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Since Leonardo da Vinci made his first environmental analysis in the fifteenth century, geologists have become increasingly concerned with sedimentary environments. Accordingly, their methods for recognizing environments of deposition have become increasingly more sophisticated, and their determinations have become increasingly more precise.

The major types of criteria now conventionally used in recognizing sedimentary environments are the physical, chemical, and biological characteristics preserved in the sediment. These are features that may be determined from a single small outcrop or subsurface core. Where larger or multiple outcrops are available, or where numerous subsurface cores are on hand, criteria of a much larger order of magnitude—namely, the lateral and vertical facies relationships and the three-dimensional geometric framework of the strata—can be employed and greatly strengthens and broadens the environmental interpretation.

The papers of this volume cover most of the major sedimentary environments and identify for each the criteria which permit its recognition. Such information is important, not only in interpretation of the stratigraphic record, but also in exploration and production of the bulk of our natural resources, including oil and gas, mineral deposits, and underground water supplies. Knowledge of sedimentary environments is essential also, in engineering geology studies of numerous and diverse types.

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