Sedimentology & Stratigraphy
This laboratory exercise has
parts. In Part I, you will practice a basic technique for
determining grain size
using the RoTap
method. In Part II you will create a grain
III is a set of questions that
everyone answers a
s part of the laboratory report
The goals of this series of laboratory exercises are as follows:
Learn particle size analytical techniques for sands;
Graph data on arithmetic and logarith
c scales, both by hand and by
Perform graphical statistical analyses using a spreadsheet;
Develop a well
written laboratory report following the guidelines.
in groups of no more than
Make sure you take
the time to observe what
the other groups are doing.
you will be writing up a
short lab report and interpretation based
on other’s data so it is crucial that you understand what errors are
when they are
most likely to be
he procedures for Parts I and II
lab time. Each group will complete a
. Have a group representative e
mail your group’s spreadsheet to
will check th
e data then e
a couple of d
individual laboratory report based on all
You are responsible for
. Finish graphing by hand at home. Turn
n with your lab report
by a week from the start
of the lab
. As par
t of your laboratory report, determine the statistics for each
graphically, USING A SPREADSHEET.
Statistical calculations can be found on p. 41
52 of Folk
and in handout.
Be sure to
check your formulas. The labor
atory report is due
r than Sept.
Format for the laboratory report.
Your report should be
a Max of
, plus amendments
. A short paragraph explaining why you performed the experiments
(saying “because I
had to” does not count)
ials and Equipment. A brief description of the methods and equipment used
not copy this lab step by step)
the materials used.
. Detail any deviations from the procedure outlined in the instructions.
(Specially true if yo
u have more greater than 2mm fragments than others).
. Results must include: 1) All the
datasets, 2) a table of graphic statistics for all
histogram and cumulative
frequency plot for each of the
datasets. Describe the results
in a s
paragraph basically reiterating what is already shown by the graphics. It is ESSENTIAL
that you refer to
the graphs of the data
these are your primary means of presenting the data. Don’t
in your report
it’s a waste of
your time. However, you must
attach the labeled (with captions)
graphs with your report and refer to them by number in your text
(use your textbook as a guide if you are
how to properly reference material
terpret. Use ALL the questions of Part III
provided as a
your discussion. For Analysis, discu
experimental error, strengths or weaknesses
of the design, and
relationship to your objective. For Interpretation, discuss your data in terms of
environment. Think in terms of sorting, as determined by skewness, standard
deviation, etc. Justify your
. A short summary of what you now know.
Part I. Coarse Grain Size Analysis (Sieving)
is appropriate to particle sizes down to 1/16 mm
, when electrostatic
Equipment and Materials
Mechanical sample splitter
Brush for cleaning sieves
1. Obtain ~
200 g sample. Split it mechanically to reduce it to an appropriate size (~40
2. Weigh it to the nearest 0.01 g and record the weight on the form.
3. Assemble the CLEANED sieves plus a pan and lid.
Pour the sample into the top, coarse sieve. Cap it and RoTap for 10 minutes.
nested sieves and carefully put
contents of each sieve onto a sheet of
6. Clean sieve screen by quickly inverting it and slamming it sharply and evenly on t
it at an angle will damage the mesh). NEVER force a grain through (some are supposed to
lodged on the screen). NEVER touch the screen with anything other than the brush.
7. Weigh each fraction and record the weight. Save the fine fract
8. Determine the total weight retained. Compare it to the starting weight to determine sieve loss.
9. Determine weight percent (weight retained per class/ total weight) * 100.
10. Plot as a histogram by hand.
11. Determine cumulative weight percent d
ata. Plot by hand.
12. Transfer data to a spreadsheet. Complete and email to
13. Obtain data from the other groups. Using the instructions attached, determine graphical
datasets using a spreadsheet.
14. Complete laboratory report by
answering questions first.
Part II. Grain Size Chart
Estimating grain size is difficult until you get a feel for it. For this reason you are going to
a grain size chart with RoTap samples.
