2005 Salt Lake City Annual Meeting (October 16–19, 2005)

Paper No. 16
Presentation Time: 5:15 PM


DONOVAN, Arthur D., BP Westlake 1 15.168, 501 Westlake Park Blvd, Houston, TX 77079, donovan@bp.com

Like the legendary Tower of Babel, proponents of the various discontinuity-bounded stratigraphic units have evolved into a world of incomprehensible languages where no one faction can understand the other. Truth be told, no consensus presently exists as to what are sequences, disconformities, or discontinuities. While many have heard the call to arms, many geoscientists still do appreciate the basic differences and similarities among the various proposed discontinuity-bounded methodologies (Depositional Sequences, Genetic Sequences, T-R Sequences, etc.). Furthermore, years of sectarian warfare have made it virtually impossible for many of the proponents to see the limitations of their own methodologies, appreciate the utility of other methodologies, or even understand the fundamental reason to have a new formal class of stratigraphic units. In reality, no single discontinuity-bounded methodology is the ultimate panacea. Depositional setting (nonmarine, marginal-marine, or deep water) and/or fit for purpose actually dictates the best methodology for a given time or for given geographic locality in the real world.

So what can be done to escape the discontinuity-bounded Tower of Babel? Find consensus, look for a paradigm shift, and move forward. While there may be no agreement that a given horizon is a sequence boundary, disconformity, or even discontinuity, there does appear to be general consensus that all of key "sequence stratigraphic" boundaries are in essence stratal surfaces. Thus a methodology of Surface-bounded (Epi-) Stratigraphic Units, with user-defined flexibility for choosing the type or types of stratal surfaces used to define formal stratigraphic units may provide a framework to allow the various factions to coexist, prosper, and even communicate with each other.