Identify types of sedimentary structuresExplain just how sedimentary frameworks formInterpret paleoenvironments using sedimentary structures
4.1 Introduction

Sedimentary frameworks are features that kind in sediment as it is being deposited. These frameworks are typically an clues of what the sedimentary setting was like. Sedimentary structures can often be determined by observable patterns in the sedimentary bedding or distinctive shapes in ~ the sediment. Basically, if the sedimentary rock doesn’t watch uniform or has actually a distinctive feature, there’s a an excellent chance that a sedimentary structure.

You are watching: Ripple marks likely indicate that a rock formed


Part AFor this exercise, your instructor will provide you with a set of sedimentary structures. Look in ~ the samples closely and use a hand lens if necessary. Produce a lay out of each sedimentary structure in the blank space below, concentrating on what girlfriend think room the many important features of the sample. Then, in complete sentences, describe the structure you simply sketched. If the helps, pretend you are describing what the structure looks favor to someone who can 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 descriptive skills to the test. Review your descriptions to your classmates and see if they can identify which samples you are talking about.


4.2 species of Sedimentary Structures

The most basic sedimentary framework is stratification, i beg your pardon is layering that can be it was observed in sedimentary rocks (Figure 4.1). Layers of sediment that space thicker 보다 1 centimeter are called beds and layers thinner than 1 centimeter are called laminations. Laminations are generally composed that fine-grained silt and also clay-sized sediment. Structures can be more complicated like the wavy pattern watched 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 near Lima, Peru. Thicker layers are most most likely sandstone, and thinner layers room shale. Layering tilts down to the right. Photo credit: Miguel Vera León, CC BY.
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Figure 4.2 – Ripples led to by waves. This is a view from the top surface and not the side. This rock is Permian in period from Nomgon, Mongolia. Image credit: Matt Affolter, CC BY-SA.
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Figure 4.3 – Cross-bedding in sandstone watched on a cliff challenge in Zion nationwide Park, Utah. You can number out the scale of the picture by looking for trees or other vegetation. Photo credit: NOAA, publicly Domain.

Sedimentary structures carry out a the majority of information around the environment in which castle formed, consisting of processes the were occurring when sediment to be deposited, the environment of deposition, the direction sediment was traveling, and/or the device for transferring the sediment (wind, water, or ice). Some sedimentary frameworks also help you identify which next of the rock was originally encountering upwards, dubbed way-up indicators. As soon as outcrops have actually overturned rocks (rocks that have actually been tilted so much they room upside down), sedimentary structures deserve to be provided to tell which means was originally facing up.

Each structure tells a story the geologists usage to translate Earth’s history. For this chapter, just a couple of of them space discussed: dunes and ripple marks, cross-bedding, graded bedding, mudcracks, raindrop imprints, single marks, and trace fossils and also 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 dubbed dunes (>10 cm) and ripples (Symmetrical ripple marks, favor those watched in figures 4.2 and 4.4, are developed by the back-and-forth circulation of water over sediment. These varieties of ripples are formed in the shallow marine setting where the back-and-forth motion of waves, or even tides, form the sediment at the bottom of the ocean. This ripples have actually symmetrical limbs, definition that both sides of the ripple emboldened at about the very same angle. This video clip on symmetry ripples can help you see exactly how this procedure works. Symmetrical ripple marks space most typically found in sandstones native shallow maritime environments.

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

Water moving in one direction, prefer a river, can create asymmetrical ripple marks. The four on this ripples are not equal, with one side that is much more shallow and one side the is steeper. These types of ripple marks have the right to tell friend which direction the river was flowing due to the fact that sediment move up the shallow next of the ripple and also gets deposited on the steep next (Figures 4.5 and also 4.6). The deposition ~ above the steep side of the ripple allows the ripple to relocate in the exact same direction that water is flowing, as displayed in this video. Wind can likewise create asymmetrical ripple point out at various scales. Ripple marks at smaller sized scales deserve to usually be uncovered along a beach. Large-scale ripple point out are called dunes and also are usual in deserts and some seaside environments.

