Sedimentary facies changes may indicate transgressions and regressions and are often easily identified, because of the unique conditions required to deposit each type of sediment. For instance, coarse-grained clastics like sand are usually deposited in nearshore, high-energy environments; fine-grained sediments however, such as silt and carbonate muds, are deposited farther offshore, in deep, low-energy waters.
Thus, a transgression reveals itself in the sedimentary column when there is a change from nearshore facies (such as sandstone) to offshore ones (such as marl), from the oldest to the youngest rocks. A regression will feature the opposite pattern, with offshore facies changing to nearshore ones. The strata represent regressions less clearly, as their upper layers are often marked by an erosional unconformity.
These are both idealized scenarios; in practice identifying transgression or regressions can be more complicated. For instance, a regression may be indicated by a change from carbonates to shale only, or a transgression from sandstone to shale, and so on. Lateral changes in facies are also important; a well-marked transgression sequence in an area where an epeiric sea was deep may be only partial farther away, where the water was shallow. One should consider such factors when interpreting a specific sedimentary column.