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Sedimentary Rocks in the Field

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    Sedimentary rocks are types of rock that are formed by the deposition and subsequent cementation of that material at the Earths surface and within bodies of water. Sedimentation is the collective name for processes that cause mineral and/or organic particles (detritus) to settle in place. The particles that form a sedimentary rock by accumulating are called sediment. Before being deposited, the sediment was formed by weathering and erosion from the source area, and then transported to the place of deposition by water, wind, ice, mass movement or glaciers, which are called agents of denudation. Sedimentation may also occur as minerals precipitate from water solution or shells of aquatic creatures settle out of suspension. The sedimentary rock cover of the continents of the Earths crust is extensive (73% of the Earths current land surface 1 ), but the total contribution of sedimentary rocks is estimated to be only 8% of the total volume of the crust. 2 Sedimentary rocks are only a thin veneer over a crust consisting mainly of igneous and metamorphic rocks. Sedimentary rocks are deposited in layers as strata, forming a structure called bedding. The study of sedimentary rocks and rock strata provides information about the subsurface that is useful for civil engineering, for example in the construction of roads, houses, tunnels, canals or other structures. Sedimentary rocks are also important sources of natural resources like coal, fossil fuels, drinking water or ores.

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