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Ephemeral-Fluvial Deposits: Integrated Outcrop and

Simulation Studies Reveal Complexity1
Colin P. North2 and Katy S. Taylor3

ABSTRACT
Ephemeral-f luvial sandstones form the main
reservoirs in many oil and gas fields. Production
histories and development difficulties suggest
these deposits are more complex than is commonly supposed in the petroleum industry. There is
inadequate published information to account for
this observation. Relevant sedimentological literature on such deposits is qualitative and unsuitable
for detailed reservoir characterization studies;
therefore, integrated sedimentological, petrophysical, and fluid-flow simulation studies have been
conducted on outcrop analogs in the southwestern United States. Our key objectives were to
define flow units and to find areas of sensitivity
inherent both in the sediments and in the analytical and statistical procedures used to describe and
model such systems.
We report results of integrated studies on the
Lower Jurassic Kayenta Formation in southeastern
Utah. The Kayenta Formation is a relatively proximal, sand-rich succession dominated by channel-fill
sandstones. Sedimentological analysis identified
eight main genetic units. In contrast, reservoir simulations, based on probe-permeameter data collected
at outcrop, show that six of the main genetic units
have uniform f low behavior. Intraformational
©Copyright 1996. The American Association of Petroleum Geologists. All
rights reserved.
1 Manuscript received July 10, 1995; revised manuscript received
December 4, 1995; final acceptance February 9, 1996.
2Department of Geology and Petroleum Geology, University of Aberdeen,
Meston Building, King’s College, Aberdeen AB9 2UE, Scotland, United
Kingdom.
3Department of Geology and Petroleum Geology, University of Aberdeen,
Meston Building, King’s College, Aberdeen AB9 2UE, Scotland, United
Kingdom. Present address: Badley Ashton and Associates Ltd., Winceby
House, Winceby, Horncastle, Lincs, LN9 6PB, United Kingdom.
This research has been supported by The Petroleum Science and
Technology Institute, and the paper published here is PST1 contribution 15.
We thank Intera Limited for providing the University of Aberdeen with the
ECLIPSE reservoir simulation software; the University of Texas at Austin
Petroleum Engineering Department for the loan and calibration of a portable
probe-permeameter; Badley Ashton and Associates for a contribution to color
printing costs; and the Navajo Nation for permission to access several
localities. We thank AAPG Elected Editor Kevin Biddle and reviewers for their
constructive comments, which have resulted in a significant improvement of
this paper.

AAPG Bulletin, V. 80, No. 6 (June 1996), P. 811–830.

mudclast conglomerates are the dominant permeability barriers, both because of the clasts themselves and because they act as sites of preferential
cementation. Stochastic permeability models conditioned to the outcrop data produce results little
different from models based on averaged values for
each facies. The most sensitive feature of the models concerns the assumptions made about the mudclast conglomerates. The model results show that
only by integrating analytical approaches can we
understand the full character of an outcrop analog
in such a way that we can use it predictively.

INTRODUCTION
Ephemeral-f luvial sandstones constitute the
main reservoirs in many oil and gas fields, such as
those developed in Devonian, Per mian, and
Triassic successions in North Sea basins. Although
conventional wisdom has suggested development
and depletion of such reservoirs ought to be simple, recent production histories and development
difficulties are beginning to show that fluid-flow
behavior in such deposits is not as straightforward as is often supposed, and that the geological
complexity has been underestimated (e.g.,
Bowman et al., 1993).
Few studies focus on the impact of such sediments on reservoir performance. Existing published studies either are qualitative and speculative
(e.g., Miall, 1988a) or discuss producing fields
where it is difficult to relate petrophysical properties to the sedimentology in a predictive way. A few
outcrop studies have been done, but these concentrated on deducing bed-form and bounding surface
geometry (e.g., Bromley, 1991), and have not yielded a synthesis readily usable for identifying likely
hydraulic flow units and building models of the
subsurface suitable for reservoir engineering purposes. Even our understanding of the sedimentology of this type of river deposit is based on just a
handful of early studies (e.g., McKee et al., 1967;
Picard and High, 1973).
811

812

Ephemeral-Fluvial Deposits

Triassic

Glen Canyon
Group

Lower Jurassic

FORMATION

SW Utah

Moab

Navajo

Figure 1—Stratigraphy of
the Glen Canyon Group
along an east-west transect
in southern Utah.

Kayenta
Moenave /
Wingate

Moenave Fm.

Wingate Fm.

Chinle

To improve our knowledge of the likely reservoir
performance of ephemeral-fluvial sediments, we
have carried out integrated studies on outcrop
analogs in the southwestern United States. The
aims of these studies were to
(1) Enhance understanding of the character and
architecture of ephemeral-f luvial deposits by
detailed sedimentological analysis
(2) Expand the petrophysical database for such
sediments by collecting and analyzing outcrop permeability and porosity data
(3) Elucidate the aspects that would most impact
fluid flow in such rocks and define likely flow units
by modeling with a numerical reservoir simulator;
in particular, we wished to test whether units
could be defined intuitively solely on sedimentological criteria
(4) Ascertain the main areas of sensitivity, both
those inherent in the sediments themselves and
those in the analytical and statistical procedures
used to describe and model such systems
The full details of the sedimentological analysis
and general analysis of ephemeral-fluvial systems
can be found in Taylor (1994). In this paper, we
summarize the key sedimentological features and
emphasize those aspects impacting petrophysical
and fluid-flow properties.
This study centered on the sand-dominated
Kayenta Formation, part of the Lower Jurassic
Glen Canyon Group of continental sediments
(Figure 1). This formation is generally agreed to be
the product of ephemeral-type rivers. Luttrell
(1987, 1993) documented many of the regionalscale features of the Kayenta Formation. Luttrell
(1987, 1993), Miall (1988b), and Bromley (1991)
recorded the style of fluvial architecture, focusing on the bounding surface hierarchies. The
Kayenta Formation has many features in common
with hydrocarbon reservoir sediments on the
United Kingdom continental shelf, such as the
Triassic Sherwood Sandstone Formation in the
Wytch Farm oil field (Dranfield et al., 1987), or
the Lower Permian Rotliegende Formation in the

numerous gas fields of the southern North Sea
(Glennie, 1990).
The facies types and architecture of the Kayenta
Formation have been studied at numerous locations, with the best outcrops in the region of Moab
(along the Colorado River, in Kane Springs Canyon
and Courthouse Wash), in Butler Canyon (50 km
south of Hanksville, Utah), Tsegi Canyon, and
along the Escalante River (Figure 2). Vertical and
lateral sedimentological logs, including grain size
and paleocurrent data, were integrated with photomontages to reveal channel stacking patterns and
identify large bar forms and to identify the geometry
and interrelationships of sand bodies. Permeability
data were collected at outcrops using a nondestructive portable probe-permeameter to characterize
each facies. Samples were collected from each
facies for petrographic study and laboratory determination of porosity.
GEOLOGICAL SETTING OF THE STUDY AREA
The Lower Jurassic Glen Canyon Group consists
of the Wingate, Moenave, Kayenta, and Navajo formations (Figure 1), a succession of terrestrial
deposits that attains a maximum exposed thickness
of 700 m near the Utah–Arizona border, thinning to
approximately 60 m in northwestern New Mexico
(Cooley et al., 1969). The group is bounded at top
and base by a series of low-relief unconformity surfaces that truncate strata at low angles (Pipiringos
and O’Sullivan, 1978).
The Kayenta Formation is a fluvial succession
deposited on a broad alluvial plain by rivers that
f lowed westward from an ancestral Rocky
Mountains source area highlands in west-central
Colorado. The formation reaches thicknesses of
150 m near Zion, Utah (Figure 2), and up to 370 m
at Cedar City, Utah, but thins to the north, east, and
southeast. In the northeast of its outcrop area, the
Kayenta overlies the eolian Wingate formation. In
places, the contact is gradual, with sediment
reworking before new material was deposited