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Figure 4.5 – just how asymmetrical ripples form. The red circles stand for grains that sediment that move up a shallow side and also fall under a steep side to kind cross-bedding. Photo credit: Wikimedia user Nwhit, CC BY-SA.
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Figure 4.6 – examples of asymmetrical ripple marks. The four of the ripples dive at various angles, one shallow and one steep. Three views (A, C, and D) are from the top, and also B is native the side. A) modern-day asymmetrical ripples indigenous the Bahamas. B and 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 peak layer that a ripple or dune is not always preserved in the rock record, so it is rare to uncover ripples prefer those viewed in numbers 4.3 and also 4.7. Dunes and ripples are constantly moving. Together one passes and also deposits that is sediment, another follows ideal behind it to deposit much more sediment on top. Geologists generally find the deposit sediment native the steep side of a series of ripples or dunes in the rock record. The deposition that the steep next of several dunes or ripples creates a sedimentary structure dubbed cross-bedding (Figure 5). Among the most important pieces of information that cross-bedding offers geologists is the direction that wind or water was moving. The steep side of a ripple constantly angles downward towards the direction the water or wind was moving, as presented by the blue lines in number 5b. There are countless different varieties of cross-bedding, and each form in a similar way.

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Figure 4.7 – Cross-bedding from ancient sand dunes in Coyote Gulch, component of the Canyons that the Escalante, Utah. The upper photo is uninterpreted; the lower photo shows interpretations of four dunes together yellow dashed lines and the cross-beds in blue. Picture credit: G. Thomas, windy Domain.

Sedimentary structures room not minimal to earth since similar features have actually been found on Mars, Venus, and Titan, Saturn’s biggest moon. Figure 4.8 mirrors cross-bedding native Mars, and it looks very comparable to the wind-blown sand outcrops typically found in the southwestern U.S. (see number 4.7). Do you think the scale is similar between these 2 images? The size of the cross-bedding can aid to recognize if these formed in water or air (aeolian). Smaller sized ripples form in water, while bigger ones type in terrestrial dunes.

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Figure 4.8 – an outcrop that cross-bedded sandstone top top the lower slope of Mars’ mount Sharp. The sediment transfer direction is interpreted as sediments brought by currents moving down the deltas and into depths lake water. This photo was taken by NASA’s Mars Rover Curiosity on respectable 27, 2015, using its mast camera. This area is now well-known as Whale absent in the Pahrump Hills and also far from whereby Curiosity found evidence the delta deposits wherein a stream gone into a lake.Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS.

Graded Bedding

Graded bedding is a typical sedimentary structure where a change in serial size have the right to be observed within a solitary sedimentary bed (Figure 4.9). In ~ the bottom of the bed are mostly coarse particles which gain progressively smaller sized as you move vertically increase the bed. Graded beds typically represent depositional environments in which transport energy decreases end time, like the an altering water velocity in a river. However, these beds can also kind during quick depositional events, most frequently from turbidity currents. Turbidity currents are essentially underwater avalanches that sediment that move downslope, usually starting at the edge of the continental shelf and flowing down the continent slope. The sediment deposit from a turbidity existing is dubbed a turbidite, which regularly has graded bedding v the coarsest corpuscle at the bottom the the bed and the the smallest at the top.

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

Mudcracks

Mudcracks, also called desiccation cracks, type when wet sediment, commonly clay-rich, dries the end (Figure 4.10). Clay minerals broaden when they acquire wet and shrink once they dry out. As the sediment shrinks, cracks have the right to develop, which kind polygons top top the surface ar of the mud. Today, you can discover plenty of modern-day mudcracks along the margins of rivers or in desert valleys the periodically gain inundated v floods. ~ a mudcrack forms, it deserve to be to fill in with brand-new sediment.

Mudcracks are typically broader at the optimal of the crack and get increasingly smaller toward the bottom that the crack. As such pattern, mudcracks have the right to be a an excellent way-up indicator if you have the right to see a cross-section see of the crack.

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Figure 4.10 – A) A contemporary example of huge mudcracks in a dried-up flow bed in the Rio mountain Juan, Argentina. B) an ancient example that mudcracks v sediment filling in the crack from Maryland. Photo credits: A) Daniel Hauptvogel, CC BY-NC-SA; B) James St. John, CC BY.

Mars additionally has mudcracks (Figure 4.11), one of the pieces of proof that indicates the red planet supplied to have liquid water on its surface. This were discovered in Gale crater in one exposure the Murray development mudstone on lower Mount Sharp. The white material in the cracks might be a kind of calcium sulfate, either anhydrite or gypsum. This is a guess since the Curiosity rover cannot check the mineral hardness.

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

Raindrop Impressions

Raindrop impressions room small, concave imprints made by rain once it falls on soft sediment (Figure 4.12). The impressions or tiny craters space made indigenous the pressure of raindrops falling ~ above the sediment, which makes these structures an excellent way-up indicators. If you were to see just the bottom of the impression, it would certainly look prefer a increased bump (convex).

