Modeling the evolution of geological structures from deposition through to the current day can provide useful insight, such as better knowledge of the stress and material state evolution, development of overpressures, thermal history, and timings related to the maturation of hydrocarbons. This paper discussions one method of simulating the evolution of various structures via a quasi-static explicit adaptive finite element framework that is adopted based on a Lagrangian description of the kinematics and uses the forward modeling software ELFEN FM. The large strains encountered in many cases lead to scenarios of extreme layer thinning and suitable automated strategies for mitigating the impact of such cases on the quality of the solution are critical. Therefore, this paper focuses on this computational modeling topic and via conceptual examples the capabilities of the methodology are demonstrated.


Forward modeling technology has the ability to capture the development of geological structures at local or regional scales from deposition through to current day. This has the potential to provide exploration teams with useful geomechanical insight, particularly regarding potential stress and material state in reservoir units and adjacent layers, and regions of developed overpressures. Such information may be of significant benefit in terms of outlining potential strategies for field development and may be critical to the recovery of both conventional and unconventional resources. For example, recent studies have highlighted differences in the magnitudes of stresses adjacent to salt structures when they were analyzed using conventional static e.g. as used in [1], and forward modeling approaches [2]. Additionally, folding studies in the Caspian using forward modeling software detailed in this paper has yielded promising results both in terms of matching the structural style and accurately recovering pore pressure distributions [3].

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