Identify types of sedimentary structuresExplain exactly how sedimentary frameworks formInterpret paleoenvironments making use of sedimentary structures
4.1 Introduction

Sedimentary structures are features that form in sediment as it is being deposited. These structures are commonly an point out of what the sedimentary environment was like. Sedimentary structures can often be established by observable fads in the sedimentary bedding or distinctive shapes within the sediment. Basically, if the sedimentary rock doesn’t look uniform or has a distinctive feature, yes sir a great chance the a sedimentary structure.

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Part AFor this exercise, her instructor will carry out you with a set of sedimentary structures. Look in ~ the samples closely and also use a hand lens if necessary. Develop a map out of every sedimentary framework in the blank space below, focusing on what friend think are the many important attributes of the sample. Then, in complete sentences, define the structure you just sketched. If that helps, ~ do so you space describing what the framework looks favor to who who have the right to not view it.

Structure #1 Sketch:
Description:
Structure #2 Sketch:
Description:
Structure #3 Sketch:
Description:
Structure #4 Sketch:
Description:
Structure #5 Sketch:
Description:

Part BNow placed your observational and also descriptive an abilities to the test. Check out your descriptions to your classmates and see if they can identify which samples you room talking about.


4.2 species of Sedimentary Structures

The most basic sedimentary structure is stratification, i beg your pardon is layering that deserve to be observed in sedimentary rocks (Figure 4.1). Great of sediment that are thicker 보다 1 cm are called beds and also layers thinner than 1 cm are referred to as laminations. Laminations are typically composed that fine-grained silt and clay-sized sediment. Structures have the right to be more facility like the wavy pattern seen in ripple point out (Figure 4.2) or chaotic looking patterns in cross-bedding (Figure 4.3).

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Figure 4.1 – title sedimentary bed from Morro Solar close to Lima, Peru. Thicker layers space most likely sandstone, and thinner layers space shale. Layering tilts under to the right. Image credit: Miguel Vera León, CC BY.
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Figure 4.2 – Ripples led to by waves. This is a see from the peak surface and not the side. This rock is Permian in age from Nomgon, Mongolia. Image credit: Matt Affolter, CC BY-SA.
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Figure 4.3 – Cross-bedding in sandstone viewed on a cliff face in Zion nationwide Park, Utah. Friend can number out the range of the image by in search of trees or other vegetation. Picture credit: NOAA, windy Domain.

Sedimentary structures administer a most information around the atmosphere in which lock formed, including processes that were arising when sediment was deposited, the setting of deposition, the direction sediment to be traveling, and/or the mechanism for transferring the sediment (wind, water, or ice). Part sedimentary structures also assist you determine which next of the rock to be originally dealing with upwards, referred to as way-up indicators. As soon as outcrops have actually overturned rocks (rocks that have been tilted so much they are upside down), sedimentary structures can be used to phone call which method was originally facing up.

Each framework tells a story that geologists use to interpret Earth’s history. Because that this chapter, only a few of them room discussed: dunes and also ripple marks, cross-bedding, graded bedding, mudcracks, raindrop imprints, single marks, and trace fossils and bioturbation.

Dunes and also Ripple Marks

As water or wind moves across sediment, it have the right to shape the grains right into wavy patterns called dunes (>10 cm) and ripples (Symmetrical ripple marks, like those viewed in numbers 4.2 and also 4.4, are created by the back-and-forth flow of water end sediment. These varieties of ripples are formed in the shallow marine atmosphere where the back-and-forth activity of waves, or also tides, form the sediment at the bottom of the ocean. This ripples have actually symmetrical limbs, definition that both sides of the ripple dip at about the exact same angle. This video clip on symmetry ripples can assist you see how this procedure works. Symmetrical ripple marks space most generally found in sandstones indigenous shallow marine environments.

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Figure 4.4 – instances of symmetrical ripple marks v limbs in ~ the same angle top top either next of the structure. A) modern symmetrical ripples from the Bahamas. B, C, and also D) symmetrical ripples in Devonian-Missippian period sandstone indigenous Ohio, USA. These are all see from the top. Image credits: James St. John, CC BY.

