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BULLETIN

MINOR

OF

TH E

AMERICAN

ASSOCIATION

OF

PETROLEUM

GEOLOGISTS

VOL. 41. NO.

12 (DECEMBER,

1957). PP. 2723-2751.

16 FIGS.

INTERNAL

STRUCTURES

OF SOAIE

UNCONSOLIDATED

D. G. M00RE2 AND P.

SEDIMENTS'

C.

SCRUT0N3

RECENT

San Diego, California, and Tulsa, Oklahoma

ABSTRACT

Widespread occurrence of several different minor sedimentary structures in shallow-water Gulf of Mexico sediments has been shown by more than 2,000 cores and bottom samples. Minor internal structures in two areas, one oft the east side of the Mississippi River Delta and the other along the central Texas coast, were found to be similar. Deposits in these two areas were subdivided into those containing: (i) regular layers (thin beds or laminations), (2) irregular layers (rough or crude layers and lenses), (3) mottles (discontinuous lumps, tubes, and pockets), and (4) structureless homogeneous sediments, deyjending on the principal type that occurs. Areal distributions of these different structures in the surficial sediments are mappable. Similar sedimentary structures and sequences of structures occur in the open gulf and in the bays and sounds. In the open gulf the structures occur in wide bands, and the sequences are developed through wide ranges of water depths; in the bays and sounds the bands generally are narrower, and the sequences are compressed into much smaller ranges of water depths. The different types of structures are formed on or near the depositional surface, contemporaneous or nearly contemporaneous with deposition. The differences between depositional environments which produce the various structures are differences in: (i) sediment sources, (2) in physical processes and their intensities, and (3) rates of deposition. Regular layers are characteristic of areas of rapid deposition and/or relatively few bottom-living animals; they are either primary—formed by fluctua- tions of sediment, or secondary—formed by wave or current winnowing. Irregular layers and mottles are mostly secondary features, formed mainly by bottom-living animals altering existing sediments. Homogeneous deposits are either primary or secondary; they form by extremely rapid deposition, uni- form deposition, or by complete secondary reworking. The appearance of many normal marine sediments is due in large measure to burrowing and crawling organisms. Structures similar to those in presently forming sediments of the Gulf of Mexico apparently were developed in rocks of all ages when environmental conditions were proper. Knowledge of how these structures form, why they vary, and the relationships between them furnishes a valuable key for interpreting deposition of ancient rocks.

INTRODUCTION

Project 51 of the American Petroleum Institute, for the study of recent con- tinental shelf and nearshore marine sediments in the northern Gulf of Mexico, has been active at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography since 1951. Two prin- cipal areas have been studied; one is on the east side of the active Mississippi River Delta, and the other is a region of protected bays, barrier islands, and open shelf on the central Texas coast near Rockport (Fig. i, also Figs. 8 and 9 for detail). During the course of these studies more than 2,000 sediment samples

^ Contribution from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography by New Series No. 956. This

investigation was supported by a grant from the American Petroleum Institute, Project 51. Manu- script received, August g, 1957.

^ U. S. Navy Electronics Laboratory. Pan American Petroleum Corporation. Acknowledgments. Field work and preliminary com-

position of this study were done while the writers were associated with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. They are indebted to the Navy Electronics Laboratory and to the Pan American Petroleum Corporation for time and facilities to complete the manuscript. Thanks also are due to

F. P. Shepard for assistance in the Texas coast field work, to R. H. Parker for valuable help in the

laboratory tank experiments, and to D. M. Poole who photographed many of the cores studied in

this program. The manuscript was read and criticized by

N. A. Riley, and R. D. Russell of the A.P.I. 51 Advisory Committee and by F. P. Shepard and

.\. Bernard, P. A. Dickey, M. K. Hanna,

Tj. H. van Andel, Project 51 directors.

H.

2723

272 4

D. G. MOORE

AND

P.

C.

SCRUTON

have been collected, most of which were cores. Processing of these cores and other samples included visual study of their minor internal structures.* To many geologists, the small internal structures of sedimentary rocks, formed when the sediments were first deposited and still soft and plastic, are among their most interesting and puzzling features. One of the purposes of this paper is to describe those minor internal structures that occur in shallow-water deposits of the Gulf of Mexico and to discuss their distributions and origins. It is hoped this discussion will contribute to a better understanding of these structures in more ancient rocks. In addition, study of these sedimentary features has shown that their type and character are closely related to the sedimentary environments in which they are formed. These structures are of such widespread distribution

OKLAHOMA

TEXAS

h-A

MEXICOiC/

A

1

!

/

ARKANSASy

TENNESSEE

j

rv

\

\

ALABAMA

X_JMISSI6SIPPI •

^

1

jLOUISIANAX^iC^SY^^^

Mississippiy

 

C£NTML

'^"^'^

-

r£X/IS

AXC/I

GULF

OF

Mexic o

FIG. I.—Map of northwest Gulf of Mexico, showing locations of study areas.

and occurrence, both in recent sediments and in older rocks, as to deserve general attention in environmental interpretation. Some types of original sedimentary structures such as bedding, cross-bedding, ripple marks, animal tracks, shrinkage cracks, flow-casts, and features resulting from contemporaneous (wet) deformation are described and discussed in an extensive literature. Several of the minor structures discussed here also have been noted previously under various names, but they have not been discussed as extensively. In the literature on minor structures such works as those of ilcKee (1939) and Thompson (1937) are noteworthy, because of the emphasis they laid on

* Minor internal structures and small original sedimentary structures are terms used here inter- changeably to cover original lithologies or fabrics that are visible to the naked eye or with a hand lens. They may be of primary origin or developed secondarily, but in either case, they are formed on or just beneath the depositional surface. As these terms are used here, they exclude fabrics or structures of later, diagenetic, origin such as those produced by chemical alteration or reorientation of particles through compaction or tectonic forces.

INTERNAL

STRUCTURES

OF SEDIMENTS

2725

understanding of the processes that produce original structures, and the relation- ships these processes bear to the general sedimentary environment. Both these workers later were successful in applying their understanding of the processes that produce different structures to the interpretation of ancient rocks (McKee, 1954; Thompson, 1949). Recent work by other geologists also has emphasized the importance of describing minor sedimentary structures and determining the environmental processes that produce them. In studying sediments of the tidal flats of the Dutch Wadden Sea, van Straaten (1951) ascribed the minor structures within the sediments to processes of these depositional environments and used this as background for interpreting older (Devonian) rocks. Stewart (1956) described some minor contorted structures in exposed sand flats of a tidal delta and used laboratory experiments to demonstrate their formation by "air-heave." This is a mechanism active in only a few sedimentary environments. Scruton (1955) has shown that depositional environments of the Mississippi River Delta differ from one to another because of variations between three fun- damental factors. These factors are: (i) the sources of sediment, (2) the processes (physical and chemical) that occur in them and their intensities, and (3) the rate at which deposition occurs. These three basic factors are dynamic, and they inter- act with each other in a complicated way to govern the kinds and amounts of sediments deposited. Moore (1955) and Shepard and Moore (1955) have demon- strated that these same basic factors are responsible for variations in sediments in the central Texas coastal area. Rate of deposition in this area is much less vari- able than in the Mississippi Delta, however, and the fundamental importance of this environmental factor is therefore less striking.

