Geology - Carbonate Geology

Recognition of Sedimentary Environment from Primary Structures in Outcrop and Core

With Emphasis on the Recognition of Fluvial, Estuarine and Transitional Fluvial-Tidal Environments


  Dr Janrik van den Berg (Utrecht University and ENRES International, Netherlands)


  1 or 2 days


  Geology – Stratigraphy




  English, Dutch


  5 or 10 CPD points




Course description

Knowledge of the physical background of the preserved structures is a prerequisite to understand the mutual relations of structures found in cores that guide us in interpretation solutions and that help us to keep our imagination of the paleo-environment within realistic borders.
First the physical background of sedimentary structures produced by flowing water or waves is treated. These are the “building stones" of any depositional facies or depositional sequence. A proper and accurate interpretation of these in terms of bedforms and flow conditions is essential for understanding the origin and development of any depositional facies or depositional sequence.
After this focus is laid on special structures and vertical successions of structures that characterize fluvial, tidal and transitional fluvial-tidal environments. With transgression and regression, the facies of transitional sediments will move up and down the lower river reach. Recognizing these deposits is important as in sequence stratigraphy they permit a more precise determination of maximum flooding surfaces.


Course objectives

Upon completion of the course, participants will be able to:

  • Understand the relationship between flow, waves, bedforms and primary sedimentary structures;
  • Carry out process-related interpretation of primary sedimentary structures and common assemblages of sedimentary structures;
  • Recognize diagnostic attributes for fluvial, tidal, transitional fluvial-tidal and coastal depositional facies in outcrops and cores.


Course outline

  • Bedforms and sedimentary structures formed by unidirectional flow
  • Influence of wave action on bedforms and sedimentary structure
  • Influence of tides on sedimentary structures
  • Diagnostic criteria for the recognition of fluvial, tidal and transitional fluvial-tidal sedimentary environments in
    outcrop and core.


Participants' profile

The course is designed for geoscientists involved in core descriptions, core evaluations and borehole image interpretations. It is also recommended for those who use existing core descriptions for further evaluations, specifically sedimentologists, stratigraphers and reservoir geologists.



Participants should have some familiarity with the basic principles of sedimentology.


Recommended reading

Van den Berg, J.H. and Nio, S.D. 2010 Sedimentary structures and their relation to bedforms and flow conditions. European Association of Geoscientists and Engineers, Short Course Series, 2, 138 pp.

Martinius, A.W. & Van den Berg, J.H. 2011 Atlas of sedimentary structures in estuarine and tidally-influenced river deposits of the Rhine-Meuse-Scheldt system: Their application to the interpretation of analogous outcrop and subsurface depositional systems. EAGE publications, Houten, 298 pp.


About the instructor

Dr Janrik van den Berg

Current position: Assistant Professor Utrecht University (guest); independent consultant (Morfodynamica); associate ENRES International.
* Sedimentology
* River and estuarine morphology and sediment transport
1968-1973 Research assistant Dept. of Physical Geography, Utrecht Univ., Netherlands
1974-1980 Lecturer at the Geology Dept., Utrecht Univ.
1980-1986 Project engineer Rijkswaterstaat-Deltadienst, Ministry of Public Works, Zierikzee, Netherlands
1986-1988 Scientific member of staff Rijkswaterstaat-Dir. Zeeland, Ministry of Public Works, Middelburg, Netherlands
1988- 2007 Assistant Professor Dept. of Physical Geography Utrecht University, Netherlands
1989-1996 Employee of Svasek B.V. Coastal and Harbour Engineering Consultants, Rotterdam, Netherlands
2006- Director Morphodynamics (consultant), Zeist, Netherlands
2007- Guest lecturer Dept. of Physical Geography Utrecht University, Netherlands
2009- Associate ENRES International, Huis ter Heide, Netherlands

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