Half-Graben-Scale Geocellular Outcrop Modelling of Rift Initiation Strata from Lidar-Based Digital Outcrop Data: The Nukhul Syncline, Suez Rift, Egypt
Paul Wilson, David Hodgetts, Franklin Rarity, Rob L. Gawthorpe, Ian R. Sharp, 2011. "Half-Graben-Scale Geocellular Outcrop Modelling of Rift Initiation Strata from Lidar-Based Digital Outcrop Data: The Nukhul Syncline, Suez Rift, Egypt", Outcrops Revitalized: Tools, Techniques and Applications, Ole J. Martinsen, Andrew J. Pulham, Peter D.W. Haughton, Morgan D. Sullivan
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The Nukhul Formation (Suez rift) consists of fluvial and tidally influenced shallow marine strata that were deposited in fault-controlled seaways and tidal embayments during rift initiation. In this study, we create a half-graben-scale, high-resolution (typical grid cell dimensions 20 m x 20 m x <1 m), geocellular outcrop model of the Nukhul Formation. The evolution of the normal fault system in the study area is associated with the development of fault-parallel and fault-perpendicular folds. The changing nature of the structural template, and the resulting geomorphology, during deposition led to complex syn-rift stratigraphic architecture and facies distributions. We use a LIDAR-based digital outcrop approach to map this geological complexity to a high degree of accuracy, for export to reservoir modelling software. Software developed in-house was used to integrate field observations with the digital dataset, aid interpretation, and create realistic surface meshes from outcrop data. Facies modelling used a combination of sequential indicator simulation and object-based modelling approaches. Sedimentary logs were attached to the dataset and used as conditioning data. 2D probability maps, source points, and flow lines constrained the geocellular outcrop model to match the known geology. The approach leads to improvements in three areas: (i) geological knowledge of the study area, (ii) data portability, and (iii) geocellular outcrop modelling. Comparison between the final geocellular outcrop model, outcrop geology, and inferred palaeogeography shows that the geology of the Nukhul Formation is realistically modelled. The final reservoir model can be used as an analogue for similar geological settings. It can be applied to improve the prediction of subsurface geology in analogous reservoirs and to increase the accuracy of static connectivity and flow simulations. Ultimately this will improve knowledge of the impact of facies heterogeneities on reservoir performance and lead to increased efficiency of reservoir drainage.
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Outcrops are fundamental to everything we hope to achieve in geological understanding. They are gateways to geological processes, earth history and they help ground-truth remote sensing applications. With increasing resolution of subsurface tools and techniques, one could be forgiven in believing that outcrops have had their day and their utility is less than in the past great eras of field mapping and the development of facies models. This premise is far from the truth and this new SEPM volume illustrates how new analytical techniques are revitalizing outcrops and in the process creating a wealth of new data and fresh geological understandings. In this book you will find a compilation of the growing arsenal of outcrop tools and techniques and a consideration of future developments. This collection of papers, delivered at a SEPM Research Conference on the West coast of Ireland in the summer of 2008, is a smorgasbord of case studies, workflows, modeling, and applications which spans clastic and carbonate settings. Whatever your interest in outcrop geology and its application there is something in this volume for you. If you are seeking guidance for using new outcrop tools, looking for efficiencies in data collection or desiring new insights for old and favorite outcrops, this volume is a must have. This volume also makes an excellent reference or textbook for any group of professionals or students working or studying the new technologies that have allowed new insights from outcrops. We also consider this a superbly timed publication because many new outcrop tools are now becoming mainstream via reduced purchase and operating costs. Once you read this volume, and there are reduced prices for SEPM members and students, please share your new experiences with the authors and editors and help continue the revitalization of our shared and continually surprising outcrop library of the earth.