From geological contouring to geomodeling

Course facts

Duration: 1 day
Type: Classroom
Certificate: Issued upon completion


This self-contained course makes the link between geological contouring, by hand and via software, 2D mapping and geomodeling. Geomodels use 2D surfaces and maps as input for everything from defining horizon geometry and unit thickness to constraining 3D facies distribution and 3D petrophysical models. From a contouring and traditional mapping point of view, the question is also why switching to a 3D model when so much about the reservoir can be described and explained by 2D maps. And then there is the question of, or shall we say the opposition between, hand contouring and automated contouring which is still around several decades after it started. This course will touch on all these aspects with the goal to try to reconcile the different aspects and propose a complete workflow going from hand contouring to 3D geomodeling, where the best of each method is integrated in the overall workflow.

Duration and Training Method

This one day course is a lecture course. The day will leave plenty of time for discussion between the students and the instructor. The goal is to ensure any given session of this course is tailored as best as possible to the students’ specific work situation. The instructor will remain available for individual discussion in the weeks following the course.

Learning Outcomes

  • Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of manual contouring.
  • Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of automated contouring.
  • Showing that software-based contouring doesn’t have to result in automated contouring.
  • Understanding the differences and the complementarity between manual and software-based contouring.
  • Mapping multiple horizons and units by thinking about the 3D interdependencies of all these maps.
  • Integrating horizontal well trajectories and well tops in horizon mapping.
  • Integrating seismic interpretation in horizon mapping.
  • Basic overview of the concepts behind 3D horizon and structural modeling by pillar gridding and by implicit modeling.
  • Mapping rock characteristics (facies, NTG, porosity, SW) in an integrated way. Understanding the limits of the exercises.
  • Understanding how all the 2D maps (horizons, stratigraphy, facies, petrophysics) are needed for geomodeling.
  • Understanding why 2D maps are not always enough and a 3D geomodel is needed.

Course Content

  • Review of the fundamentals of hand contouring, software-based contouring and automated contouring, 2D mapping and 3D mapping.
  • Description of the proposed integrated approach, which will then be the backbone of the remaining of the course.
  • From manual to software-based contouring: review of the main algorithms and how to create maps which are semi-automated (in the sense of having a few contours added by the user).
  • Horizon and unit thicknesses modeling.
  • Depositional environment maps and facies proportion maps: how they are used in geomodeling.
  • Average petrophysical maps (porosity, SW…): how they are used in geomodeling.
  • Understanding of the difference between computing volumes from maps and from a 3D geomodel.

Who Should Attend

Any geoscientist, but also engineers (who sometimes are in charge of 2D mapping like 2D average permeability mapping) who produces maps and is curious to see how his/her skills can be used in geomodeling projects in his company.

Any geomodeler… especially those who rely so far a lot on data-driven workflow where interpretation is left to a minimum. Manual contouring, when done right, forces the interpreter to compensate for the sparsity of the data by interpretation. Learning that skill and using it when building maps with a software or when building a geomodel seems essential to the instructor of this course.

Anyone who desire to master geomodeling in the coming months and who needs a starting point in their quest. This course is self-sustained. But it can also be seen as a second step after the introduction on geomodeling found in Geomodeling for non-geomodeler, and before taking the course Geosciences and geomodeling.

Don’t hesitate to contact GMDK if want to discuss how this course could be useful to your specific situation. If GMDK can’t accommodate your specific needs, we will do our best to orient you towards other sources of knowledge.


None about geomodeling and none about contouring. The two topics will be defined in the first chapter.


Thomas Jerome. Director of GMDK and 20+year geomodeling expert. See Thomas’ LinkedIn profile for more details.

Related Courses

Self-contained course. Coupled with the other courses of the Geomodeling Program, it will teach to anyone how to become very well versed in the art of geomodeling.

If this course is the first contouring and mapping course ever taken by the student, it might be relevant to also take some additional courses on contouring and mapping where the goal is to explain how specific datasets and reservoirs should be contoured. Ask GMDK for more details.

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