From Bureau of Economic Geology, The University of Texas at Austin (
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Bureau Seminar, February 13, 2004

Seismic Geomorphology: The Future of Seismic Investigation in
Depositional System Analysis

Lesli J. Wood


The discipline of geomorphology has a long and illustrious history but in recent years an entirely new way of studying landscapes and seascapes has been developed. It involves the use of seismic data - specifically 3-D seismic data. Just as CAT scans allow medical staff to view our anatomy in 3-D, seismic data now allows Earth Scientists to do what the early geomorphologists such as William Morris Davis and Albrecht Penck could only dream of - and that is view 10’s and 100’s of square kilometers of the Earth’s subsurface in 3-D, over millions of geologic years! Evolving image technologies enable geoscientists to see in greater detail than ever before possible how seascapes and landscapes have evolved through time. Seismic Geomorphology, when integrated with seismic and sequence stratigraphy, is a powerful tool for the prediction of lithologies, architecture and processes in space and time. Quantitative seismic geomorphology moves this new science ever further to the quantification of morphometrics in seismically imaged depositional systems and translation of that data into real predictive models of the system’s form, fill and processes. We will examine the principles and some of the techniques in earth history investigation through this marriage of seismic and geomorphology.