Santamarina J. Carlos

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J. Carlos

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  • Article
    Parametric study of the physical properties of hydrate-bearing sand, silt, and clay sediments : 1. Electromagnetic properties
    (American Geophysical Union, 2010-11-09) Lee, J. Y. ; Santamarina, J. Carlos ; Ruppel, Carolyn D.
    The marked decrease in bulk electrical conductivity of sediments in the presence of gas hydrates has been used to interpret borehole electrical resistivity logs and, to a lesser extent, the results of controlled source electromagnetic surveys to constrain the spatial distribution and predicted concentration of gas hydrate in natural settings. Until now, an exhaustive laboratory data set that could be used to assess the impact of gas hydrate on the electromagnetic properties of different soils (sand, silt, and clay) at different effective stress and with different saturations of hydrate has been lacking. The laboratory results reported here are obtained using a standard geotechnical cell and the hydrate-formed tetrahydrofuran (THF), a liquid that is fully miscible in water and able to produce closely controlled saturations of hydrate from dissolved phase. Both permittivity and electrical conductivity are good indicators of the volume fraction of free water in the sediment, which is in turn dependent on hydrate saturation. Permittivity in the microwave frequency range is particularly predictive of free water content since it is barely affected by ionic concentration, pore structure, and surface conduction. Electrical conductivity (or resistivity) is less reliable for constraining water content or hydrate saturation: In addition to fluid-filled porosity, other factors, such as the ionic concentration of the pore fluid and possibly other conduction effects (e.g., surface conduction in high specific surface soils having low conductivity pore fluid), also influence electrical conductivity.
  • Article
    Mechanical properties of sand, silt, and clay containing tetrahydrofuran hydrate
    (American Geophysical Union, 2007-04-17) Yun, Tae Sup ; Santamarina, J. Carlos ; Ruppel, Carolyn D.
    The mechanical behavior of hydrate-bearing sediments subjected to large strains has relevance for the stability of the seafloor and submarine slopes, drilling and coring operations, and the analysis of certain small-strain properties of these sediments (for example, seismic velocities). This study reports on the results of comprehensive axial compression triaxial tests conducted at up to 1 MPa confining pressure on sand, crushed silt, precipitated silt, and clay specimens with closely controlled concentrations of synthetic hydrate. The results show that the stress-strain behavior of hydrate-bearing sediments is a complex function of particle size, confining pressure, and hydrate concentration. The mechanical properties of hydrate-bearing sediments at low hydrate concentration (probably < 40% of pore space) appear to be determined by stress-dependent soil stiffness and strength. At high hydrate concentrations (>50% of pore space), the behavior becomes more independent of stress because the hydrates control both stiffness and strength and possibly the dilative tendency of sediments by effectively increasing interparticle coordination, cementing particles together, and filling the pore space. The cementation contribution to the shear strength of hydrate-bearing sediments decreases with increasing specific surface of soil minerals. The lower the effective confining stress, the greater the impact of hydrate formation on normalized strength.
  • Article
    Parametric study of the physical properties of hydrate-bearing sand, silt, and clay sediments : 2. Small-strain mechanical properties
    (American Geophysical Union, 2010-11-09) Lee, J. Y. ; Francisca, Franco M. ; Santamarina, J. Carlos ; Ruppel, Carolyn D.
