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Image log & dipmeter analysis course

Structural interpretation methodology

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Structural interpretation from borehole images

Dip analysis
Structural zonation Structural boundary interpretation Curvature analysis Integration with logs and seismic data

Fracture characterisation
Fracture description Fracture distribution and sampling bias Influence upon flow

Structural issues in deviated wells In-situ stress analysis

Interpreting in-situ stress indicators Geomechanical applications
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Plane orientation elements & notation

Dip: maximum inclination of plane from horizontal. Azimuth: direction of maximum inclination as compass bearing from 0-360. Strike: trend of any horizontal line on plane, 90 from azimuth. Reported as dip/azimuth, e.g. 45/045.

North Azimuth

Horizontal plane

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Upper hemisphere stereoplot



Planes plotted as poles. Centre of circle horizontal. Rim of circle vertical (unless otherwise labelled). Dip denoted by distance from centre of stereoplot. Azimuth denoted by angle clockwise from top of stereonet N).

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Dip azimuth and strike histograms


Dip azimuth rose histogram

Petals denote dip directions Small petal: few dips in this direction Large petal: many dips in this direction Used commonly for visualising bed directions.

Strike histogram
Petals denote strike of plane Symmetrical about centre Used commonly for fracture work

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Dip data representation

Depth (ft) Tadpole Plot
10 30 50 0

Dip Azimuth Plot

120 240 360

881 882 883 884 885 886 887 888 889

Increasing inclination


Dip tadpole plot: Glyphs representing feature attitude.





Dip azimuth plot: Symbols represent feature dip azimuth, scaled from 0 (North) to 360 (North) Tadpole plot emphasises dip domains, Azimuth plot emphasises azimuth domains.

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Dip azimuth vector walkouts

Top of interval

Each bed is drawn as an arrow pointing to its dip azimuth. The plot is built from the base of the study interval up-section, with the tail of each feature arrow placed at the head of the previous arrow. Sections of consistent dip azimuth become apparent, boundaries may be distinguished as sharp or gradational.

Base of interval

Arrow length varied with pick confidence to emphasise good data over poor.
Used to identify subtle structural changes.

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Cumulative dip magnitude plots

Top of interval

Dip angle

Base of interval

Each bed is drawn as an arrow oriented to its dip magnitude (where right is 0 and down is 90). The plot is built from the interval base up-section. Sections of consistent dip magnitude become apparent, boundaries may be distinguished as sharp or gradational. Arrow length varied with pick confidence to emphasise good data over poor. Used to identify bulk structural zonation.

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Dip analysis
Analysis of bedding fabrics and key structural surfaces to produce a bulk structural zonation

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Objective setting Initial visual analysis of succession Review of image data Dip picking Structural zonation Structural dip determination Structural boundary interpretation Analysis of folded successions Integration with seismic data

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Objective setting
Objective Verification of seismic structure Bulk structure model in area of poor seismic data due to e.g. shallow gas Fault location and orientation to plan sidetracks Structural input to a deterministic reservoir model Reorientation of fabrics in core Input Regional information. Zones of interest. Budget? Advice on acquisition practice.

Output Specification of information required.

Objectives met?

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Scales of measurements
Real geology and limitless resolution but limited coverage & hard to see large scale structure

Core 10000
Cumulative fault density (faults per km)


15 m

1 cm

Borehole images and dipmeters

Fabrics resolved down to fractions of an inch using microresistivity and acoustic tools, an inch using dipmeters and inches to feet using LWD devices

3D seismic

0.01 0.01 1

VSP 100 10000

Open hole WBM resistivity tools Open hole acoustic tools Open hole OBM resistivity tools

Fault throw (m)

LWD tools: density, resistivity, gamma-ray, photo-electric effect

Seismic finds largescale reflective packages but little internal detail; VSP adds more detail to under 10m resolution

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Core to seismic

Look at all scales!

Fault damage zone

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Initial visual assessment

Identify major structural zones and bulk structure To identify areas which require further detailed examination

Data required:
Automatic dip results Open hole logs to identify lithology changes, etc. Known stratigraphy

Use overview scale (1:500 or 1:1000) to identify major zones in the context of the open hole log suite.

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Image review
Close examination of images (often 1:5 to 1:20 scale) Assessment of automatic dip data
Are computed dips representative of primary bedding fabric? Do events in computed dips represent structural boundaries? Are dip artefacts present? Do outlier dips represent fractures or over-steep beds?

Recognition and description of artefacts Evaluation of types of features that are visible Core comparison where possible Construction of dip classification types Picking of a small number of manual dips to assist interpretation of automatic dips Is data representative and reliable can analysis of the automatic dip data satisfy objectives?

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Reclassify and analyse?

