mantle geodynamics, oceanography, sedimentology, stratigraphy, paleontology, and hydrology are working together to study and interpret the historic record of geologic processes stored in sedimentary basins. The panel believes that continued efforts to encourage such collaborations among a wide range of geoscientists is a critical goal for strengthening basin research in the future.

Today, multidisciplinary research on sedimentary basins is focused on understanding and predicting

  • basin formation within the framework of plate tectonics and mantle convection;
  • hydrocarbon generation and migration during basin evolution;
  • present and historic fluid flow and chemical transport;
  • changes in basin fill and thermal evolution with the tectonic environment;
  • spatial and temporal variations of subsurface porosity; and
  • the record of tectonics, climate, and sea-level change preserved in sedimentary basins.

Developing a broad research agenda for basin studies will be important because there is considerable overlap among these topics. For example, predicting hydrocarbon formation and migration requires information on porosities and thermal and tectonic histories. Models of fluid and chemical transport depend on the distribution of rock types in a basin as well as the variations in porosity. Models of basin formation utilize a broad range of information to constrain the historical record of subsidence, fill, and chemical evolution. And patterns of subsidence through time help constrain geodynamic theories of Earth behavior.

Because of these interrelationships, advances in one research area may rely on advances in distant fields. For example, accurate interpretations of the paleo-oceanographic record in sediments may require advances in the subsurface visualization of basins obtained through reflection seismology and high-performance computing. Similarly, hydrologic flow models could be improved through enhanced understanding of fault distributions and rock properties in basins.

Future basin research will also be challenging because of the extreme heterogeneities of basins and basin materials over a range of length scales from the micron scale of the mineral-fluid interface of a particular grain to variations in sequence stratigraphy over distances of hundreds of kilometers. Moreover, geologic observations document that

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