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Abstract

One of the principal tasks of the geologist is to determine the depositional environments in which rocks are deposited. Although regional environmental interpretations of transgressions and regressions, movements of shoreline, and gross aspects of continental and marine sedimentation have been understood since stratigraphy became an established branch of geology, only during the last fifteen years has the science of sedimentology come up with criteria for environmental recognition of specific outcrops, wells, or even hand samples. Equipped with a knowledge of these new criteria, the geologist is in a position to assemble a detailed picture of environmental changes on a local as well as regional level and to break down details of these changes at a level of sophistication that could barely have been predicted some thirty years ago. This observation is especially true of carbonate rocks.

Some fifteen years ago carbonate rocks were described in such vague terms as “limestone, gray, fossiliferous,” or “limestone, dolomitic.” No valid and sound criteria existed for good environmental interpretation. This is a long way from the sophisticated approach of today. The credit for this breakthrough and rapid advance belongs to the initiative of the American oil industry. Without it, progress would have been slow. The geologists working in the research laboratories of the major oil companies are truly the fathers of the science of carbonate sedimentology. The profession owes a debt of gratitude to the major companies for pioneering in this area and for making this information available through the medium of publication to

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