6.2 chemistry Sedimentary Rocks

Whereas clastic sedimentary rocks are conquered by components that have actually been transported together solid clasts (clay, silt, sand, etc.), chemistry sedimentary rocks are overcame by contents that have actually been transported as ions in systems (Na+, Ca2+, HCO3–, etc.). Over there is some overlap in between the 2 because nearly all clastic sedimentary rocks contain cement formed from dissolved ions, and also many chemical sedimentary rocks encompass some clasts. Because ions deserve to stay in equipment for tens of thousands of years (some much longer), and also can travel for 10s of thousands of kilometres, that is virtually difficult to relate chemical sediments ago to their source rocks.

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The most common chemical sedimentary rock, by far, is limestone. Others incorporate chert, banded iron formation, and a selection of rocks that type when bodies of water evaporate. Biological processes are crucial in the development of part chemical sedimentary rocks, especially limestone and also chert. Because that example, limestone is made up almost entirely of pieces of marine<1> organisms the manufacture calcite for their shells and other hard parts, and also most chert contains at least some the the silica tests (shells) of tiny maritime organisms (such as diatoms and also radiolaria).


Almost all limestone forms in the oceans, and most the that develops on the shallow continent shelves, particularly in tropical areas with coral reefs. Reefs room highly productive ecosystems lived in by a wide range of organisms, plenty of of which usage calcium and bicarbonate ion in seawater come make lead carbonate minerals (especially calcite) for your shells and also other structures. These encompass corals, that course, but also green and also red algae, urchins, sponges, molluscs, and also crustaceans. Especially after castle die, but even if they room still alive, this organisms are eroded through waves and currents to create carbonate pieces that accumulate in the bordering region, as depicted in number 6.9.

Figure 6.9 various corals and green birds on a reef in ~ Ambergris, Belize. The light-coloured sand is composed of carbonate fragments eroded indigenous the reef organisms.

Figure 6.10 mirrors a cross-section v a usual reef in a tropical atmosphere (normally in between 40° N and 40° S). Reefs have tendency to kind near the edges of steep drop-offs because the reef organisms grow on nutrient-rich upwelling currents. Together the reef build up, it is eroded by waves and also currents to develop carbonate sediments that are transported right into the steep offshore fore-reef area and also the shallower inshore back-reef area. These sediments are overcame by reef-type carbonate fragments of every sizes, consisting of mud. In many such areas, carbonate-rich sediments additionally accumulate in quiet lagoons, whereby mud and mollusc-shell fragments predominate (Figure 6.11a) or in offshore areas with solid currents, wherein either foraminifera tests accumulate (Figure 6.11b) or calcite crystallizes inorganically to form ooids – spheres that calcite that form in shallow tropical ocean water with solid currents (Figure 6.11c).

Figure 6.10 Schematic cross-section with a typical tropical reef.
Figure 6.11 lead carbonate rocks and also sediments: (a) mollusc-rich limestone formed in a lagoon area in ~ Ambergris, Belize, (b) foraminifera-rich sediment indigenous a submerged carbonate sandbar near to Ambergris, Belize (c) ooids from a coast at Joulters Cay, Bahamas.

Limestone likewise accumulates in depth water, indigenous the steady rain that the carbonate shells of small organisms that lived close to the s surface. The lower limit because that limestone accumulation is about 4,000 m. Beneath that depth, calcite is soluble so limestone does no accumulate.

Calcite deserve to also kind on land in a variety of environments. Tufa creates at springs (Figure 6.12) and travertine (which is much less porous) develops at hot springs. Similar material precipitates in ~ limestone caves to form stalactites, stalagmites, and a wide variety of other speleothems.

Figure 6.12 Tufa formed at a spring at Johnston Creek, Alberta. The rock to the left is limestone.

Dolomite (CaMg(CO3)2) is an additional carbonate mineral, but dolomite is also the name for a rock written of the mineral dolomite (although some geologists usage the hatchet dolostone to stop confusion). Dolomite absent is quite common (there’s a entirety Italian mountain range named after it), i m sorry is surprising since marine biology don’t do dolomite. All of the dolomite uncovered in old rocks has been created through magnesium replacing some of the calcium in the calcite in carbonate muds and also sands. This process is recognized as dolomitization, and it is thought to take location where magnesium-rich water percolates v the sediments in lead carbonate tidal flat environments.

