The importance of process in modern tectono-stratigraphy and regional geology

Peter Lunt, Xiwu Luan


In its simplest form geology is a history, which appears to only require the compilation of a chronicle. However, our data is fragmentary, and aspects such as the dimension of time and the depositional setting of sediments are obscured, especially the correlation of time over wide areas and determining rates of change. As a result, geology cannot advance just by accumulating observations, expecting that a credible narrative will inevitably emerge. There must be reality checks on the proposed history to avoid confirmation bias towards over-simple expectations. In a region suspected to be complicated and, in many ways, unique we require an abductive investigative technique to reconstruct its history. This means to force testing through cross-checking independent but related data types. Such inter-disciplinary testing can produce a rigorous framework, even to reconstruct special situations not accommodated by ideas models. This essay examines three topics necessary for such evidence-based investigation. The first is to investigate and document the reliability of observations (like the “error-bars” required in hard-sciences). Secondly is the shift from model-based to evidence-based processes (from deductive to abductive reasoning). Thirdly is the need to consider if conclusions are “significant” - i.e., is there confidence that an interpretation would be repeatable by independent workers, as well as being distinct from background variability in data. It is proposed that we must acknowledge the replication crisis highlighted in the past two decades in other sciences by considering how we work in the complex geology of SE Asia, to prevent a similar validation crisis undermining the value of the science here.


regional geology, tectonostratigraphy

Full Text:



Baker, M., 2016. "1,500 scientists lift the lid on reproducibility". Nature (News Feature). Springer Nature. 533 (7604): 452–454.

DOI: 10.1038/533452a

van Bemmelen, R.W., 1949. The Geology of Indonesia. The Hague, Netherlands: Government Printing Office., 997

Fisher, R.A. 1925. Statistical Methods for Research Workers. Oliver and Boyd, Edinburgh, 237 pp.

Gradstein, F.M., Ogg, J.G., Schmitz, M.D., and Ogg, G.M., 2012. The Geological Time Scale 2012 (1). Elsevier, Amsterdam., 1144

Halbouty, M.T., 1982. The Deliberate Search for the Subtle Trap., DOI: 10.1306/M32427

Haq, B.U., Hardenbol, P.R., and Vail, P.R., 1987. Chronology of fluctuating sea levels since the Triassic. Science 235, 1156-1167

Haq, B.U., Hardenbol, J., and Vail, P.R., 1988. Mesozoic and Cenozoic chronostratigraphy and eustatic cycles. Sea-level changes; An integrated approach SEPM Special Publication 42, 71-108

Ioannidis, J.P.A., 2005. Why most published research findings are false. PloS Med 2(8),

Kerr, N. L., 1998. "HARKing: Hypothesizing after the results are known". Personality and Social Psychology Review. 2 (3): 196–217.


Kuhn, T.S., 1962. The structure of scientific revolutions. Chicago & London: Phoenix Books, The University of Chicago Press., 196

Kupferschmidt, K., 2018. More and more scientists are preregistering their studies. Should you? Science (News), 18 Sept. 2018.

DOI: 10.1126/science.aav4786

Leong K.M., 1974. The Geology and Mineral Resources of Upper Segama Valley and Darvel Bay, Sabah (4). Malaysia Geological Survey, Borneo Region., 354

Liechti, P., 1960. The geology of Sarawak, Brunei and the western part of North Borneo (Bulletin 3). Kuching Sarawak: Geological Survey Department British Territories in Borneo.

Luan, X., and Lunt, P., 2021. Latest Eocene and Oligocene tectonic controls on carbonate deposition in eastern Java and the south Makassar Straits, Indonesia. Journal of Asian Earth Sciences 220, 104900

DOI: 10.1016/j.jseaes.2021.104900

Luan, X., and Lunt, P., 2022. Controls on Early Miocene carbonate and siliciclastic deposition in eastern Java and south Makassar Straits, Indonesia. Journal of Asian Earth Sciences 227, 105091

DOI: 10.1016/j.jseaes.2022.105091

Lunt, P., 2014. A review of the foraminiferal biostratigraphy of the Melinau Limestone, Sarawak. Berita Sedimentologi 29, 41-52

Lunt, P., 2019a. A new view of integrating stratigraphic and tectonic analysis in South China Sea and north Borneo basins. Journal of Asian Earth Sciences 177, 220-239