DESCRIPTION

The minor structures that have been studied are visible in the sediments primarily because of textural variations, and secondarily because of differences in composition and color. The structures have been subdivided into four basic types depending on their appearance on the flat surface of a cut or of a longitudinally sectioned core. The four basic types are: (i) regular layers, (2) irregular layers, (3) mottles, and (4) homogeneous sediments (Fig. 2). No attempt has been made to fit these features into any of the proposed size classifications of sedimentary structures (cf. Pettijohn, 1949, p. 120; McKee and Weir, 1953; Ingram, 1954; Gray, 1955). However, where amenable to such classi- fication, they would be called medium, thin, or very thin beds following Gray (1955, p. 147), as they generally are less than 10 cm. in thickness.

LAYERS

Layered structures, as the name implies, are layers or bands of coarse- and fine-grained sediments (Fig. 2), which may alternate in any order. These struc- tures are tabular or lenticular in three dimensions. Individual layers generally have sharp or relatively sharp contacts with adjacent material and therefore

272 6

D.

G. MOORE

AND

REGULAR

LAYERS

Tabular or thin lenticular bodies fn matrix of contrasting texture, horijontally- or cross-bedded

F. C.

SCRUTON

IRREGULAR

LAYERS

Irregular lenticuUr

bodies

in matrix of

contrasting texture

MOTTLES* Irregular lumps, t\jb«s or poctiets in matrix of contrasting texture

DISTINC T

IWDISTIWCT

Boundaries sharply defined

Boundaries poorly

defined

HOMOGENEOUS

Uniform texturci no "Visible structures-, particle stjes completely mixed

ORIGINAL

SEDIMENTARY

STRUCTURES

FIG.

2.—Basic

types of minor internal

structures.

Stand out as distinct units from the general mass of sediment if it is uniform, or from adjacent layers if the sediment is variable. Two types of layered structures are recognized: (i) regular, and (2) irregular (Figs. 2-4).

REGULAR

LAYERS

Regular layers have relatively uniform thickness in core section, and adjacent layers or sets of layers usually are nearly parallel. The layers are horizontal or inclined, and may be slightly curved. Thicknesses of individual layers generally range from a fraction of a millimeter to about 10 centimeters, and the thinnest ones usually lens or pinch out in core section. Regular layers may be relatively homogeneous in texture, but many coarse-grained layers, particularly the thicker ones, are thinly laminated or cross-laminated internally (Fig. 3). In gen- eral, regular layers present a neat, orderly, parallel or sub-parallel appearance, regardless of their thickness.

IRREGULAR

LAYERS

In contrast to regular layers, irregular layers present a disorganized appear- ance. Thickness of irregular-layered structures is markedly non-uniform in core

I^•TKRNAL

STRUCTURES

OF

SEDIMENTS

2727

J 59 MP 264
J 59
MP 264

FIG. 3.—Regular layers. Cores showing general regularity of bedding; also cross-bedding in thicker coarse layers.

section, and individual layers or sets of layers may have little parallelism (Figs. 2, 4). They generally appear relatively jumbled and disorderly, but they have distinct elongation in a horizontal plane. They are equally irregular in three dimensions, but are crudely lenticular or tabular. Irregular layers usually are about J-3 centimeters thick; they have less range of thickness than regular layers, rarely are either very thin or very thick, and commonly wedge or lens out in core section. Normally irregular layers are relatively coarse in a finer-grained matrix, but they may be fine in a coarser matrix. Their internal texture usually is somewhat heterogeneous, rarely is uniform, and they seldom have internal lami- nation.

MOTTLED STRUCTURES

Mottled structures, or mottles, consist of peculiar, irregularly shaped lumps, lenses, pockets, tubes, or pods of sediment randomly enclosed in a matrix of con- trasting texture (Figs. 2, 5). Color contrast alone, by this terminology, does not constitute a mottled structure. The contacts between contrasting textures gen- erally are sinuous. Distributions of these bodies, as well as their shapes, are highly irregular, thereby imparting a mottled appearance to core sections. Mottled

2728 D.

G.

MOORE

AND

P.

C.

SCRUTON

MP 263 MP 75 V) X o
MP
263
MP
75
V)
X
o

FIG. 4.—Irregular layers. Cores showing irregular shapes of layers and absence of cross-bedding.

structures commonly are a few millimeters to several centimeters in diameter. In cross section, individual lumps are ordinarily, but not necessarily, circular. Texture of the irregular lumps, pods, tubes, and lenses may be either coarser or finer than the matrix, or there may be nearly equal distribution between coarse and fine lumps in the sediment. Examples of coarse lumps in a fine matrix and fine lumps in a coarse matrix are shown in Figure 5. Textures of individual structures range from clean sand in a fine matrix to poorly sorted sand in a matrix of silty clayey sand and from clay in a clean sand to sandy clay in poorly sorted sand. Shells and shell fragments generally are present but commonly are not. There is no tendency toward horizontal alignment of typical mottles. In fact, the contrary ordinarily is the case, and there appears to be a preferred vertical orientation. Mottled structures become indistinguishable from irregular layers where there is some horizontal alignment and an increase in regularity.

INTERNAL

STRUCTURES

OF

SEDIMENTS

2729

E 5 A A 26 A A53B 0 0 10 10 A B 20 20
E
5 A
A
26 A
A53B
0
0
10
10
A
B
20
20
;m.
cm.
INDISTINCT
DISTINCT

FIG. 5.—Mottled structures. Examples of coarse mottles in fine-grained matrix (A), fine-grained mottles in coarse matrix (B), and approximately equal distribution between coarse and fine sediments in mottles and matrix (C). Striations on E5A and A26A are knife marks.

True mottles are not produced by distortion of soft sediments in sampling. They have been found with all types of sampling equipment and are well devel- oped where there is no question of the undisturbed nature of the sample. Two types of mottled structures have been recognized: (a) those with distinct boundaries, and (b) those with indistinct boundaries (Figs. 2, 5). Their differen- tiation is based on the amount of textural gradation between lumps and matrix; there is no precise division between the types, and in places they constitute a con-

2730 D.

G. MOORE

AND

P.

C.

SCRUTON

tinuous series. Sediments with indistinct mottling in turn grade into homogeneous sediments with further decrease in sharpness of contact and textural contrast between lumps and matrix.

HOMOGENEOUS SEDIMENTS

Sediments with no visible internal structures complete the list of types nor- mally found in the unconsolidated shallow marine deposits of the two Gulf Coast areas. These sediments are massive, and their relatively uniform texture may be

FINE COARSE MP 78 MP 13
FINE
COARSE
MP 78
MP 13

FIG. 6.—Homogeneous deposits. Clay and sand. Striations are knife marks.