The formation is overwhelmingly dominated.North and Taylor o R iv er U. 1974). 1991). sandstones with planar cross-bedding. and scour-fill sandstones. Because the purpose of this paper is to compare sedimentological with petrophysical subdivision of the succession. sandstones with low-angle sigmoidal cross-bedding. 1983). The Kayenta and Moenave formations and the flooded-interdune deposits in the Navajo record the occurrence of more pluvial periods. reaching 670 m near Zion National Park. Refer to Taylor (1994) for a thorough analysis and interpretation of the sedimentology. with laminations typically of 1–3 mm thick (up to 50 mm) formed by differential size and density sorting. COLORADO SEDIMENTOLOGICAL ANALYSIS Zion Kanab Tsegi Four Corners Lithofacies Identified s ho iff Ec Cl NEW MEXICO Chinle km ARIZONA 0 200 Figure 2—Location map of the Kayenta Formation study area in Utah. Parallel-Laminated Facies Cpc and Cpf Parallel-laminated quartz-rich sandstones are the dominant facies (Figure 3a). the Kayenta Formation is finer grained and overlies the Moenave Formation. the exact cause of which is as yet unclear. Facies Cpf is fine grained. and would have brought little rain. Bromley. namely parallellaminated sandstones. The Navajo and Kayenta formations interfinger on both small and large Thirteen distinct lithofacies can be identified in the Kayenta Formation. Trade winds originating from high pressure cells at these latitudes are typically stable and dry. is the most extensive and thickest of the formations.S. whereas they were to the east for the Kayenta Formation (Luttrell. and are summarized in Table 1. by four of these. similar to the modern-day position of the western Sahara Desert. generally well sorted. The lower contact is diachronous. the sources for the f luvial sediment in the Moenave Formation were dominantly to the south. In other areas. C ol or ad UTAH Moab Hanksville Cedar City Escalante ksc 813 scales. Facies Cpc is medium grained. Farther southwest. Parting lineation is abundant. the boundary is sharp and marked by an erosional surface. Taylor. as borne out by the substantial preserved thickness of desert sand sea deposits in the Wingate and Navajo formations. The Glen Canyon Group thus was deposited during a time of predominantly arid climate. becoming younger toward the south and southwest because of interfingering with and lateral replacement of the Kayenta Formation. Paleomagnetic analyses show that during the Jurassic the study area was at a latitude of 16–21°N (Steiner. overall more poorly sorted than facies Cpc. Laminations are horizontal or have low dip angles (<15°). humid-region rivers. we provide a minimum of descriptive detail in the following account of the lithofacies. with millimeter-scale laminations .. the site chosen as the basis of the fluid-flow simulations. however. The Navajo comprises large-scale cross-bedded supermature quartz sandstone of eolian origin. with lithic fragments derived dominantly from a metamorphic and plutonic source. most predominantly in a zone in southern Utah. Inset shows the location of enlarged area. the Early Jurassic basin would have been in the southernmost part of the trade wind belt. which is a dominantly alluvial lateral equivalent of the Wingate formation. near Zion. ksc = Kane Springs Canyon near Moab. 1957. at the top of the Glen Canyon Group. 1993.A. The Navajo formation. At this latitude. (Harshbarger et al. with a brief summary of environmental interpretation. Based on interpreted paleoflow directions. Luttrell (1987) established the sandstones to be lithic arkose to feldspathic litharenite in composition (Folk. The fact that this facies is dominant is one of the most outstanding differences between these ephemeral-fluvial sandstones and the deposits from perennial. 1994).

Channels are filled with multiple units of these two lithofacies (Figure 3b). Migration of straight to slightly sinuous crested transitional dune/bar. and extend laterally tens to hundreds of meters. As Cgu. Individual beds can be difficult to identify and trace out because the only difference between beds is a subtle grain-size change. examples c and f are from Kane Springs Canyon. (f) Cemented conglomerate facies Cgc infilling a steep-sided scour surface. They may show alternating coarse. Suspension fallout. influenced by sediment supply. cemented 43–53 10–35 ≤3 3–15 ≤1 ≤1 ≤3 Origin High to transitional flow-regime plane-laminated beds occurring as channel fill or bar tops. above the person). Cross-bedded sets range from 10 to 150 cm in thickness. with some intraformational mudclasts. Reactivation surfaces and soft-sediment deformation are common. and occur both as isolated lenses and as extensive tabular cosets that are laterally and vertically transitional with parallel-laminated Cpc sandstones. These facies are interpreted to have been deposited under shallow. moderate to well sorted. (c) Sigmoidal cross-bedded facies Cxd (center) overlying overturned cross-bedding. the lower parts of which tend to be finer grained with rare backflow ripples. high-energy (upper flow regime) flow conditions during which sediment was aggraded vertically. matrix supported Mud pellet conglomerate ≤2 ≤3 Cgp Cgcl Clast-supported conglomerate Cgc Conglomerate. Cpf occurs overlying facies Cpc in more complete channel-fill deposits. Bank erosion with clasts buried in place or transported over a short distance. The base of the unit has a high proportion of clasts and an obvious base. Upper flow-regime hyperconcentrated flows. Note the erosive nature of the base of the channel. Units are medium grained. Migration of sinuous crested dunes under lower flow regime. Two more units of this facies are visible above the labeled unit. imparting a fining-upward signature in these cases. each separated by shallow planar or undulating scours. The upper unit lies on an erosion surface cut into parallellaminated sandstone facies Cpc. Small migrating barforms with straight crests. b. (e) Intraformational mudclast conglomerate facies Cgu. This Figure 3—Photographs showing examples of the main lithofacies. As Cgu. (d) Scour-fill sandstone facies Cs with numerous weathered-out mudclasts filling an erosion surface cut into parallel-laminated sandstone facies Cpc. Examples a. uncemented. Upper foresets are truncated or merge into topset laminae. Migrating current ripples under lower flow-regime conditions. (b) Poorly channelized sheet facies association dominated by parallel-laminated sandstone (center of the photograph. . low-angle truncation of underlying laminae.814 Ephemeral-Fluvial Deposits Table 1. Mudclasts deposited by a sand-starved flow. but the upper contact is more gradational. fine Cxd 15–60 Cxp Cxt Cs Low-angle sigmoidal cross-bedding Planar cross-bedding Trough cross-bedding Scour-fill sandstones Cm Massive sandy bedding ≤8 Cr Rippled sandstone ≤4 Cf Cgu Fines Conglomerate. Beds range from a few centimeters to 3 m thick. d. formed by differential size sorting and layers of heavy minerals. (a) Parallel-laminated sandstone facies Cpc (scale bar arrow in upper right). coarse Parallel lamination. but contains carbonate-rich flood-plain material that is reworked into a channel lag and yields cements after deposition. or occasional intraformational clasts.and fine-grained sets. and e are from Courthouse Wash. has a low-angle concave-up sigmoidal form (Figure 3c). Lithofacies Types Identified in the Kayenta Formation Facies Code Facies Name Proportion of Formation (%) Cpc Cpf Parallel lamination. but rip-up clasts have undergone longer periods of transport. rapid deposition inhibits bedform development. just north of Moab. Erosive pulses during flood surges. Laminae dip 10–25° in a direction at a high angle to the main channel flow. the most common type of cross-bedding. Sigmoidal Cross-Bedded Facies Cxd Cxd.

