Sedimentation and Stratigraphy

Physical and chemical sedimentation, Earth history

Petrology of sedimentary rocks is fundamental to the understanding of the processes that range from tectonism of the earth to the interaction of the atmosphere, hydrosphere, and the biosphere with the solid earth. Low-temperature geochemical processes contribute to the modification of original sediments as well as to their preservation. More than half of the faculty of the department relate to sedimentary petrology directly or in an interdisciplinary way.

Abhijit Basu

Herman B. Wells Professor of Geological Sciences. Provenance of siliciclastic sediments in terrestrial planetary bodies.

Works on the provenance of sand and sandstone. Basu also analyzes the petrology of lunar soils.

David Bish

Professor of Geological Sciences and Haydn Murray Chair of Applied Clay Mineralogy. Surface properties, crystallography and geochemistry of clay minerals. Applications of clay and zeolite minerals and interactions with organic pollutants. Rheology of clay suspensions.

Studies applications of crystal chemical and crystal structural fundamentals to geological, materials, and environmental problems, using a combination of experimental and theoretical methods. Applications include especially Clay and Zeolite Mineralogy using X-ray and neutron powder diffraction methods.

Douglas Edmonds

Assistant Professor of Geological Sciences. Sedimentology, Stratigraphy, and Geomorphology of Depositional Sedimentary Systems. SedSystems Lab

My research focuses on the sedimentology, stratigraphy, and geomorphology of depositional sedimentary systems. Example projects and scales of interest range from: secondary circulation and turbulence to formation of reach-scale features such as levees, to whole system behavior of deltas and river belts. I use a combination of mathematical modeling, field observation, and occasionally experimentation to understand these systems. My research is generally directed toward understanding the coupled surficial and sedimentological evolution of these systems.

Erika Elswick

Senior Lecturer. Director, Analytical Geochemistry Lab.

Stable isotopes in sedimentary environments (past and present) and their application to sedimentary ore deposits; the fate of metals in the environment, and in the development of tropical soils; low-temperature hydrothermal rock-water interactions at oceanic spreading ridges; the influences and interactions with microbial activity and microbial byproducts with these rock-water interactions.

Julie Fosdick

Robert R. Shrock Professorship in Sedimentary Geology, Assistant Professor and Director, Basin Analysis and Helium Thermochronology Laboratory
Tectonics, thermochronology, sedimentary basin analysis

My research addresses the interactions between crustal deformation, exhumation, and basin evolution during mountain-building. I am particularly interested in understanding the long-term evolution of orogenic belts during their growth and denudation as recorded in the sedimentary record. I draw upon numerous field-based, analytical, and modeling tools that include basin analysis, low–temperature thermochronology, and structural geology.

Lisa Pratt

Provost’s Professor of Geological Sciences. Geomicrobiology of extremophiles. Biotic and abiotic fractionation of S isotopes. Life- detection probes for deployment in Mars subsurface. Cretaceous C isotope excursions.

Stable isotopic and organic geochemical studies of sulfur are conducted on waters and sediments from modern environments ranging from basalt-hosted alkaline lakes to deep mines to Antarctic dry-valley lakes. Pratt and her students also study black shale from Precambrian and Cretaceous marine sequences.

Current funding: NASA grant entitled, Shallow-Borehole Array for Measuring Greenland Emission of Trace Gases as an Analogue for Methane on Mars (GETGAMM) 20011-2016. GETGAMM website

Juergen Schieber

Professor of Geological Sciences. Early diagenetic mineral formation in shales. Preservation of microbes in mudstones. Provenance of quartz in mudstones. Shale Research Laboratory

Shales are my passion. They constitute approximately two thirds of the sedimentary column on Earth, and are nonetheless the least understood sedimentary rock type. The lion’s share of the sedimentary rock record consists of shales and mudstones. Although still only a footnote in most soft rock curricula, there are a number of very good reasons to study shales and mudstones.

Bob Wintsch

Professor of Geological Sciences. Metamorphic petrology, structural petrology, tectonic, geochronology.

Laboratory and field studies of several aspects of metamorphic geology, from diagenesis and low grade metamorphism in slaty rocks to high grade metamorphism and partial melting. Much of this research focuses on identifying the relationships between deformational and metamorphic processes, from the grain scale and pressure solution to the scale of terranes and terrane assembly. Chemical processes turn out to have a relatively large role in the evolution of fault rocks, from pressure solution-like dissolution/precipitation reactions in a near closed system, to reaction softening and reaction hardening in relatively open systems. We have identified ductile processes in very shallow fault zones where brittle deformation is expected, and evidence for brittle (seismic?) deformation in rocks as high grade as the sillimanite zone, where ductile deformation is expected. We have been working on fault rocks from the Moine thrust, Scotland, Insubric line southern Swiss Alps, and the northern and central Appalachians.


A large number of adjunct faculty and geologists in the Indiana Geological Survey are involved in many aspects of research in sedimentology, stratigraphy and basin analysis. Our location on the east flank of the Illinois Basin makes study of the formation, history, and depositional settings in this basin particularly convenient. Researchers in the department are studying rocks deposited in the basin as old as Proterozoic and as young as Pennsylvanian. Indeed, some of our faculty and students have studied the sedimentology of the Pleistocene sediments that blanket the northern part of the state and fill the valleys to the south.