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Our paper on compensation stacking of channelized sedimentary deposits will be featured as the September cover article in the
Journal of Sedimentary Research.
Compensational stacking, the tendency for sediment transport systems to preferentially fill topographic lows through deposition, is a concept widely used in the interpretation of stratigraphic architecture but until now it has not been quantified. We propose a metric to quantify the degree of compensation by comparing observed stacking patterns in subsiding basins to what would be expected from uncorrelated random stacking. We then used our metric, termed the compensation index, to analyze six sedimentary basins using laboratory experiments, seismic data, and outcrops. Our analysis indicates that the key parameters controlling compensation in subsiding basins include the frequency of system scale avulsion and the temporal variability in deposition rates. Further, we find that the stratigraphy of the six study basins fall roughly midway between purely random and perfectly ordered architecture.