North and Taylor (a) (b) (c) (d) (e) (f) 815 .

however. have limited lateral extent. and was formed by the migration of straight-crested subaqueous dunes. This facies merges with. Individual troughs are between 0. but include some lithified sandstone and siltstone. and Cgcl Matrix-supported mudclast conglomerate (Cgu) is common in erosive channel bases and overlying internal scours (Figure 3e).5–3 cm across. but are commonly dominated by lower f low-regime ripple-form lamination (facies Cr) with individual sets less than 2 cm high. and is overlain by. Clasts may occupy nearly all the volume. and may be capped by a thin (<10 cm) mudstone. This channel-fill facies is transitional with scour-fill sands Cs. Beds are 20–200 cm thick. Foresets are straight with sharp. Nested irregular scours about 1 m across also occur. and usually are transitional with massive and parallel-laminated sandstones. Trough Cross-Bedded Facies Cxt Facies Cxt. with smaller dunes. 1964). high-discharge flows (Beverage and Culbertson. 1965). Fine-Grained Sandstone and Siltstone Facies Cr and Cf Fine-grained sandstone and siltstone are uncommon. Cxt commonly overlies scoured intraclast-strewn surfaces and comprises moderately to well sorted. composed of Cr and Cf. These scours. Massive or laminated mudstone is uncommon. formed by the migration of subaqueous dunes with sinuous crests. Cs sandstones themselves may be partially cemented with dolomite. but blocks up to 1 m are found. Fining-upward Cf units are 20–80 cm thick. the facies changes from matrix supported with little internal organization. These sandstones are medium grained and moderately well sorted. Clasts are typically 0. angular lower contacts. Internal stratification is concave-up and is defined by finer grained laminations and scattered intraclasts. units of parallellaminated sandstone. but reach up to 2 m in scour pits and hollows. to clast-supported facies Cgcl. The matrix is moderate to poorly sorted. where the elongated clasts are imbricated with long axes parallel to the transport direction.5 and 2 m wide and exhibit a regular stacking pattern with uniform depths of scour (between 20 and 40 cm). Channel-fill rippled Cr units extending tens to hundreds of meters may be associated with lenses of planar cross-bedding. planar cross-bedding. Ripples generally climb subcritically. medium-grained sandstone. occurs in solitary. medium-grained sandstone. commonly at an oblique angle to the parent foresets.816 Ephemeral-Fluvial Deposits sigmoidal form occurs on subaqueous bed forms in transition to upper-stage plane beds (Jopling. moderately well-sorted to poorly sorted sandstones. lenticular beds or tabular cosets with sets 10–30 cm in height. and the facies thus may become an almost solid mudstone unit that compacts to a greater extent than adjacent facies (Figure 3e). Laminations are inclined at 10–30°. but supercritical forms with climb angles of up to 18° do occur as a result of excessive suspension fallout during waning flow. and are usually between 20 and 100 cm thick. rare units of pelleted mud (facies Cgp). Where they overlie cemented conglomerates (facies Cgc). are infills of erosional features and were not formed by migrating bed forms. Cgp. during which deposition of suspended sediment is dominant. Cm has a lateral extent similar to that of the scour-fill facies. Such bed forms may be compound. As the clast percentage increases. and occasional small chert and metaquartzite pebbles. and parallel lamination. but where they occur they can be up to 3 m thick. and lack scour horizons. is rare in the Kayenta Formation. and resemble poorly developed trough cross-bedding. are uncommon. more rarely. and is interpreted to have resulted from sediment that has been rapidly dumped from highly concentrated. Units may be almost structureless to finely laminated (facies Cf). which in places include muddy wisps. conglomerates. Massive Sandstones Facies Cm Cm beds are composed of largely structureless medium-grained. but most commonly are about 50 cm thick. They extend laterally usually no more than 20 m. Scour-Fill Sandstone Facies Cs Facies Cs comprises medium-grained sandstones that range from well to poorly sorted with scattered intraformational pebbles. Beds of conglomerate are usually 5–20 cm thick. The most common type of scouring is shallow elongate forms usually lined with intraformational mudclasts or compacted mud. pieces of petrified wood. ascending and descending larger bed forms. Clasts are predominantly angular to subrounded intraformational mudstone. They are laterally extensive over erosion surfaces. . Planar Cross-Bedded Facies Cxp Facies Cxp. but occurs as small isolated lenses less than 10 m wide or as eroded bank-collapse blocks. Uncemented Conglomerate Facies Cgu. and have a chaotic internal structure (Figure 3d). Channel-abandonment plugs. These beds commonly contain dispersed intraclasts and. up to 20 cm in height.