INTERNAL

STRUCTURES

OF SEDIMENTS

2731

fine-grained (clays and silty clays), coarse-grained (sands), or any intermediate texture (Figs. 3, 6). Homogeneous sediments approach "textural maturity" (Folk, 1951) in the petrographic sense as the proportion of coarse material in- creases.

LATEEAL CONTINUITY

Duplicate and multiple cores between which layering might be traced were taken within small areas to determine the amount of lateral continuity in layered structures. Individual mottled structures by definition are discontinuous. Short duplicate cores from 200 stations in San Antonio Bay, Texas, were compared by F. P. Shepard (1953) to determine continuity of sandy zones in that area. Generally the cores were collected only a few feet apart and at most only a few score feet. These observations showed that there is little tendency for irregu- lar layers to persist laterally. Sixty of the 200 stations contained distinctive irregular layers, but in only nine instances were layers repeated at the same or approximately the same depth in the nearby duplicate core. A double barrel, or bident, corer was used for collections in both the Missis- sippi Delta and Texas areas. Barrels of the bident corer were mounted 32 inches apart, giving samples with constant lateral separation. These samples showed that individual irregular layers, even though well developed in one core, could not be traced with certainty to the adjacent core. In most instances they also showed that the zones in which groups of irregular layers occurred could be traced from core to core, although in lower San Antonio Bay even zones could not be traced with certainty (Fig. 7). To test the continuity of regular layers, multiple cores were taken in "delta- front silts and sands" and "pro-delta silty clays" of the Mississippi Delta (Scru- ton, 1955, Fig. i). Sixteen of these cores were taken in a rectangular pattern i meter apart in the bay between Main Pass and Baptiste Collette Bayou. Some of the individual regular layers were recognizable in as many as 9 or 10 of the 16 cores. Some groups of layers or zones were traceable throughout all of the 16 cores. Continuity of the regular layers in these very shallow-water samples was greater than that of regular layers in bident samples from "pro-delta silty clays" that are forming farther seaward in deeper water. In the silty clays the thin, indi- vidual, regular layers rarely could be traced between bident cores, but zones or groups of layers usually extend from core to core. Because the deposits are under water, trenching such as used by Thompson (1937) or McKee (1939) to test lateral development is not possible. However, methods other than coring were used in the continuity studies, and they have yielded similar results. A large van Veen sampler (2 cubic-foot clam shell) was used on the continental shelf offshore from the Texas barrier islands. These large samples are virtually undisturbed when taken in fine sediments, and many showed zones of discontinuous mottled structures traceable across the entire

2732 D.

G. MOORE

AND

P.

C.

SCRUTON

sample. Some samples contained large mottles of sand up to 4 or 5 inches in diameter which might be misinterpreted as thick layers in small-diameter cores. Careful testing for small changes in bottom sediment was made in shallow water outside small distributaries of the Mississippi Delta. This was done by feeling the sediment with the hands, as it is impossible to see the bottom through the muddy water. It was found that thin, uniformly shaped, discontinuous lenses of more sandy material occurred on and below the sediment surface. These thin lenses ranged in diameter from a few inches to several yards.

A B LT' - « • o ^^• . r - ,•% J 67 AB
A
B
LT' -
«
o
^^•
.
r -
,•%
J 67
AB B
S248
Aa B

FIG. 7.—Bident cores. Pair A shows lateral continuity of zones; pair B shows lack of continuity.

INTERNAL

STRUCTURES

OF

SEDIMENTS

2733

In summary, it has been found that regular-layered structures may extend

laterally for several feet, irregular layers generally are of small lateral extent (a

continuity. Groups

of these structures form zones which usually are traceable much farther than individual structures, commonly for 3 or 4 feet and exceptionally much farther.

few inches a t most), an d mottles have essentially no lateral

OCCURRENCE

OF MINOR INTERNAL

STRUCTURES IN MISSISSIPPI

DELTA

AND TEXAS COASTAL AREAS

REGULAR LAYERS

Coarse regular layers are among the most prominent visible features in the beds surrounding the entire Mississippi Delta. They occur in a band about 2-8

miles wide that extends from the shoreline seaward into water depths of about

thickest, coarsest, best

sorted, most continuous, and contain most internal lamination and cross-lamina- tion in water less than 6-8 feet deep. With increasing depth of water seaward they become progressively less abundant, finer-grained, more poorly sorted, thinner, and apparently have less lateral continuity. The zones into which coarse layers

20 fathoms (Fig. 8). These structures are most abundant,

LEGEND<

•|Z] REGULAR LAYERS BIRREGULAR LAYERS ED MOTTLES (DISTINCT i- INDISTINCT) EH H0MO6ENEOUS (FINE) Ei3 HOMOGENEOUS (COARSE)

AREAL

DiSTElBUTlON

OF MINOR INTERNAL STRUCTURES

OFF MISSISSIPPI DELTA

FIG. 8.—Distributions of minor structures north and east of Mississippi Delta.

^

:K^

m:^i

1 3

LEGEND

REGULAR LAVER5

H IRRESULAR LAYERS

asajy^ar

AREAL DISTRIBUTION OF MINOR INTERNAL STRUCTURES

IN CENTRAL TEX AS AREA

Q MOTTLES (DISTINCT £ INDISTINCT)

PE] H0MO6ENEOUS (FINE)

' ^ HOMOGENEOUS (COARSE)

olicinriMicit

M

I

I

—I

STATUTt MILES

CONTOURS

IN

FATHOMS

X

FIG. g.—Distributions of minor structures in central Texas bays, lagoons, and Gulf of Mexico.

ISTERXAL

STRUCTURES

OF

SEDIMENTS

2735

cluster also become fewer and thinner seaward into deeper water. The gross sedi- ment, therefore, becomes homogeneous seaward. Some regular coarse layers also occur in the deep water of lower Breton Sound just inside the shallow bar extend- ing southwest from Breton Island (Fig. 8). In the Texas area (Fig. g) regular layered structures rarely occur on the inner shelf and are prominent only in the Guadalupe Delta of upper San Antonio Bay. Conditions there are similar to those of the Mississippi Delta but on a much smaller scale. Coarse regular layers usually are similar in composition to a concentration from the adjacent finer sediments. Around the ^Mississippi Delta they consist mainly of silt with sand. In shallow water there also may be layers of woody ma- terial ("coffee grounds") some of which are up to 50 centimeters thick. In lower Breton Sound the composition of coarse and fine layers reflects two sediment sources. The fine sediment comes from the river, but the coarse material is derived from the sandy bar nearby. In this area the coarse layers consist mostly of sand, silt, and usually some shell fragments.

