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Lisa Stright, Zane R. Jobe   

Department  of  Geological  and  Environmental  Sciences,  Stanford  University,  Stanford, 

CA, 94305 


The  Cerro  Toro  Formation  on  Sierra  del  Toro  in  the  Magallanes  Basin, 

Chile outcrop records at least three discrete episodes of conglomerate deposition 

within the northernmost exposed part of an axial channel belt that occupied the 

foredeep of the Magallanes Basin during the Late Cretaceous.   Forward seismic‐

reflection  models  were  generated  for  the  uppermost  conglomeratic  channel 

complex;  the  Wildcat  complex.    The  models  were  based  on  detailed  measured 

sections representing greater than 300 m of stratigraphic section over a distance 

more than 6 km and an interpretation of the channel belt evolution determined 

by correlation of measured sections and photomosaic mapping.   

The  seismic‐reflection  profiles  were  generated  from  a  lithofacies  model 

which was built by interpolating the channel‐fill lithofacies between stratigraphic 

surfaces  from  measured  sections.    An  impedance  model  was  synthetically 

created  from  published equations and convolved with 15  Hz, 25  Hz  and 50  Hz 

zero‐phase  wavelets  to  create  synthetic  seismic  models.    The  resulting  models 

were  then  interrogated  with  RMS  amplitude  extractions.    The  RMS  amplitudes 

show  limited  correlation  with  lithofacies  proportions.    Furthermore,  results 

showed  that  the  correlation  between  RMS  amplitude  and  lithofacies  is 
dependent  on  the  RMS  window  location  and  the  dominant  frequency  of  the 

seismic‐reflection model. 


Given  the  poor  resolution  of  seismic‐reflection  data  in  many  basins, 

outcrop  data  are  imperative  for  constraining  lithologic  predictions  within 

seismic‐reflection  volumes  (Slatt, 2000).    In  order  to  make  this  transition,  an 

outcrop  must  be  large  enough  to  include  not  only  the  sub‐seismic  scale  of 

heterogeneity,  which  all  outcrops  exhibit,  but  the  larger  scale  context  of  this 

heterogeneity  within  the  entire  depositional  system  (Weimer et al., 2000).  

Forward  seismic  models of confined deep‐water  channel  complexes often  focus 

on  the  large‐scale  geometries  that  are  easily  identifiable  in  seismic‐reflection 

profiles  (Batzle and Gardner, 2000; Campion et al., 2001; Coleman et al., 2000;

Hodgetts and Howell, 2000; Schwab et al., 2007).  Channel fill in such models is 

generally assigned constant or smoothly varying rock properties.  However, fine‐ 

scale  information  affects  the  resulting  seismic  signal  and  should  be  included 

(Castro, 2007; Takahashi, 2000).   

Generating  detailed  models  that  include  the  sub‐seismic  (bed‐scale) 

channel‐fill  deposits  for  forward  seismic  modeling  can  provide  insight  into 

interpreting  fine‐scale  (i.e.,  meter  scale)  channel‐fill  architecture  from  seismic‐

reflection profiles.  These forward seismic‐reflection models can then be used to 

infer  the  impact  of  interpretation  of  channel‐fill  architecture  and  large‐scale 

geometries.    As  the  quality  and  resolution  of  industry  seismic‐reflection  data 

increase, the seismic response of these finer‐scale architectural features becomes 

increasingly relevant. 

This paper presents a forward seismic‐reflectivity model of a seismic‐scale 

outcrop from Sierra  del Toro, Chile.  The resulting  amplitude  predictions  at  15, 

25  and  50  Hz  dominant  frequency  and  their  correlation  with  the  underlying 

lithofacies  are  presented.    Amplitude  extractions  along  the  model  are  used  to 

ascertain if  reservoir lithofacies can be inferred from RMS amplitudes  and how 

changing  the  window  thickness  used  for  the  amplitude  map  may  alter  the 

interpretation of the channel‐fill. 


