Non‐uniqueness and symmetry in stratigraphic interpretations: A quantitative approach for determining stratal controls

Jie Xiao, David Waltham

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Different combinations of stratal controls could produce identical sequence architectures. Consequently, interpretations of the stratigraphic record, for example to infer paleo-climate and eustatic sea-level history, suffer from non-uniqueness. However, variations in the multiple controls can be encapsulated through discovery of all possible solutions to an interpretation. As this paper demonstrates, a single solution can be directly transformed into an alternative solution that leaves the expected geological outcomes unaltered, which can be regarded as the existence of symmetry in the interpretation. Repetitive application of the symmetry method can therefore allow additional solutions to be rapidly derived given an existing solution. The proposed method has been adapted to a stratigraphic forward model for interpreting the Baltimore Canyon stratigraphy. Modelling results have indicated the ranges of changes in relative sea-level, sediment supply and subaerial erosion from Oligocene to Mid-Miocene. Using these limits, it is possible to determine what appears to be true in the paleo-history, even when a solution is not unique.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1700-1715
Number of pages16
Issue number5
Early online date30 Oct 2018
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2019

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