Geoscientists examining the Upper Ferron Sandstone, east-central Utah.  Photo courtesy of James Garrison Geoscientists examining the Upper Ferron Sandstone, east-central Utah. Photo courtesy of James Garrison

Sedimentology studies sand, mud (or silt) and clay, and the various ways they are deposited. Using these studies, sedimentologists apply their understanding of modern processes to ancient rock, to try to understand how it formed.

Most of the rocks on earth are sedimentary rocks, and it is in these kinds of rocks you find fossils and many of the other historical markers. Sedimentary rocks are also where petroleum deposits are found.

Sedimentology is tied to stratigraphy, which studies the relationships between rock layers and how they can shift and move. This also affects where petroleum deposits can be found, as well as how the extraction of petroleum affects the sediment around the deposit.