Department of Geology


GEOL363 Fossils, Strata and Hydrocarbon Basins

2010 Geology 263/363 Arthur's Pass Field School group at the exit to Cave Stream cave.

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Taratu Formation, Shag Point, North Otago
GEOL 262/363 students examine coal measures (Taratu Formation, Cretaceous) at Shag Point, North Otago.
Ototara Limestone at Campbell's Beach, North Otago
The Oligocene Ototara Limestone at Campbell's Beach, North Otago, records a complex history of sea level change.
scanning electron microscope
Geology 363 students use the scanning electron microscope for project work on fossil foraminifera.
Globoquadrina dehiscens
Fossil planktic foraminiferan Globoquadrina dehiscens, from Gee Greensand of North Otago. Age: Late Oligocene, about 24 Ma.

"Fossils, strata and hydrocarbon basins" introduces the geology (especially stratigraphy and history) of hydrocarbon basins. There is significant emphasis on fossils (for dating and paleoenvironmental study) and sedimentary rocks (paleoenvironments). Lab and field work will complement lecture topics, to integrate theory and practice in basin studies, and will include problem-solving using real examples. The course will give a sound basis for understanding the geological history of basins at the local, regional and international level. Broader topics considered are case studies on New Zealand basins, microfossils as tools in dating and paleoenvironmental analysis, Cretaceous/Cenozoic stratigraphy, principles of basin evolution, subsurface (e.g. seismic) techniques, hydrocarbon maturation, and geohistory analysis.


Introduction to New Zealand basins: Canterbury basin and Taranaki basin - sequences and settings, tools for study.
Micropaleontology and stratigraphy: foraminifera - recognition, classification; characters and case study applications of planktics and benthics; biostratigraphy and correlation; paleoenvironmental analysis; other microfossil groups (dinoflagellates, coccoliths, etc); chronostratigraphic sections, graphic correlation, integrated stratigraphy (bio-, magneto-, oxygen, strontium etc).
Genetic stratigraphy: genetic stratigraphic units - sequence stratigraphy; seismic, downhole, and related approaches.
Petroleum: hydrocarbon geochemistry, formation, migration; overpressuring; reservoirs; organic maturity; petroleum occurrences in New Zealand and elsewhere.
Basins and geohistory analysis: basin evolution - tectonic settings, processes, and examples; broader pictures - deducing past history; theory and practice of backstripping techniques; simple thermal analyses of maturation.


EAOS111/ GEOL112

Background requirements

Basic knowledge of stratigraphy, mapping, sedimentology and paleontology.

Teaching staff

Prof. Ewan Fordyce, Assoc Prof Andrew Gorman


First Semester; 12 weeks, 22 lectures (Tuesday 8 am, 12 noon) and 12 laboratories (Tuesday-am or Tuesday-pm stream). Lectures will be in Quad 1. In the first week, Tue 28 Feb, lectures will be at 8 am and 1 pm; in all other weeks, the lectures will be at 8 am and 12 noon.

One or more lecture and/or lab slots may be used as part of a half-day field trip; you will be advised on this later.

Lab classes will be run at least for first half of semester in the Paleo/Sed lab 1s6. Because of high numbers of students in 2012, we will run a second laboratory class each Tuesday morning, 9 am to 11. 50 am. You should have been "streamed" into one of the 2 lab slots.


1. North Otago, ONE DAY,
EITHER Saturday 1 March (Geol 263)
OR Sunday 2 March (Geol 363).
Wear field clothing; bring a lunch. Aim: collect samples for labs in weeks 2-6. You will get details in class.

2. Castle Hill Basin-Arthur's Pass
EITHER Fri to Sun 21-23 March (Geol 263), staying Fri and Sat nights at Cass Field Station,
OR Fri to Sun 28-30 March (Geol 363), staying Fri and Sat nights at Cass Field Station. You will get details in class nearer the time. Aim: field studies of Canterbury basin sequences - basement, main basin sequence, glacial deposits.

Field trips (attendance, submission of satisfactory field notebook) will generate 10% of the course grade: 4% for the first trip attended satisfactorily, 6% for the second trip.

You must attend a Health and Safety briefing for each field trip, and have your attendance formally signed off.


50% internal assessment and field trips; 50% final exam.

Internal assessment is as follows: work set by Ewan Fordyce, 20% of final grade; work set by Andrew Gorman, 20%; field trips, 10%. Details will be provided with the course outline.


Lectures will refer to varied general texts and to research articles, supplemented by handouts. There is no one required text for the course, but we strongly recommend you read relevant chapters in:

Boggs, S. 2000. Principles of sedimentology and stratigraphy . 3rd edition. Prentice Hall, 726 p.

You should also read relevant sections in the Encylopedia of Geology, accessible under E-journals/E-books via the Library web page:

2004 class at Cass

2006 class at Cass

2008 class

2008 Geol 263/363 Arthur's Pass Field School group at the exit to Cave Stream cave.

Note: This information is for 2014, and may have been updated since the Guide to Enrolment was printed.

Title Fossils, Strata and Hydrocarbon Basins
Code GEOL363
Subject Geology
Points 18 points
Teaching Period(s) First semester
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZ$) 931.80
International Tuition Fees (NZ$) 3,984.75


Foraminifera, other microfossils, and applied micropaleontology; stratigraphic techniques and paleoenvironmental analysis; coal deposits and coal resources, hydrocarbons, oil and gas exploration, basin history analysis.

Prerequisites: GEOL 251 & 252

Restriction: GEOL 263

Schedule C: Science


Location Dunedin
Lecture Tue : 08:00-08:50
Tue : 12:00-12:50
Practical Tue : 14:00-16:50