1
Study Grant Proposal
for Spring Semester, 2007
Istvan Csato
Numerical Modeling of S
tratigraphy
1.
Rationale
The emergence of sequence stratigraphy, a new paradigm, constitutes an important
revolution in sedimentary geology similarly to plate tectonics
in structural geology. The
basic concept was formulated by researchers at EXXON (Vail et al, 1977) and it has been
applied to various basins around the world thus the concept has significantly improved
since the beginning. The theory states that stratigra
phic successions may be subdivided
into discrete sequences bounded by widespread unconformities. In recent years,
stratigraphic research guided by sequence models has brought about fundamental
improvements in our understanding of stratigraphic processes an
d the controls of basin
architecture. This research has demonstrated the importance of a wide range of processes
for the generation of cyclic sequences, including eustasy, tectonics and orbital forcing of
climate change. Sequence models have also provided
a powerful framework for mapping
and predicting hydrocarbon source rocks and reservoirs.
Relatively few attempts have been made to quantify the development of sequences and
facies associations and numerically model stratigraphic processes. The great compl
exity
of many factors that play roles in varying space and time to stratigraphic development
may explain the difficulties associated with computer simulations.
This study program proposes the review of the achievements and research problems in
the area o
f computer modeling of stratigraphy. Formerly, I published a concept of
time
equivalency of systems tracts
and another idea about
stratigraphic architectural patterns
of interfingering configurations
(Csato, I., C. G. St. C. Kendall, 2002, Modeling of
stra
tigraphic architectural patterns in extensional settings
–
Toward a conceptual model,
Computers and Geosciences, v. 28, p. 351

356). The time equivalency concept of
systems tracts postulates that systems tracts that formerly were thought to develop after
o
ne another through time may form simultaneously at different locations in an active
extensional setting. The interfingering concept demonstrated that stratigraphic patterns
similar to the published systems tracts may develop in an interfingering system
ind
ependently from any relative sea level change. These ideas were based on my
observations and computer simulations using SEDPAK program. The goals of this study
grant application are to review other existing computer models and evaluate how they are
able to
analyze architectural patterns similar to those dealt with in my former studies.
Furthermore, this study grant would help me to acquire knowledge about the current
developments in the area of computer modeling of stratigraphy desirable for my future
resea
rch in this field.
2. Topics and Questions to be Explored
(1)
Sequence stratigraphic concepts with special emphasis on recent developments.
2
This part of the study would establish a theoretical foundation for numerical modeling
applications. My specific inte
rest is in how the latest sequence stratigraphic
approaches developed new systems tract models applicable in various types of basin,
including extensional and compressional settings.
(2)
Relationship of sequence stratigraphy and numerical modeling of basin fil
l.
My particular question is how the various numerical models modify or improve the
basic theory, in other words how the conceptual theory evolves as a response to the
results of quantitative modeling, how the feedback and new insights from computer
m
odeling induces the concepts to evolve.
(3)
Detailed study of different modeling approaches, including sediment diffusion
equation

based, fluid flow equation

based models, geometric and inverse models.
3. Weekly Work Plan and Reading List
Weeks 1

2
: Review o
f sequence stratigraphic concepts, past and recent
developments
Justification:
The volumes of Vail et al. (1977) and Wilgus et al. (1988) provided the theoretical foundation for the
sequence stratigraphic models. The first formulation of the theory was pri
marily based on seismic data. Van
Wagoner et al. (1990) extended the concepts to well logs, outcrops and cores. Cant (1991) discussed the
algebraic and geometrical relationship
s
that are the basis for quantitative modeling. Einsele et al. (1991)
and
Posame
ntier and Allen (1999)
wrote
extraordinarily comprehensive text
s
with many conceptual
diagrams, extensive list of references and numerous review articles on the topic of cycles in the
stratigraphic record.
The state
of the art of sequence stratigraphy is
presented in Catuneanu (2006).
Reading list:
Vail, P.R., Todd, R.G., Sangree, J.B., 1977,
Seismic Stratigraphy

applications to hydrocarbon exploration
,
C.E. Payton, ed., AAPG Memoir 26.
Wilgus, C.K., Hastings,B.S., Kendall, C.G.St.C., Posamentier H.W
., Ross,C.A., & Van Wagoner, J.C.,
eds., 1988,
"Sea

