Model-independent Sequence Stratigraphy

American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
Professor Octavian Catuneanu Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Alberta

Octavian Catuneanu
Octavian Catuneanu
The interplay of local and global controls on accommodation and sediment supply generates basin-specific sequence stratigraphic frameworks that record cyclicity at multiple scales. A scale-independent approach to methodology and nomenclature is key to the standard application of sequence stratigraphy. There are parameters that vary with the case study, including the types of data available, the resolution of the data available, and the local conditions of accommodation and sediment supply. A standard methodology and nomenclature must remain independent of these variables, and rely on core principles that underlie the application of all alternative models.

Stratal stacking patterns provide the basis for the definition of all units and surfaces of sequence stratigraphy. The same types of stratal stacking pattern may be observed at different scales, in relation to stratigraphic cycles of different magnitudes. Sequences, as well as component systems tracts and depositional systems, can be defined at different scales, depending on the scope of the study and/or the resolution of the data available. There are no temporal or physical standards for the scale of any type of sequence stratigraphic unit; therefore, the sequence stratigraphic methodology and nomenclature must remain independent of scale, and be consistent at all scales. At any scale of observation (i.e., hierarchical rank), stratal stacking patterns define systems tracts, and changes in stacking pattern mark the position of sequence stratigraphic surfaces. Beyond this model-independent framework, model-dependent choices with respect to the selection of the 'sequence boundary' may be made as a function of the mappability of the various types of sequence stratigraphic surface that are present within the studied section.


Octavian Catuneanu is Professor in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Alberta, with Ph.D. degrees from the University of Toronto (1996) and the University of Bucharest (1992). He is the recipient of several distinctions in the field of Geology, including the W.W. Hutchison medal of the Geological Association of Canada for exceptional advances in earth science research (2010), andbest paper awards from the European Association of Geoscientists and Engineers (2014), Geological Society of America (2002), and the RomanianAcademy (1994). Octavian served as Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Marine and Petroleum Geology (2007-2016), and is a member of the editorial board of other journals in North America, Europe and Africa. He is the editor of several books and special issues, and author of numerous publications in the fields of sedimentology, stratigraphy and basin analysis. He is currently involved in several international research programs and as an instructor of sequence stratigraphy and related disciplines for conferences and companies worldwide. His textbook “Principles of Sequence Stratigraphy” (Elsevier, 2006) received a 2007 “Outstanding Academic Title” CHOICE Award from the American Library Association, and remains a best-selling title.

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