Oil and Gas

Oil and Gas | Clastics

Recent Depositional and Stratigraphic Analogues for Fluvial and Shallow Marine Reservoirs (South Carolina, USA)

Course Code: N096
Instructors:  Jerry Sexton
Course Outline:  Download
Format and Duration:
5 days

Next Event

Location: South Carolina, USA
Date:  25 - 29 Oct. 2023
Start Time: 09:00 EDT
Event Code: N096a23F
Fee From: USD $15,750 (exc. Tax)


Business Impact: To experience first hand the scale and complexity of facies relationships is invaluable. By attending the course, participants will gain a greater understanding of marginal marine shorelines and the associated facies, which would facilitate development of more accurate reservoir models or allow for more targeted exploration wells, ultimately increasing reservoir production potential and overall profitability.

Participants will examine and sample modern alluvial, deltaic, estuarine, barrier island, tidal channel, and shallow-shelf facies to understand the growth, geometry and heterogeneity of reservoir sandbodies. Geomorphology and stratigraphy are linked through the use of trenches, cores and log data to provide insights into three-dimensional subsurface interpretations.


Exceptional work by course tutor and team, would highly recommend this course to my colleagues. Thank you very much!


Event Code: N096a23F
Duration: 5 days
Instructors: Jerry Sexton
Dates: 25 - 29 Oct. 2023
Start Time: 09:00 EDT
Location: South Carolina, USA
Fee From
USD $15,750 (exc. Tax)
Good Availability
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Duration and Training Method

This is a field course, supported by classroom sessions in a 70:30 ratio. Classroom sessions will comprise presentations, case studies, exercises, and reviews of the fieldwork.

Course Overview

Participants will learn to:

  1. Illustrate the 3D geometry and heterogeneity of sandbodies deposited in alluvial, deltaic, estuarine, barrier island, shallow shelf, and tidal channel settings.
  2. Calculate facies trends in the subsurface that will allow the potential to predict reservoir trends.
  3. Identify mesotidal and microtidal deposits and interpret their morphology and stratigraphy on log and core data.
  4. Demonstrate mesotidal and microtidal shoreline trap types.
  5. Use trenching and coring techniques to examine modern depositional environments.
  6. Distinguish physical processes responsible for the deposition of reservoir quality sediments.
  7. Demonstrate the impact of the hydrodynamic regime (i.e. waves, tidal range) on geomorphology, lithofacies, and stratigraphic interpretations.

This intensive field course introduces and links a range of fluvial, deltaic, strandplain, estuarine, barrier island, and tidal channel facies and environments into regional depositional systems. Genetically related depositional environments and their stratigraphic correlation are stressed from the standpoint of subsurface interpretation for prospect evaluation and reservoir development.

Participants will experience the fluvial, deltaic, barrier-island, and estuarine settings along the mesotidal South Carolina coast. This course reveals how geomorphology and lithofacies in shallow-marine deposits are controlled by the hydrodynamic regime (i.e. waves, tidal range). The contrast is striking and profoundly affects stratigraphic interpretations. Additionally, the evolution of Quaternary strata is presented in a chronostratigraphic context. Subsurface data provide lithologic interpretations for progradational (barrier island, deltaic), retrogradational (barrier island, estuarine), and aggradational (valley fill, barrier island) depositional styles. Lateral facies-association and lithofacies changes are discussed from the basin scale (exploration fairways) to the reservoir scale (permeability controls).

Day 0

  • Participants travel to Columbia, SC.
  • Evening lecture on course content and introduction to local geological setting, natural history and wildlife.

Day 1: Alluvial-valley and Fluvial Deposits

  • Congaree River channel and point bar: Examine channel and point-bar morphology. Discuss fluvial depositional processes (alluvial-valley formation, sediment composition, transport/deposition, channel migration and formation of channel belts, avulsion).
  • Congaree Swamp National Park: Walk through part of the Congaree River floodplain to see floodplain geomorphology, abandoned channel courses (oxbow lakes), fine-grained overbank deposits in alluvial-valley fill. 
  • Congaree River Valley: View the active channel and channel belt, abandoned-channel belts and oxbows, and floodplain filling the 6 km wide valley.

Day 2: Geology and Evolution of a Mixed-Energy Delta

  • Santee River Alluvial Valley/Upper Delta Plain: Observe point-bar and abandoned-channel deposits. Compare to Congaree River sediments from 160 km upstream.
  • Upper delta plain/natural levee: Sample sediments, observe delta-plain morphology on a traverse across a natural levee into the interdistributary delta plain, and review stratigraphy of upper delta plain.
  • Lower delta plain: Observe features of channel bars, upper-delta plain swamp to lower-delta plain marsh transition. Sample distributary sediments and discuss stratigraphy of lower delta plain.
  • Distributary mouth: Note dynamics of fluvial and tidal depositional processes (sedimentary structures and lithofacies). Sample delta-plain, distributary-channel and tidal-flat sediments.
  • Delta Front: Walk and trench the delta front. Note and discuss depositional processes, geomorphology of a mixed-energy delta, delta stratigraphy, and preservation potential.
  • Distributary-mouth bar: Cruise seaward to experience the distributary-mouth bar scale. Sample bottom sediments.