The Upper Cretaceous outcrops of the Cerro Toro Formation on Sierra del 

Toro  in  the  Magallanes  Basin  of  southern  Chile  record  a  seismic‐scale,  deep‐

water channel belt (4‐8 km wide by > 100 km long) that occupied the axis of this 

deep‐water retro‐arc foreland basin (Hubbard et al., in press) (Fig. 1).   The more 

than 1000 m of vertical section record three complexes of conglomeratic channel 

fill;  the  Condor,  the  Guanaco,  and  the  Wildcat  (Barton et al., 2008; Jobe et al.,

2007)  (Fig.  2).    Each  channel  complex  is  composed  of  pebble  to  small  boulder 

conglomerate and medium to coarse grained sandstone, and channel complexes 

are separated by 10 to 150 m of muddy thin‐bedded turbidites (Jobe et al., 2007).  

The focus of this study is on the uppermost complex; the Wildcat.   

Lithofacies of the Wildcat channel complex 

The  Wildcat  channel  complex  includes  three  distinct  channel‐fill 

lithofacies: conglomeratic mudstone (WL1), clast supported conglomerate (WL2), 

and  thick‐bedded,  commonly  amalgamated  sandstone  (WL3)  (Jobe et al., 2007) 

(Fig.  3).    Conglomeratic  mudstone  (WL1)  are  on  average  7  m  thick  and  contain 

clast  supported  base  made  up  of  extrabasinal  clasts  and  muddy  matrix‐

supported  top  with  intrabasinal  clasts.    Clast‐supported  conglomerates  (WL2) 

are  on  average  1  m  thick  and  are  composed  of  imbricated,  normally  graded, 

extrabasinal clasts, including volcanic and meta‐volcanic cobbles (sometimes up 

to 40 cm boulders).  Amalgamated sandstones (WL3) are on average 75 cm thick, 

S3 (sensu Lowe, 1982) divisions which commonly contain dish structures.   

Surrounding  out‐of‐channel  lithofacies  include  interbedded  sandstone 

and mudstone (WL4) and mudstone with thin sandstone interbeds (WL5) (Fig. 3; 

(Jobe et al., 2007),  the  main  difference  being  the  percentage  of  sand  (i.e.,  WL4 

NTG  is  ~40%  while  WL5  NTG  is  <10%).    The  interbedded  sandstone  and 

mudstone (WL4) consist of fine‐grained sandstone units ranging from 5 – 50 cm 

in thickness interbedded with commonly bioturbated mudstone (NTG is ~40%).  

Lithofacies,  WL5  (mudstone  with  thin  sandstone  interbeds)  contains  layered, 

rhythmic,  laminated  to  thin‐bedded  mudstone  units.    Very  thin  to  thin‐bedded 

sandstone  units  occur  seemingly  at  random  within  this  succession  and  are 

commonly cross laminated. 

Channel Complex Interpretation 

WL1  units  are  interpreted  to  have  been  deposited  by  slurry  flows  and 

debris  flows.    WL2  and  WL3  units  are  interpreted  to  be  the  deposits  of  high 

density turbidity currents (sensu Lowe, 1982).  The two out‐of‐channel lithofacies 

were deposited largely by muddy, low‐density turbidity currents (sensu Bouma,

1962).    Lithofacies  WL4  is  locally  developed  along  the  eastern  margin  of  the 

complex and may represent a levee facies (Jobe et al., 2007).  WL5 represents the 

background  sedimentation  within  which  all  of  the  conglomeratic  channel 

complexes are deposited and may include distal levee/overbank deposits and/or 

intervals  deposited  when  little  or  no  coarse  sediment  was  reaching  the  basin 

(Jobe et al., 2007).  

The Wildcat complex shows a contrast of amalgamated, conglomerate‐rich 

intervals near the margins with non‐amalgamated, heterolithic channel‐fill facies 

in the central part of the complex, in direct contrast to most channel‐fill models 

(Pickering et al., 1995).  Ongoing research by Z. Jobe is focused on whether this 

trend represents the fill of a single, broad channel or multiple, discrete channels 

that may have been active at different times.   