Water moving in one direction, like a river, can create asymmetrical ripple marks. The four on these ripples are not equal, v one side the is more shallow and one side that is steeper. These varieties of ripple marks have the right to tell friend which direction the flow was flowing because sediment move up the shallow side of the ripple and also gets deposited on the steep next (Figures 4.5 and also 4.6). The deposition top top the steep next of the ripple permits the ripple to relocate in the very same direction the water is flowing, as shown in this video. Wind can also create asymmetrical ripple marks at various scales. Ripple clues at smaller scales can usually be discovered along a beach. Large-scale ripple marks are dubbed dunes and also are common in deserts and some seaside environments.

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Figure 4.5 – just how asymmetrical ripples form. The red circles represent grains of sediment that relocate up a shallow side and fall under a steep next to kind cross-bedding. Picture credit: Wikimedia user Nwhit, CC BY-SA.
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Figure 4.6 – instances of asymmetrical ripple marks. The four of the ripples emboldened at various angles, one shallow and also one steep. 3 views (A, C, and D) space from the top, and also B is indigenous the side. A) modern asymmetrical ripples indigenous the Bahamas. B and also C) Asymmetrical ripples in sandstone native Colorado, USA. D) Precambrian asymmetrical ripples in quartzite from Wisconsin. Image credits: James St. John, CC BY.


Cross-Bedding

The top layer the a ripple or dune is not constantly preserved in the rock record, so that is rare to uncover ripples favor those seen in figures 4.3 and also 4.7. Dunes and ripples are constantly moving. As one passes and also deposits that sediment, another follows appropriate behind it to deposit an ext sediment top top top. Geologists frequently find the deposit sediment indigenous the steep next of a collection of ripples or dunes in the rock record. The deposition that the steep next of numerous dunes or ripples creates a sedimentary structure referred to as cross-bedding (Figure 5). Among the most crucial pieces of info that cross-bedding provides geologists is the direction that wind or water was moving. The steep next of a ripple always angles downward towards the direction the water or wind was moving, as displayed by the blue present in figure 5b. Over there are many different types of cross-bedding, and each type in a similar way.

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Figure 4.7 – Cross-bedding from old sand dunes in Coyote Gulch, part of the Canyons that the Escalante, Utah. The upper picture is uninterpreted; the lower picture shows interpretations of 4 dunes together yellow dashed lines and also the cross-beds in blue. Picture credit: G. Thomas, publicly Domain.

Sedimentary structures space not minimal to planet since similar features have been discovered on Mars, Venus, and also Titan, Saturn’s largest moon. Number 4.8 reflects cross-bedding native Mars, and also it watch very comparable to the wind-blown sand outcrops typically found in the southwestern U.S. (see figure 4.7). Execute you think the scale is comparable between these two images? The dimension of the cross-bedding can help to identify if these developed in water or waiting (aeolian). Smaller sized ripples type in water, while larger ones form in terrestrial dunes.

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Figure 4.8 – an outcrop the cross-bedded sandstone on the lower slope that Mars’ mountain Sharp. The sediment move direction is understood as sediments carried by currents moving down the deltas and into depth lake water. This photo was bring away by NASA’s Mars Rover Curiosity on august 27, 2015, making use of its mast camera. This area is now recognized as Whale absent in the Pahrump Hills and also far from where Curiosity found evidence that delta deposits whereby a stream gotten in a lake.Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS.

Graded Bedding

Graded bedding is a common sedimentary framework where a readjust in serial size can be observed within a single sedimentary bed (Figure 4.9). In ~ the bottom that the bed are largely coarse particles which gain progressively smaller sized as you relocate vertically up the bed. Graded beds normally represent depositional environments in i beg your pardon transport energy decreases end time, like the an altering water velocity in a river. However, this beds can also kind during quick depositional events, most generally from turbidity currents. Turbidity currents are essentially underwater avalanches the sediment that move downslope, usually starting at the edge of the continent shelf and also flowing down the continent slope. The sediment deposited from a turbidity existing is called a turbidite, which regularly has graded bedding v the coarsest corpuscle at the bottom that the bed and also the the smallest at the top.

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Figure 4.9 – A map out and an instance of graded bedding. The left side of the figure is a lay out of graded bedding showing bigger grains at the bottom and getting finer towards the top. The best side the the number is a sample that graded bedding. Image credits: lay out from Mike Clark, CC BY-SA; example from James St. John, CC BY.

