Sedimentary Geology

Walter S. Borowski,
Eastern Kentucky University


Examination of sedimentary processes and products, the characteristics and origins
of sedimentary rocks and their related depositional environments, and application of these principles to solving geological problems. Laboratory develops techniques for understanding, describing and interpreting sedimentary rocks, structures, and stratigraphy.

Course Size:
less than 15

Course Format:
Integrated lecture and lab

Institution Type:
Public four-year institution, primarily undergraduate

Course Context:

Sedimentary Geology is a core course required for students majoring in geology, and 80% of students in the courses are either Geology majors or minors. Other students taking the course belong to other programs such as Anthropology, Biology, Environmental Science, or Earth Science Teaching.

Course Content:

Sedimentary Geology focuses on students being knowledgeable and scientifically conversant about sedimentary processes and controls, formation of sedimentary textures and fabric including sedimentary structures, and knowledge and interpretation of sedimentary environments for both clastic and non-clastic sedimentary rocks.

Lecture, targeted laboratory exercises, and local and non-local field trips (West Virginia, Fall break) will be employed so that students gain experience in describing, characterizing, and assessing sediments and sedimentary rocks with increasing independence and cognitive ability.

Course Goals:

  1. Students will be able describe and access sedimentary texture, fabric, and sedimentary structures.
  2. Students will be able to ascertain sedimentary depositional environments for sedimentary rocks at all scales, i.e., from thin section, hand sample, and outcrop.
  3. Students will be able to deliver sedimentary expertise in working with other geology students in a structural geology course (Fall break field trip).
  4. Students begin to develop the ability to parse and assess popular sedimentology articles and scientific papers.
  5. Students will learn to gather and critically assess written and web resources while creating PowerPoint Presentations about clastic and carbonate depositional environments.
  6. Students will improve writing ability through bi-weekly writing assignments.
  7. Students will augment presentation skills by creating posters to be displayed and explained at semester's end at an appropriate undergraduate venue that encapsulate their work on the Fall break field trip.
  8. Students should develop a personal work ethic and professional attitude.

Course Features:

The course uses lecture, targeted laboratory activities and problems, and field excursions including a mapping project in West Virginia (over Fall break)to teach students the fundamentals of sedimentary geology. Students will also be required to write synopses of pertinent articles and to present characteristics of depositional environments in class.

Course Philosophy:

Students typically need an introduction to concepts and principles that is perhaps first provided by reading and lecture. However, it is critical to reinforce key principles and products through repeated laboratory and field exercises/experiences. Student learn by applying concepts and principles in both laboratory and field situations, and by doing field projects. EKU is fortunate to have both carbonate and clastic rocks that are proximal to campus and plentiful with good exposure.


Exams and exercises are vetted by the instructor. This assessment includes both written and oral feedback. The instructor has at least 2 personal meetings with each student each term.


Teaching Materials:

References and Notes:

Boggs, Principles of Sedimentology and Stratigraphy
Chosen by my predecessor; will vet while teaching course for the first time Fall 2014.

I am developing this course presently so have not secured supplemental readings as yet. However, my plan is to expose students to both the popular (e.g., Scientific American) and scientific literature that explore or intersect with sedimentary geology.
I am attending this workshop to gain these resources.