Stratigraphic  sections  measured  Sierra  del  Toro  were  used  to  build  a 

detailed  lithologic  model  as  a  base  for  forward  seismic  modeling.    Eleven 

measured  sections  were  aligned  in  a  plane,  to  match  the  channel  complex 

interpretation  as  shown  in  Figure  4.    The  measured  sections  represent  greater 

than  300  m  of  stratigraphic  section  over  a  distance  more  than  6  km  and  this 

interpretation  of  the  channel  belt  evolution,  were  used  to  build  the  model 

framework and channel fill architecture. Channel fill architecture was controlled 

by  stratigraphic  surfaces  and  interpolation  of  lithofacies  and  rock  properties 

between measured sections.  

The five lithofacies (WL1‐5) were coded into eleven categories (with slight 

distinctions within each lithofacies category) to capture the heterolithic nature of 

the channel‐fill (Fig. 5).  Each of the eleven rock property groups were assigned 

rock properties porosity (φ) and volume of shale (Vshale) (Fig. 6a; Tab. 1).  Acoustic 

and  elastic  rock  properties  were  calculated  using  Han  (1986)  for  compressional 

velocity (VP) and shear‐wave velocity (Vs) as a function of φ and Vshale (Fig. 6b): 

Vp = 5.59 ‐ 6.93 * φ ‐ 2.18 * VShale (km/s) 

Vs = 3.52 ‐ 4.91 * φ ‐ 1.89 * VShale (km/s) 

Whereas  a  simple  volumetric  average  of  densities  was  used  to  calculate 

the bulk density (ρb) of rock and fluid (in this case water) constituents together: 

ρb = ρfluid * φ + ( 1.0 ‐ φ) [ VShale * ρclay + ( 1.0 ‐ VShale) * ρquartz ] (g/cm3) 

where, ρfluid is 1.0 g/cm3, ρclay is 2.55 g/cm3 and ρquartz is 2.65 g/cm3.   

These  synthetically  generated  rock  properties  were  compared  with  rock 

properties  from  a  subsurface  analog  to  ascertain  their  validity  (Fig.  7).    The 

subsurface  data  used  for  validation  is  from  the  Upper  Cretaceous  Cerro  Toro 

Formation, Magallanes Basin, Chile, which has been suggested to as an outcrop 

analog  of  the  Puchkirchen  deep‐water  channel  system  (Hubbard et al., in press;

de Ruig and Hubbard, 2006).  As expected, there is significantly more uncertainty 

and variation in the subsurface rock properties due to the heterogeneous nature 

of  the  subsurface  and  the  result of  measuring  the  rock  properties  with  wireline 

logging tools.  However, the synthetic rock properties generated with the above 

equations  can  represent  average  values  of  the  main  categories  from  the 

subsurface data. 

An impedance model was generated from VP and ρb.  The model was then 

convolved  with  15  Hz,  25  Hz  and  50  Hz  zero‐phase,  Ricker  wavelets  using 

Zoeppritz  equations  (Zoeppritz, 1919).    The  convolution  was  performed  on  the 

Central  Canyon  measured  section  in  1D  (Fig.  8)  and  in  2D  using  the  measured 

sections and interpolated rock properties (Fig. 9).   


Base model generation 

All  models  are  a  representation  of  the  observations  and  interpretations 

that we make; whether at the outcrop or in the subsurface.  As such, we are often 

hindered  by  geologic‐based  modeling  decisions;  such  as  what  and  how  many 

lithofacies categories to use and the methods we use to assign rock properties to 

each  lithofacies  for  the  forward  seismic  model.    Choosing  an  appropriate  grid 

(grid  size,  type  of  stratigraphic  layering  between  surfaces,  number  of  surfaces) 

significantly  impacts  the  model  output.    Finally,  outcrop  modeling  is  not 

immune  to  one  of  the  main  questions  of  subsurface  modeling—how  do  we 

populate the grid with properties?   

When forward seismic modeling is performed on small outcrops or larger 

outcrops at low dominant frequencies, these issues are less important.  However, 

as  the  outcrop  becomes  larger  and  dominant  frequencies  higher,  the  finer  scale 

details  are  increasingly  important  and  more  realistic  approaches  for  model 

building  are  required  to  properly  represent  the  data.    In  this  paper,  impedance 

values were interpolated on grids that were conformable between surfaces (Fig. 

