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GEOL 60433 Siliciclastic Sequence Stratigraphy

Instructor Name: Dr. John Holbrook
Semester/Year: Spring, 2012
Class location: TBD
Class Meeting time(s): TR 9:30 to 11:00
Office: SWR 226
Telephone: 6275



Required text and additional resources

The main text for this class is “Principles of Sequence Stratigraphy” by Octavian Catuneanu, and is available in the bookstore. Two books which could prove useful for this class are: “Siliciclastic Sequence StratigraphyConcepts and Applications” by Posamentier and Allen, 1999, and “Siliclastic Sequence Stratigraphy in Well Logs, Cores, and Outcrops” by van Wagoner et al, 1990. Both of these books are available online. I have also placed one copy of these books and one copy of Carbonate Sedimentology and Sequence Stratigraphy by Schlager, 2005 at the main departmental desk. Some additional reading will be suggested during the course. There are several web sites as well that offer basic primers on Sequence Stratigraphy and facies interpretation (e.g., The USC site,, etc.). I would also suggest you round up your old textbook for Sed/Strat. Some of the assignments will be field exercises. You will need field clothing for the field exercises, including rugged boots and possibly rain wear, sample bags, day pack, small notebook, some of the lab gear, a rock hammer, and safety glasses.


Course Description

Siliciclastic Sequence Stratigraphy (3 credit hours). The course meets for three hours per week. This course addresses the basic principles of surface-based and facies-based physical stratigraphy. The focus is on siliciclastic sediments and rocks.


Course Requirements

This is a dual undergraduate/graduate lecture course in Geology.


Students should have a basic knowledge of Sedimentology and/or Stratigraphy in preparation for this course. This could have been gained through formal course work or through independent reading. It is advisable to consult the instructor if no coursework in Sedimentology and/or Stratigraphy has been taken.

Learning Outcomes

Students will need to map stratigraphic units using sequence stratigraphy from a combination of surface and subsurface data sets spanning the data formats they will likely encounter in professional practice. Such formats include, but are not exclusive of geophysical data, wellbore data, and outcrop. Students will be graded mostly on projects that will utilize sequence stratigraphy for managing these data sets. In addition, students will be given exams to test knowledge and literature assignments.

Teaching Philosophy

The purpose of this course is to teach the basic concepts and practical application of the skill of sequence stratigraphy. Sequence stratigraphy is widely used throughout the various industries of the geosciences as a tool for predicting and mapping distribution of permeable and non-permeable rocks and sediments. The course is thus arranged to introduce and provide a foundational knowledge of these skills from which they may build a personal expertise. Students taking the course should be expected to acquire a working knowledge of this discipline. As such, most of the course will be project based. Students in this course should expect to apply knowledge gained in lecture to practical interpretive use of sequence stratigraphy in a series of class projects that will utilize common industry data sets, or collection of data sets. The class will have at least one exam to test knowledge of concepts gained in lecture, and students should expect at least one literature assignment.

Grades and Grading

Most of the course is project based. The Quest will be variable and opportunity dependent, but will be intended to address a current need in the industry or discipline. Examples of past Quests have been: development of learning modules for industry seismic software, interpretation of data related to industry projects, seeking answers to specific research questions, etc.


Projects (4-6) 60%

Literature Project 10%

Final Exam 20%

Quest 10%


Projects (4-6) 70%

Literature Project 10%

Final Exam 20%

Final Exam Date --/--/--

Grading scale

90% - 100% A

80% - 89% B

65% - 79% C

Makeups - Scores missed because of Official University Absences may be rescheduled. All other makeups are at the option of the instructor. For missed exams, provide written explanation, with proof of hardship causes attached, if possible. The general policy is to assign a paper. Other options are at the discretion of the instructor.

Examinations – The final examinations will be open book, and will comprise essay questions. This exam will both require knowledge of skills and an understanding of process, rather than memorization of facts.

Field Exercises - At least one of the projects will require a weekend field trip that will be outside of class time. Other field labs will be handled locally, during class meetings. Field trips will be scheduled soon, and should occur late in the semester. More information will be given prior to the trip.

Note taking - Recording of lectures in lieu of attendance is permitted only with prior approval, which is only granted for extreme hardship cases. The instructor does not loan notes. Absent students must obtain notes from other students. It is a good idea to make arrangements for missed notes before an absence occurs. If a point is missed during a lecture, query the instructor; do not interfere with other students' note taking. It is not a good idea to attempt taking notes by highlighting in the textbooks.

Studying - Students are urged to keep up with the reading assignments and appropriate study to avoid being snowed under trying to cram for exams and quizzes. Being unprepared for class fosters a poor opinion of a student's ability by all concerned. For average students, most experts recommend at least two hours of study for each hour of class time. Exceptional students should do more. Also, in studying the text, pay particular attention to the illustrations. It is a good idea to practice sketching illustrations of key concepts until they can be accurately reproduced quickly and completely. This is an essential skill for all geology students.

Attendance - University policy will apply. Please consult the student handbook. Students are expected to attend all class meetings, to arrive at class on time, and not to leave class before dismissal. No attendance grade is given, but it should be expected that missing lectures or other class functions will result in missed information that is critical to good performance.

