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Abstract

Up until now, this course has mainly focused on subsidence in sedimentary basins—how it occurs, and how it can be determined as a function of time over the history of a basin. The pattern of subsidence in time and space largely determines the gross geometry of time-bounded sedimentary units because it controls the rate at which space is created for sedimentation (accommodation potential). On a finer scale, however, the pattern of subsidence plays a major role in determining the distribution of facies types within the sedimentary fill of the basin. The relation between patterns of subsidence and the internal character of the sediments can be understood through the use of basin-filling models, which we will study in this section. Basin-filling modeling, along with a variety of other quantitative techniques, has recently been referred to as “quantitative dynamic stratigraphy”, which can be read about in a new book by the same name (Cross, 1990). The development and application of basin-filling models is a subdiscipline that is still in its infancy, so the emphasis in this section of the course will be on the principles underlying various approaches, how the models are constructed, and the kinds of things they tell us, rather than on specific case studies and standard techniques. Because the necessary mechanics are understood better for streams than for any other sedimentary system, much of our effort will focus on sedimentation in alluvial systems.

Given our present state of ignorance of many of the basic processes of basin

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