Earths Sedimentary Rocks and Environments


This course includes theoretical and practical introduction to sedimentary environments, sedimentary processes and their recognition in the rock record by using the concept of facies. Theory is presented in the Lectures and then applied during Laboratories, which include a strong field component. The course also covers practical description and classification of sediments and sedimentary rocks through microscopy laboratories .

The topics of the course are organised to introduce Earth¿s sedimentary rocks and their environments of deposition in a logical progression:

1. familiarisation with the concept of facies and facies models and their practical applications;

2. familiarisation with sedimentary structures, how these relate to transport processes and their applications in sedimentary geology;

3. provision of an overview of the principles of stratigraphy;

4. introduction to the microscopic petrological description of sedimentary rocks.



  • Semester 2 - 2016

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of the course students will be able to:

1. Demonstrate an understanding of sedimentary rock properties such as composition, texture and structures, and a corresponding understanding of the depositional processes, the environments of deposition and the evolution through space and time of the depositional environments;

2. Demonstrate the capability to apply theories and concepts to the practical field observation and analytical tools to reconstruct, and predict, facies associations at surface and underground. That is: demonstrate the acquisition of fundamental professional skills of the geologist and environmental scientist;

3. Demonstrate the capability to critically discuss and evaluate theoretical concepts and ideas from sedimentary geology, sedimentary petrography and stratigraphy in written form;

4. Demonstrate the capability to support interpretations by sound analytical and observational data in written form;

5. Demonstrate the capability to write reports at an academically acceptable standard and the capability to support and elucidate written material with appropriate academically acceptable graphic illustrations; and

6. Demonstrate an understanding of the basic elements of working in a group and debating ideas in lecture and laboratory environments.


The objectives of the course are met by providing theoretical background on the controlling factors resulting in production, transport and deposition of detrital (siliciclastic) and biochemical (carbonates) sediments rocks and resultant sedimentary structures which are the basis of facies analysis and, ultimately, for the reconstruction of past depositional environments. In synthesis, the course covers:

  1. The concept of facies, facies models , facies associations and how these related to depositional environments, Walther's Law and Uniformitarianism.
  2. Facies Models for continental (Fluvial), transitional (Coastal, Deltaic, Estuarine) and marine (Shelf and Deep Water) depositional environments
  3. The role of climate and plate tectonics in the development of facies and facies associations, with focus on the Newcastle Coal Measures
  4. Application of the principles that the Present is the Key to the past in the interpretation of past environments from sedimentary rock properties.
  5. Provenance and transport processes of clastic sedimentary rocks and unconsolidated sediment
  6. Classification systems for sedimentary rocks
  7. Techniques for the characterisation of sedimentary rocks and unconsolidated sediments
  8. Presentation and interpretation of data from sedimentary grain populations
  9. Processes and facies of formation of carbonate rocks
  10. Diagenetic processes and features in sedimentary rocks

Field-based and and microscopy laboratories provide necessary link between theory and observation and interpretation of ancient and modern sedimentary environments,.

Assumed Knowledge

GEOS1040, GEOS1050, GEOS2170

Assessment Items

In Term Test: Examination: Class

In Term Test: Mid-term Q/A

Report: Reports *

* This assessment has a compulsory requirement.

Compulsory Requirements

In order to pass this course, each student must complete ALL of the following compulsory requirements:

General Course Requirements:

  • Laboratory: Induction Requirement - Students must attend and pass the induction requirements before attending these sessions. - In order to participate in this course, students must complete a compulsory fieldwork induction.

Course Assessment Requirements:

  • Report: Pass Requirement - Students must pass this assessment item to pass the course. - Students must obtain a passing grade of at least 50% overall in their laboratory (including field study) reports to pass the course.

Contact Hours


Field Study

Face to Face Off Campus 3 day(s) per Term


Face to Face On Campus 4 hour(s) per Week for Full Term

Laboratory hours include field study as required, and some lectures will be carried out in the field.


Face to Face On Campus 2 hour(s) per Week for Full Term