Predicting Facies Patterns within Fluvial Channel Belts

Monday, 15 December 2014
Brian J Willis, Richard Sech, Tao Sun and Michael Pyrcz, Chevron Energy Technology Company, Houston, TX, United States
Reservoirs (aquifers) in fluvial channel belt sandstones can have very different subsurface flow behavior depending on the degree and distribution of internal heterogeneities. Fluvial channel belts are composed of multiple “storeys” formed as individual channel segments increase in sinuosity and then are cut off and abandoned. Heterogeneities are defined by depositional variations across storeys and inter-story connectivity patterns along the channel belt. Although commonly inferred to reflect the formative river pattern (sinuosity & braiding), the spatial arrangement of facies depend most directly on the relative preservation of deposits formed within different areas of the migrating channels and the lateral stacking arrangement of storeys due to style of bend cutoff. Grains are poorly sorted across the inner bank along upstream parts of channel bends and become better sorted laterally in downstream areas adjacent to a deeper thalweg scour. If deposition occurs evenly along the entire inner bank (bar), this grain size pattern leads to an elliptical body in planview with weak vertical grain size trends upstream and more fining-upward trend downstream. As channel bend segments migrate to a greater extent downstream, preserved inner-bank-bar deposits are increasingly dominated by upward-fining deposits and more outer-bank-deposits are preserved (“concave bank” deposits). Although concave bank deposits have highly variable character in different systems, vertical-grainsize trends tend to be weaker in straighter systems dominated by downstream-accretion, and more strongly upward-fining in higher sinuosity systems where these deposits form by eddy accretion or low flow aggradation. River cutoffs of straighter channel segments abandon slowly, leading to more gradual vertical fining. Subsurface heterogeneity prediction requires documentation of shape and character of deposits preserved in different zones within the channel (upstream and downstream inner bank, concave bank, thalweg scour lags, and abandonment fill). Systems with similar paleochannel pattern can leave deposits with very different subsurface heterogeneity arrangement.