1. Obtain a cardboard template.
2. Label the holes as c
oarse silt, v. fine sand (4 phi), fine sand (3 phi) medium sand (2 phi),
sand (1phi) and very coarse sand (0 phi).
3. Glue the bottom of the circles; add a thin layer of sand. Let it dry.
Fine grained particles
Because of their small size, silt and
clay particles (finer than 4
m diameter) cannot be
measured by sieving. Most methods developed to measure small particle diameters involve
“sedimentation” in which particle size is estimated from the rate at which particles sink in fluid
medium. This rate can be determined by
measuring the weight or volume of accumulated
sediment, the decrease in fluid density, or the decrease in turbidity of the suspension.
There are three methods of analysis of silts and clays: pipette, hydrometer, and decantation
methods. The pipette metho
d is more common and more accurate than the other two. All are
based on the settling velocity of the particles, computed on the basis of Stoke’s Law.
1. the pipette method: a small volume of suspension is obtained, evaporated and the residue is
he residue represents the range of grain sizes suspended at the given time;
2. the hydrometer method: the density of the suspension is measured, which depends on the
amount of sediments in suspension;
3. decantation method: all the grains still suspended a
fter a given time are poured off, dried and
For pipette analysis, all coarse material (> 4
m diameter) must be removed from the
sample either by wet or dry sieving. If wet sieving, be sure not to exceed a total volume of 1000 ml
of suspension. The optimum amount of sediment to work with is 15 g (although it is possible to run
sis on a sample of 5
10 g). Too large a sample leads to grain interference and possible
flocculation, and too small a sample leads to very small residues and greater experimental error
during weighing. Also, any organic matter should be removed with an o
xidizing agent (hydrogen
The pipette method is based on the idea that fine sediment is uniformly distributed throughout the
1000 ml column, and we draw off exactly 20 ml at the stated times, then the amount of mud in
each withdrawal is equal to
1/50 of the total amount of mud remaining in the column at that given
time and at that given depth (i.e., the amount of mud finer than the given diameter; all particles
coarser than the given diameter will have settled past the point of withdrawal). The f
is made so quickly after stirring and at such a depth that particles of all sizes are present in
suspension; therefore if the initial withdrawal weight (minus the dispersant weight) is multiplied by
50, then you can obtain the weight of the
entire amount of mud in the cylinder. Then, if you draw
off a sample at a settling time corresponding to a diameter of 6
, and multiply it by 50, then we
know that the product represents the number of grams of mud still in suspension at this new time,
refore the grams of mud finer than 6
Table for Settling Times computed according to Stokes Law for temperatures near 20°C.
Times of Settling
As you can see t
his procedure is time and labor consuming, so we will no perform it, but we will
need to compute calculations based on Stoke’s Law.
1. What is the difference between accuracy and precision?
2. What factors in these methods might affect accuracy?
3. What factors might affect precision?
4. What do the data indicate about the energy of the system?
5. What is a likely environment of deposition for your sample? Justify it.
6. Does the composition
/ mineralogy of the s
ediment change by size fraction?
7. What assumptions are made in the RoTap method of mechanically sieving the sample?
Given Stoke’s Law:
Settling velocity assumes a spherical shape and is valid for particles 3
= density of sphere (Quartz = 2.65 g/cm3)
= density of liquid water (at 20°C, = 0.998 g/cm3)
g = gravitational constant (980.17 cm/sec2)
= viscosity of water at 20°C = 1.00 centipoises
se = 0.01 gm/cm
8. What would be the effect on the settling velocity for analyses conducted on the moon where the
gravitational constant is only 1/6 of that of earth? CALCULATE AND SHOW WORK.
In very cold water (~ 1°C), the viscosity is 1.75 centip
oises. How would this effect settling
CALCULATE AND SHOW WORK.
10. Compare the settling velocity of quartz vs. magnetite (density = 5.2 g/cm3) sand grains in 20°C
Compare grains of 63
) CALCULATE AND SHOW WORK.