Lunt, P., 2019b. Partitioned transtensional Cenozoic stratigraphic development of North Sumatra. Marine and Petroleum Geology 106, 1-16

Lunt, P., 2021. Tectono-stratigraphic framework of Luconia carbonates. SEPM Special publication, Cenozoic Isolated Carbonate Platforms – Focus Southeast Asia 114,

DOI: 10.2110/sepmsp.114.08

Lunt, P., 2022. Re-examination of the Base Miocene Unconformity in West Sabah and stratigraphic evidence against a slab-pull subduction model. Journal of Asian Earth Sciences 230, 105193

DOI: 10.1016/j.jseaes.2022.105193

Lunt, P. and Luan, X., 2023a. Giving names to features in geology; the choice between subjective listing or researching objective natural divisions. Berita Sedimentologi, 49 (2), 28 – 55.

Lunt, P. and Luan, X., 2024b. When, how much, how fast, and why it matters. A quantitative view of stratigraphy and the emergence of a new paradigm. Berita Sedimentologi, 49 (3), 18 - 46.

Matenco, L.C., and Haq, B.U., 2020. Multi-scale depositional successions in tectonic settings. Earth-Science Reviews 200, 102991.

DOI: 10.1016/j.earscirev.2019.102991

Matthews, S.J., and Bransden, P.J.E., 1995. Late Cretaceous and Cenozoic tectono-stratigraphic developments of the East Java Sea Basin, Indonesia. Marine and Petroleum Geology 12(5), 499-510.

Maynard, K., and Morgan, W.A., 2005. Appraisal of a complex, platform carbonate, Bukit Tua discovery, Ketapang PSC, East Java Basin, Indonesia. Proceedings from Proceedings Indonesian Petroleum Association Convention: 30, 317-330.

Miall, A.D., 1992. Exxon global cycle chart: An event for every occasion. Geology 20, 787-790.

Miall, A.D., 2004. Empiricism and model building in stratigraphy: The historical roots of present-day practices. Stratigraphy 1(1), 3-25.

Miall, C.E., and Miall, A.D., 2002. The Exxon factor: The Roles of Corporate and Academic Science in the Emergence and Legitimation of a New Global Model of Sequence stratigraphy. The Sociological Quarterly 43(2), 307-334.

Miall, A.D., and Miall, C.E., 2004. Empiricism and model-building in stratigraphy: Around the hermeneutic circle in the pursuit of stratigraphic correlation. Stratigraphy 1(1), 22-46.

Morley, R.J., Hasan, S.S., Morley, H.P., Jais, J.H.M., Mansor, A., Aripin, M.R.,

Nordin, M.H., and Rohaizar, M.H., 2021. Sequence biostratigraphic framework for the Oligocene to Pliocene of Malaysia: High-frequency depositional cycles driven by polar glaciation. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 561, 110058

DOI: 10.1016/j.palaeo.2020.110058

Petronas., 1999. The petroleum geology and resources of Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur: Petroliam Nasional Berhad (Petronas)., 665 pp.

Posamentier, H.W., Jervey, M.T., and Vail, P.R., 1988. Eustatic controls on clastic deposition; I-conceptual framework. Sea-level changes; An integrated approach SEPM Special Publication 42, 109-124.

DOI: 10.2110/pec.88.01.0109

Premoli-Silva, I., and Jenkins, D.G., 2001. Decision on the Eocene-Oligocene boundary stratotype. Episodes 16(3), 379-382.

Saller, A., Armin, R., Ichram, L.O., and Glenn-Sullivan, C., 1993. Sequence stratigraphy of aggrading and backstepping carbonate shelves, Oligocene, Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. In R. G. Loucks & J. F. Sarg (Eds.), Carbonate sequence stratigraphy: recent developments and applications. AAPG Memoir 57, 267-290.

Simonsohn, U., Nelson, L.D., and Simmons, J.P., 2013. P-Curve: A Key to the File Drawer. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, Forthcoming, 14 p.

Wong, R.H.F., 1993. Sequence stratigraphy of the Middle Miocene–Pliocene southern offshore Sandakan, East Sabah. Geological Society Malaysia Bulletin 33, 129-142.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Published By:


The Indonesian Sedimentologists Forum (FOSI)
The Indonesian Association of Geologists (IAGI)

Creative Commons License
Berita Sedimentologi is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.