Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 10


205 Course outline

GEOL205 - Sedimentary Petrology


Aim: To introduce students to sedimentary rocks and their formation processes. Content: Particles and their textures, grain-size analysis, textures of sedimentary rocks, rudaceous rocks, arenaceous rocks, argillaceous rocks, limestone, dolomite, siliceous rocks, phosphorites, evaporites and iron-rich rocks. Practicals: Particles and grain-size analysis, identification of rock specimens, sedimentary structures, microscopic identification of thin-sections of sedimentary rocks. Assessment: One two hour examination (50%), course work, practical exercises and tests (50%). DP requirements: 40% in coursework; 80% attendance at both lectures and practicals.

205 Course Requirements

Tucker, M.E. (1991) Sedimentary Petrology, 2 nd edition (Blackwell, Oxford). Tucker, M.E. (2001) Sedimentary Petrology, 3 rd edition (Blackwell, Oxford). Prothero, D.R. and Schwab, F. (2004) Sedimentary Geology, 2 nd edition (Freeman, New York).

205 Course Marks

Equipment for practicals

Hand-lens, grain size chart, calculator, pencils, ruler.

Course outline
18 lectures, 6 x 3 hour practicals, possible field trip near campus

Assessment details (class record) 2 Tests Practicals

not all will be marked

Scheduled hours
Two practical slots (Geology) (Env Sci + repeats) Groups as per GEOL220 Lectures according to timetable



Sedimentary Processes

Sedimentology: the study of sedimentary processes, sedimentary products and sedimentary systems. Sedimentary Petrology: the study of sedimentary rocks.

Weathering and sediment formation Transportation of sediment Deposition of sediment

Weathering and sediment formation

Transportation of sediment


Deposition of sediment

And on Mars..


Sedimentary Products
Grain size, grain shape, surface textures etc

Sedimentary Products
Sedimentary Rocks
Mineral composition, texture Diagenesis


Sedimentary Products
Sedimentary Structures
Morphology & Genesis (e.g. Hydrodynamics)

Structures come in various sizes

Sedimentary Products
Sedimentary Ore Deposits
Mineralogical and chemical composition Depositional environment and genesis

Sedimentary Systems
Sedimentary Environments


Sedimentary Systems
Sedimentary Basin Analysis
Basin classification Basin evolution Palaeogeographic reconstruction

Why study sedimentary rocks?

Sedimentary rocks provide information of the evolution of the Earth
75% of the land surface is covered by sediments and sedimentary rocks

Sedimentary rocks are of major economic and environmental importance

are the main host of fossil fuels (oil, gas, coal) are a host of a variety of mineral deposits (Cu, Au, U, Fe) form important groundwater aquifers

After tropical cyclone

Ram-Powell platform, Gulf of Mexico (Shell)


Opencast mining at New Vaal, one of the SAs largest, most modern collieries, with Eskoms 3600 megawatt Lethabo power station in the background (Cowey, 1994, p. 77)

Placer gold, Witwatersrand Supergroup


Sedimentology - basic concepts

Principle of superposition:
In an undisturbed sequence of strata, the oldest strata lie at the bottom and successively higher strata are progressively younger (Nikolaus Steno,1638-1687)

Heavy mineral sands, Richards Bay



Sedimentology - basic concepts

Principle of Uniformitarianism:
"The present is the key to the past (James Hutton, 1726-1797; Charles Lyell, 1797-1875)

is material derived: from pre-existing rocks through weathering from volcanic eruptions from biogenic sources or precipitated by chemical processes -> and deposited at, or near, the Earths surface


From sediment to sedimentary rock

Diagenesis physical & chemical changes that transform a sediment into a rock
Mud Sand Gravel Carbonate rich muds Mudstone & shale

From sediment to sedimentary rock

Consolidation by compaction upon burial


70% water

Pressure due to overburden (burial) squeezes water out of pore space. 5% water


Conglomerate/breccia Limestone & marl

Particles forced closer together as pore volume reduces

From sediment to sedimentary rock

Lithification by cementation

Sediments are grouped into mainly four categories:

Siliciclastic sediments Biogenic, biochemical and organic sediments Chemical sediments Volcaniclastic sediments

Loose sand

Cemented sandstone

Common cements Quartz Calcium carbonate Clay minerals Iron oxide


Siliciclastic sediments
siliciclastic - fragments (clasts) of rocks (igneous, metamorphic, sedimentary) and minerals terrigeneous: land-derived e.g. conglomerate, sandstone, mudstone

Biogenic sediments
biogenic: produced directly by the activity of organisms, e.g. shelly limestone

Biochemical sediments
biochemical: chemical precipitation induced by the activity of organisms, e.g. stromatolitic limestone

Organic sediments
organic: consisting of organic material, e.g. peat, coal




Chemical sediments
produced by precipitation from water 1. due to the evaporative concentration of dissolved salts (e.g. evaporites) 2. due to changes in redox potential/ pH conditions of the environment (e.g. BIF)

Volcaniclastic sediments
sediments composed of grains of volcanic origin that are derived from contemporaneous volcanic activity