Fracture intensity and associated variability: A new methodology for 3D digital outcrop model analysis of carbonate reservoirs

Yuri Panara*, Viswasanthi Chandra, Thomas Finkbeiner, Alexander Petrovic, Rainer Zühlke, Pankaj Khanna, Volker Vahrenkamp

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The presence of hydraulically conductive fracture networks fundamentally affects subsurface fluid flow, the recovery factor and productivity in hydrocarbon carbonate reservoirs. However, methods to directly detect and map the 3D distribution and intensity of fracture networks in the subsurface is difficult. We present a new workflow and methodologies to overcome these limitations utilizing 3D digital photogrammetry on a prominent outcrop of the Late Jurassic (Kimmeridgian) Jubaila Formation near Wadi Laban (Riyadh, Saudi Arabia) as an example. Subsurface equivalents of the Upper Jubaila Formation host major oil and gas accumulations on the Arabian platform. The workflow includes mapping of fracture intensity, distribution and orientation along a 750 m long exposure transect using a high-resolution 3D Digital Outcrop Model (DOM). Results show two main fracture trends, which were E-W and NNE-SSW oriented. The techniques enable computation of fracture intensity directly on the 3D DOM, and quantification of lateral and vertical fracture intensity variability and fracture corridors. The new methodology of 3D DOM analysis, provides a reliable characterization of fractures and fracture intensity that are critical for enhancing 3D reservoir models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number106532
JournalMarine and Petroleum Geology
StatePublished - Dec 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors


  • Carbonate reservoirs
  • Digital photogrammetry
  • Fracture corridors
  • Fracture intensity
  • Fracture network

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Geophysics
  • Geology
  • Economic Geology
  • Stratigraphy


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