Sequence Stratigraphy Field Camp


Book Cliffs, Utah


Four semester credits

Dates: May 20 - June 8, 2025


Registration Deadline:December 31, 2024

Register online


Cost: $4, 895.00 Four Credits. Deposit $300 (required upon registration). Cost includes tuition, fees, food, lodging and transportation to field sites  from Salt Lake City. Cost does not include airfare to Salt Lake. Students will be picked up and dropped off at Salt Lake City Airport.


Important Dates:  Meeting details will be mailed to registered participants.



Introduction: The Book Cliffs, Utah have become the premier locality globally for field teaching of sequence stratigraphy.  Continuous, well-exposed and easily-accessible outcrops make it possible to analyze facies relationships of stratigraphic sequences in great detail, both in terms of lateral variation (systems tracts) and vertical stacking patterns (parasequences).  Most significant clastic depositional systems are represented, including meandering, braided, and anastomosed fluvial; fluvial- and wave-dominated deltas; transgressive and regressive shorefaces; tidally-dominated estuaries; and “deep-water” mudstones.  This makes the Book Cliffs an excellent classroom to study the interrelationship between eustatic and tectonic development of accommodation space and subsequent filling by clastic sediment.

The Book Cliffs region is often cited as an analog for subsurface exploration, particularly in foreland basins, and sequence stratigraphy has become one of the leading methods for correlating and mapping depositional packages, leading to significant discoveries of petroleum in fields that had been abandoned, as well as new discoveries.  To that end, this course is directly applicable to the exploration, characterization, simulation, and development of petroleum reservoirs.  Because of its impact on fluid migration and the importance of determining migratory paths for mineral-bearing solutions, groundwater flow, and tracing of contaminant migration, sequence stratigraphy is also becoming more widely applied to the fields of mining geology and hydrology.  This course gives participants an opportunity to view sequence stratigraphic features directly in outcrop, giving a better perspective when making similar interpretations based on cores, logs, and seismic sections.

Exercises include measurement of stratigraphic sections, drafting of stratigraphic columns, correlation of columns, creation of regional cross sections, development of detailed outcrop facies maps, logging core, and completion of formal reports and oral presentations.  Exercises become progressively more complex throughout the camp, with a final comprehensive/unifying project.

This course is designed as a capstone experience for junior- and senior-level undergraduate students majoring in geology, who have a basic understanding of depositional systems and stratigraphic principles but desire a stronger working knowledge of sequence stratigraphy through a hands-on field experience.  In addition to enhancing a student’s knowledge of sequence stratigraphy, this camp is designed to help the student develop solid critical thinking, problem solving, and communication skills, as well as proper application of the scientific method.

Course outcomes:

  •    Develop a strong, working understanding of concepts and principles associated with sequence stratigraphy (e.g. significant surfaces, systems tracts, stacking patterns, relationships between space production and filling).

  •    Examine and interpret vertical and lateral variations in stacked parasequences through recognition and analysis of facies and facies associations.

  •     Measure and correlate multiple sections within a single parasequence to illustrate the concept of a systems tract.

  •    Map individual parasequences along depositional dip to illustrate lateral facies changes from coastal plain fluvial environments through shoreface/deltaic systems to the basinward pinchout into marine deposits.

  •    Produce outcrop facies maps (architectural analyses) of full depositional sequences.

  •    Distinguish between auto- and allogenic depositional controls (base level, eustasy, tectonics, compaction, climate) in sequence development.

  •    Construct facies models for a variety of clastic depositional systems.

  •    Apply sequence stratigraphic concepts to both outcrop and core.

Use multiple-working hypotheses to demonstrate the possibility of more than one reasonable interpretation for the same succession

Prerequisites: Physical geology, historical geology, mineralogy, petrology, sedimentology, stratigraphy, and structural geology.  Exceptions considered.

Physical demands: Field work will involve mapping remote areas and will include daily hikes of considerable length in rugged terrain.

Climate: Weather in the Book Cliffs during the month of June is likely to be dry and hot, though thunder storms are not unusual.  Participants should be prepared for hot days (90 - 100° F / 32 - 38° C) and cool evenings (ave. 55° F / 13° C).

Facilities: Lodging will be in a motel in the town of Green River, Utah

Required equipment/supplies:  Hammer, hand lens, acid bottle, notebook, map case/covered clipboard, colored pencils, Brunton (or equivalent) compass, digital camera, and laptop with word processing (e.g. Word or Pages) and illustrating (e.g. PowerPoint or Keynote) software.  Clothing for working in hot/dry environments including wide-brimmed hat, long-sleeve shirts, long pants, sturdy boots, and appropriate socks.  A detailed equipment list will be provided before camp


Example of a progradational parasequence set forming a highstand systems tract in the upper part of the Blackhawk Formation and overlying Castlegate Sandstone.  Lateral facies changes in shoreface deposits can be seen from proximal (right) to distal (left).  Locality is the Beckwith Plateau at the mouth of Woodside Canyon, Utah.



Middle portion of a complete depositional sequence in the Star Point and Blackhawk Formations at Gentile Wash, Utah


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River-dominated deltaic deposits of the Panther Tongue Member, Star Point Formation north of Helper, Utah, deposited during a forced regression as part of a falling-stage/lowstand systems tract.



Wave-dominated deltaic deposits of the Kenilworth Member, Blackhawk Formation at Woodside Canyon, Utah, deposited during a highly progradational episode of a highstand systems tract.


Tidally-influenced estuarine (incised valley fill) deposits of the Aberdeen Member, Blackhawk Formation in Soldier Canyon, Utah, deposited during marine transgression following a forced regression.


Possible bypass channels feeding the Prairie Canyon Member, Blackhawk Formation.  Channels formed in offshore marine mudstones during a lowstand event, then back-filled with sediment during the subsequent base-level rise.


For more information contact:

Dr. William W. Little, Course Coordinator/Instructor

W.W. Little Geological Consulting, LLC

20 South 5000 West

Rexburg, Idaho 83447



Dr. Nuri Uzunlar

Director, Black Hills Natural Sciences Field Station 

Professor, Geology and Geological Engineering Department

South Dakota School of Mines and Technology

 Phone:  (605) 431-1275


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