Collaborative Research: Statistical Methods for Quantifying Autogenic Processes in Sedimentary Basins

Project: Research project

Project Details


Collaborative Research: Statistical methods for quantifying autogenic processes in sedimentary basins

Kyle Straub, Tulane University, EAR-1024443

Elizabeth Hajek, Penn State University, EAR-1024710


Project summary

Ancient sedimentary basins are archives of past climate, tectonic, and land-surface changes on Earth. These deposits also contain important energy and water reserves and will serve as hosts for carbon capture and storage. In order to manage these resources and understand sedimentary deposits, improved methods are needed for interpreting and predicting stratigraphic patterns. Internally generated (autogenic) dynamics in sedimentary systems can generate stratigraphy that mimics patterns produced by tectonics, climate, and sea level changes. Statistical methods are needed to filter autogenic signals from sedimentary deposits in order fully understand and model stratigraphy. This project aims to determine the primary controls on autogenic sedimentation patterns and develop methods for identifying and filtering autogenic signals from the stratigraphic record. Through a combination of experiments, numerical modeling, and fieldwork, PIs will map and measure stratigraphic organization produced by rivers and deltas with different sizes and characteristic avulsion timescales. This work will advance our ability to recover meaningful data about autogenic processes from stratigraphic datasets, isolate preserved signals of changing environmental conditions in ancient deposits, and generate predictive stratigraphic models in alluvial basins.

Broader Impacts

Using the stratigraphic record to understand the evolution of river and delta environments will improve our ability to manage natural resources and forecast the response of deltas to climate change. In an effort to increase public understanding about how sediment is transported through river deltas and how these deltas evolve through time PIs will hold short courses at Tulane University?s Sediment Dynamics Laboratory for high school students and teachers. These courses will be developed in collaboration with Abramson Science & Technology Charter School in New Orleans, which was founded after Hurricane Katrina to improve the science and math education of underprivileged communities in New Orleans. During these interactive courses students will build an experimental delta and explore its reaction to changing environmental conditions, including rising sea level. The faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates working on this research project will facilitate these classes. Additionally, funding for this project will support two PhD students and several undergraduate researchers and will help two early career faculty establish successful research programs.

Effective start/end date3/1/112/28/15


  • National Science Foundation: $161,106.00


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