IRREGULAR

LAYERS

Around the Mississippi Delta irregular-layered structures occur most abun- dantly in a relatively narrow band encircling the fine-grained delta deposits (Fig. 8; also Scruton, 1955). This narrow band merges in part with the seaward limit of abundant occurrence of regular-layered structures, but departs from the area of regular layers in deeper water on the shelf and continues out around the finer deposits. Irregular layers also occur in southern Breton Sound. The narrow band in which these structures are forming is more or less continuous in water depths from about 6 feet seaward to about 360 feet (Fig. 8).

mainl y seawar d

of the barrier islands on the open continental shelf (Fig. 9). They occur in a some- what irregular zone roughly parallel with the coast in water depths ranging from about 30 to 65 feet. In central Aransas Bay, along the flanks of the intra-coastal waterway, irregular layered structures occur in a narrow band adjacent to the spoil-dumps. This occurrence is obviously related to the waterway. Similar struc- tures also are found locally in San Antonio and Mesquite bays. In both the Mississippi Delta and Rockport areas the composition of coarse irregular layers usually is similar to a concentrate of the adjacent finer deposits. They normally consist of sand and silt with tests of foraminifers, ostracods, and some shell fragments. Woody material also is commonly present.

Off th e centra l Texa s coast , typica l irregula r layer s ar e foun d

MOTTLED

STRUCTURES

Mottles are best developed in sediments of the Rockport, Texas, area; they are among the most prominent and characteristic visible features of these sedi- ments. They occur both in the bays and seaward of the barrier islands (Fig. 9). In the bays these structures are found in water depths intermediate between the deepest and the shallowest (about 2-9 feet deep). As a general rule mottled struc-

2736 D. G. MOORE

AND

P.

C.

SCRUTON

tares in the deeper parts of the bays are distinct mottles, whereas those in the shallower water are of the indistinct type grading shoreward into coarse homo- geneous sediments, as previously described. In the open gulf seaward of the barrier islands (Fig. 9) mottles are forming in a broad band roughly parallel with the coast in water depths greater than about 50 feet. This band is irregular in outline and extends seaward into water 120-300 feet deep. In the Mississippi Delta area, mottles occur in sediments of both the sound and the open gulf (Fig. 8). In Breton Sound they are found predominantly in a bel t jus t landwar d of th e barrie r islands . Th e dept h of. wate r range s from abou t 4 to 20 feet. In the open gulf mottles occur in a band lying seaward of the band of irregular layers. The band of mottles also extends around the fine-grained delta deposits. On the landward side of this band the mottles are mostly distinct, and they grade into indistinct mottles on the seaward side away from the delta. Water depths in the open gulf where mottles are forming range from about 15 feet near Breton Island to about 350 feet on the outer shelf on the east.

HOMOGENEOUS

SEDIMENTS

Homogeneous, structureless, fine-grained clays and silty clays are being de- posited seaward from the Mississippi Delta in water depths greater than about 120 feet (Fig. 8). These fine homogeneous deposits occur as a large lobe on the shelf east of the delta. Fine-grained homogeneous beds also occur in the deepest parts of southern Breton Sound where water depths are between 18 and 27 feet. In the Texas area (Fig. 9) fine-grained homogeneous sediments are found only in the deepest parts of Aransas and San Antonio bays and in water deeper than about 120 feet in the open gulf. Relatively coarse, virtually homogeneous sediments are forming short dis- tances seaward of the mouths of North Pass, Pass a Loutre, and Southwest Pass of the Mississippi Delta. These sediments are mixtures of silt, clay, and sand, and they are being deposited at a very high rate. Coarser-grained homogeneous sediments (sands or coarse mixtures of sand, silt, and clay) are found both landward and seaward of the barrier islands in each of the study areas. Coarse, homogeneous, texturally mature deposits extend from approximately the island shorelines seaward into about 75-90 feet of water east of Gosier and Breton islands and from near the shore seaward to depths of 30-45 feet off th e Texa s islands . Th e sand s seawar d of th e barrie r island s ar e coarses t and best sorted near shore; seaward they generally become progressively finer and more poorly sorted, and minor internal structures begin to occur. On the landward side of the barrier islands the sands are homogeneous in the shallowest water. In the Texas bays homogeneous sands fringe the narrow beaches, and they are found in the shallowest parts of Breton Sound.

SUMMARY OF DISTRIBUTION

Different areas of the sea and sound floors were found to contain different minor sedimentary structures. These structures are arranged in an order that is

IXTERAAL

STRUCTURES

OF

SEDIMENTS

2737

persistent within each study area and also between study areas where comparison is possible. In a northerly or northeasterly direction from the Cubits Gap distributary system a definite succession of sedimentary structures is developed (Fig. 8). In shallow water around the delta shore there are abundant and complicated regu- lar-layered structures. These structures become less abundant and less well devel- oped in deeper water seaward. Farther offshore there is a band of mostly irregu-

SEAWARD
SEAWARD

FIG. 10.—Series of cores from 3 ! to 8 miles offshore, showing seaward decrease in average grain

of coarse minor interna l

size off par t of centra l Te.xas coast expressed a s decrease in abundanc e structures.

lar-layered structures that grades outward into mottles. These mottled structures in turn become indistinctly mottled farther seaward and grade outward into coarse homogeneous sediments. Going eastward from the delta onto the conti- nental shelf the outward succession is similar except that a broad area of homo- geneous clays occurs between the regular and irregular layered bands. Toward the south in deep water of the gulf, there are no irregular layers or mottles— only fine-grained homogeneous clays. The outward sequence into deep water, grading from regular layers to homogeneous clays, is the same sequence Johnston

2738 D.

G.

MOORE

AND

P.

C.

SCRUTON

(1922) describe d off th e delt a of th e Frase r River . Fro m th e Guadalup e Delt a into upper San Antonio Bay there is a succession of sedimentary structures similar to this, but the zone of irregular layers is either poorly developed or poorly preserved. Seaward from the Texas barrier islands (Fig. 9) there is a zone of homogeneous "mature " sands. In 30-40 feet of water a few irregular-layered structures begin to appear which increase seaward forming a zone of irregular-layered sediments. These, in turn, change gradually outward into sediments containing mottled structure. In still deeper water farther offshore, there is an area of homogeneous fine-grained sediments. Figure 10 shows how a part of this sequence of minor structures appears in cores. This simple outward sequence varies locally near secondary sources of shelf sand. Around these there is a small-scale repetition of the major outward sequence. A sequence of minor internal structures somewhat similar to that of the Texas area occurs eastward from the barrier islands north of the Mississippi Delta. In the bays of the central Texas coast and in Breton Sound the sequence of sedimentary structures outward from the barrier island shore are similar to those just described in the open gulf, but the depth zonation is greatly compressed with the result that the irregular-layered zone is very narrow or missing. Coarse homogeneous sediments generally are found in the shallowest water near shore. They grade outward into mottled and irregularly layered sediments in deeper water. The deepest parts of the bays and sound contain fine-grained homogeneous sediments.

ORIGIN

Minor sedimentary structures—regular layers, irregular layers, mottles, or homogeneous sediments—may be either primary or secondary in origin. Primary minor structures are formed at the time of initial deposition by variations in amount and kinds of sediments from a single (simple) source or by alternating deposition of contrasting sediments from two or more (compound) sources. Sedi- ments with primary regular layers and primary homogeneous sediments are com- mon, whereas primary irregular layers or mottles apparently are uncommon and probably form only under specialized and unusual conditions. Secondary minor structures are produced after initial deposition but before the sediment is buried beyond the reach of physical processes active on and just beneath the sea floor. They are formed both by partial or complete destruction of previously formed primary structures and by resorting or unmixing of homoge- neous sediments. Secondary structures of all kinds are by far the most common sedimentary structures in both the Mississippi Delta and Rockport, Texas, areas. Both primary and secondary structures may occur in the same local area. Provided contrasting sediments are available, the structure that forms depends on the processes tha t dominate the local sea floor at the time it is formed and on the local rate of deposition. Table I summarizes the processes that form most of the different structures.