9A).   The resulting  impedance model shows some  artifacts of interpolation  and 

gridding, such as unrealistic lateral lithofacies changes and channel‐fill patterns.  

This rough gridding and interpolation of properties is sufficient for a first pass; 

however,  a  more  robust  approach  is  required  for  a  more  realistic  final  product.  

An example of this approach is shown in Stright et al. (2008) with more realistic 

stratigraphic  gridding  and  deterministic  modeling  of  lithofacies  based  on 

photomosaics and outcrop observations.   

Impact of fine scale architecture on seismic‐reflection profile 

RMS  amplitude  maps  are  routinely  used  for  interpretation  of  plan‐view 

geomorphology  from  seismic  data.    To  demonstrate  the  utility  of  these  simple 

models for understanding what is being interpreted in an RMS amplitude map, 

RMS  amplitude  extractions  were  generated  with  two  separate  windows,  (A) 

from  the  top  of  channel  datum  plus  20  ms  (Fig.  10)  and  (B)  a  20  ms  window 

around the top of channel datum (Fig. 11).   

An RMS amplitude from the top of the channel datum (Fig. 10) plus 20 Hz 

(approximately  80  m)  shows  strong  tuning  effects  on  the  eastern  edge  of  the 

channel complex and in the region where the uppermost channel erodes into the 

older channel underneath (near the SV1 and SV2 sections).  The tuning effects are 

weaker  on  the  eastern  edge  of  the  same  channel  complex  where  the  margin  is 

steeper.    The  tuning  effects  are  largest  in  the  15  Hz  model.    A  RMS  amplitude 

window was then taken around a selected horizon; top of the channel datum +/‐ 

10  Hz.    The  15  Hz  model  still  shows  the  strongest  tuning  effects;  however,  the 

associated  amplitudes  are  significantly  smaller.    Because  the  window  has 

changed,  so  have  the  proportions  of  the  lithofacies  within  the  window.    RMS 

amplitudes from 50 Hz model detects the small channel above the main channel 

belt  (at  the  Central  Canyon  section  in  the  top  of  the  RMS  window).  Due  to  the 

strong  acoustic  impedance  values  of  the  conglomerate,  it  was  expected  that 

amplitude values reveal regions with a higher proportion of conglomerate.   

To  test  this  hypothesis,  the  proportion  of  each  lithofacies  by  trace  was 

extracted  from  the  model  within  the  specified  window  (Figs.  10  and  11).    RMS 

amplitudes  and  lithofacies  proportions  were  then  compared  on  a  trace  by  trace 

basis.  The first goal was to discern whether RMS amplitude values are correlated 

to  lithofacies  proportions  within  the  window  (i.e.,  will  a  high  proportion  of 
sandstone  result  in  high  RMS  amplitudes  at  all  frequencies?)  The  second  goal 

was to test whether the window selection effected the correlation.   

The results show that there is a weak correlation of RMS amplitude with 

lithofacies  and  that  the  correlation  is  frequency‐dependent  (Fig.  12).    However, 

only two window sizes were analyzed.  This approach could be used to test for 

the  most  appropriate  window  size  and  location  for  imaging  lithofacies  using 

RMS amplitude maps. 

Implications for interpretation 

Most  studies  present  the  dominant  frequency  necessary  to  interpret 

bounding  stratigraphy  and  often  conclude  that  at  higher  dominant  frequencies, 

better  accuracy  is  achieved  in  this  interpretation.  For  this  example,  the  major 

channel  complex  surfaces  are  interpretable  at  each  of  the  modeled  dominant 

frequencies.  Contrary to conclusions from other studies (Hodgetts and Howell,

2000; Schwab et al., 2007),  the  higher  frequency  (50  Hz)  is  more  difficult  to 

interpret  the  surfaces  in  the  main  channel  belt  complex.    Instead,  at  this  high 

frequency, internal impedance changes create reflectors that drown out the main 



The forward seismic models generated herein were based on the Wildcat 

conglomeratic  channel  complex  from  the  Cerro  Toro  Formation  on  Sierra  del 

