arine sediments are formed by several processes. Detrital fragments of rocks and minerals can be carried to the seafrom distant, upland sources. Alternately, they can be formed in place by biological or chemical processes operatingeither at the site or very close by. Marine sediments can be grouped into three categories, based on their composition andmode of origin.
Terrigenous – grains which have been eroded from the land and carried to the marine environment, typically byrivers, wind, glaciers, slumping and mass wasting (clastic).
Biogenic – Fragments derived from biologically precipitated skeletal material, usually broken down by physicaland biological erosion. These are mainly calcium carbonate but a minor fraction can be siliceous (i.e, spongespicules).
Authigenic – Chemical deposits which are usually formed by precipitation from solution in the environment of deposition.
Evaporites – which are precipitated under hypersaline conditions (above normal marine salinities), have beenincluded in this group.Each sedimentary suite carries a record of both its origin and its ultimate environment of deposition. Sedimentcomposition provides important clues about the location of origin of the individual grains, and textural characteristics provide information about energy levels during transport and deposition, especially in areas dominated by clasticsediments of terrigenous origin.The discussion starts with textural characteristics common to all sediment types regardless of their origin. These sediment properties have been discussed in a number of textbooks dedicated solely to the subject of sedimentation. They aredescribed only generally below, and the student seeking more detailed descriptions is referred to Friedman, et al. 1992 for an excellent treatment of the subject. Building on this, each major sediment type and the rocks they ultimately form areconsidered. Once the groundwork has been laid for understanding the characteristics of marine sediments, sampling andanalytical methods are briefly outlined. Finally, the mechanisms most important in transporting sediments in modernmarine systems are considered.
egardless of the source of a particular sediment, certain physical characteristics are important in describing what thesediment "looks like." Primary among these are size, sorting, shape and color. These sediment properties have beendiscussed in a number of textbooks dedicated solely to the subject of sedimentation. They are described only generally below, and the student seeking more detailed descriptions is referred to Friedman, et al. 1992 for an excellent treatment of the subject.
Measuring Sediment Character
he physical measurement and statistical treatment of grain-size data are basic tools in the investigation of marinesediments. Characterization of the size population in a sediment sample can be either directly measured physicaldimensions or their "hydraulic equivalents," which are based on the settling velocities of quartz spheres.
erhaps the oldest, but still widely accepted, method of grain-size determination uses a nested set of sieves in which thesize of the mesh is progressively smaller down the stack. The screen of each sieve is woven from brass or stainlesssteel wire to form square openings. Because of this geometry, the width of the intermediate axis is the critical determinant