Abstract

A factor analysis of 51 grab samples from the east-central Bering Sea continental shelf identified three factors that account for 88% of the variation in the relative amounts of the nine major heavy mineral groups that were used as variables. The most important components for definition of the sources and processes which have determined the properties of the surface sediments in this area are epidote, garnet and opaque minerals, and clinopyroxene and weathered grains, for Factors I-III, respectively. The occurrences and textural associations of Factor I-III sediments indicate that the relative fractions of the characteristic minerals have been largely determined by sorting; proximity of source is more important along the Alaskan mainland. Throughout the area, the heavy mineral contents of samples differ from those of modern Yukon River sediments. This study demonstrates the utility of factor analysis in the interpretation of relatively uniform heavy mineral data.

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