Application of seismic methods to identify potential gas concentration zones at the Zechstein Limestone Level in the „Rudna” mining area, SW Poland

Jerzy Dec, Kaja Pietsch, Paweł Marzec


A block development operation at the “Rudna” copper mine (KGHM Polska Miedź S.A.) encountered a “compressed gas trap” that caused the ejection of fragmented rock material into a drift. Faced with a new threat of gas ejection the mine needed to find methods to identify potential gas concentration zones prior to any further exploration work. Surface seismic surveying was chosen as a widely-accepted standard method of investigating rockmass structure and tectonics and pinpointing natural gas deposits. An area of one square kilometre was selected directly above the ejection site, a 3D seismic survey, known as Duża Wólka 3D, was performed and a survey well S-421A was drilled. The objective was to investigate the overall rock structure, especially the structure of Zechstein and top Rotliegendes formations, as well as to attempt identifying anomalous zones, which could be linked with the gas saturation of Ca1 dolomites, on the 3D seismic image at the P1 level (Zechstein/ Rotliegendes boundary).
An interpretation of multi-scenario seismic modelling of the recorded data helped to:
– recognize the structure and tectonics of the area, including minor faults cutting through the top-level Rotliegendes formations and floor-level Zechstein formations. Such faults could constitute migration channels for Carboniferous-period gases,
– locate zones with nearly zero-reflection amplitude at the surface of the top-level Rotliegendes (P1 seismic boundary), which would suggest a reduction of elastic parameters of the Ca1 dolomite. This reduction could be linked to an increased porosity and fracturing of the dolomite and its saturation with gas (a reduction of the seismic wavelet propagation velocity).
Credibility of this interpretation is already partly corroborated by data from wells drilled in the Zechstein limestone by the mine.
The paper presents the first in the world attempt to use the surface seismic survey for location of zones with small gas concentration in porous rocks at the Zechstein/Rotliegendes boundary. Such zones should not be identified with gas pools that occur in the Zechstein Limestone (Ca1) in the area of the Fore-Sudetic Monocline.

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