Abstract

Two-dimensional quartz grain shape was used to characterize sand grains from different source areas in the Owens Valley of eastern California. Combining a mathematical description of the grain outline and multivariate discriminant analysis, we have shown that quartz from clastic source rocks has a distinctive imprint when compared to samples from granitic, volcanic, or mixed fluvial source areas. Alternatively, quartz provided by a granitic source could equally well have been interpreted as if it were derived from any of the other sources considered. This study provides a standard of comparison for further analysis of sediment deposited in arid alluvial environments.

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