Modeling 3-D permeability distribution in alluvial fans using facies architecture and geophysical acquisitions
Abstract. Alluvial fans are highly heterogeneous in hydraulic properties due to complex depositional processes, which make it difficult to characterize the spatial distribution of the hydraulic conductivity (K). An original methodology is developed to identify the spatial statistical parameters (mean, variance, correlation range) of the hydraulic conductivity in a three-dimensional (3-D) setting by using geological and geophysical data. More specifically, a large number of inexpensive vertical electric soundings are integrated with a facies model developed from borehole lithologic data to simulate the log10(K) continuous distributions in multiple-zone heterogeneous alluvial megafans. The Chaobai River alluvial fan in the Beijing Plain, China, is used as an example to test the proposed approach. Due to the non-stationary property of the K distribution in the alluvial fan, a multiple-zone parameterization approach is applied to analyze the conductivity statistical properties of different hydrofacies in the various zones. The composite variance in each zone is computed to describe the evolution of the conductivity along the flow direction. Consistently with the scales of the sedimentary transport energy, the results show that conductivity variances of fine sand, medium-coarse sand, and gravel decrease from the upper (zone 1) to the lower (zone 3) portion along the flow direction. In zone 1, sediments were moved by higher-energy flooding, which induces poor sorting and larger conductivity variances. The composite variance confirms this feature with statistically different facies from zone 1 to zone 3. The results of this study provide insights to improve our understanding on conductivity heterogeneity and a method for characterizing the spatial distribution of K in alluvial fans.