Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)




Dr. Bradley D. Ritts


Outcrop and petrographic studies of the Eocene Green River and Colton formations in the Uinta basin, Utah, document the facies architecture and heterogeneity characteristic of lacustrine reservoirs. A southwest-northeast transect of Eocene strata in the Uinta basin records three main marginal lacustrine depositional environments: fluvial, deltaic, and wave-dominated. Heterogeneity exists between and within individual depositional systems.

Reservoir rocks of Outcrops One and Two (the flu vial facies of the Colton Formation and the deltaic facies of the Green River Formation, respectively) consist of 2 to 18 m thick lenticular, tabular, or undulatory channel-fill, distributary channel, and distributary mouth bar deposits that are partially to entirely compartmentalized, or encased, by mudstone units. These reservoir analog intervals are dominated by large­ scale heterogeneity, in that sand bodies show a variety of connectivity and lateral continuity. Small-scale heterogeneity exists within these sand bodies in the form of mud chip lag surfaces, large mud clast horizons, and discontinuous finer-grained beds. These features add complexity to the systems by reducing flow transmissibility or acting as flow baffles. The complex heterogeneity characteristic of these reservoir analogs confirms the need for detailed reservoir characterization studies on all scales in order to improve exploration and production efficiency in such systems.

Outcrop Three (the wave-dominated facies of the Green River Formation) is dominated by thinner (2 to 4 m) tabular and laterally extensive offshore bar deposits that are compartmentalized by mudstone units. Large-scale heterogeneity is minimized in these reservoir analogs, in that sand bodies exhibit excellent lateral continuity and less complex amalgamation. Therefore, documentation of the smaller-scale heterogeneities (similar to those mentioned in the previous two outcrops) is necessary to better address exploration and production potential in these types of reservoirs.

Data collected in this study were utilized in geostatistical simulations and fluid flow models in an attempt to document the effects of reservoir heterogeneity on hydrocarbon exploration and production efficiency in lacustrine basins. Further studies of this type are necessary if predictable classification systems and hierarchies of bounding surfaces are to be derived for lacustrine reservoirs. (152 pages)