If automatic dips are representative fabric orientations then

analysis can continue:

Classification of automatic dips using log cut-offs and inclinations (e.g. shale beds, sandstone beds from gamma-ray log, over-steep beds where inclination is over 15 above the background dip) Infill picking of bedding fabric where automatic dips have low correlation coefficients or dips are absent Detailed manual picking over intervals where structure is thought to change Dip analysis to produce a structural zonation and representative dips

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Pros and cons of this approach

Rapid turnaround Provides a bulk structural interpretation Adds value to a traditional dipmeter analysis Cost-effective

Using modern image logs as dipmeters misses a significant amount of information: Data is low resolution Detailed description and classification of textures is not done Automatic dips are placed at the centre of each correlation window; the position of a features within this is not known Fractures and faults are unlikely to be imaged Fine-scale fabric variations are omitted but these are important in understanding the sedimentology

Manual dip picking allows much greater interpretation resolution and confidence
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Manual dip picking

Systematic pass at appropriate scale (often 1:5 to 1:20) Fit sine curves to features Assign categories based on static image character, open hole log response and context Adjust scales and reverse colour-scaling to get the most from the images and reclassify dips if necessary Flag important features that require further analysis

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Manual dip picking example

1:10 scale, section 1.5 metres

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Manual dip picking

Where possible use static image to define major changes in lithology and nature of fractures (here resistive is bright, conductive dark). The dynamic image captures more detail within low contrast intervals and allows dense dip picking. Dip categories may change after structural dip is removed, as anomalous orientations become more evident; dips are finalised after initial structural analysis, derotation and facies picking. Dips are assigned a quality based on the confidence of category type assigned, fit of sine curve and feature continuity in image.

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Structural interpretation workflow

Initial dip data assessment
Dip tadpole and dip azimuth plots Interval stereoplots and rose histograms


Dip analysis and structural dip determination

Vector walkout plots, cumulative dip magnitude plots, Interactive stereographs, derotated tadpole tracks

Zone boundary interpretation

Curvature analysis plots, integration of evidence from images, well tops and other available data-sets


Fracture and fault analysis, curvature analysis



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Manual dip summary plot


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0 0


90 0

Dip analysis plots

Top zone 1

Dip azimuth vector walkout plot

Top zone 2

Top zone 1

Top zone 3 Top zone 4 Top zone 2

Overall NE dip

Top zone 3 Top zone 4

Cumulative dip magnitude plot

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Initial dip interpretation



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Further division of structure

Domain 1 10 SE Uniform dip

Subdomain 1a Moderately uniform orientation; local up-hole shallowing -depositional?

Subdomain 1b Variable azimuths Serrate dip profile -complex depositional dips or faulting

Domain 2 10-30 SSE Up-hole shallowing Fault drag?

Subdomain 2a Up-hole shallowing dips. Ends at steep S dips that may be faults. Fault? Subdomain 2b Up-hole shallowing dips. Ends at fault with no footwall drag - listric? Fault? Subdomain 3a Shallow NW dips

Domain 3 5 NW Uniform dip

Subdomain 3b Chaotic WNW dips Fault? Subdomain 3c Up-hole steepening - drag?

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Dip analysis exercise: part 1

15 mins

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Part 1 discussion
Automatic dips good; representative of bedding fabric, but rarely captures fractures and some spurious dips (2554 m, 2610-2620 m, below 2755 m). Shales and sandstones are present; sandstones at 2497-2543 m with some shale partings. Automatic dips good, even in sandstones Possible structural breaks: Azimuth? Dip? Lithology? Data quality? Lumpers versus splitters Start at large scale, refine later Structural zones and sub-zones? Work in isolation from other data (e.g. stratigraphy) and incorporate later?
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Initial dip interpretation

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Importance of scale

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Structural dip in slumped sequences

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Structural dip determination

Objective: Break the logged interval into intervals of consistent structural dip or dip motif. Produce a table of structural dip zones Techniques: Visually recognise large scale structural zones from manual dip data plotted on vector walkouts and dip magnitude plots. Use zones of originally horizontal bedding (e.g. shales or limestone bedding) to measure post-depositional dip. Use stereographic techniques and statistic methods to refine zone picking and representative structural dips. Use statistical curvature analysis techniques where no parallel bedding exists.

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Structural dip calculation

Equal Area (Schmidt) N Wtd Point Density 28% 26% 24% 22% 20% 18% 16% 14% 12% 10% 8% 6% 4% 2% Upper Hem. N = 553

Upper hemisphere stereoplots of poles to planes and bed azimuth rose histograms. 1% Schmidt contoured poles, weighted to interpretation confidence. Only palaeohorizontal proxies used. Eigenvector and Fisher Analyses. Peak count of the weighted contour plot. Structural dip is used to de-rotate postdepositional tilt from bedding dips and the method which flattens bedding most successfully is chosen.

