mountain range than in the undeformed foreland suggesting that higher paleo-stresses increase velocity values by enhancing diagenesis and healing of discontinuities. Our results thus demonstrate that large scale velocity variations are strictly related to variation of lithological properties and to the geological and tectonic history of an area. We suggest that such lithological and environmental controls should be taken into account when developing velocity and mechanical models for tectonically active regions of the Mediterranean Area, where earthquakes mostly nucleate and propagate through carbonate formations, and for resource exploration in fractured carbonate reservoirs.


Trippetta, F., Barchi, M., Tinti, E., Volpe, G., Rosset, G., & De Paola, N. (2021). Lithological and stress anisotropy control large-scale seismic velocity variations in tight carbonates. Scientific Reports, 11, Article 9472.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Apr 20, 2021
Online Publication Date May 4, 2021
Publication Date 2021
Deposit Date Jun 8, 2021
Publicly Available Date Jun 10, 2021
Journal Scientific Reports
Publisher Nature Research
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 11
Article Number 9472


Published Journal Article (8.9 Mb)

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