Where cementation is more patchy. merely that they were reworked and have not been preserved. The most likely source of the carbonate is the clasts themselves. Petrographic study (Taylor. The cement replaces both clasts and detrital matrix and occludes porosity. These units tend to have a sharp base and a more diffuse upper boundary (Figure 3f). The beds are generally similar in extent and geometry. Fining-upward successions are rare and poorly defined. Some overlap is found in the characteristics of these associations. Cemented Conglomerate Facies Cgc Although Cgc is similar to the uncemented facies Cgu. which results in a more highly weathered profile at outcrop. Figure 5 shows representative vertical sections through each of the facies associations except the compound ribbons. reaching a maximum of 28 m. and overbank deposits constitute a very minor part of the formation. Clasts are ripped-up and carried along until flow strength declines sufficiently for them to be deposited. 1994) showed that cementation occurred very soon after deposition. Soft-sediment deformation is widespread. which the evidence suggests are fragments of pedogenic calcretes and dolocretes from overbank areas eroded during channel migration and avulsion. Petrographic analysis shows the cement to be replacive dolomite that has undergone repeated precipitation and corrosion. but tend to be thicker than Cgu units. then concentrated as channel lags. and burrows or other bioturbation are seen in very few places. This facies is interpreted to have had a similar depositional origin to the uncemented conglomerate facies. a lower width:depth ratio (Table 2). Main Lithofacies Associations Making Up Kayenta Formation Architecture Thickness (m) Facies Association 1 2 3 4 5 6 Nonchannelized sheet Poorly channelized sheet dominated by interbedded facies Poorly channelized sheet dominated by facies Cpc/Cpf Poorly channelized sheet dominated by facies Cxd/Cxp Channelized sheet Compound ribbon This facies has originated from channel scouring by high-energy flows over mud-rich beds and banks. Larger blocks result from slumping as undercutting occurs along the bank. The channelized sheets can be distinguished from the poorly channelized sheets because the former have more obvious cut banks. Facies Architecture The Kayenta Formation can be divided into six main facies associations with five distinct geometries (Table 2. just some of the clasts have been dolomitized and the rest comprise mudstone and siltstone. Pelleted muds for m due to greater amounts of clast transport.5–2 3–4 4–6 4–6 3 25 Width (m) 30–100 50–100 100–350 100–350 10–50 200–370 Width:Thickness Ratio 15–200 13–33 17–88 17–88 3–17 8–15 reservoir model. Almost all of the preserved sediments were deposited from inchannel flow. facies Cgc is characterized by a hard. The compound ribbons are internally like poorly channelized sheets. and because channelized sheets are characterized by a higher mud content. Internally. This does not mean f lood plains were small. and high width-to-depth ratios (>15:1). In places it can be difficult to decide exactly to which association a group of lithofacies belongs because the associations reflect a fairly continuous spectrum of increasing flow strength and flow duration. and is in places transitional with it. Figure 4). but has subsequently undergone diagenetic cementation. poorly defined margins.North and Taylor 817 Table 2. but differ in being much deeper. Sedimentologists argue intuitively that this architecture also defines the fluid-flow units in the reservoir. High width:depth ratio . gray dolomitic cement. All the associations show rapid lateral and vertical variation in lithofacies. at a shallow level before compaction occurred. Many features are common to all the associations. The dominance of upper flow-regime parallel lamination and the paucity of lower flow-regime structures indicates that high-discharge deposits formed in abundance. the associations are characterized by multistory fills with parallel-laminated sandstone lithofacies predominating. The facies associations are interpreted as showing that the Kayenta Formation was deposited by rivers that had flat to locally irregular bases. The conglomerate lithofacies (Cgu and Cgc) are almost always present immediately overlying basal and internal erosion surfaces. These associations constitute the initial building blocks to be used in constructing a 0. Desiccation cracks are scarce.

818 Ephemeral-Fluvial Deposits (1) Nonchannelized Sheet (2) Poorly Channelized Sheet (Interbedded facies) Figure 4—Cross-sectional geometry of the facies associations identified in the Kayenta Formation. The middle division is characterized by channelized sheets with scour fill and units of poorly channelized sheets with parallel lamination. as thin interbeds. However. (3) Poorly Channelized Sheet (Parallel lamination) (4) Poorly Channelized Sheet (Cross-bedded) (5) Channelized Sheet (6) Compound Ribbon channels such as these are typical of those in dryland regions where the combination of sparse plant cover and dominance of sand-size materials results in easily eroded channels. which has the effect of suppressing the f low separation and turbulence involved in the formation of bar growth. Variations in Facies Architecture The proportions of each lithofacies and each facies association vary laterally with distance from the source area of the fluvial systems. The upper division is dominated by poorly channelized sheets of interbedded facies and parallel lamination. Such lateral changes occur over many tens of kilometers. and in fining-upward units. The rarity of bed forms is considered to be the result mostly of the high concentration of sediment carried in suspension (Allen and Leeder. 1980). significant vertical changes occur in the fluvial architecture. and are not relevant to the scale of an individual hydrocarbon reservoir. scour-fill units. In general. See Table 2 for scale information and Figure 5 for vertical sedimentary profiles. as wisps in rippled units. a threefold division can be recognized based on gross morphological changes in architecture (Figure 6). but the main trends occur everywhere. more mud is preserved at all scales. In the upper units. and cross-bedding. Compound r ibbons occur in the middle division only. reflecting the temporal evolution of the Kayenta river systems. interbedded facies. The lower division is dominated by large. and although they are laterally . These changes are most prominent in the more proximal areas. poorly channelized sheets of parallel lamination and cross-bedding. Erosion surfaces and scours lined with conglomerate become more common upward. and eolian units reflecting the progressive onset of the drier conditions during the time of deposition of the Navajo formation.

In poorly channelized sheets. at the scale of individual bar forms) get sampled a great deal. which are commonly irregular and asymmetric in shape. The greater abundance of cement. Sand-Body Dimensions Wherever possible. The measurement results are presented in Figure 7. finer grained parallel-laminated facies have been preserved. The compound ribbons. Cemented conglomerates and evidence for subaerial exposure are more widespread in the upper units. and are thus useful as a guide when constructing reservoir geological models. less extensive. Although the collected sand-body dimensions contain significant errors. despite many months of field work. but the largest features (e. discerning the true margin of the feature can be difficult. it is difficult to see how the procedure recommended by Geehan and Underwood (1993) (for estimating shale lengths at outcrop) can be applied.North and Taylor 819 (3b) (3a) (4) (5) (2) (1) m 2 1 0 vf m Grain size vf m c vf m c vf m c vf m c vf m Parallel lamination Scour-fill sandstone Ripples Soft-sediment deformation Planar cross-bedding Mudclast conglomerate Climbing ripples Mudstone layers Low-angle cross-bedding Mudstone Load casts Desiccation cracks c Figure 5—Representative sedimentological logs through the Kayenta Formation facies associations. The cross-sectional width of the channel-like features was estimated by taking the dimension approximately at right angles to the mean of the paleoflow indicators. log (3b) is the same association where. The number of measurements is much smaller than desirable. due to their size. c = coarse grain size. however. they more frequently intersect each other. In the case of fluvial channels. So. may be related to pedogenic and early diagenetic processes occurring on more extensive and more stable flood plains. Length was measured approximately parallel to mean paleoflow. creating lateral and vertical permeability barriers.. As might be expected. and over short reaches bar forms commonly all migrate in the same direction oblique to the channel. vf = very fine grain size. This scenario is consistent with the increased amount of mud seen. channel lengths) get sampled rarely. they do illustrate the order of magnitude in size. which is believed to be reprecipitated from intraformational clasts. the estimates of width tend to be too large. there is poor correlation between thickness and channel length. This lack of measurements is a common problem with using outcrops as analogs to the subsurface: the smallest features (e.. m = medium grain size. Log (3a) is of the more common poorly channelized sheet with just coarse-grained parallel-laminated sandstone. the overall dimensions of each sand body were measured at outcrop. .g. we know there is a large dispersion in paleoflow within fluvial channels. more rarely. Profiles are numbered the same as the facies associations in Figure 4. and estimates of length too short. may have been undersampled because they are distinguishable only in the largest outcrops.g.