Level Changes

an Integrated Approach",
SEPM Spec.
Pub. 42, pp 407
Van Wagoner, J.C., R. M. Mitchum, K. M. Campion, and V. D. Rahmanian 1990
,
"Siliciclastic Sequence
Stratigraphy in Well Logs, Cores, a
nd Outcrops: Concepts for High

Resolution Correlation of Time and
Facies",
AAPG Methods in Exploration, No. 7, pp 55
Cant, D.J., 1991, Geometric modeling of facies migration: theoretical development of facies successions
and local unconformities. Basin R
esearch 3, p. 51

62.
Einsele G., Ricken W., and Seilacher A., (Eds), 1991,
Cycles and events in stratigraphy
, Springer

Verlag,
Berlin, Heidelberg, New York 1991. 955p.
Posamentier, H. W., and G. P. Allen, 1999,
"Si
liciclastic Sequence Stratigraphy

Concepts and
Applications"
, published by the Society of Economic Petrologists and Paleontologists, 216 pages.
Catuneanu, O., 2006,
Principles of Sequence Stratigraphy,
Elsevier, pp 375.
Weeks 3

6: Overview of the evo
lution of
computer modeling of stratigraphy
Justification:
The following list includes mostly books that collected papers from authors around the world who worked
on modeling of stratigraphy, thus this collection provides an essential overview how this dis
cipline
evolved.
3
Reading list:
Cross, T.A. (Ed), 1990, Quantitative Dynamic Stratigraphy, Prentice

Hall, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey.
Partridge, P. W., ed., 1992, Coastal Modelling of seas and coastal regions, Elsevier, London, 524p.
Slingerland, R.,
Harbaugh, J.W., and Furlong, K.P., 1994, Simulating Clastic Sedimentary Basins:
Englewood Cliffs, NJ, Prentice

Hall, 220 p. and one disc.
Griffiths, Cedric M., Felix Gradstein, 1996,
Essentials of Quantitative Stratigraphy,
Published by Kluwer
Academic Pu
blishers Group.
Harff, J., Lemke, W. and K. Stattegger, 1998, Computerized Modeling of Sedimentary Systems, Springer,
Berlin, 452p.
Harbaugh et al., (Eds.), 1999, Numerical Experiments in Stratigraphy: recent advances in stratigraphic and
sedimentologic
computer simulations, SEPM Special Publication 62, Tulsa, 362 p.
Paola, C., 2000. Quantitative models of sedimentary basin filling. Sedimentology 47 (Suppl. 1), 121
–
178.
Weeks
7

9
: Diffusion models
Justification:
The following list comprises key publica
tions from authors who applied diffusion models for modeling
stratigraphy.
In the late 1980s Tom Aigner worked with Doyle and Lawrence to make a fairly comprehensive model for
simulating carbonate stratigraphy. A deterministic computer program has been d
eveloped to simulate the
stratigraphic evolution of two

dimensional transects across sedimentary basins. The history of sea

level
fluctuations is reconstructed using the stratigraphy and geometry of carbonate systems as constraints.
Scott Bowman worked ex
tensively with Peter Vail, one of the pioneers of sequence stratigraphy,
encapsulating within stratigraphic simulation PHIL much of Vail's ideas and philosophy. This is one of the
most comprehensive packages of this kind of software available. It deals equ
ally well with carbonates and
siliciclastics and has add

ons for the petroleum industry for inverse modeling and hydrocarbon migration.
PHIL has erosional algorithms at the shore

face, in fluvial settings, surface beveling and marine current
erosion.
Pete
r Flemings has been at the forefront of computer modeling for more than ten years. He worked with
Theresa Jordan to develop a model for foreland basin stratigraphy and later worked with John Grotzinger to
design the program STRATA.
Rivanaes, along with Ka
ufman et al. from MIT, was one of the first to develop depth

dependent diffusion
models for modeling erosion, transport and sedimentation. Diffusion is a possible approach for dealing with
the peloidal grainstones and clastics.
Reading list:
Lawrence, D.
T., M. Doyle, and T. Aigner, 1990,
Stratigraphic simulation of sedimentary basins: concepts
and calibration:
AAPG Bulletin, v. 74, no. 3, p. 273

