Pure and Applied Geophysics

, Volume 176, Issue 8, pp 3593–3605 | Cite as

Characterizing Rock Facies Using Machine Learning Algorithm Based on a Convolutional Neural Network and Data Padding Strategy

  • Zhili Wei
  • Hao HuEmail author
  • Hua-wei Zhou
  • August Lau


In the exploration and production of fossil resources, the characterization of rock facies is critical for estimations of rock physical properties, such as porosity and permeability, and for reservoir detection and simulation. We propose a new machine learning (ML) algorithm for characterizing rock facies using a convolutional neural network (CNN) with feature engineering and data padding strategies. In the new ML algorithm, we extend rock feature data from 1-dimensional “profile” to 2-dimensional maps by padding the original dataset. The 2-dimensional padded rock facies map enables the CNN to capture the inherent geological features while keeping the local continuities. In this new ML algorithm, we only need a simple CNN design and structure to efficiently achieve accurate classification of rock facies. We test the feasibility of applying this new algorithm using a verifiable well logging dataset from the Panoma gas field in southwest Kansas. The results show that our new ML algorithm with a simple CNN structure has achieved higher accuracy in classifications of rock facies in comparison with the CNN results of the 2016 SEG ML contest. This new ML algorithm has application potential in automatic rock facies characterization with high accuracy and efficiency.


Machine learning facies characterization convolutional neural network padding strategy 



We are thankful for Dr. Geoff Bohling and Dr. Marty Dubois of the University of Kansas for providing the dataset and making it accessible online at (


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Earth and Atmospheric SciencesUniversity of HoustonHoustonUSA

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