Sequence stratigraphy: hierarchy of sequences

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Exploring for Oil and Gas Traps
Series Treatise in Petroleum Geology
Part Predicting the occurrence of oil and gas traps
Chapter Exploring for stratigraphic traps
Author John C. Dolson, Mike S. Bahorich, Rick C. Tobin, Edward A. Beaumont, Louis J. Terlikoski, Michael L. Hendricks
Link Web page
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Global sea level changes (eustacy) are cyclic phenomena. Six orders of sea level cycles are recognized from stratigraphic evidence.[1] Third-, fourth-, and fifth-order sea level cycles model sequence deposition for petroleum exploration. A third-order sequence is a composite of fourth- and fifth-order sequences.

The table below shows sea level cycle frequencies, thickness ranges, and stratigraphic names for third-, fourth-, and fifth-order sequences.

Sequence order Cycle frequency, m.y. Thickness, m Stratigraphic name
Third 0.5–5 100–1000 Sequence
Fourth 0.1–0.5 1–10 Parasequence
Fifth 0.01–0.1 1–10 Parasequence

Superimposition of cycles

Figure 1 Composite curve created by adding third-, fourth-, and fifth-order cycles together. From Van Wagoner et al.;[1] courtesy AAPG.

Several frequencies, representing different orders of sea level cycles, are superimposed on one another to make a composite sea level cycle curve. For stratigraphic trap exploration, cycles that impact trap location are usually third-, fourth-, and fifth-order sea level cycles. Figure 1 shows how adding third-, fourth-, and fifth-order cycles together will produce a composite curve.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 Van Wagoner, J. C., Mitchum, R. M., Campion, K. M., Rahmanian, V. D., 1990, Siliciclastic Sequence stratigraphy in Well Logs, Cores and Outcrops: Concepts for High-Resolution Correlation of Time and Facies: AAPG Methods in Exploration Series No. 7, 55 p.

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Sequence stratigraphy: hierarchy of sequences
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