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publications > paper > new method for quantification of vuggy porosity from digital optical borehole images as applied to the karstic Pleistocene limestone of the Biscayne aquifer, southeastern Florida

New method for quantification of vuggy porosity from digital optical borehole images as applied to the karstic Pleistocene limestone of the Biscayne aquifer, southeastern Florida

Kevin J. Cunninghama, Janine I. Carlsonb and Neil F. Hurleyb

a U.S. Geological Survey, 9100 NW 36th Street, Suite 107, Miami, FL 33178, USA
b Department of Geology and Geological Engineering, Colorado School of Mines, 1516 Illinois Street, Golden, CO 80401, USA

Reprinted from Journal of Applied Geophysics, Volume 55, Kevin J. Cunningham, Janine I. Carlson and Neil F. Hurley, New method for quantification of vuggy porosity from digital optical borehole images as applied to the karstic Pleistocene limestone of the Biscayne aquifer, southeastern Florida, Pages 77-90, Copyright 2004, with permission from Elsevier. Entire paper is available from the Journal of Applied Geophysics website (journal membership required).

Abstract

Vuggy porosity is gas- or fluid-filled openings in rock matrix that are large enough to be seen with the unaided eye. Well-connected vugs can form major conduits for flow of ground water, especially in carbonate rocks. This paper presents a new method for quantification of vuggy porosity calculated from digital borehole images collected from 47 test coreholes that penetrate the karstic Pleistocene limestone of the Biscayne aquifer, southeastern Florida. Basically, the method interprets vugs and background based on the grayscale color of each in digital borehole images and calculates a percentage of vuggy porosity. Development of the method was complicated because environmental conditions created an uneven grayscale contrast in the borehole images that makes it difficult to distinguish vugs from background. The irregular contrast was produced by unbalanced illumination of the borehole wall, which was a result of eccentering of the borehole-image logging tool. Experimentation showed that a simple, single grayscale threshold would not realistically differentiate between the grayscale contrast of vugs and background. Therefore, an equation was developed for an effective subtraction of the changing grayscale contrast, due to uneven illumination, to produce a grayscale threshold that successfully identifies vugs. In the equation, a moving average calculated around the circumference of the borehole and expressed as the background grayscale intensity is defined as a baseline from which to identify a grayscale threshold for vugs. A constant was derived empirically by calibration with vuggy porosity values derived from digital images of slabbed-core samples and used to make the subtraction from the background baseline to derive the vug grayscale threshold as a function of azimuth. The method should be effective in estimating vuggy porosity in any carbonate aquifer.

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