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Chap 3

Chap 3

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Published by Shalini Singh

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Published by: Shalini Singh on Sep 29, 2010
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47
C
HAPTER
3. C
LASSIFICATION
 
OF
T
ERRIGENOUS
C
LASTIC
R
OCKS
In nature there is a wide variety of sedimentary rocks and each type differs from all other types in terms of physicalproperties, composition and/or mode of origin. The classification of sedimentary rocks is a necessary exercisethat provides consistent nomenclature to facilitate communication between sedimentologists (i.e., the classificationsets limits to the attributes of any given class) and most classification schemes are based on characteristics thathave some genetic significance. This chapter briefly describes the classification of sedimentary rocks on variousscales and then focuses on a particular class: terrigenous clastic sedimentary rocks.
A F
UNDAMENTAL
C
LASSIFICATION
O
F
S
EDIMENT
A
ND
S
EDIMENTARY
R
OCKS
Figure 3-1 shows the the relationship between sedimentary rock classificaiton and the origin of the sedimentthat makes up the rocks. All sedimentary rocks are composed of the products of “weathering”, the process thatcauses the physical and/or chemical breakdown of a pre-existing rock (termed a source rock). These “products”include detrital grains (chemically stable grains) and material in solution. Detrital grains are normally dominatedby quartz, with lesser amounts of feldspars, rock fragments, micaceous and clay minerals, insoluble oxides, and asmall proportion (normally less than 1%) of what are termed “heavy minerals” because they have a higher densitythan the quartz and feldspars. The heavy minerals may be relatively non-reactive to chemical weathering but formonly a small proportion of a source rock (e.g., tourmaline and zircon) or they may be less stable minerals that comprisea relatively large proportion of the source rock (e.g., the amphiboles and pyroxenes). Rock fragments (syn. lithicfragments) may include as wide a range of particles as there are source rocks but only fragments composed of relatively resistant (physically and/or chemically) minerals withstand transport over great distances. Detrital grainsalso include some micaceous and clay minerals and insoluble oxides that are formed by chemical reactions on thesurfaces of some minerals during chemical weathering. The micaceous minerals produced by weathering arerelatively unstable. However, clay minerals, dominated by kaolinite, illite and montmorillonite, and insoluble oxides,including hematite, bauxite, laterite, and gibbsite, are generally very stable. The exact composition of detrital grainsproduced by weathering will depend on the relative importance of chemical and physical weathering and thecomposition of the source rock.Sediment formed from the products of weathering are normally deposited following a period of transport to somesite of deposition. The various types of sedimentary rocks may be most fundamentally classified according to thetype of weathering product from which they form: as
chemical sediment
, composed of material that was transportedin solution and deposited by precipitation from solution, or
clastic sediment
, that include all of the particulateproducts of weathering (i.e., the detrital grains produced by weathering) that are transported to their site of deposition by a variety of physical processes: by running water (rivers, currents in lakes, seas and oceans), glaciers,wind, volcanic eruptions (non-igneous rocks produced by explosions and breakage during lava flow), and gravity(e.g., landslides).The chemical sediment may be further subdivided according to the specific mode of formation. Sediment thatprecipitates directly from solution is termed
orthochemical sediment
(e.g., halite, gypsum, some limestone anddolomite) whereas those that are precipitated by organisms, to form their own shell material, are termed
biogenic
sediments. Biogenic sediment is dominated by calcium carbonate (i.e., they form many limestones or have beendiagenetically altered to dolomite) but also include siliceous sediment (e.g., biogenic chert) composed of theexoskeletons of siliceous-shelled organisms (e.g., diatoms).Clastic sediment may also be divided into subclasses on the basis of their composition and mode of origin. Themost common is the
terrigenous clastic sediment
, including all sediment composed of detrital grains (derived from
any
source rock) that were transported to their site of deposition. Clastic sediment that is derived from the productsof volcanic eruptions is termed
pyroclastic sediment
. A third, special type, of clastic sediment that spans betweenclastic and biogenic sediment is the
bioclastic sediment
that is composed of reworked biogenic sediment (i.e., shellmaterial that is reworked by currents). Each of these subclasses of clastic sediment can be subdivided according
 
