School of Environment

GEOLOGY 754 Pure and Applied Sedimentology


About the course

The purpose of this course is to develop your sedimentological knowledge and research skills to an advanced level.  You will make careful observations of a range of sedimentary data (logs, outcrop and seismic), followed by well-constrained, detailed interpretations and finally develop logically consistent interpretations of depositional environments and controls.

Given that 75% of exposed rocks on Earth’s surface are sedimentary, your ability to interpret them plays an important role as a geoscientist.

You might also want to note that:

  • Most of the world’s hydrocarbons are found in sedimentary rocks.
  • Most groundwater resides in sediments and sedimentary rocks.
  • Many natural ore bodies (gold, copper, silver, iron etc) occupy sedimentary strata.
  • Engineering geology and geotechnical engineering require a good understanding of sediment types below ground and a high level of logging competency.
  • Pyroclastic volcanic rocks are just sedimentary rocks deposited hot and fast.
  • The record of Earth’s past climate resides almost exclusively in sedimentary rocks.
  • Most fossils are contained within sedimentary rocks and hence aid palaeo-environmental interpretations.

So, an understanding of sedimentology and stratigraphy is not just academic.


This is a learning and research-centred course directed at developing an advanced understanding of sedimentology.  The course is divided into four research themes, which will incrementally become more complex, allowing you to develop your sedimentological knowledge and research skills, with time.  The course is delivered to you via a series of lectures, practical exercises, literature seminars and fieldtrips (x2).  A range of sedimentological datasets are utilized including 1D log data, 2D and 3D outcrop data and seismic reflection data.  Topics include: facies analysis, deltas, turbidites, slumps, debrites and seismic stratigraphy.

Learning Outcomes

The course objectives are:

  • To attain a high level of competency in sedimentary data collection from a range of sources including cores, outcrop, logs, correlation diagrams and reflection seismic cross-sections.
  • To use first principles to derive well-constrained, detailed, flow-process interpretations.
  • To have the ability to develop internally consistent hypotheses of depositional environments and their evolution in space in time.
  • To have knowledge of contemporary facies models and the latest literature in deltaic and marine depositional systems.


Photo 1. Montage of fieldwork images from the 2010 trip.

Teaching staff

Dr Lorna Strachan –, room 1007

Course outline

The course is divided into 4 themes:




Facies model development from 2D data

Observation and interpretation of primary and secondary sedimentary structures, flow process and environmental interpretations, facies correlations, reconstruction of depositional environmental, deltaic facies models (from outcrop, modern and seismic data)

Focus: Deltas.  Deriving an environmental interpretation from 1D or 2D data

Outcrop derived flow process facies models

Observation and interpretation of outcrop data, lithofacies development, sedimentary logging, lateral correlation, depositional elements,  bed architectures, data analysis, flow process interpretations,  deep marine depositional systems.

Focus: Interpreting flow processes from outcrop data.  Turbidites, Debrites.

Depositional environment model from outcrop

Provenance analysis, palaeocurrent analysis, soft-sediment deformation fold and fault analysis, environmental facies model development in structurally complex strata, Waitemata Basin

Focus: Reconstruction of environment of deposition from outcrop data. Remobilization, Waitemata Basin.

Sedimentation and tectonics

Seismic stratigraphy, seismic facies, basin-scale sedimentary architecture, allocyclic and autocyclic controls on sedimentation, deltaic, coastal, slope, volcaniclastic and turbidite depositional systems. Northland Basin.

Focus: Basin scale sedimentary evolution, facies models.


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