Chert and also Banded stole Formation

As we’ve seen, not all naval organisms make their hard parts the end of calcite; some, choose radiolaria and also diatoms, use silica, and when they dice their tiny shells (or tests) settle gradually to the bottom where they accumulate together chert. In some cases, chert is deposited along with limestone in the moderately deep ocean, yet the two often tend to remain separate, therefore chert beds within limestone room quite usual (Figure 6.13), as room nodules, connect the flint nodules the the Cretaceous chalk that southeastern England. In other situations, and especially in an extremely deep water, chert accumulates on the own, typically in slim beds.

Figure 6.13 Chert (brown layers) interbedded v Triassic Quatsino Fm. Limestone top top Quadra Island, B.C. Every one of the layers have actually been folded, and the chert, being insoluble and harder 보다 limestone, stands out.

Some ancient chert bed — most dating to between 1800 and also 2400 Ma — are likewise combined through a rock known as banded iron formation (BIF), a deep sea-floor deposit of iron oxide that is a common ore of steel (Figure 6.14). BIF forms when iron liquified in seawater is oxidized, becomes insoluble, and sinks to the bottom in the same means that silica tests do to type chert. The ubiquity of BIF in rocks date from 2400 to 1800 Ma is as result of the alters in the atmosphere and oceans the took location over that time period. Photosynthetic bacteria (i.e., cyanobacteria, a.k.a. Blue-green algae) consume carbon dioxide native the atmosphere and use solar power to transform it come oxygen. This bacteria very first evolved roughly 3500 Ma, and also for the following billion years, almost every one of that free oxygen was used up by chemical and also biological processes, however by 2400 Ma complimentary oxygen levels began to boost in the atmosphere and also the oceans. Over a duration of 600 million years, that oxygen gradually converted dissolve ferrous steel (Fe2+) to insoluble ferric steel (Fe3+), which combined with oxygen to kind the mineral hematite (Fe2O3), leading to the build-up of BIFs. After ~ 1800 Ma, tiny dissolved iron to be left in the oceans and the formation of BIF basically stopped.

Figure 6.14 Banded iron formation (red) interbedded through chert (white), Dales Gorge, AustraliaEvaporites

In arid regions, lakes and inland seas generally have no currently outlet and also the water that flows into them is removed just by evaporation. Under these conditions, the water i do not care increasingly focused with dissolved salts, and eventually some of these salts reach saturation levels and start to crystallize (Figure 6.15). Although all evaporite deposits space unique due to the fact that of differences in the chemistry of the water, in most instances minor amounts of carbonates start to precipitate as soon as the equipment is diminished to around 50% that its initial volume. Gypsum (CaSO4·H2O) precipitates at about 20% that the original volume and also halite (NaCl) precipitates in ~ 10%. Other necessary evaporite minerals encompass sylvite (KCl) and borax (Na2B4O7·10H2O). Sylvite is mined at many locations across Saskatchewan (Figure 6.16) indigenous evaporites the were deposited throughout the Devonian (~385 Ma) when an inland sea lived in much the the region.

Figure 6.15 Spotted Lake, near Osoyoos, B.C. This photograph was bring away in might when the water was fairly fresh because of winter rains. By the finish of the summer the surface ar of this lake is typically totally encrusted through salt deposits.
Figure 6.16 A mining machine at the face of potash ore (sylvite) in the Lanigan Mine near Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. The mineable potash class is around 3 m thick.

Exercise 6.3 making Evaporite

This is basic experiment that you have the right to do at home. Pour about 50 mL (just much less than 1/4 cup) of really hot water into a cup and include 2 teaspoons (10 mL) of salt. Stir until all or almost all of the salt has actually dissolved, then to water the salty water (leaving any kind of undissolved salt behind) right into a shallow large dish or a little plate. Leaving it come evaporate because that a few days and also observe the result.

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It may look a little like the photo here. These crystals space up to around 3 mm across.