CSDMS 2014 annual meeting - Uncertainty and Sensitivity in Surface Dynamics Modeling

Testing the efficacy and uncertainty of outcrop- and model-based studies through collaboration: A field geologist’s perspective

David Pyles

Colorado School of Mines, United States

Recent technological advances in data collection techniques have yielded opportunities to better quantify stratigraphic stacking patterns, flow processes and sedimentation from outcrops of ancient sediment transport systems. These advancements created opportunities for field geologists to reduce uncertainty in the interpretation of the stratigraphic record and have likewise created data sets from which the efficacy of numerical models and physical experiments can be evaluated. The goals of this presentation are to (1) review some combined outcrop-model based studies, (2) discuss how these integrated studies test model and field-based uncertainty, and (3) share a vision for how field geologists and modelers can leverage from each other’s perspectives.

Five examples of studies that bridged the gap between outcrop stratigraphy and experimental and/or numerical models include: (1) documentation of how mineralogy varies spatially in submarine fans, (2) relating flow processes to sedimentation in sinuous submarine channels, (3) evaluating compensational stacking in deltas and submarine fans, (4) relating stratigraphic architecture of deltas to inherited water depth and seafloor gradient, and (5) testing how shelf-edge deltas pipe coarse-grained sediment to submarine fans. These and similarly focused studies are important because they used common workflows and quantitative methods to evaluate similarities and differences between modeled and natural systems, resulting in a more complete view of the processes and products being studied. Whereas common workflows can provide a means to test the efficacy of physical and numerical modeling, it is critical to consider how modeling sheds insight into how one interprets the stratigraphic record from outcrop and subsurface data sets.

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Of interest for:
  • Terrestrial Working Group
  • Ecosystem Dynamics Focus Research Group