EOSC 421 · Advanced Sedimentology

Description and interpretation of ancient and modern sediments, with emphasis on the origin, composition, textures, structures, diagenesis and chemistry of biogenic sediments. [2-2-0] Prerequisite: EOSC 320 or permission of instructor.

This course will be taught by Joel Saylor and Mitch D'Arcy.

EOSC 421: Advanced Sedimentology explores sedimentary rocks as archives of information about Earth's surface processes and geological history. We will explore how sediments and sedimentary rocks can be used to reconstruct surface processes, ancient sedimentary environments, and the evolution of sedimentary basins. The course will have a particular focus on describing and interpreting clastic sedimentary deposits from a modern process-based and sediment-routing systems perspective.

Pre-requisite: EOSC 320: Sedimentology, or the permission of the instructors.


Lectures:  Wednesdays and Fridays @ 09:00-09:50

Labs:  Thursdays @ 15:00-18:00.

Detailed information about the course materials is provided on the Canvas page.

Course Availability & Schedule

Course Syllabus

Course Webpage

 Alternate year course

Odd year start – Term 1
Learning goals: 

The fundamental aim of this course is to learn how to use sediments and sedimentary rocks as archives of information about:

  1. Sedimentary processes
  2. Ancient sedimentary environments
  3. Sedimentary basins

The objectives of the course are to:

  • Describe sedimentary facies and interpret them in terms of processes.
  • Quantify magnitudes of sediment transport and deposition processes from the sedimentary record
  • Learn conceptual models of sedimentary systems, processes, and environments across different spatial and temporal scales
  • Gain experience and confidence interpreting sedimentological datasets
  • Produce reasoned, scientific interpretations of those datasets
  • Recognise the uncertainties in interpretations and the data needed to reduce them

We will also develop key practical skills:

  • Identifying and characterising processes from sedimentary deposits and structures
  • Placing sedimentary processes and environments into a larger spatial context: a particular focus on sediment-routing systems and sedimentary basins
  • The ability to understand, describe, and interpret depositional facies and the processes and palaeo-environments they represent
  • An understanding of the modern frontiers in sedimentological knowledge
  • Observational skills in the field

Part 1:  The world from a grain of sand

  • Sediment-routing systems
  • Sediment sources
  • Sediment fluxes
  • Sedimentary structures

Part 2:  Processes in sedimentary environments

  • Sediment gravity flows
  • Subaqueous and subaerial unidirectional flows
  • Subaqueous oscillatory current and rotating flows
  • Carbonates and evaporites
  • Volcanic sedimentology
  • Planetary sedimentology

Part 3:  The bigger picture

  • Dates and rates of sedimentary processes
  • Formation and types of sedimentary basins
  • Subsidence analysis
  • Basins due to stretching, flexure, and strike-slip deformation
  • Sediment provenance
  • Diagenesis and alteration