Toro, Chile.  The model from eleven measured sections was greater than 300 m 

thick and 6 km wide.   This seismic scale outcrop and outcrop model provided an 

excellent opportunity to better understand how seismic‐reflection profiles image 

internal channel architecture and the associated bounding surfaces.   
On  all  models  (15,  25  and  50  Hz)  the  primary  bounding  surfaces  were 

interpretable.  However, the highest dominant frequency model (50 Hz) displays 

more  internal  architectural  complexity,  which  increases  the  difficulty  in 

interpreting  the  main  bounding  surfaces.    Additionally,  RMS  amplitude  maps 

showed  mostly  tuning  effects  (larger  at  smaller  frequencies)  and  a  poor 

correlation of RMS amplitudes with lithofacies.  

This  study  shows  that  as  more  fine  scale  detail  is  included  in  forward 

seismic  models  the  more  difficult  it  becomes  to  interpret  internal  channel‐fill 

surfaces.    As  the  quality  and  resolution  of  industry  seismic‐reflection  surveys 

increase, the seismic response of these finer scale architectural features becomes 

increasingly  more  relevant.    Insomuch  the  fine‐scale  detail  adds  tremendous 

value to interpreting higher‐resolution seismic‐reflection data. 


Architecture of the Wildcat and Guanaco channel complexes 

At  this  point,  the  internal  architecture  of  the  Wildcat  complex  remains 

unclear,  and  will  be  the  focus  of  future  field  investigation  by  Z.  Jobe.    The 

Wildcat  complex  likely  represents  two  or  more  offstacked  channels  that  were 

progressively  cut  and  filled.    The  Guanaco  conglomeratic  channel  complex  that 

underlies the Wildcat channel complex on the north side of Sierra del Toro (Fig. 

2)  is  not  present  on  the  south  (downdip)  side.    It  is  possible  that  either  the 

Guanaco  complex  represents  the  early  stages  of  coarse  grained  influx  and  the 

Guanaco  and  Wildcat  channel  complexes  may  actually  represent  a  sustained 

evolution of a single channel complex that widens and aggrades, or the Wildcat 

complex erodes down into and amalgamates the Guanaco complex in a downdip 

Forward seismic modeling 

Currently, the rock properties in the forward seismic model are discrete in 

that  there  is  a  single  value  of  impedance  for  each  lithofacies.    To  better  mimic 

rock properties from subsurface data, a small variance will be added to each rock 

type.    The  result  will  be  a  “cloud”  of  data  that  translates  into  more  realistic 

forward  seismic  models.    This  is  a  superior  approach  to  simply  adding 

uncorrelated  noise  to  the  seismic‐reflection  profiles.    Additionally,  more  rock 

types  will  be  included  to  focus  on  problems  encountered  in  the  subsurface 

analog in delineating gas sands, water sands and soft (organic‐rich) shales. 

Furthermore,  the  modeling  work  presented  here  uses  three‐dimensional 

data (deviated measured sections, complex erosion and amalgamation surfaces) 

and models it in two‐dimensions.  Three‐dimensional modeling can aid not only 

in  clarifying  the  interpretation,  but  it  can  also  be  used  to  build  a  more  realistic 

model.    Structural  information  (faults,  folds,  dips,  etc.)  can  be  included  and 

surfaces  reconstructed  to  their  pre‐deformed  depositional  geometries.    This  can 

be aided by draping photomosaics on three‐dimensional topographic surface of 

the  outcrop  or  by  using  photogrammetry  (Pringle et al., 2004)  which  positions 

photomosaics  in  their  correct  three‐dimensional  space.    Additionally,  the  true 

location  of  the  measured  sections  can  be  digitized  along  the  three‐dimensional 


Sub‐seismic scale facies prediction: Downscaling 

Outcrop  models  offer  an  excellent  opportunity  to  test  sub‐seismic  scale 

facies  prediction  algorithms.    Because  outcrop  models  can  be  treated  as  the 

reference case, more data is always available to test the predictions (e.g., “drill” a 

well at a new location and measure difference in modeled to predicted values). 