Mudcracks

Mudcracks, additionally called desiccation cracks, kind when wet sediment, commonly clay-rich, dries out (Figure 4.10). Clay minerals broaden when they acquire wet and also shrink as soon as they dry out. Together the sediment shrinks, cracks deserve to develop, which form polygons on the surface of the mud. Today, you can find plenty of modern-day mudcracks along the margins of rivers or in desert valleys the periodically gain inundated through floods. After a mudcrack forms, it can be to fill in with brand-new sediment.

Mudcracks space typically wider at the peak of the crack and get progressively smaller towards the bottom that the crack. As such pattern, mudcracks have the right to be a an excellent way-up indicator if you deserve to see a cross-section see of the crack.

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Figure 4.10 – A) A modern example of big mudcracks in a dried-up flow bed in the Rio mountain Juan, Argentina. B) an old example that mudcracks with sediment filling in the cracks from Maryland. Picture credits: A) Daniel Hauptvogel, CC BY-NC-SA; B) James St. John, CC BY.

Mars also has mudcracks (Figure 4.11), one of the pieces of proof that suggests the red planet provided to have actually liquid water top top its surface. These were uncovered in Gale crater in an exposure the Murray formation mudstone on lower Mount Sharp. The white product in the cracks may be a form of calcium sulfate, one of two people anhydrite or gypsum. This is a guess since the Curiosity rover cannot test the mineral hardness.

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Figure 4.11 – This picture of mudcracks to be taken by NASA’s Mars Rover Curiosity ~ above December 31, 2016. The check out spans around 4 feet (1.2 meters) left-to-right and also combines three pictures taken by the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera. The cracks may have actually formed much more than 3 billion years ago. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS.

Raindrop Impressions

Raindrop impressions room small, concave imprints do by rain once it drops on soft sediment (Figure 4.12). The impressions or tiny craters room made native the force of raindrops falling top top the sediment, which makes these structures good way-up indicators. If you to be to see only the bottom that the impression, it would look favor a raised bump (convex).

Raindrop impressions often tend to be found in fine-grained rocks like siltstones and also shale but not in coarser-grained sandstones. The impressions likely represent the end of a rainstorm as rain is letting increase because any previously formed impressions would certainly be destroyed by succeeding rainfall. That’s why most raindrop impressions are really scattered rather than developing all over the surface. Then the impressions should be fill in with sediment prior to the following rainstorm to it is in preserved.

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Figure 4.12 – A) Overhead view of contemporary raindrop impressions (and mudcracks) indigenous Argentina. B and C) old raindrop impressions native the reduced Permian, top Pecos Valley, brand-new Mexico. B is one overhead view, C is the bottom-up view, reflecting the convex underside the raindrop impressions (not the same sample as B). Picture credits: A) Daniel Hauptvogel, CC BY-NC-SA; B and C) James St. John, CC BY.

Sole Marks

Sole clues is a large term that defines several different sedimentary structures that appear as impressions or grooves in sediment, consisting of flute casts, tool marks, groove casts, and also load casts. Frequently the cast of the noting (the increased bump) is kept at the bottom of a sedimentary bed, for this reason the hatchet “sole” mark, and also the mold side (the impression) is filled with sediment. This renders sole marks good way-up indicators since the cast side is encountering down.

Flute casts are typical structures produced by turbidity currents (Figure 4.13). The movement of this sediment avalanches underwater can scour the ocean floor, producing an elongated impression. Flute casts room usually carefully spaced and can be stack on peak of one another. No only can they tell girlfriend which way is up, however they can likewise tell girlfriend which method the existing was flowing. The tapered end of the flute actors points in the direction the flow.

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Figure 4.13 – Flute casts native the main Alps, Switzerland. The check out is native the underside the the rock. Photo credit: chris Spencer, CC BY-NC-ND.

Tool marks space made when an object, such together a stick, is dragged across sediment by a current and leaves behind what looks like scratches in the soft sediment (Figure 4.14). The elongated scratches deserve to be offered as one indicator that the paleocurrent.

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Figure 4.14 – tool marks from Banff national Park. The watch is native the underside that the rock. Image credit: Callan Bentley, used with permission.

