Comparative sedimentology

The comparative sedimentology group seeks to elucidate controls on the three-dimensional heterogeneity of depositional bodies in the geological record. This record provides the group’s primary dataset, and is studied in onshore outcrop locations, on the seafloor, and in subsurface and submarine core sites. External controls on sedimentation (tectonics, climate and eustacy) are regarded in conjunction to the processing of their signals by sediment transport dynamics within sedimentary systems.

There is a strong appreciation for the hierarchy within the sedimentary system, and the full range of relevant temporal and spatial scales is covered, from the microsecond scales of turbulent sediment-grain transport, to the hundreds of millions of years associated with filling of large basins. Research approaches include studies of sedimentation in modern environments and numerical and physical experiments.

The results and insights of such comparative studies are translated to genetic models for the sedimentary rock record. The results of the sedimentology group contribute to a better understanding of paleoenvironments of the Earth’s past. They also find direct application in the hydrocarbon industry where they inform exploration and reservoir management.


Sedimentology staff is involved in the teaching of several courses in the Earth Sciences Ba and MSc programs.

Bachelor's programme

Field course Spain (GEO2-1118)
Joris Eggenhuisen is responsible for teaching the first year’s field module of physical field geology together with Herman van Roermund, Wout Krijgsman & Bas van Schootbrugge. The course is taught around the town of Aliaga in the Teruel province in Spain, and it introduces the first  students to a broad range of field techniques. The course demonstrates interdependency of the different geological disciplines in the field, by reconstructing the geological history of the study area from the Triassic to the Pleistocene with a combination of stratigraphy, sedimentology, field mapping, and structural analyses of faults and folds.

Sedimentary Systems (GEO2-1208)
This is an undergraduate introductory course in Sedimentology and Stratrigraphy, taught together with Frits Hilgen.

Field course 2 Pyrenees (GEO3–1210)
João is responsible for the second part of this field trip, in the vicinity of Tremp, which focuses on the study of the stratigraphy of a sedimentary basin that was filled during mountain building. Students work in groups and make a sedimentological and stratigraphic analysis of one of several Upper Cretaceous to middle Eocene stratigraphic units. This part of the field trip is closed with an excursion through the Tremp–Graus–Àger Basin during which the results of the fieldwork are placed in the context of tectonics, sea-level fluctuations, and climate.

Sedimentation, fauna, and climate (GEO3–1319)
This course covers four interrelated themes as follows:

  • Allogenic controls on sedimentation. Tectonics, eustasy, and climate. Sedimentary basins and sedimentary basin fill.
  • Sediment routing system. Composition of the hinterland. Weathering and erosion. Biogenic sediment production. Sediment transport and deposition. Rates of exogenic processes and changes in those rates. Accommodation space, sediment input, and relative sea level. Transgressions and regressions.
  • Basin stratigraphy. Process stratigraphy, time stratigraphy, and sequence stratigraphy. Stratigraphic cycles and sequence-generating mechanisms (tectonic, eustatic, and astronomical). Nonforced autocyclicity. Time in sequence stratigraphy. Stratigraphic completeness. Translation of sedimentary processes into record.
  • Evaluation of petroleum plays. Petroleum system and play. Source rocks, reservoirs, seals, and traps in the context of basin stratigraphy.

Master's programme

Dynamics of Sedimentary Systems (GEO4-1419)
The course shows how observations lead to questions that attempt to relate cause and effect in the formation of sedimentary deposits in the rock record. It shows how simple quantification of sedimentary processes can put constraints on solutions. The lectures are used to demonstrate how observations on outrcrops and surface processes lead to conceptual models of dynamics within the sedimentary system, and how we can develop physical, numerical, and physics-based mathematical models that capture these dynamics. The students will apply and test the developed models in computer and laboratory practicals.


Recent key publications of the Comparative sedimentology group:

Cartigny, M.J.B., Eggenhuisen, J.T., Hansen, E.W.M. & Postma, G. (2013). Concentration-dependent flow stratification in experimental high-density turbidity currents and their relevance to turbidite facies models. Journal of Sedimentary Research, 83-12, 1047-1065.

de Boer, P.L. and Trabucho Alexandre, J. (2012). Orbitally forced sedimentary rhythms in the stratigraphic record: Is there room for tidal forcing? Sedimentology, 59-2, 379-392.