which varies according to the permeability of the sample. Slight changes in characteristics would have occurred due to stress relaxation during uplift of the Colorado Plateau. The numerical distribution of permeability values is illustrated in Figure 8. In addition. and were incorporated in the fluid-flow simulations. and they give full details of the instrument precision. Eight of the thirteen lithofacies are widespread through the Kayenta Formation. a direct search was performed to establish high and low permeability zones and features that might act as barriers or baffles to flow. Probe-permeameter data were gathered in vertical and lateral transects. We wished to test if each depositional lithofacies has a characteristic permeability and porosity signature. Permeability varies widely (up to four orders of magnitude) within many of the facies. Middle division Lower division Kayenta Upper division Navajo Wingate Poorly channelized sheets: 15 m Cross-bedded 100 m Channelized sheet Parallel lamination Compound ribbon Interbedded facies Eolian PETROPHYSICAL STUDY Methods of Data Collection and Analysis Permeability data were collected at outcrop using a portable probe-permeameter. but. Sites of the least weathering were selected. and the outermost surface chipped away with a chisel to remove any weathering crust and improve sealing of the probe tip. 1994) shows the Lower Jurassic strata in southern Utah to have been buried to between 2. closely spaced grids. Table 3 is the statistical summary for the eight most commonly occurring lithofacies. and the mean value is of little use to represent each lithofacies. but which is in all cases far beyond that needed in this study. because they occur at few locations. but we do not believe these changes will have altered the relative contrasts in petrophysical properties. (1988).. See the text for a discussion of the three divisions recognized. a depth comparable to that of many of the hydrocarbon fields for which these strata are considered to be an analog. We believe the petrophysical measurements are directly applicable to subsurface ephemeral-fluvial successions. Apatite fission-track analysis (Dumitru et al. sufficient data were collected to assess the patterns of spatial variability in permeability.5 and 3. and spot measurements.5 km. These were the subject of detailed petrophysical examination (Table 3). The probe-permeameter type was the same as that described by Chandler et al.820 Ephemeral-Fluvial Deposits Figure 6—Schematic section showing the typical temporal (vertical) changes in facies architecture in the more proximal Kayenta Formation in southeastern Utah. We found considerable overlap in permeability properties between lithofacies types. Establishing such a linkage would be valuable in predicting the expected fluid-flow behavior of ephemeral-fluvial sediments in the subsurface. Samples were returned to the laboratory where porosity and capillary pressure attributes were measured by means of a mercury-injection porosimeter. Factors contributing to the variability . Petrophysical Characteristics The permeability characteristics of each lithofacies are fairly consistent across the entire region studied. Our main aim was petrophysical characterization of the observed lithofacies types. The remaining five lithofacies provide useful evidence about the depositional environment. they are considered to have little potential impact on reservoir performance and were omitted from further analysis.

(b) plot of thickness against channel length. lie somewhere between lognormal and normal ( p-exponent between 0. In the Cr facies. muddy partings between laminae and on foresets. Note. but in the Cgc facies patchy cement rather than grain size controls porosity distribution. Spatial Variation Visual comparison between the permeability profiles and the sedimentological logs of each . Figure 9 shows the relationship between porosity and permeability. which is in contrast to the findings of Goggin et al. however. that the CV is calculated using parametric statistics that inherently assume a normal pdf. and isolated patches of gypsum and dolomite cement. the sandstone tends to a bimodal grain size. (1988) and Corbett and Jensen (1992). which would be considered on the border between homogeneous and heterogeneous in the scheme of Corbett and Jensen (1992). Detailed analysis of the capillary pressure curves (Taylor. ranging from 0. we did not include this aspect as a variable in the fluid-flow simulations. minor scour horizons of coarser grained sand. and this special case is discussed in detail in following paragraphs. 1994) suggests most of the facies possess characteristics that are likely to result in capillary trapping and low oil recovery.3 to 2. however. The shape of the distribution can be quantified by the value of the exponent (the p-exponent) in the power transform that best converts the observed probability distribution function (pdf) to a normal pdf (Jensen et al. show much poorer sorting and a more linear injection curve. Bimodality is weakly apparent in the parallel-laminated sandstones due to variations in grain-size sorting between laminae. However.5. 1987). The coefficient of variation (CV) is generally around 0. though. Sorting was slightly poorer in the conglomerate matrix (Cgu) and in the scour-fill sandstone (Cs). Analysis of the data shows a wide range of p-exponents. Many of the pdf 821 values. Most facies show similar characteristics. Bimodality is more pronounced in the sigmoidal cross-bedded facies Cxd because not only are individual laminae bimodally sorted. because nearly all the lithofacies behave in the same way and the process operates only at the finest scale. as explored by Kortekaas (1985) and Hartkamp-Bakker (1991).North and Taylor Thickness (m) (a) 8 6 4 2 0 0 100 200 300 400 300 400 Width (m) (b) 10 Thickness (m) 8 6 4 2 0 100 200 Length (m) Channelized sheets Poorly channelized sheet (parallel lamination) Poorly channelized sheet (cross-bedded) Poorly channelized sheet (interbedded facies) Figure 7—Sand-body dimension data. The cemented conglomerate (Cgc) and the ripple-laminated sands (Cr). include the presence of scattered intraclasts. This tendency is acute for the conglomerates. with large average pore size and a well-sorted. 1994). and are positively skewed. which is in agreement with the findings of Jensen (1990). but this type of cross-bedding also has extensive toesets that are usually finer grained than the foresets due to the higher proportion of grainfall sediment in this region of the bed form. We found no correlation between p-exponent and CV. coarse-skewed porosity distribution. There is a moderately strong linear correlation between porosity and the logarithm of the arithmetic mean permeability. and so caution must be exercised when using CV as a descriptor of non-normal data.0). interfingering of facies on a small scale.5 and 1. Several of the permeability distributions tend toward bimodality. Porosity and capillary pressure measurements were made with a mercury-injection porosimeter. and used one capillary pressure relationship for all facies. (a) Plot of thickness against channel width..6 (Taylor.