INTERNAL

STRUCTURES

TABLE I. PROCESSES THAT FORM MOST MINOR

OF

SEDIMENTS

INTERNAL SEDIMENTARY STRUCTURES

2739

(Capitalized methods are considered most important)

Type

3

;

o

w « < « w

«

06

• J

U

><

<

II If there is one major sediment source (simple source)

Process oj

Formation

If there are two or more sediment sources (compound source)

P*

FLUCTUATIONS IN SIZE O F MATERIAL

TRANSPORTATION

O F CONTRASTING

MATERIAL

TRANSPORTED AND

DEPOSITED

FROM Tw o OR

MOR E

SOURCES

S*

WINNOWING

RESULTING

FROM SUSPENSION

BY CURRENTS

(wave, tide, wind induced,

etc.)

Organic activity resuspending sediment with winnowing of fines

 

P

Fluctuations in size of material deposited

Interrupted transport from both sources with

on irregular bottom

deposition on irregular bottom

ORGANIC ACTIVITY

RESUSPENDING

SEDIMENT

WITH

WINNOWING

O F FINES. Local

slum p

Open animal burrows o r surface irregularities filled with contrasting material

Mud pebbles eroded from stream bank; rarely formed

I Dessication clasts from tidal fiats and natural levees (clay galls); rarely formed

BiTRRowiNG ORGANISMS DISTORTING LAYERED DEPOSIT S O R CONCENTEATING MATERIAL

OR FINER THAN MATRIX BY WINNOWING OR

Possibly b y soft clay balls; rarely formed

COARSER

INGESTION. Loca l

slum p

InterstLtial sedimentation of clay in sand; rarely formed

PARTIAL DESTRUCTION O F EARLIER FORMED

LAY'ERED OK

DISTINCTLY

MOTTLED

STRUCTURES BY

BURROWING

AND

CRAWLING

ORGANISMS

DEPOSITION

OF UNIFORM

SEDIMENT

DEPOSITION

O F UNIFORM

SEDIMENT

11

or deposition a t very high rate

TOTAL DESTRUCTION O F MINOR

PLETE

SEDIMENT

MIXING

INTERNAL

STRUCTURES

BY BURROWING

ORGANISMS WITH

P* Primary feature formed a t time of initial deposition. S* Secondary feature formed as alteration of initial deposit.

PRIMARY

STRUCTURES

COM-

Primar y regular layers in th e two study areas form principally from fluctua-

tions either i n competence of transporting agent o r in typ e of material off on e

major source of sediment. T o a less but important

interrupted transportation from more than one source of sediment. In th e shallow water surrounding river deltas primary regular layers

are pro-

duced during unidirectional sediment transport through alternations in both

volume of river discharge and character of river load. Variations in load are short

term a s well as

sediments impinge directly on the bottom with sufficient velocity, regular coarse layers are produced. Finer material is deposited during periods when the currents cease t o flow directly along th e bottom o r when th e coarseness of river load de- creases. Off river mouths th e depths of w^ater to which these primary layers exten d depend s o n th e discharg e of th e rive r o r distributary . Off smalle r distribu - taries of the Mississippi, for example, the depth is a maximum of 1^-2 feet, where- as i t is a t least 10 feet off the large undredged distributaries, such a s North Pass.

more

than one major sediment source. Deposition of river-borne silt and clay adjacent to a sandy barrier island, for example, may periodically be either interrupted b y

extent they form as a result of

seasonal. Where the currents which transport and distribute these

Primary regular layers also are produced in environments which have

2740 D. G. MOORE

AND

P.

C.

SCRUTON

intermittent high winds, or its rate overbalanced by wind effects. These winds also create waves which vigorously stir nearby sandy bottoms and suspend some sand. The suspensions are transported laterally along and near the bottom by the wind and tidal currents, when some sand can settle rapidly onto river-derived silty clay. Later, when this sand is buried by resumption of silty clay deposition, it forms coarse, regular layers. An environment in which these events occur is in the deeper water of Breton Sound along the southwest flank of Breton Island (Fig. 8). Primary regular layers may be contorted to a considerable extent and still be recognizable. Some forms of contortion such as local submarine slumping and the air-heave of sandy tidal flats described by Stewart (1956) cause much distortion but leave the lamination intact in many cases. However, extreme slumping or air- heave may result in alteration to irregular layers, or, conceivably, in the forma- tion of homogeneous deposits. Primary irregular layers have much the same genesis as do the regular layers, but they apparently form only if the surface of deposition is one of minor irregu- larities such as one covered with small ripple marks or the tracks of crawling organisms. V'an Straaten (1951) describes some marsh sediments from the Wad- den Sea which have layering that is irregular as a result of being deposited on a rough surface of marsh vegetation. This type of irregular layers seems to form only in environments which have intermittent periods of deposition. Intervening periods of non-deposition must be sufficient to allow the bottom surface to be roughened by currents, bottom organisms, or plants, so that the subsequent layer of sediment is discontinuous and irregular. Primary mottles may form in environments having one or more major sedi- ment source. However, in general, primary origin of mottles is uncommon, and like irregular layers, they are typically a secondary feature. Perhaps the most usual origin of primary mottled structures is by filling of open animal burrows and borings with contrasting material after a period of non- deposition and reworking. Sharpness of the contacts between these fillings and their host matrix determines whether the mottles are distinct or indistinct; fine material deposited in burrows in porous sand may filter into the pores of the sand producing indistinct boundaries. Primary mottles also may form from mud pebbles or balls dislodged from the banks of stream channels (Gardner, 1908). These are carried as bed load and deposited with normal river sediments. Dessication of layers of mud on tidal flats or natural levees forms mud curls or cylinders, which at higher water may be carried seaward and deposited as chips or rounded pebbles in sediment of con- trasting texture. When deposited as a chip or lenticule, these are known as clay galls (Burt, 1930). Although in some areas they may be important features, mud pebbles and clay galls were not positively identified in the cores of modern depos- its of the two Gulf Coast study areas. Structureless, homogeneous deposits often are primary. In the two study

INTERNAL

STRUCTURES

OF

SEDIMENTS

2741

areas they are products either of a very high rate of deposition which reduces the time available for secondary alteration or of a moderate depositional rate where source materials do not contrast in texture or composition. The uniform, fine- grained clays lying offshore in deeper water east of the Mississippi Delta (Fig. 8) are the products of the latter type of environment.

