Stratigraphic forward modelling of distributive fluvial systems based on the Huesca System, Ebro Basin, Northern Spain

Swiad Snieder* (Corresponding Author), Cedric Griffiths , Amanda Owen, Adrian Hartley, John Howell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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To better understand the stratigraphic development of sedimentary systems, it is necessary to link the controls on sedimentary processes to the resulting deposits, which in turn allows predictions of stratigraphic architectures at a range of scales. We use a stratigraphic forward model to link the governing parameters to the distribution of deposits within a distributive fluvial system (DFS). The numerical model has been validated against outcrop observations to establish how the depositional processes needed to form the specific sedimentary system have been reproduced. We chose the previously studied Oligocene to Miocene Huesca DFS in northern Spain to investigate and calibrate the model. Additionally, downstream profiles from modern DFS in northern India, and hydrological measurements from the High Island Creek, Minnesota, USA, were used as input parameters for the model in addition to the outcrop data from the Huesca DFS. The resulting model adequately reproduced the real-world system. Once validated, the analysis of the modelled DFS led to key findings, which expand our understanding of DFS stratigraphic architecture. Reservoir characteristics in radial DFS are dependent on the angle away from the meridian (straight line from the source through the apex to the distal zone of the DFS). The greater the angle is, the coarser the average grain size in the proximal zone is but the finer the average grain size in the medial and distal zones. Lateral variability of net to gross, sandbody thickness and number, and amalgamation ratio is greatest at the transition between the proximal and medial zone and is still significant in the distal part of the DFS. Stratigraphic forward modelling enhanced our understanding of DFS, which leads to reducing risk associated with exploration, production and storage of fluids in subsurface DFS.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3137-3158
Number of pages22
JournalBasin Research
Issue number6
Early online date10 Sept 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

This project was part of a doctoral project financed through a studentship by the United Kingdom Research and Innovation Centre for Doctoral Training in Oil and Gas, which was institutionally funded by the University of Aberdeen, United Kingdom. An academic licence of the stratigraphic forward modelling software SedsimX was provided by StrataMod Pty. Ltd, Australia. The authors want to thank John Wood, Prabhat Hegde and Ramy Abdallah for their help with coding of the model processing scripts. We also want to thank the developers of Python, its interface Spyder and its libraries Pandas, NumPy, Math, Statistics and Matplotlib.

Data Availability Statement

The data that support the findings of this study are openly available at 0o6bq/AABE8oa4F5an293NAbok8HTpa?dl=0.


  • distributive fluvial system
  • Ebro Basin
  • fluvial fan
  • Huesca system
  • process-based forward model
  • stratigraphic forward model
  • Geology


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