    The small-strain mechanical properties (e.g., seismic velocities) of hydrate-bearing sediments measured under laboratory conditions provide reference values for calibration of logging and seismic exploration results acquired in hydrate-bearing formations. Instrumented cells were designed for measuring the compressional (P) and shear (S) velocities of sand, silts, and clay with and without hydrate and subject to vertical effective stresses of 0.01 to 2 MPa. Tetrahydrofuran (THF), which is fully miscible in water, was used as the hydrate former to permit close control over the hydrate saturation Shyd and to produce hydrate from dissolved phase, as methane hydrate forms in most natural marine settings. The results demonstrate that laboratory hydrate formation technique controls the pattern of P and S velocity changes with increasing Shyd and that the small-strain properties of hydrate-bearing sediments are governed by effective stress, σ′v and sediment specific surface. The S velocity increases with hydrate saturation owing to an increase in skeletal shear stiffness, particularly when hydrate saturation exceeds Shyd≈ 0.4. At very high hydrate saturations, the small strain shear stiffness is determined by the presence of hydrates and becomes insensitive to changes in effective stress. The P velocity increases with hydrate saturation due to the increases in both the shear modulus of the skeleton and the bulk modulus of pore-filling phases during fluid-to-hydrate conversion. Small-strain Poisson's ratio varies from 0.5 in soft sediments lacking hydrates to 0.25 in stiff sediments (i.e., subject to high vertical effective stress or having high Shyd). At Shyd ≥ 0.5, hydrate hinders expansion and the loss of sediment stiffness during reduction of vertical effective stress, meaning that hydrate-rich natural sediments obtained through pressure coring should retain their in situ fabric for some time after core retrieval if the cores are maintained within the hydrate stability field.
  • Article
    Hydro-bio-geomechanical properties of hydrate-bearing sediments from Nankai Trough
    (Elsevier, 2015-03-01) Santamarina, J. Carlos ; Dai, Sheng ; Terzariol, Marco ; Jang, J. ; Waite, William F. ; Winters, William J. ; Nagao, Jiro ; Yoneda, Jun ; Konno, Yoshihiro ; Fujii, Tetsuya ; Suzuki, K.
    Natural hydrate-bearing sediments from the Nankai Trough, offshore Japan, were studied using the Pressure Core Characterization Tools (PCCTs) to obtain geomechanical, hydrological, electrical, and biological properties under in situ pressure, temperature, and restored effective stress conditions. Measurement results, combined with index-property data and analytical physics-based models, provide unique insight into hydrate-bearing sediments in situ. Tested cores contain some silty-sands, but are predominantly sandy- and clayey-silts. Hydrate saturations Sh range from 0.15 to 0.74, with significant concentrations in the silty-sands. Wave velocity and flexible-wall permeameter measurements on never-depressurized pressure-core sediments suggest hydrates in the coarser-grained zones, the silty-sands where Sh exceeds 0.4, contribute to soil-skeletal stability and are load-bearing. In the sandy- and clayey-silts, where Sh < 0.4, the state of effective stress and stress history are significant factors determining sediment stiffness. Controlled depressurization tests show that hydrate dissociation occurs too quickly to maintain thermodynamic equilibrium, and pressure–temperature conditions track the hydrate stability boundary in pure-water, rather than that in seawater, in spite of both the in situ pore water and the water used to maintain specimen pore pressure prior to dissociation being saline. Hydrate dissociation accompanied with fines migration caused up to 2.4% vertical strain contraction. The first-ever direct shear measurements on never-depressurized pressure-core specimens show hydrate-bearing sediments have higher sediment strength and peak friction angle than post-dissociation sediments, but the residual friction angle remains the same in both cases. Permeability measurements made before and after hydrate dissociation demonstrate that water permeability increases after dissociation, but the gain is limited by the transition from hydrate saturation before dissociation to gas saturation after dissociation. In a proof-of-concept study, sediment microbial communities were successfully extracted and stored under high-pressure, anoxic conditions. Depressurized samples of these extractions were incubated in air, where microbes exhibited temperature-dependent growth rates.
