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Sediment and Sedimentation


Clastic and chemical sediments form during weathering of bedrock or pre-existing sediment by both physical and chemical processes. Organic sediments are also produced by a combination of physical and chemical weathering. Physical (or mechanical) weathering—the disintegration of Earth materials—is generally caused by abrasion or fracturing, such as the striking of one pebble against another in a river or stream bed, or the cracking of a rock by expanding ice. Physical weathering produces clastic and organic sediment.

Chemical weathering, or the decay and dissolution of Earth materials, is caused by a variety of processes. However, it results primarily from various interactions between water and rock material. Chemical weathering may alter the mineral content of a rock by either adding or removing certain chemical components. Some mineral by-products of chemical weathering are dissolved by water and transported below ground or to an ocean or lake in solution. Later, these dissolved minerals may precipitate out, forming deposits on the roof of a cave (as stalactites), or the ocean floor. Chemical weathering produces clastic, chemical, and organic sediments.

Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Jean-Paul Sartre Biography to Seminiferous tubulesSediment and Sedimentation - Weathering, Water, Wind, Glacial Ice, Sediment Erosion, Sediment Size, Sediment Load - Erosion and transport, Agents of erosion and transport, Deposition