Eggenhuisen, J.T. and McCaffrey, W.D. (2012) Dynamic deviation of fluid pressure from hydrostatic pressure in turbidity currents. Geology, 40-4, 295-298.

Eggenhuisen, J.T., McCaffrey, W.D., Butler, R.W.H. and Haughton, P.D.W. (2011) Shallow erosion beneath turbidity currents and its impact on the architectural development of turbidite sheet systems. Sedimentology, 58, 936-959, doi:10.1111/j.1365-3091.2010.01190.x.

Postma, G., Kleinhans, M.G., Meijer, P.Th. & Eggenhuisen, J.T. (2008). Sediment transport in analogue flume models compared with real world sedimentary systems: a new look at scaling sedimentary systems evolution in a flume. Sedimentology, 55-6, 1541-1557.

Postma, G. and Cartigny, M.J.B. (2014) Supercritical and subcritical turbidity currents and their deposits- A synthesis. Geology, 42-11, 987-990.

Trabucho Alexandre, J., Tuenter, E., Henstra, G.A., van der Zwan, K.J., van de Wal, R.S.W., Dijkstra, H.A. and de Boer, P.L. (2010). The mid-Cretaceous North Atlantic nutrient trap: Black shales and OAEs. Paleoceanography, 25, PA4201.




Graduate students

  • Navid Hermidas (Ph.D.)
  • Mike F.A. Lahaye (M.Sc.)
  • Jan de Leeuw (Ph.D.)
  • Joana Silva (Ph.D.)
  • Florian Pohl (Ph.D.)

Supporting staff

Visiting staff

  • Dr. Matthieu Cartigny (National Oceanography Centre, U.K.)
  • Dr. Dario Ventra (TNO/Université de Genève, Switzerland)


  • Prof. Dr. Poppe L. de Boer
  • Prof. Dr. Doeke Eisma
  • Dr. Wout Nijman
  • Dr. George Postma

Alumni (Degree from Sedimentology Utrecht/last known affiliation)

  • J.H. Baas (Ph.D./Bangor University, U.K.)
  • Jochem Bijkerk (Ph.D./Shell, Netherlands)
  • Nate Cheshier (M.Sc.)
  • J. Cleveringa (Ph.D.)
  • Q. Clevis (Ph.D./ Shell, Norway)
  • Godert de Keijzer (M.Sc./Shell, Netherlands)
  • J.A. de Visser (Ph.D.)
  • S.T. de Vries (Ph.D./SGS Horizon, Netherlands)
  • Roel Dirkx (M.Sc./TGS, U.K.)
  • Natalie Duncan (M.Sc./Geological Survey of Ireland, Ireland)
  • Gijs A. Henstra (M.Sc./Universitetet i Bergen, Norway)
  • Menno Hofstra (M.Sc./University of Leeds, U.K.)
  • X.D. Meijer (Ph.D.)
  • Patrick Michielsen (M.Sc.)
  • H. Moechtar (Ph.D.)
  • N. Molenaar (Ph.D.)
  • A.P. Oost (Ph.D./Deltares, Netherlands)
  • M.A. Prins (Ph.D./VU Amsterdam, Netherlands)
  • Johana Ramirez Bernal (M.Sc./Total, Netherlands)
  • L.P. Sha (Ph.D.)
  • M. Situmorang (Ph.D./Indonesia)
  • Arnoud Slootman (M.Sc./Université de Genève, Switzerland)
  • J.B. Stuut (Ph.D./NIOZ, Netherlands)
  • O. Sztanó (Ph.D./Eötvös Loránd University, Hungary)
  • Martijn ter Braack (M.Sc.)
  • Louisa Tlili (M.Sc.)
  • A.P. Van de Berg van Saparoea (Ph.D./Nexen Petroleum, U.K.)
  • F. Van den Belt (Ph.D./RSG NO Veluwe, Netherlands)
  • Evelien van der Heijden (M.Sc./Waternet, Netherlands)
  • M. van Dijk (Ph.D./Tauw, Netherlands)
  • Roeland I. van Gilst (M.Sc./NAM/Shell, Netherlands)
  • M.W.I.M. van Heijst (Ph.D./Twynstra Gudde, Netherlands)
  • Age Vellinga (M.Sc./NOC, U.K.)
  • G.J. Weltje (Ph.D./KU Leuven, Belgium)
  • Dineke Wiersma (M.Sc./NAM/Shell, Netherlands)
  • J.J.P. Zijlstra (Ph.D./GeoChem Tec, Italy)

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