Differing methods of determining detrital modes of sand/sandstone have been developed by different "schools" due to different goals and different geologic settings. The Gazzi-Dickinson method of point counting was developed to maximize source-rock data, while minimizing the time, effort, and expense of gathering such data. Use of the method minimizes variation of composition with grain size, thus eliminating the need for sieving and multiple counts of different size fractions. Unsorted samples of any sand size may be used, thus allowing direct comparison between modern sands and poorly sorted ancient sandstones. The application of actualistic petrologic models relating composition to tectonic setting thus is facilitated. The unique aspect of the Gazzi-Dickinson method of point counting is the assignment of sand-sized crystals and grains within larger fragments to the category of the crystal or grain, rather than to the category of the larger fragment. In addition, every attempt is made to reconstruct original detrital compositions in spite of subsequent alterations. Six unconsolidated Holocene sand samples derived from a variety of source rocks in north-central New Mexico were collected, sieved, impregnated, sectioned, stained and point-counted, using both traditional and Gazzi-Dickinson methods. Results of these counts provide a comparative test of traditional and Gazzi-Dickinson methods. There are two reasons for variation of modal composition with grain size: 1) the breakage of fragments into constituent grains, and 2) actual mineralogic variation with grain size. The Gazzi-Dickinson method successfully eliminates the first source of compositional grain-size dependency. No point-counting method eliminates the second source. Use of the Gazzi-Dickinson method on unsorted samples produces results that are consistent with those from different size fractions of the same samples. Lithic-fragment compositions (for example, LmLvLs, QpLvmLsm) are especially consistent and provide the most useful parameters for relating composition to source rock and, ultimately, to tectonic setting.

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