Abstract

Major hydrocarbon and groundwater reservoirs are commonly hosted within coarse-grained alluvial deposits that contain a high degree of sedimentary heterogeneity. This paper presents a detailed characterization of the sedimentary heterogeneity of fluvial–deltaic deposits using architectural element analysis (AEA). Sedimentological data collected from outcrop faces exposing Late Quaternary glaciofluvial deposits in southern Ontario, Canada, is recorded in 31 sedimentary logs. These logs are used to identify nine different facies types, including gravel facies (Gm, Gp, Gt), sand facies (Sr, Sp, St, Ss), and fine-grained facies (Fl and Fd). Variations in facies associations and geometries are defined by five architectural elements (AEs): sand complex (SC), gravel sheet (GS), fine-grained sheet (FS), gravel foreset body (GFB), and concave fill (CF) elements. The spatial arrangement of bounding surfaces (first- to fifth-order) and AEs allows the classification of six EAs, which, in this study, are defined as the largest-scale architectural subunits that allow for architectural-based mapping over a large area. EAs delineated in this study are sandy braided-river (EA1), delta-front (EA2), gravelly braided-river to delta-top (EA3), delta-front to lacustrine (EA4), braided-river to deltaic (EA5), and sand-dominated fluvial (EA6). AEA is utilized here to capture three levels of heterogeneity, which allow detailed reservoir characterization based on geometric objects and can be readily used for computer-based modelling. Outcrop analogue studies such as this one provide insight to the geometries of more deeply buried coarse-grained deposits that form potential reservoirs and enhance paleoenvironmental reconstruction of subsurface alluvial deposits in Canada and elsewhere.

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