SECONDARY STRUCTURES

Secondary regular layers form mainly by current action resuspending and sorting existing deposits. The orbital currents of ordinary wind waves probably accomplish resuspension most commonly, but tidal currents, wind currents, and semi-permanent currents also are active agents. The same agents also cause more or less lateral movement of the suspension. By means of this resuspension and transportation, poorly sorted sediments are unmixed and the different particle sizes are separated. Commonly only the finer particles of soft surficial sediment are suspended and moved, leaving a concentrate of the coarser particles on the

A B C D
A
B
C
D

FIG. II.—Efiect of burrowing organisms on layered sediments. Progressive changes produced by burrowing animals in artificial-layered sediments. (A) original layering; (B) after 5 daj-s; (C) after 10 days; (D) after 25 days.

2742 D.

G.

MOORE

AND

P.

C.

SCRUTON

sea floor. However, stronger current action frequently resuspends the entire sur- face layer. Later settling produces thin silt or sand beds which probably are graded laterally, because finer sediment is winnowed out. However, neither lateral grading or typical vertical grading have been observed. In either case the coarse concentrates form regular layers or bands when covered by later deposi- tion of finer material. Locally the siphoning of some of the larger burrowing invertebrates ma y winnow fines and produce regular layers, but generally these are markedly lenticular and discontinuous. Whichever their origin, regular layers are highly vulnerable to destruction. They are most likely to be preserved for lithification in environments which have rapid deposition or only few bottom-living organisms. In the two study areas, formation of both irregular layers and mottles is

th e wor k of bottom-livin g an d -feeding animals . Off th e Missis-

sippi Delta and in the Texas bays and open gulf these secondary minor structures are extremely common. Their numbers increase directly with the numbers of mud-feeding, crawling, and burrowing animals and, in general, inversely with the rate of deposition.

I n order to test these field observations, the effects of burrowing organisms on artificial sediments were studied in the laboratory. R. H. Parker, biologist for A.P.I. Project 51 at Scripps Institution, helped with this work. Specially con- structed aquaria were used which contained sediments with different combina- tions of texture and stratification. Regular layers were deposited in the tanks. Organisms of a number of types were then introduced and photographs were taken at regular intervals. Figure 11 is a sequence of photographs of one of the tanks to show the way the organisms destroy primary structure and modify the sediment. Not only were the original layers locally disrupted to form irregular layers and mottles, but as the oblique view shows (Fig. ii-B), poorly sorted sand was transferred from beneath the surface u,nd purified to form completely new- lenses on the surface. These lenses would become irregular layers if they were buried. All types of mud-feeders and burrowers made some changes, but the most active in modifying the sediment and forming irregular layers and mottles were the razor clam, Tagelus, the burrowing clam, Zirfaea pilsbryi, and the pink ghost shrimp, Callianassa. Much of the modification and alteration by such animals probably occurs within the upper 6 inches of sediment, and most of it occurs before the sediment has been buried more than about 2 feet below the sea floor. Experiments similar to this were done by Solowiew (1924). He had a tank of mud with a thin sand layer added above. On the second day after the addition

worm Tubifex tubijex he noted tha t mud particles had been carried to the

of the

top of the sand and into its upper layers. These observations show conclusively that irregular layers may be the result of animal activity. They form when the larger burrowers suspend the sediment in and about their burrows, winnowing the finer and concentrating the coarser

almos t entirel y

INTERNAL

STRUCTURES

OF

SEDIMENTS

2743

materials. They also form when crawling and burrowing animals distort deposits initially containing regular layers. The same process forms most distinct and indistinct mottles, but disturbing action of the mud-eaters, grubbers, and crawl- ers is more nearly complete than in sediments with only irregular layers. The fundamental relationships between the different types of minor struc- tures and homogeneous deposits are illustrated in Figure 12. Alteration of exist- ing sediments by organisms can proceed along either of two different courses. A regular-layered deposit attacked by bottom-dwellers can be converted first to irregular layers, and with continued disturbance, later to distinct mottles, still later to indistinct mottles, and finally to homogeneous deposits (Fig. 12, upper

SesuLAa

LAVER.6

©

HoMOGCMCOut

Dcposira

FIG. 12.—Progressive alteration of sediments by burrowing organisms. Sequences of minor internal structures formed by continuing action of burrowing animals. Top arrows indicate sequence formed by destruction of primary and secondary structures. Bottom arrows show how mottles or irregular layers may be created from homogeneous deposits.

arrows). On the other hand, if initially the deposit is homogeneous and contains mixed particle sizes, a population of burrowers can form irregular layers, distinct or indistinct mottles, or complete the cycle to homogeneous deposits by syphon- ing and stirring (Fig. 12, lower arrows). The function of burrowing and crawling animals is both to create and to destroy minor internal structures. The extent to which these processes are carried out depends on the numbers of organisms and on the rate of deposition in the sedimentary environment. Finally, since the existence of minor structures depends on the presence of contrasting sediments, the work of organisms may be altered or obliterated by long-continued wave and current sorting. Given sufficient time, the end product of reworking by organisms and current sorting is a coarse, structureless, homo- geneous deposit that is texturally mature.

RELATIONS OF MINOR INTERNAL STRUCTURES TO SEDIMENTARY

ENVIRONMENTS

The three fundamental factors which relate minor internal structures to their environments of formation are: (i) sources of sediment, the control of composi- tion, texture, and quantity; (2) processes of primary sedimentation, and secondary alteration of deposits, together with their activities or intensities; and (3) rate of deposition, the time control on all processes of the water-sediment interface.

2 744

D.

G. MOORE

AND

P.

C.

SCRUTOX

Regional climatic variations and regional or local physiographic variations

may cause any one of these to assume a more prominent role. The relationships

ar e shown

River the tremendous volume of sediment introduced and locally deposited emphasizes the importance of rate of deposition as a basic factor in environmen- tal control. The coarse, structureless, homogeneous deposits formed north of the delta at a slow rate grade shoreward into mottled deposits as deposition rate increases nearer the delta (Fig. 8). These in turn change shoreward into irregular layers and finally into regular layered beds or homogeneous beds of mixed sedi- ments in the areas of fast deposition close to shore.

graphicall y in Figure s 13 an d 14. Fo r example , off th e Mississipp i

In Figure 13 the effect of processes on a unit volume of sediment is indicated schematically along the Y-axis. Rate of deposition is plotted along the X-axis,

COMPLETE

REWORKING

tn

tf)

CO

lU

(J Ul

0

U

S

=3

0 - ^

>

>-.

Sz

*D

z

<

0

HOMO-

GENEOUS

-^MOTTLES—1 -

'

1

1

;s™?h5is"NtT-|

\

*v

1

\

1

'

\ ^®^~i<

°z2

b.

Ul

NO EFFECT

.0 1

V

A

®> f 1

V

WAVESX

AND 1

^

CURRENTS

BURROWINGP^

OSSA'NISMS

j

^^^^ ,

^

1

1

, r

LAYUS

[ ^ ^

^

n^^K l

BM

Biy^n M

^KtoUtAH LAitHS

-TOTALx

 

,

J

1

unkinftCMcmiC

nUMUUErtEUUS

.

i

-—SEAWARD

"""-^^^ ^

^"'^'^-.

