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Sediment and Sedimentation

The Fate Of Sediments

All clastic and organic sediments suffer one of two fates. Either they accumulate in a depositional environment, then get buried and lithified (turned to rock by compaction and cementation) to produce sedimentary Sorted sediment in a gravel pit south of West Bend, Wisconsin. JLM Visuals. Reproduced with permission. rock, or they are re-exposed by erosion after burial, but before lithification, and go through one or more new cycles of weathering-erosion-transport-deposition-burial.

Chemical sediments, while still in solution, can instead follow a number of different paths, known as geochemical cycles. These pathways include ending up as: chemical sedimentary rocks, cement in clastic rocks, parts of living organisms, gases in the atmosphere, ice at the poles, or water in underground reservoirs. Dissolved minerals may remain in these settings for millions of years or quickly move on to another stage in the cycle.

Whether clastic, chemical, or organic, all sediments are part of what is called the rock cycle, an endless series of interrelated processes and products that includes all Earth materials.


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