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Subsurface dip components

Subsurface dip is the sum of depositional dip, compaction, soft sediment deformation and cumulative tectonic deformation

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Dip analysis exercise: part 2

15 mins

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2530 2520 2470 2490 2500 2510 2540 2550 2560 2570 2580 2590 2600 2610 2620 2630




Dip azimuth vector walkout plot Green: shale bedding Brown: sandstone bedding

Top of interval

2640 2650






Cumulative dip magnitude plot Green: shale bedding Brown: sandstone bedding
2460 2470





2500 2510 2520 2530






2740 2580 2590 2600





2750 2650 2660 2670

2680 2690 2700 2710 2720 2730 2740 2750


Base of interval


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Part 2 discussion
Zone 1 2 3 4 5 Top 2450 2543 2650 2683 2713 Base 2543 2650 2683 2713 2755 Orientation 6/260 8/290 10/320 18/320 15-28/320 Comments Includes sandstones and slumps; W dips at base Rotation to N dips at top may be depositional As above As above Progressive down hole dip increase - rotation into fault below section? Unreliable



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Part 2 discussion
Sandstones at 2497-2542 m are problematic: Internally inconsistent cross-bedded and/or slumped West dips at base are consistent with shales above Internal NW shale parting dips are consistent with shales below Sand presence may be due to a structural change (i.e. should be derotated using shale dips above). A change in depositional slope may have led to slumping. Use the wrong structural dip, get inaccurate orientations from sandstone beds during analysis of deposition and palaeoslope.

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Structural zone boundary interpretation

Examine images over the boundary
Indications of fracturing, faulting, folding, erosion etc.

Changes in structural dip?

Sharp or gradual? Dip rotation trends?

Changes in lithology/stratigraphy? Biostratigraphical events? Open hole log responses that may indicate weathering, erosion or hiatus? A dip pattern alone is insufficient evidence for positive identification; more evidence is required.

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Unconformities dip patterns

0 90

Planar unconformity with weathered zone

Parallel unconformity
0 90

Buried topography with weathered zone

Angular unconformity

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Unconformities evidence from images

Bedding fabric in lower unit truncated by overlying unit. Juxtaposition of distinctly different lithologies. Abrupt dip change with no progressive rotation. Presence of clasts. Presence of drape, seen in anomalous dips. Compaction tends to make the orientation change more gradual. Change in static image response due to weathering, changes in cement, reworking. Regional knowledge; unconformities are often known from seismic data and so explain changes in dip from images

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Faults dip patterns

Normal fault Fault dip exceeds maximum bedding dip in drag zone Deformation in hanging-wall and foot-wall Reverse fault may also display deformation in hanging-wall and foot-wall but dip azimuth in drag fold opposes fault plane azimuth. Listric growth fault Fault dip exceeds maximum inclination of beds in drag zone But has opposing dip direction Deformation restricted to hanging-wall Ramp antiform above thrust fault Only evident at ramps; flats will not display drag.

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Fault kinematics from displacement

Vertical well HW Normal




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Identifying faults

It is rarely possible to demonstrate displacement unequivocally on images: we normally describe fractures and only infer faults (Parkinson et al. 1999).

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Faults evidence from images

Direct observation:
clear offset of bedding or fractures

Indirect observations:
Change in structural dip block rotation Juxtaposition of differing lithofacies across a discrete fracture Progressive rotation into structural boundary fault drag Enhanced fracture density damage zone Change in cement type Fluid interface (if sealing) Pressure change Hole damage (commonly washout) Change in the intensity and/or orientation of present day in-situ stress features

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Buried topography with weathered zone

Normal fault with adjacent drag

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Folds dip patterns

Upright, symmetric synform Recumbent similar fold (left) Upright parallel fold (right)

Upright, symmetric antiform

Plunging upright antiform

Upright, asymmetric antiform Parasitic folds

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Folds evidence from images

Progressive change in bed orientations, with bulls-eye and dumb-bell features if the bedding becomes overturned with respect to the borehole. Smooth peak in fracture density, identifying fractures developed through outer-arc extension on a mechanical unit; fractures may progressively diverge as bed orientation changes. May be related to slumping, seen in near-chaotic dip motif.
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45 ft

Sequential dip removal

Original 1. Cromer


Pre-Valhall Zone 1


Zone 2 6/140

Zone 3 8/350
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Structural dip from cross-bedding

Depositional attitude: Cross-beds deposited on horizontal surface

Rotation axis Poles to cross-beds


Subsurface attitude: Bedding tilted through large-scale rotation during regional tectonism

The poles to cross-bedding planes in a single unit will fall on a girdle, the pole of which (i.e. axis of curvature lies within the plane of the structural dip.

