Sedimentary basin analysis
Sedimentary basin analysis is a geologic method by which the history of a sedimentary basin
Sedimentary basin
The term sedimentary basin is used to refer to any geographical feature exhibiting subsidence and consequent infilling by sedimentation. As the sediments are buried, they are subjected to increasing pressure and begin the process of lithification...

 is revealed, by analyzing the sediment
Sediment is naturally occurring material that is broken down by processes of weathering and erosion, and is subsequently transported by the action of fluids such as wind, water, or ice, and/or by the force of gravity acting on the particle itself....

 fill itself. Aspects of the sediment, namely its composition, primary structures, and internal architecture, can be synthesized into a history of the basin fill. Such a synthesis can reveal how the basin formed, how the sediment fill was transported
Sediment transport
Sediment transport is the movement of solid particles , typically due to a combination of the force of gravity acting on the sediment, and/or the movement of the fluid in which the sediment is entrained...

 or precipitated, and reveal sources of the sediment fill. From such syntheses models can be developed to explain broad basin formation mechanisms. Examples of such basinal environments include backarc, forearc
A forearc or forarc, also called arc-trench gap is a depression in the sea floor located between a subduction zone and an associated volcanic arc. It is typically filled with sediments from the adjacent landmass and the island arc in addition to trapped oceanic crustal material...

, passive margin
Passive margin
A passive margin is the transition between oceanic and continental crust which is not an active plate margin. It is constructed by sedimentation above an ancient rift, now marked by transitional crust. Continental rifting creates new ocean basins. Eventually the continental rift forms a mid-oceanic...

, epicontinental, and extensional
In philosophy of language, a context in which a sub-sentential expression e appears is called extensional if and only if e can be replaced by an expression with the same extension and necessarily preserve truth-value. The extension of a term is the set of objects that that term denotes.Take the...


Sedimentary basin analysis is largely conducted by two types of geologist
A geologist is a scientist who studies the solid and liquid matter that constitutes the Earth as well as the processes and history that has shaped it. Geologists usually engage in studying geology. Geologists, studying more of an applied science than a theoretical one, must approach Geology using...

s who have slightly different goals and approaches. The petroleum geologist
Petroleum geology
Petroleum geology refers to the specific set of geological disciplines that are applied to the search for hydrocarbons .-Sedimentary basin analysis:...

, whose the ultimate goal is to determine the possible presence and extent of hydrocarbon
In organic chemistry, a hydrocarbon is an organic compound consisting entirely of hydrogen and carbon. Hydrocarbons from which one hydrogen atom has been removed are functional groups, called hydrocarbyls....

s and hydrocarbon-bearing rocks in a basin, and the academic geologist, who may be concerned with any or all facets of a basin's evolution. Petroleum industry
Petroleum industry
The petroleum industry includes the global processes of exploration, extraction, refining, transporting , and marketing petroleum products. The largest volume products of the industry are fuel oil and gasoline...

 basin analysis is often conducted on subterranean basins through the use of reflection seismology
Reflection seismology
Reflection seismology is a method of exploration geophysics that uses the principles of seismology to estimate the properties of the Earth's subsurface from reflected seismic waves. The method requires a controlled seismic source of energy, such as dynamite/Tovex, a specialized air gun or a...

 and data from well logging
Well logging
Well logging, also known as borehole logging is the practice of making a detailed record of the geologic formations penetrated by a borehole. The log may be based either on visual inspection of samples brought to the surface or on physical measurements made by instruments lowered into the hole...

. Academic geologists study subterranean basins as well as those basins which have been exhumed and dissected by subsequent tectonic events. Thus academics sometimes use petroleum industry techniques, but in many cases they are able to study rocks at the surface. Techniques used to study surficial sedimentary rocks include: measuring stratigraphic sections, identifying sedimentary depositional environment
Sedimentary depositional environment
In geology, sedimentary depositional environment describes the combination of physical, chemical and biological processes associated with the deposition of a particular type of sediment and, therefore, the rock types that will be formed after lithification, if the sediment is preserved in the rock...

s and constructing a geologic map
Geologic map
A geologic map or geological map is a special-purpose map made to show geological features. Rock units or geologic strata are shown by color or symbols to indicate where they are exposed at the surface...


An important tool in sedimentary basin analysis is sequence stratigraphy
Sequence stratigraphy
Sequence stratigraphy is a branch of geology that attempts to subdivide and link sedimentary deposits into unconformity bound units on a variety of scales and explain these stratigraphic units in terms of variations in sediment supply and variations in the rate of change in accommodation space...

, in which various sedimentary sequences are related to pervasive changes in sea level and sediment supply.
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