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The materials entering the ocean today are similar in their heterogeneity, chemical and mineralogic composition, and rates of addition to those of the past two billion years of Earth history. Major differences between modern sediments and those of the past are largely the result of post-depositional changes.

Trends in the chemistry and mineralogy of shales with geologic age are shown to be similar to well-documented, short-term, post-depositional changes in Gulf Coast shales undergoing burial diagenesis. Mixed-layer clays are converted to illite, and Ca, Mg, Na, and Si are lost from the sediment system but K is fixed in both...

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