Teach the Earth > Sedimentary Geology > Teaching Activities > Sequence Stratigraphy Model (for Macintosh)

Sequence Stratigraphy Model (for Macintosh)

Dennis Hubbard
Oberlin College
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This activity was selected for the On the Cutting Edge Reviewed Teaching Collection

This activity has received positive reviews in a peer review process involving five review categories. The five categories included in the process are

  • Scientific Accuracy
  • Alignment of Learning Goals, Activities, and Assessments
  • Pedagogic Effectiveness
  • Robustness (usability and dependability of all components)
  • Completeness of the ActivitySheet web page

For more information about the peer review process itself, please see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.

This page first made public: Jul 16, 2006


This is an interactive model that generates facies parasequences based on user defined sea-level curves, initial profile and other easily defined input conditions.

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undergraduate or graduate course in sedimentology

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Basic understanding of Walther's law and general sequence stratigraphy

How the activity is situated in the course

Combined with a Walther's Law exercise and an optional field trip to see relationships in outcrop.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

Walther's Law; parasequence development; facies architecture in response to changing sea level and sediment supply.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

The exercise provides hands-on experience with simple facies modeling. It can be used as a stand-alone Walther's Law exercise, a sequence-stratigraphy exercise, or can be used as a jumping-off point for discussing larger concepts (e.g., what drives facies development?) or as an adjunct to field trips.

Other skills goals for this activity

The skills are more interpretive and aimed at getting the student to think about how facies develop (e.g., they are time transgressive).

Description of the activity/assignment

One of the difficult concepts for students to understand is how stacked parasequences form and what they tell us about the interaction between relative sea-level change and sediment supply. A dated but easily manipulated (and free) modeling program (Fuzzim) allows the creation of increasingly complex depositional scenarios. A single parasequence generated over one sea-level cycle demonstrates the relationship between the rate of sea-level rise and transgression/regression. By superimposing shorter sub-cycles, the model builds aggrading, prograding and retreating depositional packages. The sea-level curve, initial topography (e.g., ramps vs. more abrupt shelf margins), and sediment supply can be easily modified by the instructor or the student. Students work through basic model set-up and complete several model runs. They are encouraged to modify input conditions and explore the effects on sedimentary output. The goal is to develop an intuitive understanding of how large-scale sedimentary cycles relate to the interplay between sea level and sediment supply. In the course at Oberlin College, model output is used in conjunction with a Walther's Law exercise (will be available) and a week-end field trip where the sedimentary cycles generated by the model can be observed in outcrop. This approach integrates the use of hand samples, thin sections, and outcrop observation to provide a hands-on connection to the more abstract concepts developed by the models.

Determining whether students have met the goals

1) Grade on lab exercise
2) Discussion of results in class
3) Discussion in the field of how a rock sequence relates to the cartoons generated in the lab.

More information about assessment tools and techniques.

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