Natural Resources

Sedimentary Structures

Bedding

Layers in sedimentary rocks, caused by changes in composition or grain size.

Bedding Bedding

On the left is shown flat-lying bedding in sandstone and shale. The parallel layers (beds) were formed by sediments accumulating over a long geological period. This photo taken in the Kaumajet Mountains, Labrador.

The photograph on the right shows gently dipping bedding in sandstone, at Freshwater Bay, Bonavista Bay.

Graded Bedding

A type of bedding in which each layer is characterized by a progressive decrease in grain size from the bottom to the top of the bed. Graded bedding is caused by the differential settling by size and weight of suspended particles in water. Graded bedding can be used to tell which are the oldest and youngest rocks in a sedimentary sequence because the larger, older grains are at the base of the bed. This is known as younging direction or bedding tops.

Graded Bedding

Graded bedding is shown in this example where pebbles form the lower part of the bed and are replaced by sand and pebbles towards the top, (King George IV Lake area, central Newfoundland).

Cross-bedding

Cross-bedding is stratification inclined to the original horizontal surface upon which the sediment accumulated. Cross-beds are formed in beach, river and sand-dune environments. It is produced by deposition on the downcurrent slope of a dune or sand wave. It is produced by the deposition of fragments of sediment layers which are then eroded and truncated by later water currents or winds that deposit new sediments at an angle on top of the erosion surface (scours). Cross-beds can be used to determine bedding tops because of the truncation of the beds.

Cross-bedding Cross-bedding

The photo on the right shows large-scale cross-beds in sandstone. (Note the person for scale.) The truncation of beds indicates that bedding tops are toward top of photograph. This example is from central Labrador.

The photo on the left shows cross-bedding in sandstone. The truncation of beds indicates that bedding tops are toward bottom of photograph, i.e., the beds are upside down. This structure was photographed west of Swift Current, Burin Peninsula.

Mud Cracks

Polygonal cracks are produced in fine-grained, muddy sediments due to the shrinkage that accompanies drying. They are preserved when new sediment is deposited in the cracks.

Mud Cracks

The photograph shows mud cracks in red siltstone from central Newfoundland.

Ripple Marks

Ripple marks are sand waves produced on a top of a bed by wave or wind action. When new layers build up on top of each other, the ripples are preserved.

Ripple Marks

These ripple marks occur in red micaceous sandstone on Lockers Flat Island, Bonavista Bay.

Load Casts

Structures, such as bulbous, downward-pointing protuberances of sand or other coarse-grained sediments that extend downward into finer grained, softer underlying silt, clay or mud are called lode casts. They form when soft, waterlogged mud is too weak to support the overlying sand, which sinks into the mud.

Load Casts

Load casts are shown to be well-developed, in the bottom-centre of this photograph, in this interbedded red sandstone and grey/black mudstone. Look just left of the pencil. Scour or erosion features are also present. This example of load casts is from near the west end of Gander Lake.

Stromatolite Mounds

Stromatolites refer to generally domal- or subspherical-shaped, laminated, calcareous sedimentary (organosedimentary) structures that formed in a shallow-water environment. They form when a mat or assemblage of sediment-binding blue-green algae traps fine, silty detritus and precipitates calcium carbonate. This may lead to development of large rigid mounds.

Stromatolite Mounds

Fossilized algal mounds forming limestone deposits near Flower's Cove, western Newfoundland.

 
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