Sedimentary Process Simulation: A New Approach for Describing Petrophysical Properties in Three Dimensions for Subsurface Flow Simulations

  • Johannes Wendebourg
  • John W. Harbaugh
Part of the Computer Applications in the Earth Sciences book series (CAES)


Subsurface fluid flow is critically dependent on the 3D distribution of petrophysical properties in rocks. In sequences of sedimentary rocks these properties are strongly influenced by lithology and facies distribution that stem from the geologic processes that generated them. Three types of simulators are contrasted that represent variations of petrophysical properties: stochastic simulators, stratigraphic-form simulators, and sedimentary process simulators. The first two generally require closely spaced well information or seismic data and can be “conditioned” to accord with the data, but neither can represent the influence of depositional processes directly. By contrast, process simulators do not require closely spaced data, but they generally cannot be forced to accord closely with the data. The sedimentary process simulator described here, known as SEDSIM, provides 3D geometric forms and spatial distributions of grain sizes of alluvial, fluvial, and deltaic deposits that are controlled by information supplied as initial and boundary conditions, including the initial topographic surface, and fluvial and sediment discharge volumes through time. The resulting sediment distributions can be compared directly with maps and sections based on well data and seismic surveys, but they can also be transformed into estimates of porosity and permeability, thereby placing them in form for direct use with subsurface flow simulators. Several recent applications of SEDSIM in generating descriptions of groundwater aquifers and hydrocarbon reservoirs and their use in subsurface flow simulations are presented. Comparisons between complex actual and simulated 3D sequences suggest that statistical descriptions if simulated sequences could be used as input to stochastic simulators. This would combine the advantages of stochastic simulators that can condition simulations to field data, with the advantages of process simulators that treat geometric forms and flow properties of sequences interdependently and represent the development of sedimentary facies through space and time.


Stochastic Simulator Sediment Discharge Seismic Section Sedimentary Process Petroleum Geologist 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Johannes Wendebourg
    • 1
    • 2
  • John W. Harbaugh
    • 1
  1. 1.Stanford UniversityStanfordUSA
  2. 2.Institut Français du PétroleRueil-MalmaisonFrance

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