Sedimentary Rock: Geology's Time Capsule
Professor Jason Downs

This course is co-sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, located at 33rd and Spruce Streets, Philadelphia. The entrance for the course is at the east end of the building, next to the garage.

This course requires preregistration.

This course is full.

Add your name to the waitlist online here or call 215-763-6529 x23.


  1. Saturday, February 1, 2014

    Introduction; history of sedimentology and stratigraphy; the rock cycle; sediment origins (weathering)

  2. Saturday, February 8, 2014

    Sediment transport (erosion) and deposition: The basics of fluid physics.

  3. Saturday, February 15, 2014 CANCELLED DUE TO SNOW
  4. Saturday, February 22, 2014

    Sediment-scale textures (grain size, surface, sorting, shape); structures at the sedimentary rock scale (layering, ripples, load casts).

  5. Saturday, March 1, 2014

    Siliciclastic (or silicon-based) sedimentary rocks: formation and classification.

  6. Saturday, March 8, 2014

    Carbonate, biochemical (coal and oil-bearing rocks included) and evaporitic sedimentary rocks: formation and classification.

  7. Saturday, March 15, 2014

    Depositional environments (rivers, oceans, lakes, deserts, glaciers); facies model concept.

  8. Saturday, March 22, 2014

    Fundamental concepts of stratigraphy; lithostratigraphy and the naming of sedimentary rock units.

  9. Saturday, March 29, 2014

    Seismic, magneto-, bio- and chronostratigraphy; building the geological time scale.

Sedimentary rock is formed when mineral and organic particles (or sediment) are naturally cemented together. Because these rocks are the only ones to be built of accumulated components, they are the only rocks that trap the remains of past life (fossils). Because these rocks are the only ones to form at Earth’s surface, they serve a primary role in the study of ancient surface processes and ancient environments. Sedimentology is the scientific study of the classification, origin, and interpretation of sediments and sedimentary rocks. Stratigraphy is the science of studying the stratification (or layering) of sedimentary rocks. This course will communicate 1) the fundamental concepts behind sedimentology and stratigraphy, 2) the analysis and interpretation of modern and ancient environments of sediment desposition (rivers, lakes, oceans, deserts, glaciers), and 3) the applications of sedimentology and stratigraphy in environmental and economic pursuits.

Recommended reading:

Principles of Sedimentology and Stratigraphy, 5th Edition. By Sam Boggs Jr. Prentice Hall. 2011.


Geology and the Environment, 6th Edition. By Bernard W. Pipkin, Dee D. Trent, Richard Hazlett, Paul Bierman. Cengage Learning. 2010.




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