Building an Idealized Stratigraphic Sequence – Clastic Shoreline Example

William W. Little, Brigham Young University-Idaho
Author Profile
Initial Publication Date: June 5, 2014 | Reviewed: June 24, 2014


The purpose of this exercise is to guide students through the process of constructing a stratigraphic sequence based on understanding relationships between the production of space and filling that space with sediment.

Used this activity? Share your experiences and modifications



Undergraduate upper-level required course in sedimentology and stratigraphy.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Prior to completing this exercise students should have covered:

Facies models

Lithostratigraphic vs. allostratigraphic depositional units

Basic concepts of stratigraphy, including the relationship between rates of space production and filling

The difference and relationships between base-level rise/fall, transgression/regression, and progradation/aggradation/retrogradation

How the activity is situated in the course

Sequence stratigraphy is the concluding topic for my course on sedimentology and stratigraphy.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

Components, structure, and terminology of a stratigraphic sequence.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

The ultimate goals are that students can take the fundamental model and 1) produce multiple stacked sequences and 2) modify it to reflect changes in the relative abundance of accommodation space production and sediment fill rates.

Other skills goals for this activity

Lab projects involve group discussion and "write-ups."

Description and Teaching Materials

Students are asked leading questions to guide them through the steps of constructing a stratigraphic sequence from the lower boundary through each systems tract to the capping boundary. Questions are based heavily on space/fill relationships as related to changes in the direction and rate of base level. The discussion assumes a previous introduction to these concepts. Most formal terminology is saved for the end of the discussion to maintain focus on concepts, rather than words.

As this is an undergraduate course, I have attempted to simplify, but not falsify, concepts. A task I'm not sure I've always achieved.
Building an Idealized Stratigraphic Sequence – Clastic Shoreline Example (Acrobat (PDF) 2.4MB Jun5 14)

Teaching Notes and Tips


Assessment is made through lab-type projects as described in the uploaded document and essay-style questions on a unit examination.

References and Resources

The text I use is "The Sedimentary Record of Sea-Level Change," edited by Angela Coe.