Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in Earth-Science Reviews 94:1–4 (May 2009), pp. 98–100; doi: 10.1016/j.earscirev.2009.02.004 Copyright © 2009 Elsevier B.V. Used by permission.


We thank William Helland-Hansen for his compliments and feedback on our paper. We aimed to establish a consensus in sequence stratigraphy by using a neutral approach that focused on model-independent, fundamental concepts, because these are the ones common to various approaches. This search for common ground is what we meant by “standardization,” not the imposition of a strict, inflexible set of rules for the placement of sequence- stratigraphic surfaces. Our work is meant to eliminate the present state of methodological and nomenclatural confusion within sequence stratigraphy, which is largely the result of uncoordinated effort in the development of the method and the proliferation of terminology that is unnecessarily complex. [...]

The flexibility afforded by a “standard” model-independent workflow that lays emphasis on stratal stacking patterns (genetic units) and bounding surfaces in the rock record, rather than on the selection of any particular boundary-dependent model, eliminates the need for any predefined templates. As such, the practitioner should no longer feel the need to fulfill the predictions of any particular model. Each case study is different, and the sequence stratigraphic organization of the rock record varies greatly with the tectonic and depositional setting. The types of data available for analysis, as well as the scale of observation, also make a difference to what can be interpreted from the rock record. This immense variability underlines the value of defining a model-independent workflow. In spite of this variability, however, there are common elements between all stratigraphic sequences in the rock record, no matter how they are defined: they are all the product of changes in accommodation (whether fluvial or marine) or sediment supply and they all consist of a combination of the same basic “building blocks” (i.e., “conventional” or “unconventional” systems tracts). The identification of these “building blocks,” without any expectations in terms of model predictions and templates, provides the key to the universal application of sequence stratigraphy.