pISSN 0705-3797 eISSN 2586-1298
HOME Article View


Episodes 1998; 21(3): 172-177

Published online September 1, 1998


Copyright © International Union of Geological Sciences.

Sedimentology and stratigraphy in the 1950s to mid-1980s: The story of a personal perspective

Gerald M. Friedman

Northeastern Science Foundation Inc., College of the City of New York, P.O. Box 746, Troy, New York 12181-0746, USA

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0) which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Despite an august history of 150 years, sedimentology as a science has advanced most rapidly since about 1950. This rapid advance resulted from a change of sedimentology as a pure to an applied science. Economic incentives, particularly in the exploration for petroleum, spurred prodigious expansion and rapid advances in sedimentology. Major oil companies began to realize that sedimentology was the key to success in exploration. Recognition of the enormous value of sedimentology as a key to the discovery of stratigraphic traps represented a turning point in the history of the science. The 1947 report of the Research Committee of the American Association of the Petroleum Geologists, under the leadership of Shepard W. Lowman, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, stated that research in sedimentology is the most-urgent need in petroleum geology. Processresponse models and facies analysis dominated sedimentology. Convulsive and catastrophic events as sedimentological processes gained acceptance. This paper concludes with the mid-1980s after which sequence stratigraphy revolutionized the study of sedimentary deposits. This account is a personal perspective related through personal involvement in scientific societies, technical journals, and research.