An Overview of Sequence-Stratigraphic Concepts: Uses and Abuses

  1. Henry W. Posamentier3,
  2. Colin P. Summerhayes4,
  3. Bilal U. Haq5 and
  4. George P. Allen6
  1. H. W. Posamentier1 and
  2. D. P. James2

Published Online: 15 APR 2009

DOI: 10.1002/9781444304015.ch1

Sequence Stratigraphy and Facies Associations

Sequence Stratigraphy and Facies Associations

How to Cite

Posamentier, H. W. and James, D. P. (2009) An Overview of Sequence-Stratigraphic Concepts: Uses and Abuses, in Sequence Stratigraphy and Facies Associations (eds H. W. Posamentier, C. P. Summerhayes, B. U. Haq and G. P. Allen), Blackwell Publishing Ltd., Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444304015.ch1

Editor Information

  1. 3

    Plano, Texas, USA

  2. 4

    Godalming, UK

  3. 5

    Washington, DC, USA

  4. 6

    St Remy les Chevreuses, France

Author Information

  1. 1

    ARCO Exploration and Production Technology, 2300 West Plano Parkway, Plano, TX 75075, USA

  2. 2

    Saskoil, 140 4th Avenue SW, Calgary, Alberta T2P 3S3, Canada

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 APR 2009
  2. Published Print: 17 NOV 1993

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780632035489

Online ISBN: 9781444304015



  • sequence stratigraphy and facies associations;
  • sequence stratigraphy and fades associations;
  • sequence-stratigraphic concepts and principles;
  • application of sequence-stratigraphic concepts;
  • eustasy versus relative sea-level versus water depth;
  • transgression and regression versus relative sea-level rise and fall;
  • common abuses of sequence-stratigraphic concepts;
  • systems tracts versus parasequence sets


There has been a proliferation in recent years of applications of sequence-stratigraphic concepts since the publications by Vail et al. (1977a,b), Posamentier et al. (1988), Posamentier and Vail (1988a,b) and Van Wagoner et al. (1990). The use of this approach to enhance understanding of geological relationships within a time-stratigraphic framework clearly has achieved widespread acceptance. Along with the rapid acceptance of these concepts, however, has come a number of problems that are addressed in this paper.

The inevitable introduction of a morass of terminology as well as occasional misunderstanding and misapplication of the stratigraphic model has led to considerable confusion. Moreover, certain key contentious issues within sequence stratigraphy remain that need to be resolved. Most importantly, however, sequence stratigraphy must be viewed as a tool or approach rather than a rigid template. The conceptual stratigraphic models are based on first principles and it is the understanding of these first principles rather than memorization of the model that is the key to successful application of sequence stratigraphy.