^"5

I.O RATE OF DEPOSITION IN FT/YR . ClNCREASlMG

CUBVE Ai

Intercept! and slcpjs depend sn depojitional rit e and numbers and kinds of organisms (favorabiliti of eTniironments for life")

10

CURVE B : Intercerts and slopes dtpend on depDsitional

rate and COwavesije and frequency, (7) water depths, { l,current strengths

FIG. 13.—Relations of minor interna l structure s t o rat e of deposition an d processes off Mississippi

effects of secondary processes t o be

greatest offshore in deeper water, although intensity of physical processes such as waves is greatest in shallow water nearshore.

Delta . Decreasing rat e of deposition off Mississippi Delta causes

increasing from left to right. This diagram and Figure 14 are quantitative only in part, since there is no known way to measure all that has happened to a volume of sediment or the intensity of processes. Therefore, the curves are partly intui- tive, but they show the kinds of relationships that must exist. Curve A of Figure 13 shows the decrease in effect of burrowing organisms with increasing deposi- tional rate. On the north side of the Mississippi Delta, effects of burrowing organisms can not be recognized when the rate of deposition is greater than about 0.15 foot per year. In the same way curve B shows the changes in wave and current effects, and the total curve shows combined effects of A and B. In some places near those distributary mouths where sediments are deposited faster than 2-3 feet per year, wave and current effects are negligible, even though the

INTERNAL

STRUCTURES

OF

SEDIMENTS

2745

water is shallow and waves and currents are very active. The sediments in these places contain no laminae or other secondary structures, but instead are essen- tially homogeneous as shown on the right side of Figure 13. Th e tim e availabl e for processe s t o work , althoug h of grea t importanc e off the Mississippi Delta, is only one factor determining the variations in minor structures along this profile. The source of coarse sediment, necessary for con- trasting texture in the area of slowly forming mottles and irregular layers, is the adjacent homogeneous deposit (Scruton, 1955). Amounts of this coarse material which are deposited decrease toward the areas of faster deposition nearer the

FIG .

J4A

SO

J5A

40

J£A

30

J 7 A

l^'"^

Sh»«nA

\i n figure

iO /

SAND IN TOP 2 0 CM CURVE A : Intercepts and slopes depend on numberi and kinds of organisms (favorability of environments for life.') CURVE B : Intercepts and slopes depend on (l)wave sije and frequency, (2) water depttis, (3)current strengths.

14.

-Relations of minor structures, sources of sand, and process intensities in Gulf of Mexico off central Texa s coast. Relativel y constan t depositional rate .

delta, and the minor structures also reflect this changing source relationship. In addition, the processes vary in their intensity. Parker (1956) showed that the area of irregular layers, mottles, and adjacent homogeneous deposits contains an abundant and varied fauna. This is in contrast to the area of regular layers nearer the delta where the fauna is more sparse. An abundant fauna is present because of favorable biological conditions (Parker, op. oil.; Scruton, 1956), and it is highly effective in reworking the sediments. Thus, curve A varies with the favorability of the environment for life which determines the numbers and kinds of organisms. Similarly, curve B depends on the size and frequency of waves, the depth of water, and the strength of current. Scruton (1956) described these properties of

2746 D.

G.

MOORE

AND

P.

C.

SCRUTON

the area in some detail. Along the profile of Figure 13 north of the delta, currents are most intense in the channel leading to Breton Sound, the area of irregular layers, mottles, and coarse, mature, homogeneous deposits. Waves of the open gulf and currents are both very active on the north in the area of homogeneous sands. Wave action is the predominant process near the delta shores where regu- lar layers or homogeneous sediments of mixed texture occur. In contrast to the Mississippi Delta, rates of deposition are relatively constant

th e source s of sedi-

intensitie s of processe s off Rockpor t ar e emphasize d a s th e promi -

nent controls. Figure 10 is a series of core photographs showing part of the changes that occur in minor structures going seaward from the barrier islands. Core J3A contains mostly irregular layers, whereas the rest are mostly mottled. Relative positions of the cores are shown in Figure 14. In the complete outward sequence, coarse, homogeneous, mature deposits which flank the barrier islands (St. Joseph and Matagorda) grade seaward into irregular-layered sediments, mottled deposits, and finally into fine-grained homogeneous deposits as the abun- dance of mottles decreases (Fig. 9). In general the sediments in this area become homogeneous seaward because of a decrease in the sand content of the primary bulk sediment, not by an increase in secondary process effects. Figure 14 shows the relationships. The sand content, which is primarily a function of distance from the source of sand, is plotted on the X-axis. The intensity of secondary processes is indicated on the Y-axis. The total intensity of secondary processes is greatest in the area of coarse homo- geneous sediments. In this zone, which extends a short distance seaward of the surf zone, secondary processes are overwhelmingly dominated by wave action (Shepard and Moore, 1955). Away from the effects of violent wave action, organism burrowing becomes an increasingly important post-depositional proc- ess. Secondary effects are most striking and easily detected in the intermediate region of mixed sediment sizes, where alterations result in the formation of minor internal structures. Thus, the structures change character seaward as the relation between the intensities of secondary processes changes, but they disappear where the sand content decreases to a low level. Finally, comparison of Figures 13 and 14 shows the inverse nature of the effects of process intensity and depositional rate on internal structures and the relationships between these two fundamental factors. Internal structures or tex- tural maturity, which generally are characteristic of slow deposition and moder- ate process intensity, may be produced by high process intensity under rapid depositional conditions. The reverse also may occur. These examples have shown: (i) that the very existence of minor structures depends on the sediment sources, (2) that the types which form are a function of the processes, and (3) that the extent to which they develop is determined largely by depositional rate and process intensity. Because all of these factors are

off th e centra l Texa s coas t sout h

ment s an d th e

of Rockport . Fo r thi s reaso n

INTERNAL

STRUCTURES

OF SEDIMENTS

2747

variable, absolute numerical values determined for one in any locality rarely if ever apply in another. However, similar sequences of structures may reflect simi- lar environmental changes.

