Basin analysis and subsurface interpretation

Postgraduate course

Course description

Objectives and Content

The goal of the course is to provide the theoretical background and practical structural, sedimentary and stratigraphic skills required to understand and interpret the evolution of sedimentary basins. This is important to utilize resources in the subsurface.


An important aspect of the course is developing an integrated understanding of the structural and sedimentary geology of sedimentary basins and their stratigraphic fill.  Firstly, the course provides and overview of the main types of sedimentary basin and the controls on basin infill. Secondly, an overview of seismic stratigraphy is covered, followed by analysis of basin-forming structures in seismic data, including recognition and use of syn-tectonic (growth) strata in understanding the evolution of structures.  Thirdly, the course provides an overview of core analysis and  standard wireline logging suite collected from boreholes and their use in sedimentary and stratigraphic interpretation.  Practical exercises are a major part of the course and using real-world data from the Norwegian Continental Shelf and other sedimentary basins.  The concept of play-based exploration is also explored. Some of these exercises are undertaken individually and some are tackled by small teams.  The whole course gives students a basic understanding of the structure and sedimentary evolution of sedimentary basins and the practical skills required for analysis using subsurface data.

Learning Outcomes

On completion of the course the student should have the following learning outcomes defined in terms of knowledge, skills and general competence:


The student can:

  • explain the main types of sedimentary basins and the driving mechanisms and structural  and stratigraphic styles
  • explain the main processes controlling the infill of sedimentary basins in a source-to-sink perspective (i.e. tectonics, sea-level and climate and their interactions)
  • explain seismic stratigraphic concepts and understand different seismic stratigraphic models
  • explain the processes of fault growth in selected sedimentary basin types, and the effects of fault growth and evolution on depocenter development and depositional systems
  • know the standard wireline logs collected from boreholes and explain the  use of core data and wireline logs in sedimentary and stratigraphic analysis
  • have an in-depth knowledge of selected types of sedimentary basins from case studies, including from the Norwegian Continental Shelf


The student can:

  • describe and interpret the structural style and evolution of a sedimentary basin and determine the main tectonic phases in the basins history
  • describe and interpret the basin fill in terms of seismic stratigraphy and assess the controls on depositional systems in a source-to-sink context.
  • perform stratigraphic and structural interpretation of seismic data and integrate these to determine the evolution of sedimentary basins
  • perform sedimentary and stratigraphic interpretation of borehole datasets (core and wireline logs).
  • perform play-based exploration


General competence

The student

  • gets a foundation in seismic and borehole data analysis for basin analysis 
  • will have undertaken an integrated team project and developed the skills necessary to working in, and manage small group projects.
  • will have given presentations for the course participants
  • will have prepared and delivered reports on basin analysis topics
  • will be able to use the above knowledge and skills acquired during the course to practical work related to subsurface prospect evaluation and reservoir characterization for petroleum plays, CO2 storage repositories, and aquifers.

Semester of Instruction

Required Previous Knowledge
Recommended Previous Knowledge
Teaching and learning methods

Lectures, 1 hour per week for 10 weeks

Practicals, 3 hours per week for 10 weeks

Group work for 2 comprehensive reports.

Compulsory Assignments and Attendance
  • Participation in compulsory exercises after each lecture
  • Participation in mega-sequence training
  • Participation in well correlation exercise
  • Participation in oral discussion
  • Forms of Assessment
    Portfolio assessment: 
    • Assessment of a written report for each of the compulsory exercises after each lecture 
    • Assessment of seismic megasequence workshop report
    • Assessment of well correlation workshop report
    • Oral discussion of course content and reports
    Grading Scale
    The grading scale used is A to F. Grade A is the highest passing grade in the grading scale, grade F is a fail.
    Reading List

    Allen and Allen, 2013: Basin Analysis: Principles and Application to Petroleum Play Assessment

    Information about well-log interpretation and seismic stratigraphy will be provided.