New Capability Added To RockWorks16 For Automatically Computing Horizontal Well Path

This video describes a new capability whereby RockWorks16 can be used to automatically determine the path for a horizontal well that starts out as a vertical borehole at a designated location and then curves (based on a user-defined radius of curvature) into a pay-zone as defined by two grid models.  The path will then automatically route itself along the mid-line of the two surfaces until reaching a user-defined point.

Caveat: This program assumes that hole starts out vertically.

How To Export Diagrams From RockWorks16 Into Google Earth

Two new videos showing how to export diagrams from RockWorks16 into Google Earth have been uploaded to YouTube.  The short version is 2 minutes and skips all of the “how-it-works” information.  The long version is 12 minutes and provides a description of what goes on “behind the scenes”.

Please note that these videos do not cover the EarthApps portion of RockWorks which directly exports to Google Earth.  Instead, these videos show how to export existing 2-D diagrams (maps, profiles and sections) from RockPlot2D and 3-D diagrams (logs and block models) from RockPlot3D into Google Earth.

Short Version:

Extended Version:


New Video Using Multi-Seam Coal Data to Demonstrate RockWare Command Language (RCL) Scripting

New Video: Using the RockWare Command Language (RCL) to Automate Cross-Section Generation

Adding External Surfaces to a Borehole-Based Stratigraphy Model

RockWorks contains a number of tools which allow you to create a stratigraphy model from borehole data, then introduce additional surfaces to the model based on surveys or proposed excavations. This example is based on an inquiry from a customer who is modeling an existing fill site, in which there are borings surrounding the fill, but none inside. They have surface models of the fill base and fill top which they want to add to the borehole-based stratigraphy model, constraining those borehole surfaces with the fill surfaces.

Step 1: Create the RockWorks project and enter the borehole-based data

Create a new project in RockWorks, and import your borehole data (File | Import menu). Or, create the borehole records manually (Edit | New Borehole) and enter the stratigraphy data into the borehole manager: depth to formation top, depth to formation base, and formation name for each recorded unit in the borehole. The formation names are defined in the Stratigraphy Types table.

Here’s a Striplogs | 3D | Multiple Logs view of these stratigraphy logs.


Step 2: Establish the Output Dimensions

Once the borehole location and stratigraphy data have been entered, click the Scan Boreholes button at the bottom of the program window to automatically determine the coordinate extents for the project. (You can also just type these in, if you prefer.) Be sure to check the node spacing along the X and Y axes – this will determine how coarse or fine your grid models will be. (We generally recommend a node spacing that’s no greater than half the average distance between the boreholes.)  Here is how the Output Dimensions might look:


Step 3: Create a Stratigraphy Model of the borehole-based data

Use the Borehole Manager | Stratigraphy | Model menu option to create surface models (aka “grid models” or “grids”) for the top and base of each stratigraphy formation and display them in the 3D plotting window. This project-wide and interactive view of the model allows you to drill down into the model to see how well the surfaces match the borehole data (be sure to turn on the Plot Logs option to display your stratigraphy logs in the 3D display). You can zoom into the display, rotate it, etc.


If you are not satisfied with the way the model looks, how it honors the log data, etc., you can adjust the gridding method and other model settings and click Process again to regenerate the grid models and the 3D scene.

Note: the automatic naming scheme for these grids is “formation_top.rwgrd” and “formation_base.rwgrd” for each formation name in your project.  You’ll see these grid names in the Project Manager / Grid Models heading.

Step 4: Create/Import the Fill Grid Models

Once you have a good model of the borehole data, the next step is to create or import the grids representing the fill. If you have XYZ points for the ground and base elevations of the fill, you can enter/import those data into the Utilities datasheet and use the Utilities | Map | Grid-Based Map menu to create the surface models.

Or, if you have existing grids from another software program, you can use the Utilities | Grid | Import menu to convert them into a RockWorks “.rwgrd” format. If necessary, use the Utilities | Grid | Math | Resample menu to resample these imported grids to match the extents and node spacing of your project’s Output Dimensions. It’s important that all of the grids to be incorporated into the final stratigraphic model have the same dimensions.

Important: Name these grid models using the RockWorks naming convention: “Fill_top.rwgrd” and “Fill_base.rwgrd”

Here’s an example of how these surfaces might look in the 3D viewer:


Step 5: Display the stratigraphy grids and fill base grid in cross section

This step will let you visualize the stratigraphic layers which will need to be constrained by the fill grids. Jump back to the Borehole Manager and use the Stratigraphy | Section menu to create a cross section diagram through the middle of the fill area.

BE SURE to turn Interpolate Surfaces OFF– you’ve already created a good stratigraphic model so you don’t need to keep recreating the grids.
BE SURE to turn Plot Surface Profile ON, choosing the Fill_base.rwgrd as the grid model to be displayed with the profile line.

