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

Renaud Bouroullec and Mark Tomasso

The Bureau is pioneering LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) 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 co-rendered with attributes such as weathering profile (shape), and intensity (reflectivity), 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. Current work is focusing on fluvio-deltaic deposits of the Ferron Sandstones, Utah and on deep-water deposits of (1) the Gres d'Annot Formation, SE France, (2) the Capistrano Formation, California, (4) Brushy Canyon, west Texas, (5) Solitary Channel, SE Spain, and (6) the Ross Formation, Ireland.

The laser scans provide a 3-D digital framework from which lithofacies, stratigraphic architectural elements and time-significant surfaces (high-frequency sequence boundaries and abandonment surfaces) are correlated in 3-D along outcrop belts. All of these data are used to generate a cellular-based geological models in GoCAD. This models are used to produced seismic-forward models allowing valuable comparison between outcrop-based seismic models and conventional seismic.

For more information, please contact Renaud Bouroullec. Telephone 512-471-4971; e-mail

March 2006