2 10.0 20 Text†† 250 76 122 84 68 49 80 0. a distance that approximates average bed-form thickness in the dominant channel-fill facies. The most pronounced .5 15.g. associated with coarse-grained parallel lamination. which are commonly distinguished by fining-upward trends in grain size and concurrent decreases in permeability (e. and massive sandstones (facies Cpc. Where the experimental semivariograms did display some structure.43 0.39 <<1 <<1 <<1 43 <<1 <1 47 <1 <1 <1 218 82 233 233 239 87 136 270 101 355 310 319 121 179 446 156 557 412 384 69 338 404 62 266 165 47 21 212 439 124 475 337 289 58 311 476 159 545 424 408 96 348 1038 353 1007 983 1038 403 686 *See Table 1 for explanation of facies codes. Facies* Cpc 143 Cpf 3 Cxd 7 Cxp 5 Cs 0 Cf 0 Cgu 10 (matrix) Cgu 0 (clast) Cgc 0 N† CV** Standard Deviation (md) Interquartile Range (md) Median (md) Harmonic Mean (md) Geometric Mean (md) Arithmetic Mean (md) Maximum Perm.4 5. Sediments have little time to undergo sorting to any degree.. and active for only short periods.59 0. Cs. scour-fill.46 0. and in both types of conglomerate (Cgu and Cgc). They are the product of the rapid.8 23. both the discharge and sediment supply have a highly pulsed character resulting in rapid lateral and vertical changes in the sediment texture.<3 15 Text†† 0. this distance approximates the average thickness of the smaller channel units. 1989). Spatial variation was also investigated quantitatively by means of semivariogram analysis (Isaaks and Srivastava. Cm). ††See the text for discussion. Flows are typically high energy. This analysis revealed that spatial correlation is generally weak. A second correlation structure can be modeled at 3 m in one vertical transect (Figure 10b). concentrated. We first checked for drift or nonstationarity of means. Statistical Summary of the Permeability Data for Main Lithofacies Types 23.2 Ephemeral-Fluvial Deposits Porosity (%) 822 transect reveals several features of the way permeability varies spatially within these ephemeral-type fluvial sediments. 1990). To counter this concern we cross-checked the variogram analysis with correlogram analysis because the autocorrelation function is more robust to outliers in the data. Finally. In some vertical transects. One of our concerns was that the apparent lack of structure on the variograms was due to the large positive skewness in the permeability distributions. semivariograms showed a vertical correlation range of 1 to 1.55 0. Dreyer et al. a spherical model best described the relationships seen. †N = number of measurements. these sediments are characterized by an absence of regular grain size and permeability changes. An appreciation of the physics of ephemeral river systems shows these variations in permeability are to be expected. In contrast to perennialtype fluvial systems. Relatively low permeability occurs in the silty and muddy units (Cr and Cf). b). The correlograms yielded similar results to the semivariograms. and also within the units of sigmoidal cross-bedding (Cxd). discontinuous processes inherent in ephemeral-type systems. In addition.4 4. **CV = coefficient of variation (standard deviation/arithmetic mean).52 0.9 24. High-permeability zones occur within the lower parts of channels. (md) Table 3.91 0.. but these features are not important in the permeability profiles measured. Cementation of some conglomerate layers and zones overlying them and patchy cementation elsewhere leads to a further disruption of permeability patterns. and subsequent sedimentation is relatively fast. (md) Minimum Perm.5 m (Figure 10a. individual facies units are characterized by a high degree of internal variation in the permeability.

1000 100 10 1 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 Porosity (%) Figure 9—Relationship between porosity and arithmetic mean (A. the origin of the correlation structures cannot be discerned in the sedimentological logs. vertical permeability values either show insignificant spatial correlation or correlate to bounding surfaces on a number of different scales: the bedset scale. In summary. Permeability (md) Figure 8—Frequency histograms and cumulative probability distributions illustrating the statistical variation of permeability data collected at outcrop for each of the main lithofacies (see Table 1 for an explanation of the abbreviations). A traverse parallel to river paleoflow direction through sediment dominantly in the finegrained parallel-laminated facies (Cpf) shows a correlation at about 10 m (Figure 10c).North and Taylor Cpf 1. and the channel scale. in which coarse-grained parallel-laminated facies A.0 1.0 10 Cs 20 1.M.0 1000 800 600 200 0 400 0 0 1000 800 600 400 200 0 0 Cf 1. A parallel traverse near the base of a channel-fill unit. From horizontal permeability transects. we found lateral correlations to be generally very weak.0 Cxd 15 1. subchannel scale (flood event horizons). Comparison with sedimentological profiles shows this distance equates with the average spacing between channel bases. M. which in some cases produces a spectacular “hole effect” on the semivariograms (Figure 10a). .0 Clasts Frequency 16 1000 Permeability (md ) 600 200 0 400 0 0 1000 800 600 400 0 200 0 0 1000 800 600 400 0 0 200 Cumulative Probability Frequency 10 0 0 1000 800 600 400 0 0 200 Frequency 20 0 Permeability (md ) feature on vertical transects is a correlation periodicity of between 4 and 6 m.) permeability for all lithofacies.0 Cgu 800 Permeability (md ) Cumulative Probability 1000 800 600 400 0 200 Matrix 0 0 1. shows a correlation at about 3 m (Figure 10d) and a periodicity at about 12 m. and high values occur in the parallel-laminated and cross-bedded sands making up the bulk of the channel fill. low permeability values occur in fining-upward tops and channel basal lags. In both cases. (Cpc) is dominant. The solid line is the linear regression through these data.0 Cumulative Probability Cpc 30 823 Cxp 1.

The range of the observed correlation structures is marked with arrows. but as a power law. and this generally has permeability of less than 1 md. and the level of heterogeneity commonly is greater between facies than it is within them. In contrast. (a and b) are vertical transects. (c and d) are horizontal transects. Permeability analysis that ignores the context of facies deposition (association) may lead to either overestimating or underestimating the true permeability. The overall lower CV values of the associations indicate that at this scale much of the permeability variability may be missed.77–0. but the clasts have a very low permeability that varies with the composition of the clast.5). The variability within facies (CV = 0. Much of this variability in the two associations of poorly channelized sheets dominated by interbedded facies and channelized sheets results not only because they comprise a greater variety of facies. The bulk or effective permeability (K e ) of a Cgu conglomerate unit therefore depends on the ratio of clast to matrix. Mudstone is the dominant clast type.5 m H1 0 0 (b) 5 10 1m 1 γ 3m K1 0 0 5 10 (c) 1 γ 10 m H8t Cpf dominant 0 0 10 20 (d) 1 γ 3m H7 Cpc dominant 0 0 10 20 Lag Distance (m) Figure 10—Semivariograms illustrating the spatial distribution of permeability data collected at outcrop. Ideally. but also because of the increased amount of mud and cement within all the constituent facies. but one is thwarted by the irregularities of the outcrop . The probe permeameter is difficult to use to determine directly the permeability of conglomerates.96). The matrix permeability is similar to the sandstone facies. analysis at the lithofacies scale may be more accurate for defining the “true” permeability heterogeneity. Conglomerate Permeability As might be expected. The large-scale variation of permeability was assessed by comparison of the grouped characteristics of the six main facies associations (Figure 4). however. not only is this extremely time-consuming.824 Ephemeral-Fluvial Deposits (a) 1 γ 1. (1991) showed that the increased flow tortuosity caused by the presence of clasts reduces Ke significantly below that expected from a simple ratio of the permeability of the two end members: effective permeability varies not as a linear function. they noted that the effective vertical permeability may be smaller than that horizontally due to the flattened shape and horizontal orientation of the clasts. one would sample at very closely spaced intervals over long transects.5) is similar to that between facies (CV = 0. The study by Cuthiell et al. Poorly channelized sheets of cross-bedding and parallel lamination have arithmetic average permeability similar to the facies that constitute their makeup. poorly channelized sheets dominated by interbedded facies and channelized sheets have a much lower arithmetic average permeability and higher degree of variability (CV = 0. which are the primary architectural elements in this type of succession. the uncemented mudclast conglomerates (facies Cgu) have a strongly bimodal character (Figure 8.4–0. Table 3). Furthermore. Thus.

