Application Of Close-range Remote Sensing Techniques For Characterization Of Outcrops In Various Geological Settings



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Developments in the field of digital outcrop geology have facilitated the sedimentologic, stratigraphic, and structural characterization of outcrop analogs for various geoscientific applications. This work utilizes close-range remote sensing techniques, including hyperspectral imaging, terrestrial laser scanning (TLS), and unmanned-aerial-vehicle (UAV) photogrammetry, to produce three-dimensional geological models and address poorly understood topics in three case studies. The first study covers an outcrop of the Lower Mississippian limestone in southwestern Missouri. Carbonate facies in this succession have formed a complex architecture, characterized by lithologic and geometric heterogeneity and complicated by carbonate mounds. These are important to interpret accurately because of their equivocal depositional origin. I merged hyperspectral and TLS data to distinguish pure limestone mounds from surrounding mud-prone limestone facies and produced a lithostratigraphic framework. This framework suggests a more distal depositional environment than previously thought and supports a distally steepened ramp model with transported mounds. The second study covers an outcrop of the Productive Series in the Apsheron Peninsula, Azerbaijan, that serves as a valuable analog to hydrocarbon-rich Pliocene reservoirs of the South Caspian Basin. This fluvial-deltaic succession is characterized by a low to intermediate net-to-gross ratio, and its depositional setting has been contested due to the ambiguous nature of the sandstones and mudstones. Using a photorealistic outcrop model acquired via UAV photogrammetry and petrographic analysis of outcrop samples, I interpreted the key stratigraphic surfaces and depositional elements and revealed the sedimentary architecture. The latter shows hierarchical levels of reservoir heterogeneity and supports a delta front depositional model. In the third study, I evaluated the impact of Hurricane Harvey on the barrier islands of the central Texas coast. The foredune ridges serve as the first line of protection against storms; therefore, it is important to quantify their erosion and recovery rates. I used airborne-lidar-derived digital elevation models to analyze post-Harvey shoreline and elevation changes. UAV imaging was conducted in three key locations (San Jose, Mustang, and North Padre Islands) to produce high-resolution products, used for morphological and change analyses of dunes at the local scale. These analyses show that erosion and recovery patterns are controlled by the morphology of dune-beach systems.



Outcrop analog, Digital outcrop model, Reservoir characterization, Remote sensing, UAV


Portions of this document appear in: Shahtakhtinskiy, Aydin, and Shuhab Khan. "Quantitative analysis of facies variation using ground-based lidar and hyperspectral imaging in Mississippian limestone outcrop near Jane, Missouri." Interpretation 8, no. 2 (2020): T365-T378.