Raindrop impressions tend to be uncovered in fine-grained rocks choose siltstones and shale yet not in coarser-grained sandstones. The impressions likely represent the finish of a rainstorm as rain is letting increase because any kind of previously created impressions would be ruined by subsequent rainfall. That’s why many raindrop impressions are really scattered quite than arising all over the surface. Climate the impressions need to be fill in v sediment prior to the following rainstorm to it is in preserved.

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Figure 4.12 – A) Overhead watch of modern-day raindrop impressions (and mudcracks) native Argentina. B and also C) ancient raindrop impressions indigenous the reduced Permian, upper Pecos Valley, brand-new Mexico. B is an overhead view, C is the bottom-up view, reflecting the convex underside of raindrop impressions (not the same sample together B). Image credits: A) Daniel Hauptvogel, CC BY-NC-SA; B and also C) James St. John, CC BY.

Sole Marks

Sole point out is a large term that explains several different sedimentary frameworks that show up as impressions or grooves in sediment, consisting of flute casts, device marks, groove casts, and also load casts. Generally the actors of the noting (the elevated bump) is kept at the bottom the a sedimentary bed, therefore the ax “sole” mark, and also the mold side (the impression) is filled through sediment. This renders sole marks an excellent way-up indicators because the cast side is facing down.

Flute casts are common structures produced by turbidity currents (Figure 4.13). The movement of these sediment avalanches underwater can scour the s floor, developing an elongated impression. Flute casts space usually carefully spaced and also can be stack on optimal of one another. No only can they tell you which method is up, yet they can likewise tell girlfriend which method the present was flowing. The tapered end of the flute cast points in the direction that flow.

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

Tool marks room made when an object, such as a stick, is dragged across sediment through a current and also leaves behind what looks favor scratches in the soft sediment (Figure 4.14). The elongated scratches can be used as one indicator of the paleocurrent.

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Figure 4.14 – device marks native Banff national Park. The view is from the underside the the rock. Image credit: Callan Bentley, provided with permission.

Groove casts are increased parallel ridges (Figure 4.15). They space spaced closely together, often appearing in to adjust of 2 and also 3, however do not occur on optimal of one an additional like flute casts. Interpreting the paleocurrent indigenous groove casts can be difficult because the marking is regularly symmetrical. There is no the enhancement of other paleocurrent evidence, you might only have the ability to narrow down the paleocurrent to 2 directions that space 180° apart.

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Figure 4.15 – Groove casts. The yellow arrow indicates the direction the transport. This arrow is double-ended as there is no indication if the water was flowing increase or down the river prior to it was tilted and exposed. The see is from the underside of the rock. Image credit: Brian Ricketts, CC BY.

Load casts type when dense, sandy sediment is deposit on less dense, water-saturated sediment, normally silt or clay (Figure 4.16). The dense sand pack pushes into the soft great below, producing bulb-like impressions.

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Figure 4.16 – load casts in arkose sandstone indigenous the Aquitaine basin near Nontron, France. The see is from the underside of the rock. Photo credit: Rudolf Pohl, CC BY-SA.

Your instructor will certainly pass about examples of miscellaneous sedimentary structures. Now that you know what to look because that in these structures develop a in-depth sketch of every one. That may help to map out the structures from numerous angles. Recognize the sedimentary structures and complete any of the pertinent information around them.

Within the sketch area for each structure, administer answers to the following questions:

What type of sedimentary rock is this sedimentary structure in?If your structures can carry out the paleocurrent, suggest the direction on your sketch.If your structures space way-up indicators, show which means is increase on her 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 also Paleoenvironments

As you may have actually guessed, sedimentary structures space handy because that determining what paleoenvironments were like. By combine sedimentary structures and the bordering geology, a geologist might describe a nice accurate snapshot of the setting when this sediments to be deposited.


Using the information you have actually learned about sedimentary structures, finish Table 4.1.Table 4.1 – Worksheet for exercise 4.3StructureType of rock it forms inEnvironment Description
Symmetrical Ripples
Asymmetrical Ripples
Cross-bedding
Graded Bedding
Mudcracks
Raindrop Imprints
Sole Marks
Below room descriptions that two various environments. Which one is a braided river and which is a swamp/wetlands?Mostly sand deposits through some sediment beds having a class of gravel top top the bottom and also cross-bedding. ____________________Mostly silt and also clay deposits v root structures, lots of bioturbation, and also many charcoal layers. ____________________Critical Thinking:The worldwide carbon cycle contains the warehouse of carbon in sedimentary rocks such as limestone or disseminated organic matter (kerogen) in mudrocks. I m sorry sedimentary frameworks are associated with the buildup of carbon in clastic rocks?
Critical Thinking: have the right to you name two factors that could explain intensified carbon storage?

