GEOL243-19S1 (C) Semester One 2019

Depositional Environments and Stratigraphy

15 points

Start Date: Monday, 18 February 2019
End Date: Sunday, 23 June 2019
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Friday, 1 March 2019
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Friday, 10 May 2019


This course focuses on modern sedimentary environments, oceanography and marine organisms as a key to interpreting depositional environments, and the techniques and approaches that allow geologist to deal with geological time. The fundamental underpinning is stratigraphy, and using sedimentary features and fossils as palaeoenvironment indicators, with particular attention paid to New Zealand examples.

This course focusses on sedimentology and stratigraphy. The fundamental underpinning is stratigraphy, the study of the layers of sedimentary rocks in the Earth’s crust, as a record of Earth’s changing landscapes, depositional environments, and climates through time.  Modern sedimentary environments are used as a key to interpreting the past, as are the techniques and approaches that allow geologists to deal with geologic time. The course opens with lectures and laboratory classes that introduce the principles of fluid flow, sediment transport, and sedimentary depositional environments and how these processes affect the texture and composition of sedimentary rocks. The course then moves on to carbonate sedimentology and oceanography, and the interpretation of carbonate environments. The interaction of biota with substrates is introduced with trace fossils and the preservation potential of different fossil groups. Students will learn how sedimentary features, along with fossils, are used to interpret past environments in Earth’s history.

The topics coved by this course are:
• Sediment transport processes and sedimentary textures
• Terrestrial and marine depositional environments
• Clastic and Carbonate sedimentology
• Basic principles of oceanography
• Use of microfossils in stratigraphy, and modern and ancient environment analysis
• Trace fossils in marine environments
• Sequence-, litho- and biostratigraphy.

Learning Outcomes

  • Goal of the Course - For students to be able to describe siliciclastic and carbonate sedimentary rocks and interpret depositional environments, then to apply these interpretations to understanding stratigraphic successions.

    Learning Outcomes -  Students will:
  • Have developed an understanding of sedimentary processes occurring at the surface of the Earth.
  • Be able to classify and identify common sedimentary rocks in both hand specimen and under the microscope.  
  • Be able to use sedimentary and biofacies analysis to interpret ancient environments and to reconstruct palaeogeography.
  • Be able to interpret and correlate stratigraphic columns from a variety of data.
  • Be able to recognise and utilise important fossil groups used in NZ Cenozoic environmental interpretation.
    • University Graduate Attributes

      This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attributes specified below:

      Critically competent in a core academic discipline of their award

      Students know and can critically evaluate and, where applicable, apply this knowledge to topics/issues within their majoring subject.

      Employable, innovative and enterprising

      Students will develop key skills and attributes sought by employers that can be used in a range of applications.

      Globally aware

      Students will comprehend the influence of global conditions on their discipline and will be competent in engaging with global and multi-cultural contexts.


(1) GEOL111, and (2) GEOL113 or GEOL115

Timetable Note

Lectures - 3 lectures per week:     TBA by central timetabling
Laboratories - 1 lab (2.5 hour) per week –  TBA by central timetabling
Field Trips – 2 field trips will take place in the 1st term during scheduled lab times

Course Coordinator

For further information see School of Earth and Environment Head of Department


Assessment Due Date Percentage  Description
Laboratory Assessment 10% Lab Exercises
Laboratory Assessment 20% Written facies exercise
Laboratory Assessment 20% Laboratory test
Final Examination 50% Final Examination

Assessment name Weighting Due date (if known)
In lab exercises 10% Throughout semester
Written exercise 20% 1st term (TBA)
Lab test 20% 2nd term (TBA)

Textbooks / Resources

Textbooks are available on reserve in the library or for purchase from the Bookshop or web sites (i.e. Amazon).  Students need not own all texts but will be expected to read from all.

Principles of Sedimentology and Stratigraphy, 5th edition, Sam Boggs, Jr., 2011
Introduction to Palaeobiology and the Fossil Record Benton and Harper 2010.
Facies Models 4, Geol. Assoc. of Canada, Series GEOtext 6, N.P. James & R.W. Dalrymple  2010


Prerequisites: GEOL111 and either GEOL113 or GEOL115. Other relevant courses may substitute for GEOL 113 / GEOL115, to be considered on a case by case basis.  Please contact the course coordinator to discuss the option.

Additional Course Outline Information

Academic integrity


Marks and Grades
The Department of Geological Sciences uses the following scale to convert marks into grades:
100 – 90 A+ 75 – 79 B+ 60 – 64 C+
89 – 85 A 70 – 74 B 55 – 59 C
84 – 80 A- 65 – 69 B- 50 – 54 C-
Below 50 D/E

The Department of Geological Sciences reserves the right to adjust this mark/grade conversion, when deemed necessary.

