Intensity Mapping of Outcrop Geology: Over 1 Billion Surveyed
Bureau of Economic Geology
John A.& Katherine G. Jackson School of Geosciences
The University of Texas at Austin
Lidar (light detection and ranging) is a new tool for outcrop
geologists. The speed and quality of acquiring quantified dimensional
data utilizing lidar technology are, as of yet, unsurpassed. These acquisition
advancements interlaced with software and hardware data handling have
revolutionized the often tedious and inaccurate traditional methods
of generating reservoir analogs from outcrops. Not only can we bring
outcrop geometries into a 3-D volume, but we can now bring difficult
or impossible to access outcrops back into the office or laboratory
where they may be revisited, reexamined, or previewed from any workstation
or personal computer. 3-D models can be acquired to examine tectonics,
large- or small-scale fracture patterns, stratigraphy, sedimentology,
geochemistry, or any geological attribute that is optically detectable.
The high-resolution digital terrain models generated from lidar data
can be co-rendered with conventional photography, outcrop shape attributes,
multispectral and/or hyperspectral data, which allow for investigation
of nearly any geological aspect.
of the BEGs current lidar/outcrop research focuses on a carbonate
and mixed siliciclastic-carbonate system of the West Texas Permian Basin.
In the past 10 months we have acquired a new ground-based instrument
(ILRIS 3-D). In that time we have used ILRIS 3-D to acquire and process
more than a dozen data sets from around the world, including data from
Patagonia, Chile, Northern and Southern Spain, Baku Azurbaijan, Central
Saudi Arabia, as well as Central and Western United States totaling
well over 1 billion individual surveyed points. I would like to take
this opportunity to convey some of what we have learned about geology
and digital outcrop imaging and mapping as well as outline some new
ideas for 2003.