Use the Section Selection Map tab to draw a cross-section trace through the middle of the fill area. In the resulting cross section, make note of the stratigraphic layers which are impacted by the fill and those which are not.


Repeat if you like, for another cross-section trace.


Step 6: Constrain the stratigraphy grids with the fill base

Jump back to the Utilities program tab. Use the Grid | Filters | Limit program to impose a “high-stop” filter on the top grid of your first formation, based on the Fill_Base.rwgrd file. Set the Truncation Type to “Grid A Node = Grid B Node”.


This means that any nodes in this grid surface that stick up above the Fill_base grid are to be assigned the elevation of the Fill_base grid. You can set the output name to the original grid name. Do this for each formation_top and formation_base grid that is impacted by the fill layer.

Tip: Use an RCL script to automate this! Here’s an example.


(RCL scripts require Level 5 licensing in RockWorks16.)

Step 7: Add the Fill layer to your Stratigraphy Types table

Use the Project Manager to access the Project Tables / Types Tables / Stratigraphy Types, and add a new formation, “Fill”, with a color of your choice, as the first unit in the project. Even though you don’t have any fill layers in your boreholes, this now tricks RockWorks into incorporating the Fill top and base grids into the model.


Step 8: Recreate your cross section with the Fill grids and the filtered grids

Use Stratigraphy | Section to recreate the cross section from Step 5 being VERY SURE that Interpolate Surfaces is OFF. This assures that RockWorks will read the existing (filtered) grid models for all of the formations in the Stratigraphy Types table.

section1_BYou can create other Stratigraphy menu diagram with these same surfaces.

Master Directory of RockWare YouTube Videos

The YouTube playlists have proven to be somewhat cumbersome, so we have created a hyper-linked master index that makes it easier to find content.  Check it out …


RockWare YouTube Video Index URL:

Working with Faulted Surfaces

Here are some suggestions for possible workflows in applying faults to surfaces in RockWorks.  These instructions assume you don’t have the coordinates for your faults already defined in an external spreadsheet or in the RockWorks project database; you can draw the fault lines on a map and then use them to fault a surface.

1. Create your contour map in RockWorks without faulting turned on.

  • Use the Utilities Map | Grid-Based Map if your XYZ data is entered into the Utilities datasheet.
  • Use any of the Borehole Manager contour mapping options (Map | Borehole Locations for ground surface contours, Stratigraphy | Structural Elevations for stratigraphic structure maps, etc.) if your data is entered into the borehole database.
RockWorks Unfaulted Contour Map
Unfaulted structure contour map

2. In the displayed map, use the Draw | Line Types | Polyline to draw a fault polyline on your map.  Double-click to terminate the polyline.  You can repeat this if you have multiple faults.

RockWorks unfaulted contour map with drawn polyline

Unfaulted contour map with drawn polyline

3. Choose the arrow-shaped Edit tool from the RockPlot2D toolbar, and click on the polyline you drew, to select it.  (If selected, you’ll see square icons on the vertices.)  If you have multiple polylines drawn, hold down the Shift key on your keyboard to click on the next polyline to select it as well.  Continue in this manner for as many polylines as you drew so that all are selected.

4. Right-click on any of the selected polylines in the map window and choose Save to Faults Table.

Save Fault Polyline to a "Faults Table"

Save Fault Polyline to a "Faults Table"

Enter a name to assign to the Faults Table and click OK.  This will be saved to the project database.

5. Return to the options along the left side of the map window, and click on the Gridding Options button.  Here, turn on the Faulting option (which is available under Inverse-Distance).  Enter the “distance multiplier” (usually 10) and browse for the name of the Fault Table that you just created.

RockWorks Gridding Options - Faulting settings

Gridding Options - Faulting settings

Click OK to close this window. Click on the Grid Name prompt and enter a new name for the faulted grid model (such as “Potosi_faulted.grd”).

6. Click Process to recreate the grid model and map, now applying faulting.

RockWorks Faulted Contour Map

Faulted Contour Map

Here are three-dimensional views of these surfaces:

RockWorks - Unfaulted Surface in 3D

Unfaulted Surface in 3D

RockWorks - Faulted Surface in 3D

Faulted Surface in 3D

RockWorks applies faulting by creating an interpolation barrier on either side of the polyline(s) – as it’s interpolating a grid node, any control points on the other side of the fault are now considered to be 10 times further away than they actually are, thus having no influence on that node.


Welcome to the RockWare Blog

In this space we’ll be posting occasional user tips, news, and information relating to RockWare, Inc., the Earth Science Software Company in Golden, Colorado, USA.  We welcome your comments and invite you to stay tuned.

We hope you will find this new resource useful. Thank you for your interest in the Rockware, Inc. Blog.

Kind Regards,
The RockWare Team