An alternative would be to try to measure the size and proportion of clasts at numerous locations. In addition. as in the uncemented ones.2 0.1 0. Taking the matrix permeability as 212 md. the opposite of what is generally predicted for fluvial successions. permeability profiles may be significantly different from those normally expected for fluvial systems. because preferential weathering of mudclasts produces a highly uneven rock surface. Caution is required here though.26. (1991). and is large enough (410 × 40 m) to represent interwell-scale variability.8 0. compared to a simple linear ratio (dashed line) of the end-member permeabilities. and even then only after cleaning up the face. varies with the volume fraction of mudclasts. feature at the base of channel-fill units and tend to occur more frequently in the upper parts of the succession. (1991) found experimentally that for flow across a mudclast conglomerate layer the exponent ω is 0.Effective Permeability (md) North and Taylor 200 150 Linear 100 Ke 50 0 0 0. instead of 105 md if a linear relationship had been assumed. the permeability when clasts make up 50% of the unit will be 17 md. The bases of these cycles commonly contain highly mud-rich or cemented conglomerates and. This outcrop displays all the main lithofacies and facies architecture features.5 m wide by 0. Meandering rivers with point-bar deposits tend to a bell-shaped permeability profile with a sharp lower boundary and a gradational upper boundary. the cemented conglomerates. The permeability profile of an ephemeral-fluvial succession is similar to that of the perennial-type braided system with an overall cylindrical outline. Thus. More work is needed to establish the exact relationship for the many clast-dominated conglomerates encountered in this study.6 0. f. low-permeability zones in an ephemeral-fluvial unit occur at the base of a succession and have a high probability of being preserved. and assuming the mudclasts are impermeable (0. (1991) found that the vertical effective permeability. ephemeral systems will tend to have an irregular internal distribution of permeability.4 0. according to the relationship [ ( ) ]ω K e = fK c + 1 − f K m 1 where Kc is the permeability of the clasts. the harmonic mean for Cgu matrix. but it can be very difficult to make out what is clast and what is matrix unless one is within touching distance of the rock. and Km is the permeability of the matrix sandstone. but with some important differences. Cuthiell et al.001 md). although Summary of Permeability Profiles Evidence from the Kayenta Formation suggests that in sand-dominated ephemeral-fluvial systems where there is little preservation of fines. K e . then the effective permeability Ke for the conglomerates in this study will vary with clast proportion according to the relationship shown in Figure 11.5 0. because Cuthiell et al.5 m high by assigning facies codes on large-scale photomontages. We chose this cell size to avoid petrophysical scale-up issues because . the problem then is one of accessibility to the cliff. SIMULATION MODELING Objectives and Methods Numerical fluid-flow modeling incorporating the previously described characteristics was performed using data based on the sediment architecture in the Kayenta Formation measured from a wellexposed cliff in Kane Springs Canyon. near Moab (Figure 2). (1991) established the relationship only for conglomerates with up to 50% clasts. As already noted. The geology was digitized as cells 2. and Figure 11 extrapolates the relationship for higher proportions of clasts. For example. More perennial-type braided rivers are characterized by a cylindrical-shaped profile with little vertical variation. in the cemented conglomerates. may have a cemented zone just above the conglomerate. Cuthiell et al. Ratio of Clasts to Matrix Figure 11—Effective permeability (Ke) in the mudclast conglomerates derived from the relationship determined by Cuthiell et al.3 0. Figure 12 shows three different idealized fluvial depositional models and their associated permeability profiles.9 1 825 exactly how this can be achieved is somewhat problematic. The effective permeability of the cemented conglomerates (Cgc) is usually much lower even than clast-rich Cgu units because the porosity has been occluded in the matrix. where the channel units are narrower.7 0.

Results of Fluid-Flow Modeling Given the large number of variables. For the conglomerate layers. Bar Channel Perennial. in the arrangement chosen in this study. The exact method of assigning permeability was altered to test various hypotheses.826 Ephemeral-Fluvial Deposits Permeability High Low Sediments Permeability High Low Sediments Permeability High Low Sediments Figure 12—Idealized permeability profiles for different fluvial successions (see Figure 5 for key). Model 1 Model 1 is the simplest model conceivable. We describe here the outcome of the most revealing simulations. Each grid cell was assigned the geometric mean permeability for the facies in that cell using the values in Table 3.17. although it was created using a commonly employed reservoir-modeling procedure. and the cross-cutting relationship of mudclast conglomerates is represented. such investigations require many different tests where only one parameter is varied in each. Tests show flow in the opposite direction produced similar results.8. The effects described would be magnified if. All cells were perforated at both wells. Early tests showed the influence of setting vertical permeability (Kv) different to horizontal permeability (Kh) was swamped by the other factors. and the permeability used represents the conglomerate matrix alone. meandering river (a) Perennial. We made no attempt to incorporate the wide permeability variability that has been detected. and incorporation of spatial permeability correlation into the models.5 m/day when vertical sweep is efficient. Residual oil saturation was 0. Relative permeability and capillary pressure curves were based on moderately water-wet conditions for a 300-md rock. size.7. Reservoir fluid was a dead oil that has a mobility ratio of 1. so all the models presented here have Kv = Kh. The key factors explored were the impact of the mudclast conglomerates. flow was arranged to be left-to-right with a constant injection rate such that flow velocity approximated Ephemeral. Permeability values were then assigned to the model according to the lithofacies type in each cell to honor the characteristics observed for each facies as described. Given the moderately strong correlation between porosity and permeability. this factor is not considered important because flow rates are relatively rapid and the dominant flow direction is parallel to the laminae. It was not possible for us to investigate every possible permutation. porosity in each of the models was computed directly from permeability using the relationship illustrated in Figure 9. . The overall setup was of a waterflood recovery through the digitized outcrop section. with a water injector at one end and a producing well at the opposite end. a more adverse mobility ratio were used. Note that the scenario created with the fluid types chosen is one that is generally tolerant toward heterogeneities in the reservoir. in particular the shape. The grain-size bimodality in the laminae of the parallel-laminated sands (Cpc and Cpf) could lead to capillary trapping of oil. for example. and because porosity is important only in controlling the storage volume of the reservoir. The setup and fluid properties were based on a North Sea Brent-type field at a depth of about 2440 m. braided river (c) 0. we did not take into account the effect of the mudclasts or cement. Channel bases retain their curved shape. In the results described in the following section. and intersections between channels. The simulation was done on the ECLIPSE 100 black-oil simulation software from Intera Ltd. braided river (b) facies units are nearly always of this dimension or larger. and initial water saturation was set at 0. however. The geological model (Figure 13) thus retains the architectural complexity of the real rocks. use of either a mean permeability for each lithofacies or a stochastic field honoring measured data.