Geologists nothing only focus on a solitary rock outcrop to translate the paleoenvironment of a region; they look at plenty of outcrops so they have the right to see just how an environment changes throughout a region. Number 4.17 below is a map of one area wherein sedimentary rocks and structures were defined by a geologist. The is divided up into 4 zones v the adhering to descriptions the the rocks and sedimentary structures:

Sandstone with massive cross-bedding and really well-rounded sand grains.Sandstone and mudstone with wavy bedding towards the east and mudcracks towards the west.Fine sandstone through symmetrical ripple marks.Shale with lots of plankton fossils and fine laminations.
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Figure 4.17 – Map for exercise 4.4.

Answer the following questions:

Come up through a short depositional ecological interpretation because that each zone.Zone A:
Zone B:
Zone C:
Zone D:
Critical Thinking: In what direction to be the ocean in this paleoenvironment? ____________________Critical Thinking: In what form of tectonic environment would you discover this sequence of sedimentary rocks. Define your answer.

4.4 trace Fossils and also Bioturbation

Organisms burrow and move with sediment on the ocean floor and also the bottoms of lakes and rivers; this is dubbed bioturbation. As soon as organisms disturb the sediment through burrowing, their burrows deserve to be preserved when the sediment hardens into rock. In most cases, the burrows will certainly fill with brand-new sediment, but the summary is preserved. The is daunting to entrust a certain organism to the creation of a single burrow. Instead, geologists look at various burrows that often tend to happen together in the rock document to classify them, a branch that study recognized as ichnofacies. Each ichnofacies is called after the most typical trace fossil in the facies. Determining which ichnofacies the trace fossil fits into have the right to tell you around the atmosphere in i m sorry the biology lived, consisting of water depth, salinity, energy, and turbidity, and also what the substrate was like. Generally, upright burrows were developed in shallow water settings while horizontal burrows in depth water environments. Table 4.2 has a perform of ichnofacies, and Figures 4.18-4.25 are images of them.

Table 4.2 – typical ichnofaciesIchnofaciesSubstratePaleoenvironmentDescriptionImage*ScoyeniaPsilonichnusTrypanitesGlossifungitesSkolithosCruzianaZoophycosNereites
Sandstones, might be associated with red bedsTerrestrial, freshwater, short energyHorizontal, curved, and rope-like burrows. Unbranching, yet can cross every other. Occasional upright burrows.
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Figure 4.18 – Scoyenia burrows from the grand Canyon. Picture credit: nationwide Park Service, publicly Domain.
Variable serial size, sandCoastal, barrier islands, deltas, estuaries, lagoons, baysVertical burrows with J, Y, or U shapes. Can also have vertebrate footprints.
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Figure 4.19 – A solitary Psilonichnus burrow native Holocene coast dunes, mountain 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. Photo credit: James St. John, CC BY.
Firm but not lithified sedimentShallow marine, marginal marine, delta, estuaryThree-dimensional network the cylindrical burrows and 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, over wave baseStraight, vertical, burrows that perform not branch or cross. Can be slightly angled and also J-shaped.
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Figure 4.22 – Skolithos burrows in sandstone from west Maryland. Picture credit: James St. John, CC BY.
Sand and siltMid come distal continental shelf, below wave base, but over storm tide baseHorizontal and also vertical burrows native a wide selection of organisms.
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Figure 4.23 – Cruziana burrows indigenous Portugal. Picture credit: Wikimedia user CorreiaPM, public Domain.
Sand and siltDeep water, basic of continent shelf, might be connected with turbiditesA series of horizontal burrows curving away from a central point.
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Figure 4.24 – Zoophycos burrows indigenous the Swiss Alps. Image credit: kris Spencer, CC BY-NC-ND.
Silt and also clayDeep water, open up oceanMeandering and 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 every ichnofacies, so these are single examples of one ichnofossil that belongs come the ichnofacies. Girlfriend can find depictions of each facies here and considerable list that ichnofossils here. You need to choose invertebrates on this webpage.


Your instructor will carry out you with some samples that ichnofacies or ichnofossils. Sketch each sample, paying one-of-a-kind attention come the details of each ichnofossil. Recognize the ichnofacies of every sample and the type of sedimentary rock. Based on those identifications, give a short description the 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, answer the complying with questions:

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

Additional Information

Exercise Contributions

Daniel Hauptvogel, Virginia Sisson, Carlos Andrade