Oct 3 2019

Meandering Rivers and Synthetic Subsurface Geology for Reservoir Modeling

October 3, 2019

11:00 AM - 12:00 PM


124 EIB


945 W. Taylor St., Chicago, IL 60607

Meandering Rivers and Synthetic Subsurface Geology for Reservoir Modeling

Presenter: Jonathan J. L. Higdon, Professor, Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign

Abstract: The geologic evolution of meandering rivers is a dynamic process controlled by geophysical fluid dynamics for three dimensional fluid flow in channels with erodible beds and channel walls. The fluid flow equations combined with models for erosion and sediment transport provide a complex moving boundary problem wherein the bottom topology and bank geometry influence the fluid flow field which in turn affects the soil deposition and emerging channel geometry. The goal of this study is to determine the instantaneous fluid flow field and to model the sediment transport and deposition over geological time scales. The overall goal is to predict the stratigraphic profile of the emerging landforms and eventual rock formation over the long term geologic evolution. Computational simulations of the depositional process for geologic landforms plays an important role in our understanding of the complex heterogeneities of geologic formations and its impact on natural and human driven processes affecting our environment. In recent years, there has been increasing interest in using computer simulation to model the depositional process, combined with geophysical models for subsurface evolution, fracturing, fault generation and other natural processes to produce a library of realistic synthetic subsurface models. These synthetic subsurface models may be employed in simulations of environmental processes including ground water transport and surface water runoff and transport of chemicals into natural river systems. In industrial processes, synthetic subsurface models are valuable in conducting multiphase flow simulations for simulations of oil recovery in petroleum reservoirs. Underlying all of these simulation efforts is the enormous uncertainty in the details of the subsurface geology – rock or soil type, permeability, porosity, etc. It is impossible to accumulate sufficient experimental data over typical domains with horizontal scales of 10’s of kilometers and vertical scales of hundreds of meters. By conducting simulations over a library of varying synthetic subsurface profiles, one may hope to assess the range of possible outcomes for industrial and natural transport processes.

Presenter bio: Jonathan J.L. Higdon is the Dennis and Cathy Houston Professor in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. He is a leader in the field of fluid mechanics. His research interests include computational fluid dynamics, the mechanics of complex fluids, geophysical fluid dynamics, and petroleum reservoir simulation. He received his BES and MSE from Johns Hopkins University in 1975, and his PhD in applied mathematics and theoretical physics in 1978 from Cambridge University, where he was a Winston Churchill Scholar and a National Science Foundation Fellow. He completed his postdoctoral studies at Stanford University. Higdon has been on the faculty at Illinois from 1980 to 2019. He is the recipient of a Stanley Corrsin Lectureship Award in Fluid Dynamics from Johns Hopkins University, a Prokasy Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching from UIUC, and a Presidential Young Investigator Award from NSF.


Department of Chemical Engineering

Date posted

Oct 1, 2019

Date updated

Oct 1, 2019