The Geological Survey of the Netherlands aims at building a 3D geological voxel model of the upper 30 m of the subsurface of the Netherlands in order to provide a sound basis for subsurface related questions on, amongst others, groundwater extraction and management, land subsidence studies, aggregate resources and infrastructural issues. The Province of Zeeland (SW Netherlands, covering an area of approximately 70 by 75 km) was chosen as the starting point for this model due to an excellent dataset of 23,000 stratigraphically interpreted borehole descriptions.
The modelling procedure involved a number of steps. The first step is a geological schematisation of the borehole descriptions into units that have uniform sediment characteristics, using lithostratigraphical, lithofacies and lithological criteria. During the second modelling step, 2D bounding surfaces are constructed. These surfaces represent the top and base of the lithostratigraphical units and are used to place each voxel (100 by 100 by 0.5 metres) in the model within the correct lithostratigraphical unit. The lithological units in the borehole descriptions are used to perform a final 3D stochastic interpolation of lithofacies, lithology (clay, sand, peat) and if applicable, sand grain-size class within each lithostratigraphical unit. After this step, a three-dimensional geological model is obtained. The use of stochastic techniques such as Sequential Gaussian Simulation and Sequential Indicator Simulation, allowed us to compute probabilities for lithostratigraphy, lithofacies and lithology for each voxel, providing a measure of model uncertainty.
The procedures described above resulted in the first fully 3D regional-scale lithofacies model of the shallow subsurface in the Netherlands. The model provides important new insights on spatial connectivity of sediment units of, for example, sandy Holocene tidal channel systems. Our results represent a major step forward towards a fully 3D voxel model of the Netherlands.