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Stratigraphic sequences in boreholes are commonly estimated by interpreting combinations of well logs. The interpretation is generally tedious and is made some time after log completion, which often leads to a loss of valuable first-hand information gathered on-site. This may lead to delayed or potentially poor on-site decisions. To make things worse, the standard interpretation of well logs is, at least to a certain degree, subjective and based on the manipulation of data, which may be difficult to trace in the long term. Small changes in lithology are often disregarded and alternating thin layers presenting different lithologies are often combined in one single (notably thicker) stratigraphic unit. Therefore an automatic parameter-based and thus traceable and objective quick look at the lithology immediately after log completion represents both a valuable tool to help with on-site decisions and a solid, mathematically based starting point for further physically based interpretations carried out by log analysts. We present a workflow for the interpretation of well logs defined as an optimization problem. The workflow is applied to the characterization of metre- to decametre-scale stratigraphic units along 13 boreholes in northern Switzerland (one-dimensional resolution) and to millimetre-scale features over a wall at the Mont Terri underground rock laboratory in Switzerland (two-dimensional resolution). The results show that: (1) the workflow accurately maps lithological changes; (2) the interaction with the analyst is minimized, which reduces the subjectivity of the interpretation; and (3) outputs are available for on-site decisions.

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