Dinosaur at Klein Welka (South of Berlin), Germany

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GLY 215: Soft Rock I - Sedimentology



Sedimentology is an important and highly integrative discipline within the Geological Sciences. It covers a wide variety of research methods to understand sedimentation, basin evolution, paleogeographic setting and even tectonics. A large percentage of all rocks exposed on land are sedimentary, even though most of our planets' rocks are magmatic or igneous rocks (ca. 90-95% of the upper 16 km of the crust; only 5-10% are sedimentary rocks). However, most areas are covered by a, mostly thin, layer of sedimentary rocks. This relationship between a large volume of igneous or highly metamorphous rocks and a small amount of sedimentary rocks on the surface is due to the strong effects of  weathering and erosion, enhanced by the presence of the atmosphere and the oceans.

Understanding the processes of weathering, erosion and transport of sediment and the formation of sedimentary rocks and recognizing its features in ancient and modern environments is the focus of this course. Understanding the composition of a sandstone for example may help to understand where the material of this rock comes from and how it was transported into the current position. The evolution and development of our planet, thus, may be understood best from the perspective of a sedimentologist. It will help us to predict where to find diamonds, coal, oil and gas and other resources that humanity relies upon.

Main Topics:

The Geological Cycle
Types of Sedimentary Rocks
Weathering & Erosion
Clastic Transport & Flow mechanisms
Sedimentary Structures
Earth's sedimentary environments


Fieldcamp 2007 - Weathering and erosion of sedimentary rocks


GLY 215 Field Trips