Oil and Gas

Oil and Gas | Clastics

Fluvial Reservoir Architecture From Modern and Ancient Systems (Nebraska, USA)

Course Code: N309
Instructors:  Chris FieldingMatt Joeckel
Course Outline:  Download
Format and Duration
5 days


This course combines field experience and classroom sessions to build an understanding of the sedimentology and stratigraphy of fluvial systems. Field visits will be made to modern rivers including the Platte and Missouri Rivers, pits exposing Holocene and Pleistocene alluvial deposits and cliff exposures of Pennsylvanian incised valley fill. Emphasis on process-product-preservation and utilization of outcrop, geophysical and drilling data will facilitate a fuller understanding of alluvial reservoir architecture.

Duration and Training Method

A five-day field and classroom course comprising a mixture of field presentations, field exercises, and classroom sessions that include practical exercises on subsurface data. The proportion of field time to classroom time is approximately 50:50.

Course Overview

  Participants will learn to:

  1. Evaluate alluvial deposits in terms of formative processes and environments.
  2. Reconstruct alluvial architecture from subsurface data by reference to Holocene systems.
  3. Assess alluvial architecture in terms of the principal forcing mechanisms responsible for the succession.
  4. Predict vertical and lateral variability in subsurface fluvial reservoirs based on the understanding of alluvial architecture and a knowledge of relevant correlation strategies.
  5. Propose basin-scale predictions of reservoir geometry and connectivity based on an understanding of alluvial architecture.
  6. Select realistic dimensional and other data to populate static and dynamic reservoir models of alluvial reservoirs, utilizing experience from the field excursions and elsewhere.

Fluvial reservoirs are popularly thought of as “labyrinthine”, a term that epitomizes their complexity. Realistically predicting and incorporating such complexity into reservoir modelsnfor fluvial successions is very challenging. The successful characterization of alluvial reservoirs therefore relies upon an understanding of sedimentology and stratigraphy, including the processes by which alluvial stratigraphic successions are formed and preserved.

This course will firstly provide participants with an understanding of the physical processes that lead to the formation of alluvial channel and overbank sediments (including paleosols). The course will then explore how these alluvial sediment products are transformed into subsurface geobodies by selective preservation during burial. The role of both downstream (sea-level, or base level) and upstream controls (including climate changes, tectonic processes, variations in sediment supply) on alluvial architecture will then be evaluated to allow a fuller understanding of cross-sectional reservoir geometry at various scales. The course will emphasize recent developments in the understanding of both modern systems and ancient successions, utilizing experience from scaled experiments.

Participants will benefit from new research data on the Platte River in Nebraska, a classical sandy, braided river system that was used as a key exemplar to formulate facies models for braided alluvium, and the Missouri River, a large meandering stream that is a major tributary of the Mississippi. We will also utilize exposures of Holocene and Pleistocene alluvium in commercial sand and gravel pits to illustrate the products of alluvial sedimentation. Our new data (including cores, wireline logs and ground-penetrating radar cross-sections) allow us to characterize the sedimentology of these excellent reservoir analogues more fully and to illustrate theirsubsurface geometry and lithological heterogeneity at a variety of scales. The Platte River system has in recent years experienced a massive drop in water and sediment discharge along parts of its course, leading to contraction of its channel belt into a series of anabranches. An appreciation can therefore be gained of the timeframes and consequences of abandonment of a large fluvial system. Collectively, the insights into alluvial architecture to be gained from the Platte and Missouri Rivers, and their precedents, are unparalleled.

The sedimentology of the modern rivers will be compared to that of Holocene and Pleistocene alluvial deposits of precursor streams, and Pennsylvanian alluvial sandbodies that are productive hydrocarbon reservoirs in nearby Kansas. The experience gained in the field will be applied in the classroom. Effective strategies for subsurface correlation of alluvial deposits will be discussed in order to facilitate a broad understanding of alluvial stratigraphy. This understanding will then be used to address issues of upscaling from local data to larger dimensions in reservoir modeling and in exploration. Practical exercises will explore these concepts and illustrate both the opportunities and uncertainties in modeling subsurface fluvial reservoir successions.

Course itinerary (Subject to Revision)

Day 0
• Arrive in Omaha. Nebraska and transfer to hotel.
• Evening course safety brief, introductory lecture, and group dinner in the hotel.

Day 1
• Classroom sessions. Field excursion to the Missouri River in the Fort Calhoun area to view the modern river and Holocene alluvium exposed in quarry walls.

Day 2
• Classroom sessions. Field excursion to the Platte River in the Plattsmouth area, and the Elkhorn River near Gretna, to examine processes of alluvial bar construction. (If river
conditions permit, an airboat will transport participants to an emergent sand bar in the middle of the Platte River.)

