Abstract

Both sediment recycling and first-cycle input influence the composition of clastic material in sedimentary systems. This paper examines conceptually the roles played by these processes in governing the composition of clastic sediment on a regional scale by outlining the expected effects on sediment composition of protracted sediment recycling and of continuous first-cycle input on a maturing continental block. Generally speaking, long-term recycling tends to enrich sediments in the most chemically and mechanically stable components: quartz in the sand and silt size fractions, and illite among the clay minerals. Sandstones trend towards pure quartz arenites, and mudrocks become more potassic and aluminous. The average grain size of clastic sediment decreases by a combination of progressive attrition of sand grains and ongoing breakdown of primary silicate minerals to finer-grained clay minerals and oxides. Sandstones derived by continuous first-cycle input from an evolving continental crustal source also become increasingly rich in quartz, but in addition become more feldspathic as the proportion of granitic material in the upper continental crust increases during crustal stabilization. Associated mudrocks also become richer in potassium and aluminum, but will have higher K 2 O/Al 2 O 3 ratios than recycled muds. The average grain size of the sediment may increase with time as the proportion of sand-prone granitic source rocks increases at the expense of more mud-prone volcanic sources. in general, except in instances where chemical weathering is extreme, first-cycle sediments lack the compositional maturity of recycled detritus, and are characterized by the presence of a variety of primary silicate minerals. Sedimentary systems are not usually completely dominated by either recycling or first-cycle detritus. Generally, however, sedimentary systems associated with the earliest phases of formation and accretion of continental crust are characterized by first-cycle input from igneous and metamorphic rocks, whereas those associated with more mature cratons tend to be dominated by recycled sedimentary material.

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