  • Article
    Long-wavelength propagation in fractured rock masses (3D Stress Field)
    (American Geophysical Union, 2022-09-05) Rached, Rached M. ; Garcia, Adrian V. ; Santamarina, J. Carlos
    Fractured rocks affect a wide range of natural processes and engineering systems. In most cases, the seismic characterization of fractured rock masses in the field involves wavelengths much longer than the fracture spacing; reproducing this condition in the laboratory is experimentally challenging. This experimental investigation explores the effect of fracture rock fabric and the 3D stress field on P wave propagation in the long‐wavelength regime using a large‐scale true triaxial device. P wave velocities increase with stress in the propagation direction and follow a power law of the form Vp = α(σ’/kPa)β; analyses and experimental results show that stress‐sensitive fracture stiffness and fracture density define the α‐factor and β‐exponent; conversely, long‐wavelength velocity versus stress data can be analyzed to identify the stress‐dependent fracture stiffness. P wave velocities exhibit hysteretic behavior caused by inelastic fracture deformation and fabric changes. During deviatoric loading, the P wave velocity decreases in the two constant‐stress directions due to the development of internal force chains and the ensuing three‐dimensional deformation. Following a load increment, time‐dependent contact deformations result in P wave velocity changes during the first several hours for the tested carbonate rocks; the asymptotic change in velocity is more pronounced for higher stress changes and stress levels. The fracture network geometry that defines the rock fabric acts as a low‐pass filter to wave propagation, so that wavelengths must be longer than two times the fracture spacing to propagate (Brillouin dispersion); the long‐wavelength velocity and the fracture spacing determine the cutoff frequency. Fabric anisotropy contributes to anisotropic low‐pass filtering effects in the rock mass.Plain Language SummarySeismic waves provide a convenient method to characterize fractured rock masses for various applications, from infrastructure engineering to reservoir characterization and production monitoring. But what do wave propagation parameters tell us about the rock mass? Results from this study show that the propagation velocity is a function of the confining stress and that both fracture geometry and stress anisotropy cause velocity anisotropy. We also found that only waves with a wavelength much longer than the spacing between fractures can traverse the medium (short wavelengths get trapped bouncing between fractures); therefore, a high‐frequency cutoff can be used to infer the fracture density in the direction of propagation.Key PointsLong‐wavelength P wave propagation velocity in fractured rocks increases with effective stress due to the stress‐dependent fracture stiffnessRelated phenomena include velocity‐stress hysteresis, fabric‐dependent low‐pass filtering, and creep‐induced stiffness changes in short time scalesLong‐wavelength P wave propagation parameters reflect both fabric and stress anisotropy
  • Article
    Thermal conductivity of hydrate-bearing sediments
    (American Geophysical Union, 2009-11-18) Cortes, Douglas D. ; Martin, Ana I. ; Yun, Tae Sup ; Francisca, Franco M. ; Santamarina, J. Carlos ; Ruppel, Carolyn D.
    A thorough understanding of the thermal conductivity of hydrate-bearing sediments is necessary for evaluating phase transformation processes that would accompany energy production from gas hydrate deposits and for estimating regional heat flow based on the observed depth to the base of the gas hydrate stability zone. The coexistence of multiple phases (gas hydrate, liquid and gas pore fill, and solid sediment grains) and their complex spatial arrangement hinder the a priori prediction of the thermal conductivity of hydrate-bearing sediments. Previous studies have been unable to capture the full parameter space covered by variations in grain size, specific surface, degree of saturation, nature of pore filling material, and effective stress for hydrate-bearing samples. Here we report on systematic measurements of the thermal conductivity of air dry, water- and tetrohydrofuran (THF)-saturated, and THF hydrate–saturated sand and clay samples at vertical effective stress of 0.05 to 1 MPa (corresponding to depths as great as 100 m below seafloor). Results reveal that the bulk thermal conductivity of the samples in every case reflects a complex interplay among particle size, effective stress, porosity, and fluid-versus-hydrate filled pore spaces. The thermal conductivity of THF hydrate–bearing soils increases upon hydrate formation although the thermal conductivities of THF solution and THF hydrate are almost the same. Several mechanisms can contribute to this effect including cryogenic suction during hydrate crystal growth and the ensuing porosity reduction in the surrounding sediment, increased mean effective stress due to hydrate formation under zero lateral strain conditions, and decreased interface thermal impedance as grain-liquid interfaces are transformed into grain-hydrate interfaces.
  • Article
    Hydrate morphology : physical properties of sands with patchy hydrate saturation
    (American Geophysical Union, 2012-11-14) Dai, Sheng ; Santamarina, J. Carlos ; Waite, William F. ; Kneafsey, Timothy J.