Advantages of using outcrop models over subsurface datasets include having a 
realistic  reference  model  of  true  geology  and  modeled,  noise‐free  seismic  at 

many frequencies.  This seismic‐scale outcrop and outcrop model will be used to 

test downscaling at varying seismic frequencies.   


This  research  is  possible  through  the  support  of  the  SPODDS  affiliates, 

SPODDS  students,  Jake  Covault,  Anne  Bernhardt,  Julie  Fosdick,  Dominic 

Armitage,  Chris  Mitchell,  Katie  Maier  and  Abby  Temeng,  and  professors  Steve 

Graham and Don Lowe. 

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50˚ 30’ S
Lago Sarmiento
Int’l border

250 WTF SV1


Central Canyon Thrust
Laguna Azul CZM 1-5
Snowy Cliff
South Side Margin

del Paine
R ocas
51˚ 00’ S
Sierra del Toro
Lago del Toro

0 1 2 3 4 5 10 km
Map in Fig. 1B N
Silla Generalized Cerro Toro Fm.
Syncline Lago del Toro C Period Lithology Stratigraphy


70 Ma

Tres Pasos
51˚ 30’ S
Upper Cretaceous

Lago Sofia Mbr.

Pta. Barrosa Cerro Toro


Seno Ultima
52˚ 00’ S Cerro

1000 km
10 km
Jurassic - U. Cretaceous Backarc Basin Deposits
70˚ 00’ W 72˚ 30’ W

Figure . Study area showing (A) landsat image of the Ultima Esperanza District in

southern Chile. Red areas denote locations where Cerro Toro Formation conglomerate

(Lago Sofia Member) outcrops, box denotes location of contour map in Fig. 1B. (B)

Detailed contour map of Sierra del Toro with locations of measured sections. (C)

Magallanes Basin stratigraphy (after Katz, 1963; Fildani et al., 2003; Hubbard et al., 2008).

2C Fig

N 3 km S

Figure 2C

B 20 0 m

W 0 .5 km E

20 m

Figure . Seismic-scale exposures of the Wildcat conglomeratic channel complex.

(A) Depositional cross section showing the eastward offstacking nature of the

Condor, Guanaco, and Wildcat complexes (although internally, the Condor shows

westward offstacking). (B) Oblique dip view, showing the Wildcat complex on the

south side of Sierra del Toro and the location of (C), a seismic-scale erosional surface

that may be a channel margin (refer to text).

A Clast supported conglomerate (WL1)
Avg. 1 m thick
Volcanic & meta-volcanic cobbles (40 cm boulders)
Normal grading
Cobble imbrication
Raft blocks uncommon
Emplaced by high-density turbidity currents (R3)

Conglomeratic Mudstone (WL2)

Avg. 7 m thick
Clast supported base (Extrabasinal clasts)
Muddy matrix supported top (Intrabasinal clasts)
Emplaced by transitional,
turbulent flows (Crane, 2004) 6m

Thick bedded sandstone (WL3)

Avg. 75 cm thick
Usually amalgamated
Massive (S3) (dish structure)
Concretion rich
Emplaced by high-density turbidity currents

Interbedded sandstone and mudstone (WL4) E

Flank the margins
5-50 cm sandstones
Distinct whitish color
Tb-c, bioturbated
Turbiditic mud
Sand filled burrows
Narrow levee (?) Mudstone with thin sandstone
interbeds (WL5)
Turbiditic mud
Thin sandstone beds
Tc, lam - 20 cm
Distal levee or background sedimentation

Figure . Lithofacies of the Wildcat channel complex. WL1 - WL3 are channel

fill lithofacies and WL4 and WL5 are interpreted as overbank deposits.
Lago Sarmiento

250 WTF SV1


Central Canyon Thrust
CZM 1-5
Snowy Cliff
South Side Margin

R ocas

Lago del Toro

0 1 2 3 4 5 10 km

Figure . Correlations of measured sections through the Wildcat Channel

Complex. Location of cross section is shown with a red line on the inset map.

