GEOL243-23S1 (C) Semester One 2023

Depositional Environments and Stratigraphy

15 points

Start Date: Monday, 20 February 2023
End Date: Sunday, 25 June 2023
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 5 March 2023
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Sunday, 14 May 2023


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 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 and how landscapes change through time.

    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.


GEOL111 and any 15 points at 100 level from GEOL.

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

Kari Bassett


Catherine Reid


Assessment Due Date Percentage  Description
Lab Exercises ((throughout semester) 15%
Written Exercises (1st term - dates to be advised) 15%
Lab Test (2nd term - date to be advised) 20%
Final Examination 50% Final Examination

Textbooks / Resources

Recommended Reading

Benton, M. J. , Harper, D. A. T; Introduction to paleobiology and the fossil record ; Wiley-Blackwell, 2009.

Boggs, Sam; Principles of sedimentology and stratigraphy ; 5th ed; Pearson Prentice Hall, 2012.

Dalrymple, Robert W. , James, Noel P., Geological Association of Canada; Facies models 4 ; Geological Association of Canada, 2010.

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.


GEOL243 is a required core course for the geology major.

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

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $951.00

International fee $4,750.00

* 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

  • GEOL243-23S1 (C) Semester One 2023