Sedimentary Rocks

Mineral information is presented here; Pictures of minerals are found at the bottom of the page.

 

Conglomerate is a clastic sedimentary rock that forms from the cementing of rounded cobble and pebble sized rock fragments. Conglomerate is formed by river movement or ocean wave action. The cementing agents that fill the spaces to form the solid rock conglomerate are silica, calcite, or iron oxides.

Notice in the photo above the rounded rock particles in the conglomerate. These rounded particles make conglomerate different from breccia.

 

Breccia is formed in a very similar fashion to conglomerate. The difference between the two rocks is that breccia's rock fragments are very sharp and angular. These rock fragments have not been transported by water, wind, or glaciers long enough to be rounded and smoothed like in the conglomerate. The cementing agents silica, calcite (CaCO3), and iron oxides are the same as in conglomerate.

 

 

Chert is a very hard sedimentary rock that is usually found in nodules in limestone. Chert is light gray to dark gray in color. It probably formed from the remains of ancient sea sponges or other ocean animals that have been fossilized. Silica has replaced the tissue forming the sedimentary rock. Flint is a very dark form of chert. It breaks like obsidian with conchoidal fractures making it widely used by ancient people to make arrowheads, spear heads, and knives.

 

 

Halite is common table salt. It forms where brakish (salty) lakes or sea beds dry up. This evaporation of the water causes the salt to precipitate forming the salt crystals. Halite frequently occurs in crystal form. It is usually colorless but can be reddish brown because of iron oxides in the water that it forms in. Halite has perfect cleavage and a hardness of 2.5 on the Mohs hardness scale.

 

 

Limestone is the most abundant of the non-clastic sedimentary rocks. Limestone is produced from the mineral calcite (calcium carbonate) and sediment. The main source of limestone is the limy ooze formed in the ocean. The calcium carbonate can be precipitated from ocean water or it can be formed from sea creatures that secrete lime such as algae and coral.

Chalk is another type of limestone that is made up of very small single-celled organisms. Chalk is usually white or gray in color.

Limestone can easily be dissolved by acids. If you drop vinegar on limestone it will fizz. Put a limestone rock into a plastic jar and cover it with vinegar. Cover the jar and watch the bubbling of the calcium carbonate and also the disintegration of the rock over a few days.

 

Sandstone is a clastic sedimentary rock that forms from the cementing together of sand sized grains forming a solid rock. Quartz is the most abundant mineral that forms sandstone. Calcium carbonate, silica, or iron has been added to the water that is in contact with the sand grains. These minerals grow crystals in the spaces around the sand grains. As the crystals fill the gaps the individual sand grains are now transformed into a solid rock.