MINOR

STRUCTURES

IN

ANCIENT

ROCKS

Structures of regular type (layers, laminae, cross-lamination, etc.) and homo- geneous (massive) beds are so commonly mentioned in descriptions of sedimen- tary rocks that they need no special comment. Mottles and irregular layers also have been described or figured from many different rocks but under a variety of names. For example, they are mentioned by Sherrill, Dickey, and Matteson (Sherrill ei al., 1941) from the Venango sands (Devonian) of Pennsylvania. These workers later described them (Dickey et al., 1943, p. 31) as "a curious rock that is present in certain beds in all sands (that) consists of small lenses and lumps of sand in shale, in irregular positions as if kneaded. Small lenses and lumps of shale are frequently contained in the sands." These structures usually are described either as reworked or slump structures, as worm borings, or due to organisms, and they also have been figured by Minor and Hanna (1941, PI. I, Figs. I, 4) from the Cretaceous of Texas, by Fentress (1955, esp. Figs. 15B, 18A, B), and Curry and Curry (1954, Fig. 15) from the Cretaceous of the Rocky Mountains. These structures and their possible origin recently were described by Greensmith (1956) from the Carboniferous of England. Despite the variety of names and descriptions, there seems to be little doubt that these authors are referring to the types of structures described here as mot- tles or mottled structures. Figure isA-F shows other examples from the Eocene of Louisiana, the Pennsylvanian of Illinois, Oklahoma, and Missouri, and the Cretaceous of Wyoming. Figure 16 shows a series of photographs from a core of ancient rocks that is complete from regular layers through irregular layers to distinct and indistinct mottling into structureless, homogeneous deposits. This vertical series duplicates the sequence seaward from the Mississippi Delta. Un- doubtedly this sequence has been duplicated many other times, and both mottles and irregular layers have been formed in rocks of all ages when depositional con- ditions were suitable. Minor structures in ancient rocks can be studied particularly well in thin section. Sinuosity of contact between mottles and matrix and lack of textural organization in the mottles (also in the matrix) are especially apparent. In addi- tion, gradations between the different types—distinct and indistinct mottles and coarse homogeneous sediments—can be seen well in thin section. Because of mechanical diagenesis, mottling and irregular layers in ancient sediments are likely to appear somewhat different from those in modern sedi- ments. As an example, compaction of silty clay with sand mottles can be cited. The silty clay matrix is more subject to compaction and deformation than the stronger sand lumps and pockets. Compaction of this sediment under overburden

2748 D.

G. MOORE

AND

P.

C.

SCRUTON

2748 D. G. MOORE AND P. C. SCRUTON FIG. 15.—Mottles in ancient rocks. (A) Eocene of

FIG. 15.—Mottles in ancient rocks. (A) Eocene of Louisiana; (B) Pennsylvanian of Illinois; (C) Pennsylvanian of Oklahoma; (D) Pennsylvanian of Missouri; (E, F) Cretaceous of Wyoming.

produces a tendency toward horizontal layering in the rock. Moreover, the vol- ume occupied by the silty clay is reduced relative to the sand, making the rock appear sandier than would the original sediment. Post-depositional chemical alteration is of great importance in some rock types and also may alter the original character and appearance of mottles or irregular layers. Osmond (1956) discusses mottled Middle Devonian limestones and dolomites in eastern Nevada and gives many references to similar rocks in

INTERNAL

STRUCTURES

OF

SEDIMENTS

2749

INTERNAL STRUCTURES OF SEDIMENTS 2 7 4 9 FIG. 16.—Complete sequence of minor structures in Cretaceous

FIG. 16.—Complete sequence of minor structures in Cretaceous of Colorado, (i) Regular layers; (2) regular layers with some mottles; (3) irregular layers with mottles; (4) distinct mottles; (5) in- distinct mottles; (6) homogeneous sands.

other carbonate sequences. He concludes {op. cit., pp. 40-41): "The development of the mottled pattern is the result of incomplete or differential dolomitization which may follow a pattern established at the time of deposition," and attributes the original pattern to a number of processes operating under a moderate rate of deposition. The mottled rocks figured by Osmond {op. cit., Figs, i, 3-7) bear a remarkable resemblance to mottled and irregular-layered structures in the mod- ern sediments of the Gulf Coast study areas, and burrowing animals may have established the pattern of dolomitization. Osmond's work also provides a rare example of an areal distribution study of

2750 D. G. MOORE

AND

P.

C.

SCRUTON

mottling in ancient sediments. His figure 2 {op. cit., p. 37) is a map showing the variation of thickness in the Simonson dolomite of eastern Nevada between the lowest mottled stratum and the next lower stratigraphic marker. With respect to the lower marker, the mottled stratum systematically rises toward the east. Be- cause of this, Osmond suggests that the mottled stratum may be a time-trans- gressive fades. However, in both of the Gulf Coast areas continuous beds of mottling are now forming through a wide range of water depths. This suggests as a second possibility that Osmond's lower mottled bed may be a time marker, with the eastward rise representing initial (primary) dip with respect to the underlying marker.

CONCLUSIONS

Extensiv e field studie s an d collection s in th e Gulf of Mexico off th e Missis - sippi Delta and the central Texas coast have shown that minor internal sedimen- tary structures are extremely common in the nearshore sediments of both these regions. Regular-layered deposits (thinly bedded or laminated) are characteristic of areas of rapid deposition and relatively few bottom-dwelling organisms. When measured by areal distribution, these structures make up a relatively small part of the sediments of the study areas; however, by volume, they are very important because of the great thicknesses of deltaic deposits. Regular layers are both pri- mary features, formed at the time of deposition by fluctuations in texture or composition of sediments deposited, and secondary, formed by wave and current wnnnowing. Irregular-layered structures (roughly or crudely layered or lensed) and mot- tled structures (discontinuous tubes, lumps, and pockets) have a very wide areal distribution and are the most common types found in the surficial deposits of the Texas study area. These structures are largely secondary, formed by the burrow- ing and winnowing actions of bottom-living animals on existing sediments. Struc- tureless homogeneous deposits are common in both areas and are both primary and secondary. They are produced either by extremely rapid deposition, uniform deposition, complete secondary mixing, or by complete winnowing. The numbers and kinds of minor internal structures which occur within the sediments in any area depend fundamentally on the sources of sediment for deposition, the nature and intensity of physical processes within the environ- ment, and the rate of deposition. This last factor is the basic time control on all processes of the water-sediment interface. The importance of animals in forming the final fabric of shallow-water marine sediments can not be overstated. Were it not for burrowing and crawling organ- isms, the appearance of many of our marine sediments would be entirely differ- ent.

Sedimentary structures similar to those of the Gulf Coast study areas were formed in many ancient sediments. In all probability they reflect the same kinds of conditions as do the modern structures.

INTERNAL

STRUCTURES

OF SEDIMENTS

2751

BIBLIOGRAPHY

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CuREY, W. H. , JR. , AND CURRY, W . H. , Ill , 1954, "Sout h Glenrock, a Wyomin g Stratigraphic Oil

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Vol. 65, pp . 937-38.

JOHNSTON , VV. H. , 1922 , "Th e Characte r of th e Stratificatio n

of th e Sediment s i n th e liecen t

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of Eraser

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Columbia,

Canada, " Jour.

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MCKEE ,

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D. , 1939,

"Some

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of

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ibid.,

Vol. 47,

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64-81.

 

,

1954, "Stratigraph y

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of

the

Moenkopi

Formatio n

of Triassic Age, "

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Memoir

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133 pp .

,

.4KD

WEIR,

G . W. , 1953, "Terminolog y

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Bull.

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pp .

381-go.

MINOR, H . E. , AND HANNA, M . A., 1941, "Eas t Texa s Oil Field, Rush , Cherokee , Smith , Gregg , an d

Upshur Counties, Texas, " Stratigraphic Type Oil Fields, Amer. Assoc. Petrol . Geol., pp . 600-40,

esp.

MOORE, D . G. , 1955, "Rat e of Deposition Shown by Relative Abundanc e of Foraminifera," Bull.

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