Probabilistic correlation of single stratigraphic samples: A generalized approach for biostratigraphic data

Surangi W. Punyasena, Carlos Jaramillo, Felipe De La Parra, Yuelin Du

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Existing quantitative methods for biostratigraphic dating and correlation commonly ignore one of the key strengths of the microfossil record-relative abundance data. In this study, we present a maximum likelihood-based biostratigraphic method that demonstrates how microfossil abundance can be used in the stratigraphic placement of isolated samples. Precise correlation and dating of isolated paleontological samples is not possible with current methods, which are primarily intended for the alignment of longer stratigraphic sequences. In contrast, the probabilistic approach provided by likelihood analysis results in sample age estimates with defined confidence intervals. Therefore, all the uncertainties inherent in our age assessment (resulting from small sample sizes, incomplete sampling, imperfect knowledge of stratigraphic distributions, lack of taxonomic resolution of biostratigraphic data, and underlying environmental, paleogeographic, and sedimento-logic processes) are explicit in our results. We conclude with a field test of the method, from data collected from an oil well from the Catatumbo Basin, Colombia, illustrating the use of our approach in a real-world case study and highlighting how our method could be generalized to a wide range of stratigraphic problems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)235-244
Number of pages10
JournalAAPG Bulletin
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Fuel Technology
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Geology
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


Dive into the research topics of 'Probabilistic correlation of single stratigraphic samples: A generalized approach for biostratigraphic data'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this