Late Work
It is the policy for this course that late work is not accepted. Or, late work should be accompanied with a detailed explanation of why the work is late.  The work will be marked and marks will be subtracted for each day the work is late.  Days late include week-end and holidays.  

Academic Liaison
Alex Nichols (room 321,, phone (03) 364 2987 ext 94410) is in charge of liaison with students in geology courses.  Each year level will appoint a student representative(s) to the liaison committee at the start of the semester.  Please feel free to talk to the Academic Liaison or the student rep about any problems or concerns that you might have.

Students with Disabilities
Students with disabilities should speak with someone at Disability Resource Service. Their office is on Level 2 of the Puaka-James Hight Building (Central Library). Phone: +64 3 369 3334 or ext 93334, email:

Policy on Dishonest Practice
Plagiarism, collusion, copying and ghost writing are unacceptable and dishonest practices.
• Plagiarism is the presentation of any material (text, data, figures or drawings, on any medium including computer files) from any other source without clear and adequate acknowledgement of the source.
• Collusion is the presentation of work performed in conjunction with another person or persons, but submitted as if it has been completed only by the names author(s).  
• Copying is the use of material (in any medium, including computer files) produced by another person(s) with or without their knowledge and approval.
• Ghost writing is the use of another person(s) (with or without payment) to prepare all or part of an item submitted for assessment.  

In cases where dishonest practice is involved in tests or other work submitted for credit, the student will be referred to the University Proctor.  The instructor may choose to not mark the work.  

Reconsideration of Grades
Students should, in the first instance, speak to the course co-ordinator about their marks.  If they cannot reach an agreeable solution, students should then speak to the Head of the Geological Sciences Department. Students can appeal any decision made on their final grade.  You can apply at the Registry to appeal the final grade within 4 weeks of the end of the semester.  Be aware that there are time limits for each step of the appeals process.  

Special Considerations Applications
If you feel that illness, injury, bereavement or other critical circumstances has prevented you from completing an item of assessment or affected your performance, you should complete a Special Considerations application form, available from the Registry or the Student Health and Counselling Service.  This should be within five days of the due date for the required work or the date of the examination.  In the case of illness or injury, medical consultation should normally have taken place shortly before or within 24 hours after the due date for the required work, or the date of the test or examination.  For further details on Special Consideration applications, please refer to the Enrolment Handbook or visit  You have the right to appeal any decision made, including Special Considerations decisions.  

Missing of Tests
In rare cases a student will not be able to sit a test.  In such cases, the student should consult with the course co-ordinator to the Head of the Department of Geological Sciences to arrange alternative procedures.   This must be done well in advance of the set date for the test.

Summary of the Course Content

The topics coved by this course are:
•  Sediment transport processes and sedimentary textures
•  Terrestrial and marine depositional environments
•  Clastic and Carbonate sedimentology
•  Basic principles of oceanography
•  Use of microfossils in stratigraphy, and modern and ancient environment analysis
•  Trace fossils in marine environments
•  Sequence-, litho- and biostratigraphy.

Lecture / Laboratory timetable (minor revisions may occur prior to start of lectures)

Week #  -  Dates  -  Lectures (3 x 1 hr)  -  Lecturer  -  Laboratory (1 x 2.5 hr)

9  -  20 Feb  -  Introduction stratigraphy and lithostratigraphy  -  KNB  -  Lithostratigraphy ex
10  -  27th Feb  -  Sedimentary framework  -  KNB  -  Clastic sedimentary rock textures
11  -  6th March  -  Sediment transport processes and textures  -  KNB  -  Sedimentary structures/flume
12  -  13th March  -  Sediment transport processes and textures  -   KNB  -  Braided river field trip
13  -  20th March  -  Terrestrial depositional settings -  KNB  -  Estuary/beach field trip
14  -  27th March  -  Submarine depositional settings  -  KNB  -  Clastic sedimentary rock compositions
15  -  3rd April  -  Carbonates  -  CMR  -  Carbonates I
19  -  1st May  -  Carbonates   -  CMR  -  Carbonates II
20  -  8th May  -  Oceanography and phosphorites   -  CMR  -  Carbonates III
21  -  15th May  -  Micropaleontology and trace fossils -  CMR  -  LAB TEST
22  -  22nd May  -  Taphonomy and Zealandia  -  CMR  -  Trace fossils and macrofossils
23  -  29th May  -  Sequence- and biostratigraphy  -  CMR  -  Stratigraphic correlation exercise

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $883.00

International fee $4,000.00

* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, and do not include any programme level discount or additional course-related expenses.

Minimum enrolments

This course will not be offered if fewer than 30 people apply to enrol.

For further information see School of Earth and Environment .

All GEOL243 Occurrences

  • GEOL243-19S1 (C) Semester One 2019