CEG1603 : Introduction to the Sedimentary Record

Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0


Rocks record time and processes: the structure of different rock units and their composition provide you with an archive about the conditions that prevailed when the rocks were formed and about the events that happened after the formation of these rocks. In ISR, we will focus on how to decipher this information from the sedimentary record. To make such interpretations, you will use information collected at the surface of the Earth, in particular using geological maps and outcrop material. Students will be introduced to the physical, chemical, and biological processes typical of modern sedimentary depositional environments and be able to identify the geological products of these processes in terms of the textures, structures, and mineral composition in ancient sedimentary strata. Students will be able to interpret and predict the complex material, time, and space relationships of sedimentary strata as revealed by lithologic, fossil, relative time, radiometric, and geometric features preserved in the sedimentary record.

Outline Of Syllabus

This course introduces the concepts that are employed in the interpretation of the depositional environments of ancient sedimentary rocks. To give you the skills and knowledge necessary to use surface information to image the subsurface and reconstruct the geological history of an area, ISR builds on a combination of lectures, practical and field work, building on skills developed in the “Geological structures and mapping” and “Residential field course” modules. Lectures will introduce you to the basic principles of reconstructing ancient depositional environments, stratigraphy and structure. The lectures will be complemented with practicals using rock samples, maps and case studies which will illustrate the topics addressed during the lectures.

Lectures and tutorials (1 hour each).
Examples of subjects: Introduction to stratigraphy and mapping interpretation techniques, sediment textures (microscopic to outcrop to satellite scale), sediment transport – Physics of sedimentation, introduction to fluid dynamics, siliciclastic and carbonate rocks – modern and ancient environments, paleontology – significance of the fossil record, depositional environments (and sea level change), facies associations and sequence stratigraphy, sedimentary basins and fossil fuels

Practicals (2 hours each).
Classification and interpretation of modern and ancient sedimentary rocks (microscopy), sedimentary structures, case study integrating core observations (recognition of textures, interpretation of depositional environment, etc.) across a typical sedimentary basin.

2 one day field trips visiting key sedimentary sequences in the NE of England.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion14:004:00Thin section descriptions
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture171:0017:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion12:002:00Fluid dynamics
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion14:004:00Stratigraphy exercise
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion11:151:15Unseen written exam
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion170:308:30Revision for exam
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical52:0010:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching31:003:00Tutorial
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesFieldwork26:0012:00Field Notebook completed over two days fieldwork.
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study138:1538:15Includes background reading and reading lecture notes for a full understanding of material
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The field classes are used in the first week of the course to introduce students to observation and description of the characteristics of rocks and soils in the field.
Lectures are used to provide factual information and a guide to the syllabus and reading. This is reinforced by the use of case studies and problem solving in practical classes.
Practical classes are the primary opportunity to practice skills needed for the
use of the microscope and rock identification, and geological mapping, reinforcing material delivered in lectures through direct personal observation, and developing 4-dimensional thought.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination602A50Unseen written exam
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Practical/lab report2M25Field notebook containing observations & interpretations from 2 fieldwork days. Approx 8 pages
Written exercise2M5In class test (fluid dynamics). Approx 200 words
Written exercise2M10Thin section descriptions. Clastic and carbonate thin sections. Approx 400 words
Written exercise2M10Stratigraphy exercise. Stratigraphic column and answer sheet. Approx 400 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The practical report enables the students to use their practical skills to inform ideas taught in the practical's and lectures.
The written exercises enable the students to use the knowledge from the lectures, field trips and practicals to study a specific area in detail.
The exam tests the students understanding of knowledge delivered in the lectures.

Reading Lists