Application of Laser-scanned Outcrop Data to Build Models of Deepwater Reservoirs

David C. Jennette and Jerome A. Bellian

The Bureau is pioneering Lidar systems to be a valuable tool in the rapid, quantitative characterization of outcrop geology. Recent advances in acquisition technology, data handling, data merging, and visualization provide a superior method of outcrop data capture and analysis when compared with traditional photograph-based methods. Outcrop faces are now readily placed into navigable 3-D volumes that can be examined immediately in the field and later interpreted on a workstation or PC.

The high-resolution digital terrain models are draped with conventional photographs and corendered with attributes such as weathering profile (shape), laser intensity (reflectivity), and multispectral data, producing greatly enhanced data set for examination.

Recent work combined conventional field study methods and tools with laser-generated imagery to create 3-D representations of several outcrops from around the world. In several cases the digital scans were manipulated to provide an elevated vantage point that allows geologists to site down bedding. This approach reveals bed and bed-set architecture that was not readily apparent from a ground perspective. Current work is focusing on the channelized slope deposits of the Solitary Channel from the Tabernas Basin, Spain. The laser scans provide a 3-D digital framework from which lithofacies and time-significant surfaces (high-frequency sequence boundaries and abandonment surfaces) are better correlated along the 2-km outcrop belt. In addition, a series of faults disrupt stratigraphic continuity of the channel fill, and digital removal of faults simplifies oft-debated stratigraphic relationships. In addition, laser intensity data are integrated with outcrop weathering patterns and RGB values from digital photographs to produce a classification scheme that distinguishes mudstones from sandstones and even discriminates between sandstones of varying lithic-grain content. All of these data are used to generate a cellular-based geological model in GOCAD of this renowned slope-channel reservoir analog.


For more information, please contact David Jennette. Telephone 512-471-0359; e-mail

February 2003