The eastern margin of the complex is well constrained due to exposure. The

western margin of the complex is inferred and less well constrained, again due to

Top of Channel
Belt Datum

Thrust CZM1

W L2: C last S upported C onglom erate

W L2: C last S upported C onglom erate base of slurry
W L1: S andy M atrix S upported Top of C ongl
W L1: M ud M atrix S upported top of slurry
W L1: D ebirs Flow
W L3: C oarse G rained S andstone
W L3: M ed G rained S andstone
W L3: Fine G rained S andstone
W L3: Thin beds - S andstone and C ongl
Flame W L4: Thin beds - S andstone only
W L5: M ud


Figure . Measured sections that were used in


building the model for forward seismic modeling.

The drafted sections were tabulated and entered

into the modeling software as vertical wells. The ten

lithofacies were kept separate for the sake of modeling

rock properties, however, they are colored by groups

in these sections for easier visualization.

1 Mud



0.7 Mud matrix

top of slurry
0.6 Thin bedded SS/MS

0.5 Flow
Thin bedded
0.4 SS/MS/Conglomerate

0.3 Sandy matrix

Clast supported
0.2 base of slurry top of conglomerate
SS decreasing
0.1 grainsize
Clast supported conglomerate
0 0.05 0.1 0.15 0.2 0.25 0.3

B Total Porosity

2.0 Mud

Thin bedded Mud matrix
SS/MS top of slurry
V p /V s

1.8 Debris
Thin bedded
SS/MS/Congl Flow

Clast supported
1.7 sing
d e crea ze base of slurry
SS si
Sandy matrix Clast supported
top of conglomerate conglomerate
8 .0

9 .0
7 .0

1 0 .0

1 1 .0

1 2 .0

A I (g /cm 3 km /s)

Figure . Synthetically generated rock properties by lithofacies. (A) Vshale and

porosity values were assumed, and (B) Vp and Vs were calculated using Han (1986)

and density was calculated using a volumetric average of mineral and fluid densities.

lithofacies with high porosity low Vshale have low Vp/Vs values. Poorly sorted

conglomerate has high impedance, while muds and thin-beds have low impedance.

0.9 Thick-bedded sandstone

Thin-interbedded sandstone/mudstone
0.8 Disturbed mudstone
Matrix-supported conglomerate
Clast-supported conglomerate







0 0.05 0.1 0.15 0.2 0.25 0.3

B Total Porosity


V p /V s



8 .0

9 .0
7 .0

1 0 .0

1 1 .0

1 2 .0

A I (g /cm 3 km /s)

Figure . Comparison of synthetic rock types with a subsurface analog to

ascertain the validity of synthetic rock properties. Ovals show lithofacies that

are distinguishable by acoustic attributes in the subsurface, while the dashed

circle shows regions of overlap in acoustic properties and therefore, difficulty in

differentiating lithofacies.
Top Ch A1 15 Hz 25 Hz 50 Hz
Base Ch A1 180

Top Ch B1


Top of Channel
Belt Datum 240

Internal 2





Internal 1 360



Base Channel 420



Figure . Forward modeling of the Central Canyon measured section. As the

dominant frequency of the seismic wavelet increases, the seismic trace becomes

more complex. Major bounding surfaces are less apparent and internal channel

architecture details are exposed. See Figure 5 for lithofacies key.

200 9000

AI (g/cc m/s)
Acoustic Impedance model
600 6900

0 1




600 15 Hz -1




600 25 Hz



600 50 Hz

Figure . (A) Detailed acoustic impedance model used for forward seismic

modeling. (C-D) Forward seismic models at 15, 25 and 50 Hz, respectively.

Bounding stratigraphic surfaces are interpretable at all frequencies, however, at

50Hz, terminating reflectors defining intermediate architectural surfaces are less

apparent as smaller-scale lithofacies relationships are revealed.


