Sedimentology and Stratigraphy

Amy Weislogel,
West Virginia University


This is a lecture and laboratory course that emphasizes knowledge and skills used in describing, measuring and interpreting the characteristics of sedimentary rocks which preserve a historical record of erosion, sediment transport, sediment deposition, other surficial processes and subsurface diagenesis. This course focuses on the processes that govern deposition of sediment, the surficial environments in which these processes operate, the ultimate source of the sediment particles themselves, and the tectonic and environmental conditions responsible for preservation of sediment accumulations throughout geologic time.

Course Size:

Course Format:
Students enroll in one course that includes both lecture and lab. The lecture is taught by the professor and the lab is taught by TAs.

Institution Type:
University with graduate programs, including doctoral programs

Course Context:

This is commonly the last course for geology majors before they take the field camp capstone course in the summer immediately following the spring semester during which sed/strat is taught. Commonly 20% of the class is composed of geology/petroleum engineering double majors. A few students are from outside the geology and/or petroleum engineering programs.

Course Content:

This course is approximately 30% sedimentology processes, 20% sedimentary petrology and 50% depositional environment/facies.

Course Goals:

  1. Predict conditions under which sediment deposition, transport and/or erosion occurs.
  2. Interpret the depositional environment(s) of sedimentary rocks from observations of physical properties.
  3. Interpret origin of sedimentary material and implications of earth history
  4. Predict subsurface distribution and/or characteristics of resource-bearing sedimentary deposits.
  5. Develop or improve optical spectroscopy/petrography skills.
  6. Data documentation and scientific writing skills.
  7. Improved critical thinking skills, problem solving skills, and inquiry-based learning skills.
  8. Public speaking skills.

Course Features:

Project 1 is a team analysis of core. Students must log the core, document the facies and interpret the hydrodynamic conditions of deposition then present their findings in a presentation
Project 2 varies, but most recently was based on field trip to Devonian outcrops to document sedimentary features that indicate depositional setting, then integrate age and thickness data to assess basin subsidence history during the Acadian orogeny.

Course Philosophy:

This course is opportunity to obtain knowledge and skills used in the field of sedimentary geology, much of which will be valuable in future classes and geologic careers. Other skills , such as critical thinking and problem solving skills, will be transferable to any occupation and to multiple aspects of a successful life.


  • 3 regular semester exams
  • 1 comprehensive final exam
  • 12 In-class quizzes
  • 2 Projects, mostly to be completed during lab
  • 8 Lab exercises
*Lab & Projects include Field Trips: 1 In-lab Field Trip and 1 Saturday Field Trip
  • Attendance & Participation based on daily clicker questions & in-class/take-home assignments
  • 3 eCampus online reading assessments (open-book, open note)


Teaching Materials:

References and Notes:

Sedimentology and Stratigraphy by Gary Nichols
Clear explanations and figures

Certain journal articles assigned for lab assignments and projects