Discipline - Cheating and other forms of scholastic dishonesty will not be tolerated. A student may suffer penalty for such breaches ranging from loss of credit on assignment in question to dismissal from the course as appropriate to the infraction. (See TCU Academic Misconduct policy below).

Disabilities Statement - Texas Christian University complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 regarding students with disabilities. Eligible students seeking accommodations should contact the Coordinator of Student Disabilities Services in the Center for Academic Services located in Sadler Hall, 1010. Accommodations are not retroactive, therefore, students should contact the Coordinator as soon as possible in the term for which they are seeking accommodations. Further information can be obtained from the Center for Academic Services, TCU Box 297710, Fort Worth, TX 76129, or at (817) 257-6567.

Adequate time must be allowed to arrange accommodations and accommodations are not retroactive; therefore, students should contact the Coordinator as soon as possible in the academic term for which they are seeking accommodations. Each eligible student is responsible for presenting relevant, verifiable, professional documentation and/or assessment reports to the Coordinator. Guidelines for documentation may be found at

Students with emergency medical information or needing special arrangements in case a building must be evacuated should discuss this information with their instructor/professor as soon as possible.

Academic Misconduct (Sec. 3.4 from the Student Handbook) –Any act that violates the academic integrity of the institution is considered academic misconduct. The procedures used to resolve suspected acts of academic misconduct are available in the offices of Academic Deans and the Office of Campus Life and are listed in detail in the Undergraduate Catalog (Student Policies>Academic Conduct Policy Details; Specific examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Cheating: Copying from another student’s test paper, laboratory report, other report, or computer files and listings; using, during any academic exercise, material and/or devices not authorized by the person in charge of the test; collaborating with or seeking aid from another student during a test or laboratory without permission; knowingly using, buying, selling, stealing, transporting, or soliciting in its entirety or in part, the contents of a test or other assignment unauthorized for release; substituting for another student or permitting another student to substitute for oneself.

  • Plagiarism: The appropriation, theft, purchase or obtaining by any means another’s work, and the unacknowledged submission or incorporation of that work as one’s own offered for credit. Appropriation includes the quoting or paraphrasing of another’s work without giving credit therefore.  (If you are using Turnitin place information about your course id and password so students can create and/or join your Turnitin account. If you only want to use Turnitin as a spot check please indicate in your syllabus that you may use Turnitin for plagiarism detection.)

  • Collusion: The unauthorized collaboration with another in preparing work offered for credit.

Netiquette: Communication Courtesy Code - All members of the class are expected to follow rules of common courtesy in all email messages, threaded discussions and chats.  If I deem any of them to be inappropriate or offensive, I will forward the message to the Chair of the department and the online administrators and appropriate action will be taken, not excluding expulsion from the course. The same rules apply online as they do in person.  Be respectful of other students.  Foul discourse will not be tolerated.  Please take a moment and read the following link concerning "netiquette".

Participating in the virtual realm, including social media sites and shared-access sites sometimes used for educational collaborations, should be done with honor and integrity:

TCU Campus Resources for Students

**TCU Campus Resources for Students: Many resources exist on the TCU campus that may be helpful to students: Mary Couts Burnet Library (257-7117); Center for Academic Services (257-7486, Sadler Hall. 11); the William L. Adams Writing Center (257-7221, Rickel Bldg. 244); Student Development Services (257-7855, BLUU 2003); and Office of Religious & Spiritual Life (257-7830, Jarvis Hall).

**Email Notification: Only the official TCU student email address will be used for all course notification. It is your responsibility to check your TCU email on a regular basis.


Course Schedule

Week 1

Introduction (Sequence Stratigraphy within the context of all stratigraphy, History of Sequence Stratigraphy)

Weeks 2 and 3

Overview of Sequence Stratigraphic principles and Sequence Stratigraphy in seismic data

Project (s): Basic principles and application of Sequence Stratigraphy in seismic data formats (due in two weeks)

Weeks 4-7

Surfaces in Sequence Stratigraphy and review of facies concepts and depositional systems with a Sequence Stratigraphy slant.

Project(s): Application of Sequence Stratigraphy in outcrops and/or core data (due in two weeks).

Introduction of quest assignment for graduate students (due at end of semester or earlier date if appropriate to the assignment).

Introduction of literature assignment (due at end of semester or earlier date if appropriate to the assignment).

Weeks 5-8

Architectural Element Analysis as a source of increased resolution

Project(s): Sequence Stratigraphy with Architectural Element Analysis assignment in core, outcrop, and/or seismic data format (due in two weeks).

Weeks 9-11

Borehole expression of sequences and overview of subsurface stratigraphic techniques.

Project(s): Sequence Stratigraphy and/or Architectural Element Analysis in geophysical logs (due in two weeks).

Weeks 12-15

Fundamental concepts of Sequence Stratigraphy

Exam: Exam over weeks 12-15 during finals week.


TCU Mission Statement

To educate individuals to think and act as ethical leaders and responsible citizens in the global community


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