The Earth Through Time, 8e

Eighth Edition
by Harold L. Levin

Chapter 5 - page 1

The Sedimentary Archives

Pamela J. W. Gore
Georgia Perimeter College


The characteristics of sedimentary rock deposited in an area depend on:

  1. Tectonic setting.
  2. Physical, chemical, and biological processes in the depositional environment.
  3. Method of sediment transport.
  4. Rocks in source area from which sediment is derived.
  5. Climate (and its effect on weathering).
  6. Post-depositional processes of lithification (cementation, compaction).
  7. Time.

Tectonic Setting

Tectonics: The forces controlling deformation or structural behavior of a large area of the Earth's crust over a long period of time.

An area may be:

Tectonics influences the grain size and thickness of sedimentary deposits.

Recent uplift of the source area leads to rapid erosion of coarse-grained sediment.

Subsidence in the depositional basin leads to the accumulation of great thicknesses of sediment.

Note thick accumulations of shallow water sediment in the Appalachians.

Principle tectonic elements of a continent

Craton - Stable interior of a continent, undisturbed by mountain-building events since the Precambrian.

Orogenic belts - Elongated regions bordering the craton which have been deformed by compression since the Precambrian Mountain belts.

Map of the craton and orogenic belts of North America
The craton and orogenic belts of North America.

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Document created by: Pamela J. W. Gore
Georgia Perimeter College, Clarkston, GA

September 14, 2005