Seismic Geomechanics of Mud Volcanoes

  • Rashad Gulmammadov

Student thesis: Phd


Mud volcanoes constitute an important component of petroliferous basins and their understanding is essential for successful exploration and development of hydrocarbon fields. They occur in both extensional and compressive tectonic settings, along with passive and active continental margins. Although extensive research exists on the geochemistry, geomorphology and stratigraphic evolution of these localized fluid flow structures, little is known about their geomechanical characteristics. This research investigates the geomechanics of mud volcanoes from the South Caspian Basin and West Nile Delta. This is achieved by establishing a workflow for geomechanical assessment of mud volcanoes using a P-wave velocity dataset from across the mud volcano within the offshore South Caspian Basin. This objective is developed further with the availability of seismic and wellbore data from around the Giza mud volcano, offshore West Nile Delta. Preliminary results of this study from the South Caspian Basin enable confidence in estimating the realistic magnitudes of elastic rock properties, stresses and fluid pressures from empirical and analytical correlations. Moreover, analysis of the variations in fluid pressures allow the fluid flow models around the mud volcano to be constrained and their gradients provide preliminary estimates of the drilling window. Structural and stratigraphic analysis around the Giza mud volcano offers insight into the formation of the mud volcano during the Quaternary and how the fault networks on the hanging wall of the arcuate tectonic fault have acted as conduits for primarily the pre-Pliocene fluids exploiting the areas of weakness along the hanging wall of the fault by entraining the Pliocene sediments. Fluid pressure evaluation reveals small overpressures caused by disequilibrium compaction. Further analysis offers insight into the critical fluid pressures that control fault movement, the stresses responsible for rock deformation around the wellbore and the width of the drilling window constrained by the fracturing of the strata. Analysis presented here provides details on the geomechanical significance of mud volcano environments, with implications for engineering practices. Overall, findings contribute to a systematic understanding of mud volcano settings not only from a field exploration and development point of view, but also at a wider scale for basin analysis and relatively small scale for play analysis.
Date of Award31 Dec 2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorStephen Covey-Crump (Supervisor) & Mads Huuse (Supervisor)


  • pore fluid pressure
  • wellbore
  • 3D seismic
  • drilling hazards
  • West Nile Delta
  • mud volcano
  • geomechanics
  • South Caspian Basin

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