Day 3
• Field excursion to sand and gravel pits near Fairbury to view Pleistocene precedents of modern large, incised river deposits and to a nearby modern stream (Little Blue River).

Day 4
• Classroom sessions. Field excursion to view Pennsylvanian incised valley fill deposits (productive hydrocarbon reservoirs in nearby Kansas).

Day 5
• Classroom sessions. Final course dinner in Omaha.

Day 6
• Departure at leisure from Omaha.

The course is aimed at experienced exploration and development geoscientists, petrophysicists and reservoir engineers who desire a fuller understanding of alluvial systems and their deposits, and a methodology for realistically characterizing subsurface alluvial reservoirs.

Chris Fielding

Chris Fielding worked for four years as a petroleum sedimentologist with BP Exploration Co. Ltd., based in London, Guangzhou (China) and Aberdeen before taking up an academic post at the University of Queensland (Australia) in 1986.  At UQ, he rose to the rank of Associate Professor (Reader), and from 2001 to 2002 was Director (Academic) of the Department of Earth Sciences. In 2002, he moved to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to become the inaugural Mr & Mrs J.B. Coffman Chair in Sedimentary Geology.

At UNL, Chris teaches undergraduate Sedimentology and is an instructor at the undergraduate Field Camp. He also teaches graduate-level Sequence Stratigraphy and Fossil Fuel Geology courses, and is the faculty advisor of UNL teams that compete in the AAPG Imperial Barrel Award competition. He advises a group of graduate students working on projects in the field of applied stratigraphy and sedimentology.

Chris’ research interests span the stratigraphy and sedimentology of fluvial, coastal and shallow marine successions, their paleoclimatic archives and applications to resource exploration and production. His current research emphasizes controls on stratigraphic stacking patterns in low-accommodation systems. He maintains active field-based research programs in Utah and Wyoming, and also works intermittently in Atlantic Canada, Australia and Antarctica.

Affiliations and Accreditation
PhD University of Durham, England - Geology
BSc University of Edinburgh, Scotland - Geology - Honors
Geological Society of America
Editor-in-Chief of the journal Sedimentology (1998-2002)
Editor-in-Chief of the journal Sedimentary Geology (2005-2008)
President of SEPM Society for Sedimentary Geology (2011-2012)

Courses Taught 
N309: Fluvial Sedimentology and Stratigraphic Architecture based on Observations of the Platte, Loup and Elkhorn Rivers (Nebraska, USA)

Matt Joeckel

Matt Joeckel also attended the University of Kansas and the University of Florida, and he was a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Tennessee during 1994-1996.  After teaching geology and geography at Bellevue University, he joined the faculty at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2000.  He was elected a Fellow of the Geological Society of America in 2010.

Matt teaches introductory geology, a geological hazards course, and a graduate-undergraduate course in geomorphology in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. He has also taught a soil science course in the School of Natural Resources. On a yearly basis, he conducts short courses and field trips in regional geology, geomorphology, and geohydrology for stakeholder groups such as the Nebraska Well Drillers Association. One recent field trip dealt with the geological history of the Platte River Valley.  He has advised or co-advised multiple undergraduate and graduate students in fluvial geomorphology, sedimentology, and stratigraphy.  Matt is Curator of Geology at the University of Nebraska Museum.

Matt’s research interests include the sedimentology and stratigraphy of Pennsylvanian, Jurassic, Cretaceous, and Neogene marine and continental successions in the interior of North America; as well as fluvial-system and landscape evolution on the Great Plains; soils, paleosols and near-surface weathering processes; and paleontology and ichnology in continental successions.  His most current work focuses on the Late Miocene Ogallala Group in Nebraska.  As part of his duties in the Conservation and Survey Division (Nebraska Geological Survey), he maps sediment-landform assemblages and bedrock in north-central, east-central, and western Nebraska.

Affiliations and Accreditation
PhD University of Iowa - Geology
MSc University of Nebraska-Lincoln - Geology
BSc University of Nebraska-Lincoln (with distinction) - Geology

Courses Taught
N309: Fluvial Reservoir Architecture From Modern and Ancient Systems (Nebraska, USA)

CEU: 4.0 Continuing Education Units
PDH: 40 Professional Development Hours
Certificate: Certificate Issued Upon Completion
RPS is accredited by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET) and is authorized to issue the IACET CEU. We comply with the ANSI/IACET Standard, which is recognised internationally as a standard of excellence in instructional practices.
We issue a Certificate of Attendance which verifies the number of training hours attended. Our courses are generally accepted by most professional licensing boards/associations towards continuing education credits. Please check with your licensing board to determine if the courses and certificate of attendance meet their specific criteria.