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SEDIMENTS

A collection of transported fragments


or precipitated materials that
accumulate, typically in loose layers
as of sand or mud or Sediment is
composed of loose particles that are
not stuck together. This is the
material that is deposited and later is
made into sedimentary rock. In field
conditions sediments will destroy in
your hands or in the water.
Types of sediments:

• Detrital sediments: is composed of solid


fragments or detritus of preexisting rocks.
• Chemical sediments: forms from previously
dissolved minerals that have either
precipitated from solution in water or been
extracted from water by living organisms
shells, skeleton or organic substance are
deposited when the organism die.
Sedimentary Media

• Sediments are produced by weathering. A number of


media can erode/remove, transport, and deposit
sediments. The different means by which
sediments can be eroded, transported, and deposited
include:
• - runoff by rivers and streams
- wind
- marine/ocean currents and waves
- glaciers
- land sliding
Environments of sedimentation
• Upland Streams: Mountainous streams that have high flow.
Sediments are dominated
by large/coarse sizes; so the rocks that
commonly form include breccias and
conglomerates. Because flow is so rapid, most
sedimentary structures do not form
very well. There may be very poorly developed
bedding/layering, but other features
such as cross-bedding, ripple marks, etc. are not
likely to be present. Colors usually
contain some rusty color because of the
oxidation of Iron.
• Alluvial Fans: Deposits can be dumped along the base
of mountain ranges where valleys are present. The fan-
shaped deposits are known as alluvial fans. The
materials that are present are large/coarse grained
cobbles, gravels, and boulders; so breccias and
conglomerates are common sediments in alluvial fans.
Like mountainous streams, some poorly developed
bedding is present, but other sedimentary
structures are usually absent. Colors usually contain
some rusty color because of the oxidation of Iron.
• River channel environments:
- sediments dominated by sands; so sandstones
are the common rock type
- bedding may be very thick = massive but
bedding can range down to layers
that are only a few inches thick
- sedimentary structures present include small
to medium-sized ripple marks and
cross-beds; colors usually contain some
rusty color because of the oxidation
of Iron; fossil casts of tree trunks, roots, and
bark may also be found.
• Floodplain environments:
- sediments dominated by silts and
clays; so siltstones & shales
- sedimentary structures present
include well developed layering, ripple
marks, mudcracks, fossil plant
materials usually in the form of carbonized
remains or impressions; colors
usually range from rusty red to black depending
upon the amount of carbon in
plant remains
• Freshwater Lakes: Lake deposits are much like floodplain deposits because lakes
are
dominated by very fine/small sediments such as clay. Usually lakes are
quite still
so the layering is very very thin and continuous and not marked by
ripple marks or
many other sedimentary structures. Plant fossils that settle into lakes
are often
whole or complete and very very well preserved. Seasonal die-off of
algae coat
the bottom with carbon residues. During spring and summer months
there is little
die-off; so not much carbon residue is added to the sediments
accumulating at the
bottom of the lake; therefore alternating dark and light layers develop -
- very thin,
but alternating light and dark. Natural fresh water lakes are associated
with
floodplains and with glaciated landscapes (in this class glaciated
terranes and rocks
are rare in the record; so if a rock is interpreted as being from a lake, it
is most likely
from a lake associated with lowlands and rivers.
• Desert Lakes: Contain thick salt deposits; from time to time
sediment may wash into
a desert basin and separate salt deposits from each
other. The sediments are
likely to have Iron which stains the sediments and often
times the salts a rusty
color.
• Desert Windblown Dunes: Dunes are dominated by sand. Massive
= large scale cross
beds and massive ripples develop from the migration of
dunes as the wind blows.
Again, often times ancient dune deposits are stained a
rusty color.

• Glacial Deposits: not common as sedimentary rocks


• Deltas: Deltas are deposits along coastlines
that have been made by streams entering the
oceans. The Mississippi Delta is a classic
example. Because flow of the rivers that are
forming the delta fluctuate with years and
seasons.
• Beaches/Nearshore Settings: Beaches and
nearshore shallow marine environments: The
water in active so the finer/smaller materials are
washed offshore leaving sand-sized grains along
the shoreline
• Nearshore Settings: Some nearshore areas are
protected by sandbars or headlands; so they are
quiet environments. Small/fine grained materials
deposit. These quiet nearshore environments are
usually "muddy", and only a few organisms can
tolerate the muddy conditions.
• Deep marine: Conditions are quiet; so very
small/fine grained materials deposit.The
materials may be clays or small powder-sized
pulverized shell fragments; so rocks are
dominated by shales or fine-grained limestones
called micrites. The water may be so deep there
are not fossils. The setting is still so the only
features are usually very very well developed
layers. If fossils are present, they are likely to be
whole.
• Reefs: Reefs are organic buildup in the marine
setting. Most have been formed by the
intergrowth of corals, sponges, algae and
other animals such as worms and clams. If
the rock is solid fossils that are whole and
have corals, then the chances are, is that the
rock formed in an ancient reef.
Continental sedimentary rocks

Volcanic
Sand and Sandstone
Evaporate 14%
24%
1%

Silica
2%

Carbonates
16%

Shale
43%
Oceanic sedimentary rocks

Volcanic
Evaporate 3%
1% Sand and
Silica Sandstone
7% 20%

Carbonates
32% Shale
37%
Abundance of sedimentary rocks