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GL3521: SEDIMENTOLOGY (2017-2018)

Last modified: 25 May 2018 11:16

Course Overview

Sedimentology is fundamental to interpreting past climate and geography from the evidence in the rock record of the environment in which sediment was deposited. This course develops the skills needed to make such interpretations by cultivating proficiency at description and process-based interpretation of sedimentary successions, and showing how study of modern environments is used to decipher sedimentary processes. We review the controls on the preservation of sediments to make the rock record, including an introduction to the concepts of genetic (sequence) stratigraphy, and see how this can improve discovery and recovery of water and hydrocarbon resources in the subsurface.

Course Details

Study Type Undergraduate Level 3
Session Second Sub Session Credit Points 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits)
Campus None. Sustained Study No
  • Dr Colin North

Qualification Prerequisites

  • Either Programme Level 3 or Programme Level 4

What courses & programmes must have been taken before this course?

  • GL2511 Geophysics (Passed)
  • GL2014 Stratigraphical Principles (Passed)
  • One of Archaeology (AY) (Studied) or Geography (GG) (Studied) or Geology And Petroleum Geology (GL) (Studied)
  • Any Undergraduate Programme (Studied)
  • GL2510 An Introduction to Field Geology (Passed)
  • GL2015 Petrology & Mineralogy (Passed)

What other courses must be taken with this course?


What courses cannot be taken with this course?

  • GL3513 Applied Sedimentology (Studied)

Are there a limited number of places available?


Course Description

The course will take a problem-led approach emphasising concepts and techniques in preference to exhaustive knowledge. By the end of this course, students should be able to: 

  • describe sedimentary successions in an objective, non-interpretative way, identifying the features of physical, chemical and biological origin, and assemble the descriptions into a sedimentary log;

  • deduce, from sedimentary logs, the processes leading to deposition and preservation of sediment, and understand the uncertainties in this analysis;
  • describe the dominant processes, lithological characteristics, and spatial architecture of the terrestrial and marine depositional environments that dominate the sedimentary rock record;

  • describe in general terms how the inherent characteristics of these environments as well as externally applied factors affects the preservation potential, temporal evolution, and three-dimensional architecture of sedimentary successions;

  • interpret from sedimentary records the environments of deposition that were operating, identifying all reasonable alternative explanations, and extract information that  might indicate past climatic conditions;
  • make regional predictions of the lateral extent, geometry and lithological characteristics of a sedimentary successions from limited sets of sedimentary logs, and integrate such analysis with other key sources of information such as seismic surveys, faunal and floral analyses, age-dating, petrographic and provenance studies.

Associated Costs

There is a one-day field trip associated with this course.  Estimated cost is £10.

Contact Teaching Time

Information on contact teaching time is available from the course guide.

Teaching Breakdown

More Information about Week Numbers

Details, including assessments, may be subject to change until 30 August 2024 for 1st half-session courses and 20 December 2024 for 2nd half-session courses.

Summative Assessments

1st Attempt: 1 two-hour written examination (60%) plus in-course assessment (40%) based on practical exercises (must achieve at least CAS 9 for all in-course assessments to pass the module overall). Resit: 1 two-hour written examination (60%) plus in-course assessment carried forward from first attempt (40%).

Formative Assessment

Core-logging exercise and production of a sedimentary facies model is carried out over the course of the half-session, and this is marked in interim marking as well as a final summative mark.


Individual feedback on exercises during the period of the course. class feedback on key issues.

Course Learning Outcomes


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