Top Channel + 20ms 0.18

0 .1 8
50H z
0 .1 6
25H z
(Top Channel + 20ms)

0 .1 4 15H z
RMS Amplitude

0 .1 2

0 .1

0 .0 8

0 .0 6

0 .0 4

0 .0 2

0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 110

Trace N um ber
1 W L2: C last S upported C onglom erate
W L2: C last S upported C onglom erate base of slurry
Proportion of each lithofacies in selected window

1 W L1: S andy M atrix S upported Top of C ongl
W L1: M ud M atrix S upported top of slurry
W L1: D ebirs Flow

1 W L3: C oarse G rained S andstone
W L3: M ed G rained S andstone
W L3: Fine G rained S andstone
W L3: Thin beds - S andstone and C ongl

1 W L4: Thin beds - S andstone only

W L5: M ud

Figure 10. RMS amplitude extractions for a window from the top of the channel

datum plus 20 ms (approximately 80 m) . Predictions show strong tuning effects

and limited visual correlation with facies proportions within the same window on

a trace by trace basis.

Top Channel +/- 10ms


0 .1 8
50H z
0 .1 6
(Top Channel +/- 10ms)

25H z
0 .1 4 15H z
RMS Amplitude

0 .1 2

0 .1

0 .0 8

0 .0 6

0 .0 4

0 .0 2

0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 110

Trace N um ber
1 W L2: C last S upported C onglom erate
W L2: C last S upported C onglom erate base of slurry
Proportion of each lithofacies in selected window

W L1: S andy M atrix S upported Top of C ongl
W L1: M ud M atrix S upported top of slurry
W L1: D ebirs Flow

1 W L3: C oarse G rained S andstone
W L3: M ed G rained S andstone
W L3: Fine G rained S andstone
W L3: Thin beds - S andstone and C ongl

1 W L4: Thin beds - S andstone only

1 W L5: M ud

Figure 11. RMS amplitude extractions for a window around the top of the channel

datum (+/- 10 ms) (approximately 80 m) . Predictions show weaker tuning effects,

but still show limited visual correlation with facies proportions within the same

window on a trace by trace basis.

Top channel datum
A 0.7
20 ms

C o rrelatio n o f R M S A m p litu d e valu es w ith lith o facies





p ro p o rtio n

15 25 50






Fr e q u e n cy o f Fo r w ar d Se is m ic M o d e l (Hz )

Top channel datum

B 0.7 20 ms

C o rrelatio n o f R M S A m p litu d e valu es w ith lith o facies





p ro p o rtio n

15 25 50


-0.3 M ud
-0.4 M TD
C o n g lo m e r ate
San d s to n e
-0.6 T h in b e d s
Fr e q u e n cy o f Fo r w ar d Se is m ic M o d e l (Hz )

Figure 12. Correlation of RMS amplitude with the proportion of lithofacies for

(A) the 20Hz window below the channel datum (Fig. 10), and (B) the 20Hz window

around the channel datum (Fig. 11) Sand proportions are representative of net-to-

gross, and are negatively correlated at low frequency (i.e., high proportion of sand

yields a low RMS amplitude) and are positively correlated at high frequency (i.e.,

high proportion of sand yields a high RMS amplitude).

Table 1. Rock properties

Vp Vs Density
Porosity Vshale (km/s) (km/s) (g/cm3)
WL2 Clast Supported Conglomerate 0.175 0.05 4.27 2.57 2.36
WL1 Sandy Matrix Supported Top of Conglomearte 0.225 0.1 3.81 2.23 2.27
WL2 Clast Supported Conglomerate - Base of Slurry 0.15 0.15 4.22 2.50 2.39
WL1 Mud Matrix Supported - Top of Slurry 0.075 0.6 3.76 2.02 2.47
WL1 Debris Flow 0.05 0.6 3.94 2.14 2.51
WL3 Coarse Grained Sandstone 0.3 0.05 3.40 1.95 2.15
WL3 Medium Grained Sandstone 0.275 0.1 3.47 1.98 2.19
WL3 Fine Grained Sandstone 0.25 0.15 3.53 2.01 2.23
WL3 Thin Beds - Sandstone/Mudstone/Conglomerate 0.125 0.5 3.63 1.96 2.40
WL4 Thin Beds - Sandstone/Mudstone 0.15 0.6 3.24 1.65 2.35
WL5 Mud 0 1 3.41 1.63 2.55