Multivariate discriminant-function analysis of settling-velocity (Psi) distributions of sands provides a reliable technique for environmental interpretation. We have been able to achieve nearly complete environmental separation by this computational procedure using settling-velocity parameters for 81 samples of sand from desert dune, fluvial, and beach environments. The curve shape of sieved grain–size distributions plotted on probability paper does not appear to be a reliable guide for interpreting depositional environments. Comparison with settling-tube data indicates that sieving may distinguish grain–size distributions unrelated to the hydraulic characteristics of sediments and may not distinguish hydraulically important modalities.

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