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University of Sulaimani Faculty of Science and Science Education School of Science Department of Geology

Practical Sedimentary Rocks 3rd Year Geology 1st Semester 2011-2012

Lab. No. (7) Sedimentary structures and their significance

Mushir M. Q. Baziany (Stratigraphy & Sedimentology)


1. To identification of different types of sedimentary structures. 2. As guides to determine the agent or environment of deposition 3. As guides to stratigraphic order, by determination of top and bottom 4. To map paleocurrent systems. 5. As indices of flow conditions. 6. To assess chemical changes after deposition.

References: 1. Boggs S. Jr, 2006; Principles of Sedimentology and Stratigraphy.4th Edition. 2. Gary Nichols 1999; Sedimentology and Stratigraphy. 3. Selley R.C 1998; Applied Sedimentology. 4. Reineck H. E. and Singh I.B. 1980; Depositional Sedimentary Environments. 2nd Edition. 5. Pettijohn, F., J., 1975. Sedimentary Rocks, 3rd Edition Harper and Row, New York. 6. Tucker, M., E., 1991. Sedimentary Petrology. 2nd Edition. Blackwell Scientific Publications, Oxford. 7. Blatt, H., Middleton, G., V., and Murray, R., C. 1980; Origin of Sedimentary Rocks. 2nd Edition. Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs.

Introduction o Sedimentary structures are the internal larger-scale (megascopic) features of sedimentary rocks o which are distinguished from the smaller-scale (microscopic) features of sedimentary rocks, termed the sedimentary textures (fabric). o The majority of structures are formed by physical processes, before, during and after sedimentation, o while others result from organic and chemical processes.

Sedimentary structures are arbitrarily divided into:

Primary sedimentary structures: are formed by physical processes, before, during and after sedimentation. There are divisible into inorganic and organic sedimentary structures: 1. Erosional sedimentary structures. Inorganic 2. Depositional sedimentary structures. sedimentary 3. Deformational sedimentary structures. structures Organic sedimentary 4. Biogenic sedimentary structures. structures Secondary sedimentary structures: are formed by chemical processes, after sedimentation, such as concretions (diagenetic formation).

Inorganic sedimentary structures

1. Erosional Sedimentary Structure : o They are formed before the deposition of the overlying beds o Pre-depositional sedimentary structures in time of formations o These structures occur on surface between beds. o This group includes channel, scour-and-fill, flute, groove and tool marks.

2. Depositional Sedimentary Structures o They were formed actually during the deposition of beds o Syn-depositional sedimentary structures in time of formation o They are essential constructional structures which present within sedimentary beds. o This group includes massive beds, parting lineation, graded bedding, cross bedding and cross lamination, mudcracks

3. Deformational Sedimentary Structure o They were formed after the deposition of the beds o post-depositional sedimentary structures in time of formation o These structures are resulted from disturbing and disrupting of pre-and syn-depositional sedimentary structure. o This group of sedimentary structures includes slumps and slides.

Organic sedimentary structures

4. Biogenic Sedimentary Structure o A great variety of structures in sedimentary rocks can be attributed to the work of organisms. o These structures are referred to as biogenic, in contrast to the inorganic sedimentary structures. o Biogenic structures include plant rootlets, vertebrate footprints (tracks), trails (due to invertebrates), soft sediments burrows and hard rock borings. o These phenomena are collectively known as trace fossils and their study is referred to as ichnology


Large Scour fill

Flute cast

Groove cast

Graded bedding

Parting lineation

Ripple marks

Pebble imbrications

Cross stratification






Significance of sedimentary structures

A. Sedimentary structures are used as guides to determine the agent or environment of deposition as shown in following table.
Sedimentary structures Channel, scourand-fill, flute, groove and tool marks Root marks Cross bedding Agent Depositional environment River, alluvial fan and delta, and continental slope. Swamp and marsh All depositional environments except swamp, marsh, reef and abyssal plain.

Water Water Water and wind

Sedimentary structures Lamination



Graded bedding Ripples

Water Water and wind Wind Water and wind


Depositional environment Lacustrine, lagoon, tidal flat, continental shelf and slope and abyssal plain Alluvial fan, fluvial, lacustrine, delta, and continental slope. Fluvial, lacustrine, beach, lagoon, tidal flat Desert Lacustrine and tidal flat

Sedimentary structures Tracks

Agent Organisms





Depositional environment Fluvial, lacustrine, desert, beach, tidal flat All depositional environments except alluvial fan, swamp, marsh, and reef All depositional environments except alluvial fan, desert, and reef

B. Sedimentary structures are used as guides to stratigraphic order, by determination of top and bottom Facing Direction or Which way was up? Sedimentary beds, when deposited, generally formed something like a horizontal sheet (principal of original horizontality). In a sequence of strata the bottom most was deposited and then the next was deposited upon it etc (principal of superposition). But what if you have before you a sequence of strata inclined 80 degrees form the horizontal, which way was up when they were deposited? What is the correct sequence of beds? Are the beds overturned? What is the Facing Direction of the strata? (Stratigraphers call this the strat-up direction, structural geologist call it the facing direction.)

Questions for Discussion 1. How can you different between Sedimentary structures and sedimentary textures? 2. What are the processes of forming the Sedimentary structures? 3. What are the important of the Sedimentary structures? 4. Determine the agent and depositional environment from the following sedimentary structures: 1. Graded bedding 2. Symmetrical Ripples 3. Sand Dunes 4. Trails 5. Burrows 6. Slide 7. Concretions 5. What are the meanings of pre-, syn- and postdepositional sedimentary structures? With examples of each.