Fluviodeltaic stratigraphic architecture and its impact on fluid flow have been characterized using a high-resolution, three-dimensional, reservoir-scale model of an outcrop analog from the Upper Cretaceous Ferron Sandstone Member of central Utah. The model contains two parasequence sets (delta complexes), each with five or six parasequences, separated by an interval of coastal plain strata. Each parasequence contains one or two laterally offset teardrop-shaped delta lobes that are 6 to 12 km (4–7 mi) long, 3 to 9 km (2–6 mi) wide, 5 to 29 m (16–95 ft) thick, and have aspect ratios (width/length) of 0.4 to 0.8. Delta lobes have a wide range of azimuthal orientations (120°) around an overall east-northeastward progradation direction. In plan view, delta lobes in successive parasequences exhibit large (as much as 91°) clockwise and counterclockwise rotations in progradation direction, which are attributed to autogenic lobe switching. In cross-sectional view, parasequence stacking is strongly progradational, but a small component of aggradation or downstepping between parasequences reflects relative sea level fluctuations.
We use flow simulations to characterize the impact of this heterogeneity on production in terms of the sweep efficiency, which is controlled by (1) the continuity, orientation, and permeability of channel-fill sand bodies; (2) the vertical permeability of distal delta-front heteroliths; (3) the direction of sweep relative to the orientation of channel-fill and delta-lobe sand bodies; and (4) well spacing. Distributary channel-fill sand bodies terminate at the apex of genetically related delta lobes and provide limited sand body connectivity. In contrast, fluvial channel-fill sand bodies cut into, and connect, multiple delta-lobe sand bodies. Low, but non-zero, vertical permeability within distal delta-front heteroliths also provides connectivity between successive delta-lobe sand bodies.