If enough sets of cross-beds are sampled, their axes of curvature will define a girdle, the pole to which is the structural dip.
Upper hemisphere stereoplot

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Folds are more commonly observed in horizontal wells than the analysis of vertical wells would suggest. Identification & classification chevrons and tadpole facing directions, synclinal and anticlinal. Analysis wavelength, amplitude orientation & plunge. SCAT analysis. Dipping beds can have an effect on fluid flow, varying as a part function of up-dip and down dip fluid transport. Can be hard to track single bed in horizontal wells. Problems with dip removal non-linear changes in dips across a fold.

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Statistical Curvature Analysis Techniques (SCAT)

Graphical techniques used to assess presence and attitude of folds in a dip data-set (Bengtson 1980). Used to identify and orientate:1. Large-scale fold trends in compressive regimes. 2. Growth faults. 3. Drag folds against faults to derive fault strike if dip-slip. 4. Slump fold axes; may identify palaeoslope strike.
Bengtson, C.A. 1980. Statistical Curvature Analysis Techniques for Structural Interpretation of Dipmeter Data. AAPG Bulletin 65, 312-332.

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SCAT example

Domain 2

Domain 1

Domain 1

Axis: 5/299

Domain 2

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Stereographical analysis of folds

Scatter defines hinge; few dips indicates angular, smooth spread suggests fold is gently curved.

Limb 2

Limb 1 Centre of cluster defines limb orientation Inter-limb angle measured along great circle

Fold girdle (great circle)

Pole to bedding plane Upper hemisphere Schmidt stereoplot Fold axis is pole to fold girdle if fold is parallel

Fold axis is line of intersection between mean limb orientations if fold is similar

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Dip analysis exercise Part 3

10 mins

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2530 2520 2470 2490 2500 2510 2540 2550 2560 2570 2580 2590 2600 2610 2620 2630




Dip azimuth vector walkout plot Green: shale bedding Brown: sandstone bedding

Top of interval

2640 2650






Cumulative dip magnitude plot Green: shale bedding Brown: sandstone bedding
2460 2470





2500 2510 2520 2530






2740 2580 2590 2600





2750 2650 2660 2670

2680 2690 2700 2710 2720 2730 2740 2750


Base of interval


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Part 3 discussion
Fractures strike E-W and N-S; low bias as vertical well. Fracture inclinations show normal distribution around 45; may be early and rotated or compacted. Faults strike E-W and N-S. Inclinations scattered from 30-75; slightly steeper than fractures and so may be later? Fractures and faults are clustered into possible damage zones or due to mechanical stratigraphy. SCAT of whole interval shows E-W curvature axis is this the basin axis or related to E-W striking fault population? SCAT in sandstones is inconclusive; needs derotating? SCAT below 2710 m shows curvature about a NE-SW trend suggests rotation or fault drag above feature below study interval.

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Part 3 discussion
Depth 2543 Type Comments Unconformity Sharp, no drag, few fractures, significant lithology change. Grade B. Unconformity Gradual azimuth rotation at top looks depositional. Grade B. U/C or fault Possible drag, fracturing but also azimuth swing as above. Grade C. U/C or fault Drag? Fractures define damage zone? Faults picked striking E-W to ENE-WSW. Grade B. Data quality End of reliable inclinometry and caliper data no geological significance. Possible drag downwards through zone above may indicate that a fault is present beneath.




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2450 2460 2470 2480 2490 2500 2510 2520 2530 2540 2550 2560 2570 2580 2590 2600 2610 2620 2630 2640 2650 2660 2670 2680 2690 2700 2710 2720 2730 2740 2750

Uniform bedding dips west Little expression in N-S section Cross-bedded sandstones with slumps at top; internal structure requires surface type analysis

2460 2470 2480 2490 2500 2510 2520 2530 2540 2550 2560 2570

Northwest to west dipping mudstones some internal azimuth variation

2580 2590 2600 2610 2620 2630 2640

Northerly dips at top; apparent steepening due to azimuth swing Significant steepening across fault or unconformity Beds steepen down hole. Increased scatter; drag into fault below?

2650 2660 2670 2680 2690 2700 2710 2720 2730 2740 2750 2760 2770

2760 2770

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Integration with seismic interpretation


Possible faulting


WNW (286) western flank

crestal graben

well path

Eastern flank

ESE (106)

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Seismic integration

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This section has covered

Objective setting Initial analysis of succession Review of image data Manual dip picking Structural zonation Structural dip determination Zone boundary description Folded zones Integration with seismic data

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