Abstract

In light detection and ranging (LiDAR)–integrated outcrop characterizations, coupled utilization of LiDAR-generated virtual outcrop models and the ArcGIS platform has been rarely pursued. As a consequence, there exists a limited appreciation of this coupled approach in stratigraphic analysis. This study presents a novel approach of three-dimensional (3-D) mapping of fluvial channel sand bodies in the Cretaceous Blackhawk Formation outcrops in Utah by exporting quantitative information from a high-resolution (∼10 cm) virtual outcrop model into ArcGIS. The adjoining and near-circular character of six contiguous cliff faces in our virtual outcrop model provided both upstream and downstream data sets, allowing us to gather adequate spatial data points (x, y, and z coordinates for each point) for both basal and top bounding surfaces of individual channel sand bodies. For each sand body, these data points were manipulated in ArcGIS to generate a 3-D geobody, which is a realistic reconstruction of the stratigraphic preservation of that channel sand body in a sedimentary basin. The high resolution of our data set allowed the creation of this 3-D channel body down to individual channel-story level (single-story vs. multilateral). By creating and then populating all channel sand bodies of the entire Blackhawk Formation for our studied outcrop window, this technique generates a robust set of results that is useful for improved understanding of fluvial sand-body organization at a range of spatial scales, over both the short- (single to tens of thousands of years) and long-term (hundreds of thousands to millions of years). Our results are also important for improved reservoir and aquifer exploration and production strategy.

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