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Geology 103

Reading: Boggs, 5th ed., pp. 3-12, 45-63, 110- 114

Lecture #1
Sedimentary textures

I) Field description of sedimentary textures

- Description is an important tool for scientists
- Every experienced geologist should have a similar description
- Similarities are based on use of a common language of geology
- Make observations, then interpretations
A) Sorting:
See Figure 3.4 from Boggs 5th edition, p. 51
- Proper terms for a Geologist to use in a visual description:
Very well sorted
well sorted
moderately sorted
poorly sorted
- Refers to the WHOLE SAMPLE, not just individual grains
- Provides an estimate of size distribution
- Sorting is essentially a measure of the standard deviation of
the population
B) Roundness:
See Figure 3.11 from Boggs, 5th edition, p. 58
Roundness refers to sharpness of the corners of the grains
These are the proper terms for a geologist to use in a visual description:
Very angular, angular, sub-angular, sub-rounded, rounded, wellrounded
Is used to describe individual grains/components in a sample
Different grain types may have different roundness
C) Composition:
- Is given for each clast type or mineral present
- Is listed as a percent:
- Usually to the nearest 10%
- Traces can be listed as a few percent
- Occasionally juggle percentages to the nearest 5%
Must total 100% !!!!
D) Size
- Is given for each clast type or mineral present
- At least 4 common methods of size description

See Table 3.1 from Boggs, 5th edition, p. 46

1) Sieve analysis
2) Wentworth verbal scale for size range
3) phi scale
4) mm
The properties listed above should be described for every clastic sample
E) Other??
Cement, stain, fossils, alteration etc.
1) Grain shape:
Can be described mathematically using DL, DI, DS
See Figure 3.9 from Boggs, 5th edition, p. 57
- Zingg Form diagram:
- More of a visual/field approach
- Plots DI/DL vs. Ds/DI
See Figure 3.9 from Boggs 5th edition, p. 57
- Provides good field terms for unusual shaped grains
- Terms:
Oblate: disk (frisbee) shaped
Equant: spherical (bowling ball) shaped
Bladed: tabular (book) shaped
Prolate (roller): tubular (water bottle) shaped
- Summary: People have tried to use form for environmental interpretation
(ex: disk-shaped pebbles in beach environments), but there is too much
2) Surface texture:
- A recent method of particle shape analysis
- Uses S.E.M. images to study pitting, striations
See Figure 3.11 from Boggs 5th edition, p. 61

- Examples where it works well:

- Grain frosting = an eolian environment
- Grain polish = beach environment
- Grain striations = a glacial environment
3) Fabric:
- The third component of grain texture
- Describes how the grains are put together
- May be used at a macro scale (conglomerates, gravels)
See Figure 3.13 from Boggs 5th edition, p. 61
- Common fabric is imbrication:
See Figure 3.14 from Boggs 5th edition, p. 61 and Freidman and Sanders figure
- Tells current direction
- Fabric terms may also be used to describe grain contacts at a micro
II) Interpretations:
- Are based on observations
- Should be separate
- May include interpretations of transport, weathering, depositional environment etc.
- Relate other issues: grain stability, transport distance and transport mechanism,
depositional environment
- May not be as certain
III) Sediment maturity:
Other factors that affect sediment composition and texture:
Transport distance, energy, grain composition
Grains may be texturally mature or compositionally mature
A) Textural maturity: is related to transport distance and energy
- Texture changes with transport:

- Roundness, sorting tend to increase away from source

- Grain size tends to decrease away from source (grains break down with
increasing transport)
- Finer material is removed (winnowed) in higher energy environments
See Figure 5.6 from Boggs 5th edition, p. 111
- A sediment with a high proportion of rounded, well-sorted grains
is texturally mature
B) Compositional maturity: is related to grain composition and stability
- Resistant grains (quartz, zircon) don't round as easily as less resistant
See Table 1.2 from Boggs, 5th ed., p. 10
- A sediment with a high proportion of resistant grains is compositionally
- Ex: sandstone composed almost entirely of quartz
- Quartz is especially resistant to weathering, is used as an index of
transport (includes chert)
See Fig. 4.1 from Boggs, earlier edition?
- Other rock types break down with transport, too
- Mineral fragments remain
- This also applies to igneous rocks
- ex: Granite breaks into quartz, mica, feldspar with relatively short
transport distance
- A complicating factor: Composition is also related to particle size.
See Figure 8.21 from Blatt, Middleton and Murray, 1980
IV) Summary:
- Because these factors are not unique: texture alone is rarely a good indicator of
depositional environment.
- In most cases there is so much overlap between grain sizes, forms and fabrics

from different environments, that additional information is needed for

environmental interpretations.
- The big picture is best: include grain size, form, fabric and compositional data
- Starts to address the concept of maturity