An architectural analysis documents variations in bedding geometry and rock properties within a tide-influenced deltaic sandstone exposed in the Cretaceous Frontier Formation of central Wyoming, USA. Digital maps of bedding, lithofacies, and diagenetic cements, as well as vertical logs of grain size, lithofacies, and permeability, describe rock properties that potentially influence fluid flow behavior. These records are used to construct simulation models that assess the relative importance of different types of geologic variability on prediction of subsurface fluid flow.

Two 25-meter-thick tide-influenced deltaic sandstone bodies coarsen upward and contain inclined beds that reflect episodic delta-front progradation. Decimeters- to meters-thick beds within bodies alternate between cross-stratified sandstones formed during rapid flows and shales deposited during more quiescent conditions. Down depositional dip, bed-draping shales are more continuous and lithofacies within sandstone beds become finer-grained and increasingly heterolithic. As sandstone beds fine down dip, mean permeability values decrease and coefficients of variation increase, permeability values change from nearly normal distributions to highly right-skewed, and permeability values become more strongly spatially correlated. Nodular cements also affect permeability. All of these variations were modeled using stratigraphic cornerpoint grids that preserve stratal geometry and gridblocks with properties assigned using a combination of rock property maps and statistical models based on rock property logs.

Simulations predict effects on fluid flow of geologic heterogeneity at different scales, the influences of process variables, and the effects of different methods of grid construction and rock property assignment. Flow simulations of water flooding through a 22 m thick by 360 m long segment of a deltaic sandstone oil reservoir predict that: (1) rapid flow through coarser-grained deposits at the top of the sandstone body tends to draw water upward; (2) thin shales draping sandstone beds shunt downdip-directed flow downward and updip-directed flow upward; (3) cement nodules cause more tortuous flow patterns but have little effect on recovery efficiency; (4) Methods of predicting intrafacies correlation of permeability have little effect on flow behavior at this scale. A simulation model constructed using a high-resolution Cartesian grid did not resolve the effects of inclined shales, demonstrating the usefulness of stratigraphic cornerpoint grids for modeling flow through complex geologic deposits. Flow simulations of tracer flow through a meter-thick cross-stratified bed within the deltaic sandstone body showed that at this scale shale drapes and models of the intrafacies distribution of permeability have statistically significant effects.

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