The water saturation plot at 250 days (Figure 14). Model 3A To assess the inf luence of the wide range of permeability observed in each lithofacies. The water saturation at water breakthrough (Figure 14) shows some areas of temporarily bypassed oil. See Table 1 for explanation of facies abbreviations. and a plot at water breakthrough closely resembles that for model 1 in Figure 14. then. For each facies. The main flood-front is sharp. Although the conglomerates in the upper section partially impede the flood. The mutual intersections of the conglomerates lining the smaller channel bases in the upper section lead to large areas of bypassed oil and ultimate recovery reaches only about 40% (Figure 15). shows water is running through a high-permeability conduit near the base dominated by channel-fill facies Cpc. the conglomerate facies Cgu and Cgc become a problem only where clast or cement proportion is very high. which is the time of water breakthrough in model 1. but continued f looding recovers much of this. The aim with model 2 was to assess the magnitude of the influence these facies could have on fluid flow. . Recovery efficiency is little changed (Figure 15). causing some deterioration in sweep efficiency and ultimate recovery. As with model 1. The permeability distribution of model 1 was used as the framework. Note the increased amount of intersection of conglomerates (facies Cgu and Cgc) in the upper part of the section.001 md. the stochastic permeability of model 3A was used. In model 3C. Although this is variable across the simulated rock section. Model 2 The next stage was to test the influence of the mudclast conglomerates. where conglomerates are less common (Figure 13). most oil is eventually swept out and recovery efficiency exceeds 60% at 90% water cut (Figure 15). permeabilities were calculated consistent with the measured probability distribution functions. the effective permeability of these units depends on the proportion of clasts in the conglomerate (Figure 11). but all the conglomerates (facies Cgu and Cgc) were considered impermeable by assigning to them a permeability of 0. Model 3C A series of tests were run to investigate the effect of the mudclasts in the conglomerates on those models that have permeability distributions matching the observed distributions. a semivariogram through this model shows a pure nugget effect. There is no spatial correlation between permeability values.North and Taylor 827 Figure 13—Lithofacies distribution in the simulated outcrop section. a normalscores transform was applied to the measured values and the transformation parameters obtained were then used to backtransform a large set of Gaussian random numbers. Although not forming total barriers. it is also extremely difficult to measure and would be most difficult to estimate from widely spaced one-dimensional (well) profiles through the section. The change in f luid f low is dramatic. The performance of this model is very similar to model 1 due to the high degree of disorder in the system. but with the conglomerate permeability set to 1 md. Water breakthrough occurs at about 250 days. and vertical sweep efficiency is excellent. As previously discussed. no allowance was made for the impact of the conglomerate mudclasts. Small variations from model 1 are to be expected due to differences in porosity. To obtain sufficient values. as seen on the water saturation plot in Figure 14. Clearly. Model 1 is at one end (most optimistic) of a spectrum of possibilities and model 2 is at the opposite extreme (most pessimistic). we constructed a stochastic permeability model. The water saturation shows a sharp f lood-front and high sweep efficiency. Water breakthrough occurs much earlier. the conglomerates impede the flood.

To reflect outcrop observations of clast distribution. The spatial correlation was modeled by specifying a spherical model with 7. which is dominated by small channels lined with mudclast conglomerate. although the water cut recovery efficiency ratio is less satisfactory. water saturation shows an uneven flood advance and underrunning in the basal channel-fill facies (Figure 14).828 Ephemeral-Fluvial Deposits Figure 14—Water saturation distribution in the simulated section at 250 days. (1991) function (Figure 11). the overall performance is similar to that of most of the other scenarios (Figure 15).01 to 3 md. Model 4 Model 4 is an attempt to be as realistic as possible. Sandstone permeabilities were not only conditioned to the probability functions of the raw data. Conglomerate permeability.5-m lateral range and 1. . The simulated water injector well is at the left end of the section and the oil producer is at the right end. based on values derived with the Cuthiell et al. the permeability values were strongly biased to the low end and incorporated a 20-m lateral correlation to represent clast clustering. but were made to include a degree of spatial correlation similar to that observed by using a sequential Gaussian simulator routine from the Deutsch and Journel (1992) GSLIB software library. water saturation plots show oil is trapped in the upper section.5-m vertical range. However. At 90% water cut. ranged from 0. which is approximately the time of water breakthrough in the first model. At water breakthrough.

M. Permeability depends intimately on the clast proportion. Culbertson. Proceedings of the American Society of Civil Engineers.. London. CONCLUSIONS We investigated the likely reservoir behavior of ephemeral-fluvial successions by integrating sedimentological and petrophysical analyses. Leeder. Only the mudclast conglomerate facies Cgu and Cgc need to be considered separately because of the overlapping and uniform permeability characteristics of most of the facies. ed. The fluidflow simulations show. so too does the frequency of overlap and interaction..8 0. and D. L. J. M. and by modeling both the static (geologic) and the dynamic (fluid-flow) properties of these rocks. K. Variations in fluvial style as revealed by architectural elements. in J. J. 1991. 209–217. these genetic units were arranged typically in five different facies associations. In this way. R. This similarity is due to the overlapping permeability characteristics of each lithofacies. R.8 Recovery Efficiency 30 (thousands STB) Cumulative Oil Produced (b) 0. N.: evidence for both ephemeral and perennial fluvial processes. The spatial arrangement of conglomerate units is not uniformly random due to the evolution with time of the fluvial channel system. Stochastic permeability models honoring the spatial and statistical characteristics of the acquired permeability data produce results little different than the models constructed using mean permeability values. Wilkinson. The fluid-flow simulations show. which is not determined by conventional permeability sampling traverses. Furthermore. D. Petroleum geology of NW Europe. is a consequence of the discontinuous spatial and temporal nature of the depositional processes in such systems.S. 6. As a result. these deposits form more of a barrier to fluid flow than if they were approximated as tabular sheets. Miall and N. REFERENCES CITED Allen. however. P. These lag deposits form units that have a curved cross section so that as the frequency of their occurrence increases (which it does upsection). Beverage.. and in onedimensional profiles (boreholes) might be considered to be of minor significance. The laterally variable clast proportion may best be modeled by the use of stochastic permeability fields for these elements alone. p. the weak spatial correlation. p. The three-dimensional facies architecture of terrigenous clastic sediments and its implications for hydrocarbon discovery and recovery: SEPM . and J. M. more information is needed on the genesis and regional character of the mudclast conglomerate facies. R. To be able to use such outcrop analogs predictively. 1980. that these units are the dominant control on flow. Wytch Farm oilfield: deterministic reservoir description of the Triassic Sherwood Sandstone. and the degree of disorder in the permeability distribution..2 20 Model 2 10 0 100 200 300 400 500 Elapsed Time (days) Figure 15—Summaries of the performance of the simulated reservoir section. Bromley. U.4 0. and M. in turn. 1513–1518. 1993. Tyler. v.2 0. The most sensitive aspect of the modeling is the assumptions made about the effective permeability of the mudclast conglomerates.4 0.. (b) Cumulative oil production with time.6 0. p. Kayenta Formation. eds.A. Mesa Creek.0 Model 2 Water Cut 0. Bowman. Sedimentological analysis suggested that for modeling purposes the deposits needed to be subdivided into eight primary genetic units and several minor units. which is the way they are commonly depicted in shale modeling. 1964. 117–128. Colorado. McClure. H. however.6 0. in A. Hyperconcentrations of suspended sediment: Journal of Hydraulics Division. 27. that six of the lithofacies behave in a similar fashion. W.. This characteristic needs to be preserved during any scale-up of the petrophysical properties. Parker. The mudclast conglomerate units form a small proportion of the sediment volume. Proceedings of the 4th conference: Geological Society. the observed sedimentological complexities of the facies architecture are relevant 829 only insofar as they describe the distribution of the mudclast conglomerates. Criteria for the instability of upper-stage plane beds: Sedimentology. which. v.North and Taylor Model 2 Model 1 Model 3A Model 3C Model 4 (a) 1. (a) Recovery efficiency (ratio of oil produced to that initially in place) against water cut (proportion of the fluid being produced that is water) in the producing well.

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