N155 Introduction to Clastic Depositional Systems: a Petroleum Perspective

Course Facts

Course Code:
5 days
4.0 Continuing Education Units
40 Professional Development Hours
Certificate Issued Upon Completion


This course examines and differentiates the main clastic depositional systems in a pragmatic way from a petroleum perspective. Exploration, basin-scale aspects of the depositional systems are addressed, and the key development and reservoir scale issues are reviewed in this context. Subsurface expression of the systems is reviewed, using seismic, well log and core data. The overall aims of the course are to provide a basic overview of clastic depositional systems and an awareness of current trends in subsurface analysis.

Duration and Training Method

A five-day classroom course (with a core workshop session where facilities allow). Classwork will comprise lectures and practical exercises using a variety of data types.

Participants will learn to:

  1. Apply seismic, well log and core data to characterise sandstone reservoirs in a range of depositional systems that are commonly encountered in hydrocarbon exploration and development.
  2. Apply appropriate correlation strategies to the deposits of different depositional systems.
  3. Interpret the deposits of alluvial depositional systems in terms of their sandstone body characteristics, dimensions and architecture, and understand the importance of palaeosols in subsurface analysis.
  4. Differentiate the deposits of wave- and tidal-processes in shoreline-shelf depositional systems and be able to predict reservoir presence and understand reservoir heterogeneities in the sandstone bodies.
  5. Interpret the deposits of deltaic depositional systems, appreciate the differences between shelf- and shelf-edge deltas and the importance of incised valleys in the stratigraphy of deltaic deposits.
  6. Analyse the deposits of deepwater depositional systems with particular emphasis on correlation strategy and the seismic expression of deepwater elements.
  7. Use sequence stratigraphy in the interpretation and prediction of different depositional systems.

The principal clastic depositional systems that form commercial prospects, fluvial, aeolian, shoreline, deltaic, and deepwater, will be reviewed. Each system will be studied independently from basic principles through to specific hydrocarbon issues, and linkages between systems will be emphasized. Evidence from modern depositional settings, surface exposures and subsurface data will be used to develop an in-depth introduction to the petroleum potential of the major clastic depositional systems. Strategies for the use of these data sets in characterising and correlating the deposits of different depositional systems emerge from the discussions.

In the SE Asia-based version of this course, exercises and discussions will draw on exploration and production aspects relevant to this region. Concepts and applications will include examples of sedimentary basins, petroleum systems and hydrocarbon accumulations from SE Asia.

Day 1:

  • Why sedimentology is important
  • Introduction to sedimentary basins

Day 2: Continental Depositional Systems
a. Fluvial/Alluvial

  • What are fluvial systems
  • Process and bedforms
  • Alluvial fans
  • Distributary fluvial systems and their deposits
  • Subsurface characterisation of fluvial deposits
  • Correlation strategies in fluvial deposits
  • Stratigraphic architecture of fluvial
  • Reservoir aspects

Exercises on architecture, sand body connectivity and correlation of alluvial deposits

b. Aeolian

  • What are aeolian systems
  • Types of aeolian system
  • Processes and bedforms in aeolian systems
  • Subsurface characterisation
  • Correlation strategies
  • Stratigraphic architecture
  • Reservoir aspects

Days 3 and 4: Shallow Marine/Paralic Depositional Systems

  • What are shallow marine/paralic systems
  • Progradational versus transgressive systems
  • Wave dominated shorelines
  • Tide dominated shorelines
  • Fluvial dominated shorelines
  • Sequence stratigraphy
  • Reservoir aspects

Well log exercises in the correlation of parasequences
Seismic based exercise on shelf edge stratigraphy - understanding clinoforms

Day 5: Deep Marine Systems

  • Deepwater settings
  • Deepwater processes
  • Basic deepwater deposits
  • Debrites, linked debrites and hybrid beds
  • Sequence stratigraphy of deepwater systems
  • Deepwater architectural elements
  • Mass transport complexes
  • Slope channel and canyon complexes
  • Unconfined elements
  • Facies models for unconfined systems
  • Confined systems

Seismic based exercise on sequence stratigraphy, seismic facies and deepwater elements. A core workshop session examining a range of depositional systems will be included where facilities are available.

Who should attend

The course is designed for geosceintists seeking an up-to-date introduction or review of clastic depositional systems from a petroleum perspective. It is particularly appropriate for early career geoscientists wishing to gain a broad appreciation of the potential of clastic depositional systems and their analysis in the subsurface.

Prerequisites and linking courses

There are no prerequisite courses. At Basic Application Competence Level this course links well with the fieldclass N156 (Clastic Depositional Systems in a Basinal Framework: Exploration and Reservoir Implications). Geoscientists can expand on the lessons learnt on this class on a wide-range of field and classroom Clastics courses, at both Basic and Skilled Application Levels.


Click on a name to learn more about the instructor

Adrian Hartley

John Howell

Howard Johnson

Related Subjects

I have not studied Clastics since I was an undergraduate. This provided a much needed refresher and introduced lots of recent developments in the science. I appreciated the thorough referencing of course material enabling further reading back in the office.