295.
Aigner, T., Brandenburg, A., van Vliet, A., Doyle, M., Lawrence, D. & Westrich, J., 1990,
Stratigraphic
m
odelling of epicontinental basins: two applications.
Sedimentary Geology, 69, 167

190.
Bowman, S. A., and P. R. Vail, 1999,
Interpreting the stratigraphy of the Baltimore canyon Section,
offshore New Jersey with PHIL, a stratigraphic simulator
in:
Harbaug
h et al., eds., Numerical Experiments
in Stratigraphy: recent advances in stratigraphic and sedimentologic computer simulations, SEPM Special
Publication 62, Tulsa, 362 p.
4
Flemings, P. B., and J. P. Grotzinger, 1996,
STRATA: Freeware for analyzing classic
stratigraphy
problems
,
in
: GSA Today, v. 6, n.12, p. 1

7.
Rivenaes, J.C., 1997, Impact of sediment transport efficiency on large

scale sequence architecture: results
from stratigraphic computer simulation in: Basin Research, v9/2, p. 91

105.
Weeks
10

12
: Hydraulic models
Justification:
Cedric Griffiths is the
l
eader of CSIRO Petroleum's Predictive Geoscience Group
in Australia
. His work
in
volves the development of a 3D forward stratigraphic Mode
ling capability at CSIRO and contributing to
a variety of qu
antitative stratigraphic programs for reservoir characterization and hydrocarbon exploration.
James P. Syvitski has developed numerous computer sedimentary simulations for modeling siliciclastic
depositional environments and processes. The model he develo
ped also can make synthetic seismic profiles
and logs from any portion of the model.
Reading list:
Tetzlaff and Harbaugh published a book about a sophisticated model of clastic transportation and
sedimentation using the Navier

Stocks equation.
Griffit
hs C. M., Dyt, C., Paraschivoiu, E., Liu, K., 2001,
Sedsim in hydrocarbon exploration
,
in Merriam,
D., Davis, J. C. (Eds.) Geologic Modeling and Simulation, Kluwer Academic, New York, p. 71

97.
Syvitski, J. P. M., Morehead, M. & Nicholson, M. (1998)
HYDR
OTREND: A climate

driven hydrologic

transport model for predicting discharge and sediment to lakes or oceans.
Computers & Geosciences, 24,
51

68.
Syvitski, J. P. M., Pratson, L. & Morehead, M. D. (1997) EARTHWORKS:
A large spatial scale numerical
model to
study the flux of sediment to ocean basins and reworking of deposits over various time scales
.
EOS Supplement, 78, F258.
Tezlaff, D.M., and Harbaugh, J.W., 1989, Simulating Clastic Sedimentation: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 202
p. and 16 color plates.
Weeks
13

15
: Geometric models
and inverse models
Justification:
Jervey (1988)’s paper became a classical work in simple algebraic and geometric formulation of sequence
development. Later quantitative geometric models, listed below, used largely his concepts. Ma
rgaret
Lessenger has been a leader in stratigraphic inverse modeling. She did her Ph. D. at the Colo
rado School of
Mines on this subject
. She has continued to refine her model and play an important role in stratigraphic
modeling.
Reading list:
Jervey, M.T
., 1988. Quantitative geological modeling of siliciclastic rock sequences and their seismic
expression. In: Wilgus, C.K., et al., (Eds.), Sea

