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Academic year
Didactic period
Secondo Semestre

Training objectives

Students of the course will understand stratigraphic classifications and methodologies for analysis of sedimentary successions. At the end, they will understand global tectonic processes and the controls they exert on the evolution of sedimentary basins.


Basic knowledge of geology and sedimentology

Course programme

This course of 56 hours in total, divided into 32 theoretical hours and 24 laboratory analyzes different methods of classification of the sedimentary succession, within a path that takes into account the evolution of the scientific thought applied to the Earth Sciences. Students will learn the techniques and methodologies for the analysis of sedimentary bodies and the infilling of sedimentary basins through Integrated stratigraphy methods.
In summary the topics will be:

Story of Stratigraphy. The evolution of scientific thought from Steno to the modern stratigraphy. The principles of Steno: Original Horizontality, Superposition, Lateral Continuity. The Cross Cutting Relationships, Inclusions and Faunal Succession. Relative dating and the building of the Geological Time Scale.

Principle of stratigraphic classification: the International Commission of Stratigraphy (ICS) and the Italian Commission of Stratigraphy. The ICS Stratigraphic Guide. Lithostratigraphic units: definition, classification and hierachy. The Italian database of formal and informal Formations. Biostratigraphic units: definition and classification. FAD and LAD, FO and LO; Biostratigraphic correlations. Unconformity-bounded units, the meaning of unconformities and significant discontinuities in the stratigraphic succession. Magnetostratigraphic polarity units. Chronostratigraphic units, GSSP. The Time Scale. Geochronology and dating methods.

Chemostratigraphy: stable isotopes (O, C, Corg, S and Sr). d notation, methods of sampling and correlations.

Subsurface analysis: geophysical tools and kind of resolution with different methods. Seismic, gravimetry, different geophysical logs. Seismic acquisition and processing. The seismic stratigraphy. Interpretation of Seismic Lines.

Sequence Stratigraphy: Introduction and history of the discipline. Eustasy and tectonics, Definition of base level and accommodation; Surfaces generated during changes in base level; Time significance of sequence stratigraphic surfaces; Sequence Stratigraphic Units. Systems tracts: Transgressive systems tract, Highstand systems tract, Lowstand systems tract, Falling stage systems tract; Parasequences. Sequence Hierarchies. Criteria for ranking sequence boundaries. Sequence stratigraphy in Carbonates, siliciclastics and mixed depositional systems from continental to deep sea setting.

Basin Analysis: Definition of sedimentary basin and mechanism of basin forming. Different classification systems. Plate tectonic and basins position. Mechanisms of subsidence and peculiar trajectories for differnt basins. Geohistory analysis

Didactic methods

Lectures, mainly carried out with the aid of on-screen presentations. During the lessons, students are regularly surveyed to verify the understanding of the topics and to discuss the implications of what was presented .

Practical training on the interpretation of seismic lines and stratigraphic correlation of logs.

At the end of the course will be organized an excursion of three days on the Dolomites to test the stratigraphic procedure in the field.

Learning assessment procedures

The exam can be divided into two parts :

1 ) written exam (3h), at the end of the course, consisting of a interpretation and discussion of one or more seismic profiles;

2 ) oral examination, consisting of at least three questions on the topics presented during the course.

The vote, out of thirty, is the average of the written exam (seismic profile) and the oral part.

If a student can not take the written test, the part in question, will be asked during the oral session.

Reference texts

Allen, P.A.., and Allen, J., 1990, Basin Analysis: Blackwell Science, Cambridge, Mass., 451 p.
Busby, C.J., and Ingersoll, R.V., eds., 1995, Tectonics of sedimentary basins: Blackwell Science, Cambridge, Mass., 579 p.
Catuneanu, O., 2006. Principles of Sequence Stratigraphy. Elsevier, Amsterdam, 375 pp.
Emery D., Myers K.J., (1996). Sequence Stratigraphy. Blackwell Science.
Miall, A. D., 1997. The geology of stratigraphic sequences: Springer-Verlag, Berlin, 433 p.
Miall, A.D., 2000, Principles of sedimentary basin analysis: Springer, New York, USA, 616 p
Schlager, W. 2005. Carbonate Sedimentology and Sequence Stratigraphy. SEPM Concepts in Sedimentology and Paleontology, 200 pp.
Prothero D. and Schwab F., 2012. Sedimentary Geology: An Introduction to Sedimentary Rocks and Stratigraphy, 3rd ed., W.H. Freeman.