48
Source Rock
   P
   h
  y
 s
  i
 c
 a
  l
a
 n
 d
C
h
e
m
i
a
r  
i  
 g  
TRANSPORTRiversWindGlaciersOceanic currentsVolcanic explosionssolutionssolid particles
detrital grainsclayinsoluble oxides
DEPOSITIONPrecipitation Cessation of movement
     d      i    r    e    c     t      f    r    o    m     s    o      l    u     t      i    o    n
a     s      s    h     e    l      l       m    a    t     e    r    i      a    l      
OrthochemicalsedimentBiogenicsedimentClastic sedimentBioclasticsedimentTerrigenousclasticsedimentPyroclasticsedimentChemical Sediment
r  e  w  o  r  k  i   n   g  
Figure 3-1
. Illustration showing the relationship between sedimentary rock classification and the origin of the sedimentmaking up the rocks.
 
49to a variety of characteristics and the remainder of this chapter will focus on the classification of terrigenous clasticsediment. However, note that many of the criteria for subdividing terrigenous clastic sediment may also be usedto further subdivide pyroclastic and bioclastic sediment.
C
LASSIFICATION
 
OF
T
ERRIGENOUS
C
LASTIC
S
EDIMENT
Most widely-used classifications of terrigenous clastic sediment or sedimentary rocks are based on thedescriptive properties of a rock (e.g., grain size, grain shape, grain composition). The classifications summarizedhere are largely descriptive but they are based on properties that may have important genetic implications (seebelow).A descriptive classification of any rock may be made at various levels and precision. The classification of terrigenous clastic sediment and rocks given in Table 3-1 represents the simplest subdivision and is based solelyon grain size (note that the boundaries between sediment/rock types are from the Udden-Wentworth grade scale).This classification should be considered a “first-order” classification and each class may be further subdivided onthe basis of a variety of characteristics.
C
LASSIFICATION
 
OF
S
ANDSTONES
Basis of Classification
Sandstones may be further classified on the basis of the composition of the grains and the proportion of therock that is fine-grained
matrix
(dominated clay size sediment), as determined by examination of specimens in thinsection. The major components of most sandstones are: quartz (including chert and polycrystalline quartz),feldspars, rock fragments and matrix; most other minerals are not sufficiently stable to survive significant transportand comprise only a small proportion of grains in comparison to the major components, and are neglected in mostclassifications. Note that sediment with the composition described is commonly termed
siliciclastic sediment
.Several schemes for classifying sandstones have been proposed, based on the relative proportions of the majorcomponents listed above. Figures 3-2 and 3-3 show a classification proposed by Dott (1964), defining thecompositional limits of each subclass of sandstone. Note that in this classification Dott defines matrix as all particlesfiner than 0.03 mm; within the range of clay-size particles. This classification limits the term arenite to rocks withless than 15% matrix while a rock with between 15% and 75% matrix is termed a “graywacke” (also spelled“greywacke” or, in German, “grauwacke”; commonly abbreviated as “wacke”). All sedimentary rocks with morethan 75% matrix are termed mudstones in this scheme. The arenites and graywackes are further subdivided on thebasis of the relative proportions of their major constituents (excluding matrix) by plotting their relative proportionson a ternary diagram. Figure 3-2 is rather schematic so take a close look at figure 3-3 to see the limits assigned toeach subclass of arenite and graywacke. According to figure 3-3A a quartz arenite contains no less than 90% quartzgrains and a subarkose contains between 5 and 25% feldspars, less than 25% rock fragments (but the proportion
Table 3-1.
Classification of terrigenous clastic sediment/rocks based on grain size.
Grain size
1
Sediment nameRock nameAdjectives(mm)
>2GravelRuditecobble, pebble, well-sorted, etc.0.0625 - 2SandSandstone or arenitecoarse, medium, fine, well-sorted, etc.<0.0625MudMudstone or lutitesilt or clay
1
For the purposes of this general classification we will assign the rock or sediment name shown if more than50% of the particles are in the size range shown. More detailed classification schemes will limit terms onthe basis of different proportions of sediment within a give size range (see text).

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