Level Changes
—
An Integrated Approach, Spec. Publ.
SEPM, vol. 42, pp. 47
–
69.
Kendall, C.G.St.C., Strobel, J., Can
non, R., Bezdek, J., Biswas, G., 1991. The simulation of the
sedimentary fill of basins. J. Geophys. Res. 96 (B4), 6911
–
6929.
Reynolds, D.J., Steckler, M.S., Coakley, B.J., 1991. The role of the sediment load in sequence stratigraphy:
the influence of fl
exural isostasy and compaction. J. Geophys. Res. 96 (B4), 6931
–
6949.
5
Frohlich, C., Matthews, R.K., 1991. Strata

various: a flexible program for dynamic forward modeling of
stratigraphy. In: Franseen, E.K., et al. (Eds.), Sedimentary Modeling: Computer Sim
ulations and Methods
for Improved Parameter Definition, Kansas Geol. Surv. Bull., vol. 233, pp. 449
–
462.
Lessenger, M. A., 1993,
Forward and inverse simulation models of stratal architecture and facies
distribution in marine shelf to coastal plain environ
ments
:
Ph.D. dissertation, Colorado School of Mines,
Golden, CO, 182p.
4. Scholarly and Practical Benefits
The
study program would enable me to learn about many aspects of computer modeling
of stratigraphy in conjunction with recent developments of the co
ncepts of sequence
stratigraphy, which is a leading and fast developing area in sedimentary geology. The
program would assist me to acquire knowledge for my research that could lead to further
publications or conference presentations and in which involving
students would be
possible in the future. Thus this study program would contribute to enriching the
geological research at our college. Ways in which results might be brought to other
audiences: (1) special presentations at Collin College Campuses, (2) p
resentations at
CASMNS (Center of Advanced Studies in Mathematics and Natural Sciences) forums,
(3) presentations at scientific conferences, (4) presentations at other colleges and
community groups. Currently, I am using some of my research results in the
classroom,
such as stratigraphic simulations by SEDPAK software to demonstrate coastal
development processes in my courses. This study program would give further impetus to
an intellectual and research inquiry.
6
Istvan Csato
Study Grant Ap
plication
Numerical Modeling of Stratigraphy
Bibliography
Aigner, T., Brandenburg, A., van Vliet, A., Doyle, M., Lawrence, D. & Westrich, J., 1990,
Stratigraphic
modelling of epicontinental basins: two applications.
Sedimentary Geology, 69, 167

1
90.
Bowman, S. A., and P. R. Vail, 1999,
Interpreting the stratigraphy of the Baltimore canyon Section,
offshore New Jersey with PHIL, a stratigraphic simulator
in:
Harbaugh et al., eds., Numerical Experiments
in Stratigraphy: recent advances in stratigra
phic and sedimentologic computer simulations, SEPM Special
Publication 62, Tulsa, 362 p.
Cant, D.J., 1991, Geometric modeling of facies migration: theoretical development of facies successions
and local unconformities. Basin Research 3, p. 51

62.
Catunea
nu, O., 2006,
Principles of Sequence Stratigraphy,
Elsevier, pp 375.
Cross, T.A. (Ed), 1990, Quantitative Dynamic Stratigraphy, Prentice

Hall, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey.
Einsele G., Ricken W., and Seilacher A., (Eds), 1991,
Cycles and events in strati
graphy
, Springer

Verlag,
Berlin, Heidelberg, New York 1991. 955p.
Flemings, P. B., and J. P. Grotzinger, 1996,
STRATA: Freeware for analyzing classic stratigraphy
problems
,
in
: GSA Today, v. 6, n.12, p. 1

7.
Frohlich, C., Matthews, R.K., 1991. Strata

va
rious: a flexible program for dynamic forward modeling of
stratigraphy. In: Franseen, E.K., et al. (Eds.), Sedimentary Modeling: Computer Simulations and Methods
for Improved Parameter Definition, Kansas Geol. Surv. Bull., vol. 233, pp. 449
–
462.
Griffith
s, C. M., F.
Gradstein, 1996,
Essentials of Quantitative Stratigraphy,
Published by Kluwer
Academic Publishers Group.
Griffiths C. M., Dyt, C., Paraschivoiu, E., Liu, K., 2001,
Sedsim in hydrocarbon exploration
,
in Merriam,
D., Davis, J. C. (Eds.) Geologi
c Modeling and Simulation, Kluwer Academic, New York, p. 71

