Seismic and sequence stratigraphic analyses are important methodologies for interpreting coastal and shallow-marine deposits. Though both methods are based on objective criteria, terminology for reflection/stratal stacking is widely linked to eustatic cycles, which does not adequately incorporate factors such as differential subsidence, sediment supply, and autogenic effects. To reduce reliance on model-driven interpretations, we developed a Geometrical Breakdown Approach (GBA) that facilitates interpretation of horizon-bound reflection packages by systematically identifying upward-downward and landward-seaward trajectories of clinoform inflection points and stratal ter­minations, respectively. This approach enables a rigorous characterization of stratal surfaces and depositional units. The results are captured in three-letter acronyms that provide an efficient way of recognizing repetitive stacking pat­terns through discriminating reflection packages objectively to the maximum level of resolution provided by the data. Comparison of GBA with selected sequence stratigraphic models that include three and four systems tracts and the accommodation succession approach shows that the GBA allows a greater level of detail to be extracted, identifying key surfaces with more precision and utilizing more effectively the fine-scale resolution provided by the input seismic data. We tested this approach using a synthetic analogue model and field data from the New Jersey margin. The results demonstrate that the geometric criteria constitute a reliable tool for identifying systems tracts and provide an objective and straightforward method for practitioners at all levels of experience.

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