Clastic sedimentology and stratigraphy

Research within the stratigraphy group is focused on understanding the evolution of sedimentary basins through analysis of sedimentary processes and depositional environments. A key result of our work is improved stratigraphic prediction through understanding of the internal and external controls on sedimentary systems.

Contact information

For enquiries in this area, contact Stephen Flint. To find more details of researchers across the Basins group, see the People page.

We undertake pure and applied interdisciplinary research utilising several approaches including: traditional and digital field-based studies, experimental and numerical modelling, and interpretation of 3D seismic and well data. These approaches address different scaled problems from the fluid dynamics of turbidity currents and rivers at the grain-scale, to basin-scale questions, such as understanding mass transport complex mechanics and emplacement, and determining the allocyclic and autocyclic controls on basin margin sequences.

About stratigraphy research at Manchester

The stratigraphy group is based at The University of Manchester and the University of Leeds.

The split site allows us to link directly into a leading process sedimentology laboratory at Leeds that has a long tradition of flume tank-based research, while Manchester provides direct expertise in mudrocks, carbonates, seismic interpretation and other areas of petroleum geoscience. Both universities also provide strong support in structural geology and geochemistry.

Over the years the stratigraphy group has undertaken outcrop and subsurface studies around the world, all focussed on stratigraphic prediction through understanding the external controls on depositional systems and the filling of sedimentary basins. Our approach takes a holistic source-to-sink view of depositional systems and includes interaction with geomorphologists, oceanographers and geophysicists. Projects worth over £12 million have been supported by most of the world’s oil companies, mining companies, the European Union and the UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).

The group has graduated 35 PhDs to date and has been home to 25 postdoctoral researchers and 15 research assistants. Outputs include over 150 peer-reviewed papers, one text book and the editing of several Special Publications. Some 400 conference presentations have been given worldwide and a large number of confidential company research reports have been authored.

The group is directed by Professors Stephen Flint and David Hodgson and collaborates with universities, public and private research institutions and industry around the world.

More details on the Leeds branch of the stratigraphy group can be found on their website.

Training methods

We run both classroom based and field based training in high resolution sequence stratigraphy, reservoir geology and deepwater reservoir analogues. Some courses are mixed classroom and field forums. A key factor in considering training by the stratigraphy group is that every example we consider in detail, both in terms of outcrops and sub-surface datasets, has been worked by our staff and PhD students for a minimum of 2 years and every study has been published in peer-reviewed international journals.

High resolution sequence stratigraphy

This course has evolved over the last decade, through annual updates and covers all siliciclastic depositional environments and all basin types. The course includes 10 hands-on practical exercises. A cornerstone of this course is the integration of theory with case studies and examples based on our own research over the last 20 years. Concepts are introduced using outcrop examples and then applied to real subsurface datasets. The applications of HRSS to reservoir modelling are fully discussed. The course has been run in Shell companies worldwide, in Saudi Aramco regularly and for several other companies; it has been delivered in North and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australasia. We have also run versions based in Liverpool for visiting geoscientists from national oil companies. Shortened versions of the course have been run for the PESGB (UK) and PESA (Australia).

Deepwater depositional systems and stratigraphic prediction

This new course incorporates our 10 years of outcrop-based studies of deepwater systems in many basins but particularly the Karoo systems of South Africa and the Sorbas-Tabernas basin of southern Spain. The course is usually combined with a field trip to Spain or South Africa and can be run in mixed classroom/field mode.

Field courses and workshops

We run a series of field-based courses and the emphasis of each course is tailored for the audience (eg exploration, development, reservoir modelling/engineering). These courses can be combined with the above courses or are run as freestanding field events. We currently offer courses to the following areas and in every case the course is based on a minimum of three years of field-based research by our staff and PhD students. Also, in every case we have published papers on the area in international, peer-reviewed journals.

We have led conference field trips to some of these areas under the auspices of AAPG and IAS:

Shallow marine, deltaic, coastal plain or fluvial systems
  • Appalachian Basin, Kentucky
  • Neuquen Basin, Argentina


Arid fluvial or aeolian systems
  • Neuquen Basin, Argentina


Deepwater systems
  • Gres d’Annot, France
  • Karoo Basin, South Africa (both Tanqua and Laingsburg)
  • Neuquen Basin, Argentina

Our people

Discover the people who make up the basins research group.

Study opportunities

Learn how you can study with us in Manchester.