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The composition of clastic sediments and rocks is controlled by a complex suite of parameters operating during pedogenesis, erosion, transport, deposition, and burial. The principal first-order parameters include source rock composition, modification by chemical weathering, mechanical disaggregation and abrasion, authigenic inputs, hydrodynamic sorting, and diagenesis. Each of these first-order parameters is influenced to varying degrees by such factors as the tectonic settings of the source region, transportational system and depositional environment, climate, vegetation, relief, slope, and the nature and energy of transportational and depositional systems. These factors are not independent; rather a complicated web of interrelationships and feedback mechanisms causes many factors to be modulated by others. Accordingly, processes controlling the composition of clastic sediments are best viewed as constituting a system, and in evaluating compositional information the dynamics of the system must be considered as whole.

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