Using numerical models to teach sequence stratigraphic principles and the nature of the stratigraphic record

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Sequence stratigraphy has become a central topic for sedimentology and stratigraphy. While outcrop studies are an important part of introducing sequence stratigraphic concepts to students, computer models go beyond the mostly descriptive approach in that they can be used to evaluate the importance of different factors leading to stratigraphic change (e.g., changes in sea level, sedimentation rates, etc). Students can use a combination of a stratigraphic simulation package (STRATA) and an evolutionary random branching model (BIOSTRAT) to simulate stratigraphic sequences and their bounding unconformities across a basin and the stratigraphic distribution of species within these sequences. Students can explore processes responsible for forming stratigraphic sequences, assess the relative importance of globa sea-level fluctuations in unconformity generation, and investigate the underlying causes for the stratigraphic distribution of different species. Furthermore, students can use the simulated data set to perform graphic correlation in order to study how stratigraphic correlation is impacted by correlations across facies changes and important sequence stratigraphic surfaces (i.e., flooding surfaces, unconformities, etc).

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Journal of Geoscience Education

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