GSA Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, USA - 2019

Paper No. 123-13
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:30 PM


KREAGER, Bailey Zo, Department of Geology and Environmental Geosciences, Northern Illinois University, 302 Davis Hall, Normal Road, DeKalb, IL 60115, LADUE, Nicole, Geology and Environmental Geosciences, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL 60115, SHIPLEY, Thomas F., Department of Psychology, Temple University, 1701 North 13th Street, Weiss Hall, Philadelphia, PA 19122 and HAMPTON, Brian A., Department of Geological Sciences, New Mexico State University, P.O. Box 30001, Las Cruces, NM 88003

Sequence stratigraphy is an important skill used by the petroleum industry and taught at the undergraduate and graduate level. Yet little is known about how geology students and early-career professionals build their cognitive understanding of sequence stratigraphy and apply it to understanding the petroleum systems. Aligning with the petroleum industry and geoscience education research community, this study brings together geologists, cognitive scientist, and geoscience education researchers to better understand the spatial cognitive aspects of sequence stratigraphy. Existing literature looking at petroleum geology and spatial skill primarily focuses on structural interpretation. This study begins to fill in the gap for spatial skill and sequence stratigraphy. Sequence stratigraphic tasks are inherently visual requiring a variety of spatial skills to complete them. Understanding this relationship can lead to improved training at the undergraduate, graduate and early-career professionals’ level. The current work proposes a synthesis of spatial skill required for sequence stratigraphy, using Heinz and Aigner (2003) “Hierarchy of Dynamic Stratigraphy”. A cognitive task analysis of sequence stratigraphic interpretation is organized at three scales: individual layer (lithological categorization, strata characteristic analysis, etc.), between multiple layers (shallow seismic interpretation, depositional environment evaluation, etc.) and at the regional level (sequence identification and spatial correlation of outcrops). While expert geologists use content knowledge to help maneuver their mental spatial processing, novices or students who do not have the same content knowledge may struggle. To address these differences in levels of expertise, the framework pairs spatial skills that an expert and a novice may need while completing the task with geologic tasks at each level. Therefore, this framework provides the basis for ongoing research into the relationship between sequence stratigraphy and spatial skill, and practical applications for academic and industry training purposes. Bridging the gap between geology, geoscience education research, and cognitive sciences provides insight for future training practices to improve sequence stratigraphic interpretation skill.