Groove casts are increased parallel ridges (Figure 4.15). They space spaced very closely together, often appearing in to adjust of 2 and 3, however do not occur on peak of one one more like flute casts. Interpreting the paleocurrent native groove casts deserve to be an overwhelming because the marking is often symmetrical. There is no the enhancement of other paleocurrent evidence, you may only be able to narrow down the paleocurrent to two directions that room 180° apart.

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Figure 4.15 – Groove casts. The yellow arrowhead indicates the direction that transport. This arrow is double-ended as there is no clues if the water was flowing up or under the river prior to it to be tilted and also exposed. The view is native the underside that the rock. Image credit: Brian Ricketts, CC BY.

Load casts kind when dense, sandy sediment is deposited on much less dense, water-saturated sediment, commonly silt or clay (Figure 4.16). The thick sand load pushes right into the soft great below, creating bulb-like impressions.

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Figure 4.16 – fill casts in arkose sandstone indigenous the Aquitaine basin near Nontron, France. The check out is native the underside that the rock. Picture credit: Rudolf Pohl, CC BY-SA.

Your instructor will pass roughly examples of miscellaneous sedimentary structures. Now that you recognize what to look for in this structures develop a in-depth sketch of each one. That may help to map out the frameworks from number of angles. Recognize the sedimentary structures and also complete any of the relevant information around them.

Within the sketch area because that each structure, provide answers to the following questions:

What form of sedimentary rock is this sedimentary structure in?If your frameworks can administer the paleocurrent, show the direction on her sketch.If her structures space way-up indicators, indicate which way is up on your sketch.
Structure #1 Sketch:
Structure #2 Sketch:
Structure #3 Sketch:
Structure #4 Sketch:
Structure #5 Sketch:
Structure #6 Sketch:
Structure #7 Sketch:

4.3 Sedimentary Structures and Paleoenvironments

As girlfriend may have guessed, sedimentary structures are handy because that determining what paleoenvironments were like. By combining sedimentary structures and also the surrounding geology, a geologist might describe a quite accurate snapshot of the atmosphere when this sediments were deposited.


Using the details you have learned about sedimentary structures, finish Table 4.1.Table 4.1 – Worksheet for practice 4.3StructureType of absent it forms inEnvironment Description
Symmetrical Ripples
Asymmetrical Ripples
Cross-bedding
Graded Bedding
Mudcracks
Raindrop Imprints
Sole Marks
Below are descriptions of two different environments. I m sorry one is a braided river and also which is a swamp/wetlands?Mostly sand deposits v some sediment beds having a layer of gravel top top the bottom and also cross-bedding. ____________________Mostly silt and clay deposits with root structures, several bioturbation, and also many charcoal layers. ____________________Critical Thinking:The an international carbon cycle consists of the warehouse of carbon in sedimentary rocks such together limestone or disseminated organic matter (kerogen) in mudrocks. Which sedimentary frameworks are connected with the accumulation of carbon in clastic rocks?
Critical Thinking: have the right to you surname two factors that could explain magnified carbon storage?

Geologists don’t only focus on a single rock outcrop to translate the paleoenvironment that a region; lock look at numerous outcrops so they can see how an atmosphere changes throughout a region. Number 4.17 below is a map of an area wherein sedimentary rocks and also structures were explained by a geologist. The is split up right into 4 zones v the adhering to descriptions of the rocks and sedimentary structures:

Sandstone with large cross-bedding and an extremely well-rounded sand grains.Sandstone and also mudstone through wavy bedding toward the east and also mudcracks towards the west.Fine sandstone v symmetrical ripple marks.Shale with many plankton fossils and fine laminations.
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Figure 4.17 – Map for practice 4.4.

Answer the adhering to questions:

Come up with a quick depositional environmental interpretation for each zone.Zone A:
Zone B:
Zone C:
Zone D:
Critical Thinking: In what direction to be the s in this paleoenvironment? ____________________Critical Thinking: In what type of tectonic atmosphere would you find this sequence of sedimentary rocks. Describe your answer.

