Geologically-Based Characterization of Reservoir Analogs Using Lidar-Derived Quantitative Data



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



Like many fields in earth sciences, petroleum geology is an area that requires high-quality spatial data. Recent advances in terrestrial light detection and ranging (LIDAR) technology and photogrammetry resulted in rapid expansion of capabilities in terms of accurate data collection, visualization and analysis, fueled by the need to resolve geometrical properties of smaller scale geologic features that affect fluid flow, such as shale drapes or fractures. The study of sedimentary rock outcrops are of particular interest as they can be used as analogs for similar petroleum reservoir rocks. By harnessing recent developments in 3D digital imaging, this study addresses: (1) characterization of shales and their impact on permeability anisotropy (kv/kh ) in tidally-influenced fluvial deposits; (2) characterization of fracture attributes from 3D surface reconstructions; and (3) the utility of calibrated LIDAR intensity as a remote spectral sensor. The Cretaceous Ferron Sandstone is an outcrop analog for fluvial–tidal systems with primary reservoirs being tidally-influenced point bars. Detailed shale characteristics were measured to test the hypothetical relationships between depositional environment and shale character and to use these observations to make geologically-based estimates of kv/kh . The unique character of each depositional unit was reflected in the estimated kv/kh distributions. More tidally-influenced reservoirs resulted in low kv/kh estimates (0.09), whereas kv/kh for reservoirs that contained predominantly fluvial facies was higher (0.17). Ability of LIDAR as a spectral sensor to detect grain size was tested with two experiments consisting of sandpapers and outcrop application. LIDAR intensity approximated target reflectance after being calibrated. Fine-grained sandpapers and rocks were more reflective of the near-infrared wavelength of the LIDAR laser source. The close agreement between LIDAR-generated and laboratory measured reflectance data signaled the potential of calibrated laser as a spectral tool for effective grain size determination. The fracture system developed within the exposures of Mississippian Boone Formation was characterized using a hybrid approach, combining LIDAR-based digital outcrop models and georeferenced high-quality photomosaics. The results suggest that LIDAR, coupled with referenced gigapixel photomosaics provides an effective medium for fracture identification with the capacity of resolving fracture characteristics with sufficient fidelity, making it an attractive alternative for fracture modeling workflows.



Reservoir analogs, Terrestrial laser scanning (TLS), Laser scanning, Outcrop, Petroleum, Remote sensing


Portions of this document appear in: Biber, Kivanc, Shuhab D. Khan, Janok P. Bhattacharya, Mark D. Barton, and Craig L. Glennie. "Quantitative characterization of shales within tidally influenced fluvial valley fill deposits of the Ferron Sandstone, eastern Utah: Implications for hydrocarbon exploration." AAPG Bulletin 101, no. 10 (2017): 1599-1623.