Download Description of 2006 Research Program (PDF)
Program Summary
Laser-Assisted Analogs of Siliciclastic Reservoirs (LASR) is an Industrial Associate research program at the Bureau of Economic Geology that began in 2004. LASR’s mission is to develop stratigraphic concepts and teaching tools for our industrial sponsors. Our current research is focused on characterizing submarine-fan outcrops. We are studying several outcrops from around the world that cover a wide range of tectonic settings, physiographic positions, and architectural styles. Research focused on characterizing deltaic, shoreface, and fluvial systems started in 2006. We select outcrops that can be used to address stratigraphic problems faced by geoscientist in the petroleum industry.
World map showing the location of outcrops that are and will be studied by LASR. Members have access to the web modules containg outcrop characterizations.

To accomplish our mission we integrate LiDAR (light detection and ranging) and conventional outcrop data (e.g. stratigraphic columns, correlation panels, photomosaics) to generate detailed characterizations of selected outcrops. LiDAR data provide a high resolution (1-10cm) three-dimensional surface models of outcrops.Stratigraphic surfaces and faults can be interpreted directly onto these data, and, as a result, the three-dimensional shape of stratal features can be accurately described. Additionally, LiDAR data can be used to obtain thickness and length measurements even for hard-to-access areas such as vertical cliffs. The three-dimensional digital outcrop interpretations are used as input to generate reservoir and seismic forward models. This approach allows a direct comparison between stratigraphic architectures seen in outcrop and stratal geometry imaged on seismic.

At the Bureau of Economic Geology, LASR and RCRL (Reservoir Characterization Research Laboratory), are acknowledged leaders in the integration of lidar and conventional outcrop data. LiDAR technology does not replace conventional outcrop training or outcrop research, rather it supplements and improves these investigations by providing geologists ways to digitally visit and analyze outcrops on their computer or workstation.

Photograph showing David Jennette scanning an exposure in the Ross Sandstone, western Ireland with the ground-based lidar unit (upper).




Screen capture of a virtual reality model of the exposure created from the lidar data (lower).

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Research Deliverables
Research results are delivered to sponsor companies in five forms: (1) annual meetings and site visits, (2) Web modules documenting in detail each studied outcrop and stratigraphic concept, (3) downloadable posters (4) geologic and seismic forward models, and (5) 3D point-cloud data
Annual meetings
We rely on sponsor feedback and suggestions to constantly tune our research focus. Annual meetings are held at the Bureau of Economic Geology in Austin, Texas. At these meetings, LASR staff present research results to sponsors via PowerPoint presentations, poster sessions, and demonstrations of the Web modules and interactive virtual reality files. The next annual meeting is planned for December 2006. We also carry out further interaction with our sponsors during site visits, which enable us to present research to a wider company audience than typically attend the annual meeting.
Figure showing cover slides for three of the many presentations delivered in our 2004 annual meeting.
Web Modules
LASR provides a password-protected website for sponsors that provides access to web modules of outcrop characterizations. The web modules contain reports that summarize stratigraphic concepts addressed in our research, quantitative data for stratal features, interactive virtual reality models, forward seismic models of selected exposures, and summary posters. The web modules are available for download onto company intranet sites.
Results and data accessible in the Web modules. Examples of reports, data sets, virtual reality modes, seismic forward models, and posters that are accessible in the Web modules.

Geologic and Seismic Forward Models
For selected outcrops, LiDAR point-cloud interpretations are used to generate integrated rock property geologic and seismic forward models. These models are used to compare outcrop stratal architecture with seismic architecture, helping us to investigate and constrain scale differences between outcrop and seismic. All models are available to our sponsors.
Workflow for converting field observations and point-cloud data into a seismic forward model. Example of a sinuous slope channel complex, Brushy Canyon Formation, West Texas.
Point-Cloud Data
All LiDAR data collected by LASR are available to our sponsors. The point-clouds and stratigraphic interpretations can be visualized using free software; additional interpretation of these data requires special software and licenses.
Screen captures of point cloud data from the solitary channel (left) and Ross Sandstone (right).
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Research Focus 2006: Deep-Water and Fluvio-Deltaic Systems

The 2006 research will focus on completion of three deep-water research projects started in 2005, in the Annot Sandstones (SE France), the Capistano Formation (California), and the Ross Formation (Ireland). We will also start a new research project on a fluvio-deltaic depositional system (Ferron Sandstones, Utah). Results for each research project will be presented in a Web module containing detailed outcrop characterizations, stratigraphic columns, correlation panels, photo panels, stratigraphic concepts, LiDAR data, and geological and seismic forward models for select outcrops.

The 2006 LASR research will focus on four key aspects: (1) deep-water slope channel architecture, (2) deep-water basin onlap configuration, (3) tectonostratigraphy of mass transport complexes and syndepositional faulting, and (4) 3D geometry of fluvio-deltaic deposits.

Annot Sandstones, SE France: Structurally confined deep-water conduit

Status: Initial work carried out in summer 2005.

Exposures: The primary focus is on a large inter-basinal conduit located at Grand Coyer. Other field sites will be evaluated in the Trois Evêchés and Annot sub-basins.

Stratigraphic concepts to be addressed include:

  • Channel stacking patterns along a structurally confined deep-water conduit
  • Analysis of marginal facies associations within the inter-basinal conduit
  • Onlap styles as an effect of bounding slope gradient and sediment fill architecture
  • Characterizations of soft-sediment deformation and syn-sedimentary faulting along a large inter-basinal conduit
Capistrano Formation, California: Slope channel architecture

Status: Initial work carried out in fall 2005.

Exposures: San Clemente State Beach North, Point Fermin, Dana Point Harbor.

Stratigraphic concepts to be addressed include:

  • Architectural styles of laterally stacking channel and channel complexes
  • Sinuous slope channel architecture
  • Sand injection in deep-water settings (in collaboration with Prof. Joe Cartwright)
Ross Sandstones, Ireland: Basin-floor fan, slumps

Status: Initial work carried out in summer 2005.

Exposures: Bridges of Ross.

Stratigraphic concepts to be addressed include:

  • Stratigraphic analysis of a well-exposed three-dimensional deep-water lobe and channel outcrop
  • Tectonostratigraphy of a slump unit and its interaction with channelized deposits


Ferron Sandstones, Utah: Fluvio-deltaic depositional system

Status: New project in 2006.

Exposures: Muddy Creek, Cedar Ridge and Dry Wash.

Stratigraphic concepts to be addressed include:

  • 3D geometry and architecture of distributary channels
  • Distribution of heterogeneities in distributary channels and delta-front deposits
  • Growth faulting in deltaic environments
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2007 and Beyond: Shallow-Marine and Submarine-Fan Outcrops

Tentative Shallow Marine Outcrops to be Studied

  • Fox Hills Sandstone, Wyoming (shelf-edge deltaic)
  • Blackhawk Formation, Utah, USA (wave-dominated shoreface)

Tentative Submarine-Fan Outcrops to be Studied

  • Taranaki basin, New Zealand (proximal basin floor to slope, tectonically active basin)
  • Svalbard: Shekf edge deltas and slope
  • Cerro Del Toro, Chile (slope strata and channel-levee complexes)
  • Scripps and Ardath Formations, California (variable canyon fill architecture)
  • Rosario Formation, Baja, Mexico (gravel-rich channels)
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Cost to Sponsor
Cost per company to sponsor is $40,000/year. Companies joining in 2006 will be charged $15,000 for 2004 and 2005 results.
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Please contact Renaud Bouroullec (, 512.471.4971) for more information.
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