4.4 map Fossils and also Bioturbation

Organisms burrow and move v sediment on the s floor and also the bottom of lakes and also rivers; this is referred to as bioturbation. Once organisms harass the sediment by burrowing, your burrows deserve to be kept when the sediment hardens right into rock. In many cases, the burrows will certainly fill with new sediment, yet the overview is preserved. That is challenging to entrust a specific organism come the development of a single burrow. Instead, geologists look at at various burrows that have tendency to happen together in the rock document to share them, a branch the study known as ichnofacies. Each ichnofacies is called after the most typical trace fossil in the facies. Identify which ichnofacies the map fossil fits into deserve to tell you about the setting in which the biology lived, including water depth, salinity, energy, and turbidity, and also what the substrate to be like. Generally, upright burrows were developed in shallow water settings while horizontal burrows in deeper water environments. Table 4.2 consists of a list of ichnofacies, and Figures 4.18-4.25 are images of them.

Table 4.2 – typical ichnofaciesIchnofaciesSubstratePaleoenvironmentDescriptionImage*ScoyeniaPsilonichnusTrypanitesGlossifungitesSkolithosCruzianaZoophycosNereites
Sandstones, may be linked with red bedsTerrestrial, freshwater, short energyHorizontal, curved, and rope-like burrows. Unbranching, however can cross each other. Occasional upright burrows.
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Figure 4.18 – Scoyenia burrows native the cool Canyon. Picture credit: national Park Service, public Domain.
Variable grain size, sandCoastal, obstacle islands, deltas, estuaries, lagoons, baysVertical burrows with J, Y, or U shapes. Can likewise have vertebrate footprints.
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Figure 4.19 – A solitary Psilonichnus burrow from Holocene beach dunes, san Salvador Island, Bahamas. Cross-bedding is additionally present. Picture credit: James St. John, CC BY.
Hard rock, carbonate, shellsCoastal cliffs, reefs, beachrockClosely-spaced straight, or contempt curved, upright burrows.
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Figure 4.20 – Trypanites burrows in Ordovician limestone from Kentucky. Picture credit: James St. John, CC BY.
Firm yet not lithified sedimentShallow marine, marginal marine, delta, estuaryThree-dimensional network that cylindrical burrows and also individual, vertical, teardrop-shaped burrows.
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Figure 4.21 – Glossifungites burrows in sandstone from Lima, Peru. Image credit: Miguel Vera León, CC BY.
SandBeaches, tidal flats, shallow marine, above wave baseStraight, vertical, burrows that perform not branch or cross. Deserve to be contempt angled and also J-shaped.
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Figure 4.22 – Skolithos burrows in sandstone from western Maryland. Picture credit: James St. John, CC BY.
Sand and siltMid come distal continental shelf, listed below wave base, but above storm tide baseHorizontal and also vertical burrows from a wide selection of organisms.
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Figure 4.23 – Cruziana burrows from Portugal. Picture credit: Wikimedia user CorreiaPM, public Domain.
Sand and siltDeep water, basic of continental shelf, may be connected with turbiditesA collection of horizontal burrows curving far from a main point.
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Figure 4.24 – Zoophycos burrows from the Swiss Alps. Photo credit: kris Spencer, CC BY-NC-ND.
Silt and clayDeep water, open up oceanMeandering and also spiraling horizontal trails or burrows.
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Figure 4.25 – Nereites map fossils. Picture credit: Wikimedia user Richdebtomdom, CC BY-SA.

*No OER photos are accessible to summarize each ichnofacies, so this are single examples of one ichnofossil the belongs to the ichnofacies. Girlfriend can uncover depictions of each facies here and an extensive list of ichnofossils here. You require to pick invertebrates ~ above this webpage.


Your instructor will provide you v some samples of ichnofacies or ichnofossils. Map out each sample, paying one-of-a-kind attention come the details of every ichnofossil. Determine the ichnofacies of each sample and the kind of sedimentary rock. Based upon those identifications, give a short description of the environment.

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Trace Fossil #1 Sketch:
Trace Fossil #2 Sketch:
Trace Fossil #3 Sketch:
Trace Fossil #4 Sketch:
Trace Fossil #5 Sketch:

For one of these ichnofacies samples, prize the adhering to questions:

What is the grain size in the bordering rock compared to the trace fossil?
Do girlfriend think this map fossil can be preserved in coarse-grained sediment? Explain.
What was the water depth wherein this fossil lived?

Additional Information

Exercise Contributions

Daniel Hauptvogel, Virginia Sisson, Carlos Andrade