A petrophysical study of bioturbated shoreface sandstone rocks was completed by mapping local variations in air permeability measured in core samples acquired from the Upper Jurassic Ula Formation of the Norwegian Central Graben. Analysis of the shoreface fabrics resulting from bioturbation was studied using arithmetic, harmonic, and geometric numerical modeling and analytical techniques. The arithmetic mean best illustrates samples dominated by high volumes of horizontal or subvertical burrows (50–80%). The distal Skolithos to proximal Cruziana ichnofacies is an example of a rock fabric that can be characterized using the arithmetic mean. The harmonic mean best exemplifies samples dominated by low volumes of vertically oriented burrows (10–50%). The archetypal Skolithos ichnofacies is an example of a rock fabric that can be characterized using the harmonic mean. At extreme volumes of bioturbation (90–100%), isotropic flow units begin developing irrespective of burrow orientation.
Numerical models of Ophiomorpha in two different sedimentary bedding features (laminated sandstone and massive sandstone) show that single-phase fluid flow is influenced by parameters such as burrow permeability, burrow connectivity, and bioturbation volume. Spot-permeametry measurements show that the Ophiomorpha burrows have higher permeability values than the host matrix. In the laminated-sandstone models, horizontal shale laminae and low bioturbation intensities promote lamination-parallel fluid flow. At higher volumes of bioturbation, fluid flow becomes increasingly isotropic due to greater amounts of burrow interpenetrations across mud laminae. In the massive-sandstone model, no flow barriers exist. As such, low volumes of bioturbation result in only minor influences on fluid flow. At higher volumes of bioturbation, greater burrow interconnectivity occurs and results in an enhancement of vertical and horizontal burrow permeabilities.
Based on the results outlined above, this paper emphasizes the impact bioturbation plays in helping improve reservoir quality in the Ula Formation. Perhaps more importantly, the effectiveness of the numerical models presented to characterize fluid flow in different bioturbated fabrics (e.g., archetypal Skolithos ichnofacies) highlights the fact that the fluid-flow results outlined in this paper can also be applied more broadly to different shoreface successions using ichnofacies knowledge alone.