Day 3: Mesotidal Barrier Island

  • Capers Island: Observe back-barrier geomorphology, tidal-channel bathymetry, and deposits (tidal creek, salt marsh).
  • Price Inlet channel: Discuss tidal inlet dynamics and sedimentation patterns. Sample channel sediments from inlet throat out to the ebb-tidal delta terminal lobe.
  • Ebb-Tidal Delta: Walk on the swash platform to observe the geomorphology, sediments and sedimentary structures, and stratification in trenches.
  • Capers Island: Walk through a marginal-flood channel of Price Inlet. Contrast deposits with those from the main ebb channel.
  • Abandoned Price Inlet Channel: Discuss inlet migration history and resultant stratigraphy. Note impact of inlet migration on the barrier lithosome.
  • Beach Walk: Note and discuss foreshore/shoreface depositional processes, sedimentary structures, progradational evolution, stratigraphy, and preservational style.

Day 4: Core Laboratory

  • Geographic and geomorphologic overview of Pleistocene and Holocene setting. Discuss wave-dominated microtidal back-barrier and barrier-island depositional systems.
  • Groups describe a selection of previously collected modern cores. Geologic and stratigraphic discussions are lead by the participants. Stratigraphic preservation, correlation, and reservoir quality are emphasized.
  • Review and discuss the subsurface exercises for fluvial and shallow-marine depositional systems.

Day 5:  Mesotidal Estuary and Incised Valley Fill Sequence

  •  Snuggedy Swamp: Take a short walk through freshwater marsh into forested swamp. Sample peat and estuarine sediments overlying a Pleistocene unconformity.
  • Hole-in-the-Wall: Oxbow cutoff on the Ashepoo River. Sample bottom sediments in river and oxbow. Discuss differences in coastal-plain versus piedmont derived sediments.
  • Brackish Marsh: Note geomorphic and sedimentologic changes as tidal influence increases
  • Two Sisters Mud Flat: Traverse tidal flat to observe structures, biota, and sediments on a diagnostic estuarine feature. Discuss tidal-flat deposition and controls on sediment composition, and auto- versus allocyclic systems.
  • Review geomorphology, sedimentation patterns, and scale of the marine-dominated lower estuary using maps.
  • Charleston: Course review and final banquet.

Day 6

  • Participants depart Charleston, SC.


Exploration and production staff working fluvial and shallow marine environments, including integrated asset teams of geologists, geophysicists, and reservoir and petroleum engineers. 

Jerry Sexton

Walter ("Jerry") is a coastal geomorphologist/sedimentologist with over 30 years of professional experience and is a broad based geoscientist with experience in surface mining (heavy mineral, peat, sand & gravel), groundwater pollution and shoreline mapping for contingency planning.  Walter has taught and co-taught over 175 week-long seminars on “Modern Clastic Depositional Environments” principally along the South Carolina coastline but also internationally for both the ground water and petroleum industries as well as for academic institutions.   

These field seminars have been taught for many energy companies including BP America, Suncor, Conoco/Phillips, Encana, Apache and Chesapeake Energy.  He is the founder and president of Athena Technologies, Inc. founded in 1987 specializing in shallow stratigraphic studies of modern depositional systems.  Walter has conducted research in Europe on the coastline of France, the Middle East (Kuwait and Abdul Dhabi), Africa (Nigeria), Central America (Panama), the Caribbean and throughout much of the United States including Alaska and the Hawaiian Islands.  In 2006 he presented the Annual Honorary Address for the Canadian Society of Petroleum Geologists in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.  He has worked on basin projects from the Gulf Coast through the Western Canadian Basin.  Walter has published numerous papers on modern clastic deposition ranging from fluvial/alluvial valley topics to the continental shelf margin. 

His approach toward teaching field seminars on modern clastic depositional systems is to start with the review of the mechanics/processes of sedimentation and build on the physical evolution of key depositional environments such as the shoreface. This seminar is centered around the modeling of depositional systems (estuaries, shorelines, deltas and alluvial valleys) with ultimately viewing the three dimensional setting as it might appear in the ancient geologic record. 

Affiliations and Accreditation
PhD University of South Carolina

Courses Taught
N096: Recent Depositional & Stratigraphic Analogues for Fluvial & Shallow Marine Reservoirs (South Carolina, USA)
N287: Exploiting Clastic Resource Plays in Fluvial Through Shallow Marine Environments: a Modern/Ancient Approach (Alberta, Canada)


CEU: 4 Continuing Education Units
PDH: 40 Professional Development Hours
Certificate: Certificate Issued Upon Completion
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We issue a Certificate of Attendance which verifies the number of training hours attended. Our courses are generally accepted by most professional licensing boards/associations towards continuing education credits. Please check with your licensing board to determine if the courses and certificate of attendance meet their specific criteria.