    The physical properties of gas hydrate-bearing sediments depend on the volume fraction and spatial distribution of the hydrate phase. The host sediment grain size and the state of effective stress determine the hydrate morphology in sediments; this information can be used to significantly constrain estimates of the physical properties of hydrate-bearing sediments, including the coarse-grained sands subjected to high effective stress that are of interest as potential energy resources. Reported data and physical analyses suggest hydrate-bearing sands contain a heterogeneous, patchy hydrate distribution, whereby zones with 100% pore-space hydrate saturation are embedded in hydrate-free sand. Accounting for patchy rather than homogeneous hydrate distribution yields more tightly constrained estimates of physical properties in hydrate-bearing sands and captures observed physical-property dependencies on hydrate saturation. For example, numerical modeling results of sands with patchy saturation agree with experimental observation, showing a transition in stiffness starting near the series bound at low hydrate saturations but moving toward the parallel bound at high hydrate saturations. The hydrate-patch size itself impacts the physical properties of hydrate-bearing sediments; for example, at constant hydrate saturation, we find that conductivity (electrical, hydraulic and thermal) increases as the number of hydrate-saturated patches increases. This increase reflects the larger number of conductive flow paths that exist in specimens with many small hydrate-saturated patches in comparison to specimens in which a few large hydrate saturated patches can block flow over a significant cross-section of the specimen.
  • Article
    Volume change associated with formation and dissociation of hydrate in sediment
    (American Geophysical Union, 2010-03-11) Lee, J. Y. ; Santamarina, J. Carlos ; Ruppel, Carolyn D.
    Gas hydrate formation and dissociation in sediments are accompanied by changes in the bulk volume of the sediment and can lead to changes in sediment properties, loss of integrity for boreholes, and possibly regional subsidence of the ground surface over areas where methane might be produced from gas hydrate in the future. Experiments on sand, silts, and clay subject to different effective stress and containing different saturations of hydrate formed from dissolved phase tetrahydrofuran are used to systematically investigate the impact of gas hydrate formation and dissociation on bulk sediment volume. Volume changes in low specific surface sediments (i.e., having a rigid sediment skeleton like sand) are much lower than those measured in high specific surface sediments (e.g., clay). Early hydrate formation is accompanied by contraction for all soils and most stress states in part because growing gas hydrate crystals buckle skeletal force chains. Dilation can occur at high hydrate saturations. Hydrate dissociation under drained, zero lateral strain conditions is always associated with some contraction, regardless of soil type, effective stress level, or hydrate saturation. Changes in void ratio during formation-dissociation decrease at high effective stress levels. The volumetric strain during dissociation under zero lateral strain scales with hydrate saturation and sediment compressibility. The volumetric strain during dissociation under high shear is a function of the initial volume average void ratio and the stress-dependent critical state void ratio of the sediment. Other contributions to volume reduction upon hydrate dissociation are related to segregated hydrate in lenses and nodules. For natural gas hydrates, some conditions (e.g., gas production driven by depressurization) might contribute to additional volume reduction by increasing the effective stress.
  • Article
    Physical properties of hydrate-bearing sediments
    (American Geophysical Union, 2009-12-31) Waite, William F. ; Santamarina, J. Carlos ; Cortes, Douglas D. ; Dugan, Brandon ; Espinoza, D. N. ; Germaine, J. ; Jang, J. ; Jung, J. W. ; Kneafsey, Timothy J. ; Shin, H. ; Soga, K. ; Winters, William J. ; Yun, Tae Sup
    Methane gas hydrates, crystalline inclusion compounds formed from methane and water, are found in marine continental margin and permafrost sediments worldwide. This article reviews the current understanding of phenomena involved in gas hydrate formation and the physical properties of hydrate-bearing sediments. Formation phenomena include pore-scale habit, solubility, spatial variability, and host sediment aggregate properties. Physical properties include thermal properties, permeability, electrical conductivity and permittivity, small-strain elastic P and S wave velocities, shear strength, and volume changes resulting from hydrate dissociation. The magnitudes and interdependencies of these properties are critically important for predicting and quantifying macroscale responses of hydrate-bearing sediments to changes in mechanical, thermal, or chemical boundary conditions. These predictions are vital for mitigating borehole, local, and regional slope stability hazards; optimizing recovery techniques for extracting methane from hydrate-bearing sediments or sequestering carbon dioxide in gas hydrate; and evaluating the role of gas hydrate in the global carbon cycle.