AG-338 Sedimentology Field Course – from Depositional Systems to Sedimentary Architecture (10 ECTS)

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How to apply

June 2, 2020
July 3, 2020
Autumn semester (June–July), every second year. Cancelled in 2019. Next course: 2020
10 ECTS overlap with AG-838
Letter grade (A through F)
Book chapters, articles; Ca. 600 pages
Fieldwork, ca. NOK 1400 (7 days x NOK 200 per overnight stay)
10/20 students (AG-338/838 in total)
Bilingual dictionary between English and mother tongue
April 15, 2020


Maria Jensen
Maria Jensen
Associate Professor, Sedimentary geology

Course requirements:

Enrolment in a relevant master programme. Previous knowledge about basic concepts in sedimentology and stratigraphy (introduction level courses and/or from practical experience during thesis work/fieldwork).

The course provides a background for courses in sequence stratigraphy (AG-323/AG-823), rift basin reservoirs – from outcrop to model (AG-336/AG-836) and Geological constraints on CO2 storage (AG-349/AG-849).

The course is also recommended for students taking courses in Quaternary geology.

Academic content:

The course focus is on learning sedimentology in the field through practical experience. Students will learn to describe sedimentary structures and geometries in the field and link the new knowledge directly to the theory from the class room.

The course focus is on siliciclastic rocks/sediments, and takes advantage of the excellent outcrops of sedimentary rocks in central Spitsbergen combined with access to study characteristic modern processes and deposits in a high Arctic environment. Modern deposits from near-shore, fluvial and slope processes are investigated and used to discuss the influence of climatic zones on facies models and interpretation of e.g. palaeoclimate from ancient facies. Well exposed outcrops of Mesozoic to Cenozoic rocks from fluvial to coastal and shallow shelf deposits allows for investigation and discussion of sedimentary processes and deposition patterns, facies models, geometries, heterogeneities, stacking patterns laterally and vertically. The link between modern and ancient deposits is a key part of methods development in sedimentology and is used actively in this course.

The course consists of alternating lectures, seminars and fieldwork. Lectures will provide background information for the current state of debate and students will be expected to critically assess published facies models and interpretations in seminars.

The fieldwork will focus on gaining practical experience with description and interpretation of sedimentological data. The data collected in the field will be used to discuss published models and interpretations. Field excursions will be carried out partly as daytrips in the area near Longyearbyen and partly as overnight excursions to other areas in order to have access to the full range of sedimentary environments available.

Learning outcomes:

Upon completing the course, the students will:
Have an advanced understanding of the origin, use and limitations of facies models used in sedimentological analyses. Have knowledge on typical sedimentary facies in modern cold-climate sediments (colluvial, fluvial, tidal and pro-glacial) and in ancient sedimentary rocks exposed in Svalbard (primarily fluvial, coastal/tidal and shallow shelf deposits).

Upon completing the course, the students will:
Be able to identify and describe sedimentary characteristics for modern sedimentary environments and use the understanding of sedimentary processes, deposits and geometries to establish own facies models for sedimentary environments typical for the Arctic. Be able to analyse sedimentary facies and architecture in outcrops of any age and use theoretical knowledge to discuss alternative models. Be able to compare core and outcrop data. Be able to discuss alternative forcing mechanisms (including relative sea level) as drivers for change in sedimentary architecture and stacking patterns. Be able to critically evaluate published results and interpretations. Be able to discuss and question conceptual models for sedimentary environments or valley fills by combining own observations with ideas from the literature.

General competences
Upon completing the course, the students will:
Be able to critically assess and discuss sedimentological data, develop models in a team and apply experience from fieldwork in the Arctic.

Learning activities:

The course extends over 4 weeks including compulsory safety training, and is run in combination with AG-838.

Total lecture hours: 15 hours.
Total seminar hours: 25 hours.
Excursions: 8 days.

The course relies on active student participation and fieldwork, seminar presentations and discussions are prioritized over lectures. Lectures are used to explain basic principles and introduce topics and terminology, but students will work actively in the field, in the laboratory and in discussion seminars with re-investigations of published work or collecting and interpreting new data.

Compulsory learning activities:

Reading and preparation of a presentation prior to arriving at UNIS, field exercises, participation in group work and discussion seminars.
Field exercises, oral presentations of field results.

All compulsory learning activities must be approved in order to sit the exam.


Percentage of final grade
Poster presentation of group work and oral presentation of results 100%

All assessments must be passed in order to pass the course.

Application deadline: 15 April 2020

Students in Braganzavågen

AG-338/838 students on fieldwork in Braganzavågen. Photo: Maria Jensen/UNIS

View over Tempelfjorden

AG-338/838 field lecture in Tempelfjorden. Photo: Lis Allaart/UNIS

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The University Centre in Svalbard
Telephone: +47 79 02 33 00
Fax: +47 79 02 33 01
E-mail: /
Address: P.O. Box 156 N-9171 Longyearbyen
Org. no. 985 204 454


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