97.
Harbaugh et al., (Eds.), 1999, Numerical Experiments in Stratigraphy: recent advances in stratigraphic and
sedimentologic computer simulations, SEPM Special Publication 62, Tulsa, 362 p.
Ha
rff, J., Lemke, W. and K. Stattegger, 1998, Computerized Modeling of Sedimentary Systems, Springer,
Berlin, 452p.
Jervey, M.T., 1988. Quantitative geological modeling of siliciclastic rock sequences and their seismic
expression. In: Wilgus, C.K., et al.,
(Eds.), Sea

Level Changes
—
An Integrated Approach, Spec. Publ.
SEPM, vol. 42, pp. 47
–
69.
Kendall, C.G.St.C., Strobel, J., Cannon, R., Bezdek, J., Biswas, G., 1991. The simulation of the
sedimentary fill of basins. J. Geophys. Res. 96 (B4), 6911
–
6929.
La
wrence, D. T., M. Doyle, and T. Aigner, 1990,
Stratigraphic simulation of sedimentary basins: concepts
and calibration:
AAPG Bulletin, v. 74, no. 3, p. 273

295.
7
Lessenger, M. A., 1993,
Forward and inverse simulation models of stratal architecture and faci
es
distribution in marine shelf to coastal plain environments
:
Ph.D. dissertation, Colorado School of Mines,
Golden, CO, 182p.
Paola, C., 2000. Quantitative models of sedimentary basin filling. Sedimentology 47 (Suppl. 1), 121
–
178.
Partridge, P. W., ed.
, 1992, Coastal Modelling of seas and coastal regions, Elsevier, London, 524p.
Posamentier, H. W., and G. P. Allen, 1999,
"Siliciclastic Sequence Stratigraphy

Concepts and
Applications"
, published by the Society
of Economic Petrologists and Paleontologists, 216 pages.
Reynolds, D.J., Steckler, M.S., Coakley, B.J., 1991. The role of the sediment load in sequence stratigraphy:
the influence of flexural isostasy and compaction. J. Geophys. Res. 96 (B4), 6931
–
6949.
Rivenaes, J.C., 1997, Impact of sediment transport efficiency on large

scale sequence architecture: results
from stratigraphic computer simulation in: Basin Research, v9/2, p. 91

105.
Tetzlaff and Harbaugh published a book about a sophisticated model of c
lastic transportation and
sedimentation using the Navier

Stocks equation.
Slingerland, R., Harbaugh, J.W., and Furlong, K.P., 1994, Simulating Clastic Sedimentary Basins:
Englewood Cliffs, NJ, Prentice

Hall, 220 p. and one disc.
Syvitski, J. P. M., More
head, M. & Nicholson, M. (1998)
HYDROTREND: A climate

driven hydrologic

transport model for predicting discharge and sediment to lakes or oceans.
Computers & Geosciences, 24,
51

68.
Syvitski, J. P. M., Pratson, L. & Morehead, M. D. (1997) EARTHWORKS:
A la
rge spatial scale numerical
model to study the flux of sediment to ocean basins and reworking of deposits over various time scales
.
EOS Supplement, 78, F258.
Tezlaff, D.M., and Harbaugh, J.W., 1989, Simulating Clastic Sedimentation: Van Nostrand Reinhold,
202
p. and 16 color plates.
Vail, P.R., Todd, R.G., Sangree, J.B., 1977,
Seismic Stratigraphy

applications to hydrocarbon exploration
,
C.E. Payton, ed., AAPG Memoir 26.
Van Wagoner, J.C., R. M. Mitchum, K. M. Campion, and V. D. Rahmanian 1990
,
"Silic
iclastic Sequence
Stratigraphy in Well Logs, Cores, and Outcrops: Concepts for High

Resolution Correlation of Time and
Facies",
AAPG Methods in Exploration, No. 7, pp 55
Wilgus, C.K., Hastings,B.S., Kendall, C.G.St.C., Posamentier H.W., Ross,C.A., & Van
Wagoner, J.C.,
eds., 1988,
"Sea

Level Changes

an Integrated Approach",
SEPM Spec.
Pub. 42, pp 407
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