Facies delineation is defined as the separation of geological units with distinct intrinsic characteristics (grain size, hydraulic conductivity, mineralogical composition). A major challenge in this area stems from the fact that only a few scattered pieces of hydrogeological information are available to delineate geological facies. Several methods to delineate facies are available in the literature, ranging from those based only on existing hard data, to those including secondary data or external knowledge about sedimentological patterns. This paper describes a methodology to use kernel regression methods as an effective tool for facies delineation. The method uses both the spatial and the actual sampled values to produce, for each individual hard data point, a locally adaptive steering kernel function, self-adjusting the principal directions of the local anisotropic kernels to the direction of highest local spatial correlation. The method is shown to outperform the nearest neighbor classification method in a number of synthetic aquifers whenever the available number of hard data is small and randomly distributed in space. In the case of exhaustive sampling, the steering kernel regression method converges to the true solution. Simulations ran in a suite of synthetic examples are used to explore the selection of kernel parameters in typical field settings. It is shown that, in practice, a rule of thumb can be used to obtain suboptimal results. The performance of the method is demonstrated to significantly improve when external information regarding facies proportions is incorporated. Remarkably, the method allows for a reasonable reconstruction of the facies connectivity patterns, shown in terms of breakthrough curves performance.

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Published on 01/01/2015

DOI: 10.1016/j.jhydrol.2015.09.066
Licence: CC BY-NC-SA license

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