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Multi-Scale Analysis of Fluvial Architecture and Facies of the Burro Canyon-Dakota Formations Using UAV-Based Outcrop Photogrammetry and Modeling – Implications for Reservoir Performance, Escalante Canyon, Piceance Basin, Colorado


The stratigraphic variability of architectural elements and internal heterogeneity of fluvial intervals affect the connectivity of reservoir-quality sandstone deposits in the Cretaceous Burro Canyon and Dakota formations in the Piceance Basin of northwestern Colorado. Well-exposed outcrops of the Burro Canyon-Dakota interval in Delta County, Colorado provide optimal access for characterization of the geometry, stacking, and internal heterogeneities of fluvial elements to provide important information to condition 3-D geologic models of analogous subsurface reservoirs. The lateral variation and heterogeneity typical of fluvial deposits are difficult to resolve and correlate using only subsurface data, so analogous outcrop models are important in fluvial systems, especially ones of low to moderate net-to-gross (<50%), such as the Burro Canyon-Dakota interval. To analyze the internal heterogeneity and connectivity of fluvial sandstone bodies in the Burro Canyon-Dakota interval, centimeter-scale measured sections, thin section petrography, and drone-based photogrammetry are conducted. Measured sections and thin-section analyses capture the internal sedimentology and stratigraphic variability of fluvial sandstone bodies giving insight on environment of deposition. Drone-based photogrammetry is used to characterize and measure architectural elements and their bounding surfaces and extract dimensional data. Bounding surfaces, stratigraphic variability of fluvial bodies, and dimensional data are resolved from a combination of outcrop analyses and used to build and condition 3-D geologic (static) and dynamic models of the deposits to gain a better understanding of sandstone-body connectivity and internal heterogeneity.