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An ongoing study utilizes outcrop-scale seismic data and lithofacies data from the Texas continental shelf to develop type sections or preliminary two dimensional depositional models that relate the distribution of sedimentary deposits to sequence stratigraphy. The approach examines the variability in the spatial and temporal distribution of systems tract deposits produced during the most recent glacial-eustatic cycle (the past 120,000 years). The current data base consists of nearly 20,000 kilometers of high-resolution seismic data (with vertical resolution of tens of centimeters to two meters) and lithologic data from hundreds of sediment cores and platform boring descriptions. Only with high resolution data can realistic depositional models be developed.

Detailed work has focused on several study areas (east Texas: Trinity/Sabine, east Texas: Brazos/Colorado, central Texas, and south Texas) that represent a range of depositional settings in terms of sediment supply, shelf gradient, climatic setting, and storm (wave) versus fluvial influence on sedimentation. On the east Texas shelf the transgressive and lowstand systems tracts contain most of the sand-prone deposits. On the central Texas shelf the sand-prone deposits are concentrated in the highstand systems tract. On the south Texas shelf the lowstand and transgressive systems tracts contain sand-prone deposits. Preliminary results suggest that observed trends in the stratigraphic occurrence of sand-prone units repeat themselves during successive glacial-eustatic cycles. This repetition is important because it indicates that these depositional patterns are predictable and therefore can be modeled.

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