<img src="https://d5nxst8fruw4z.cloudfront.net/atrk.gif?account=iA1Pi1a8Dy00ym" style="display:none" height="1" width="1" alt="" />
Dismiss
Skip Navigation
Our Terms of Use (click here to view) and Privacy Policy (click here to view) have changed. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our new Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

3.13: Lithification of Sedimentary Rocks

Difficulty Level: At Grade Created by: CK-12
Atoms Practice
Estimated3 minsto complete
%
Progress
Practice Lithification of Sedimentary Rocks
Practice
Progress
Estimated3 minsto complete
%
Practice Now

What steps led to this rock formation?

What do you see? The rock is a sandstone, so first there were rocks that weathered and eroded. The cross-bedding indicates that the sand was deposited in a dune. The sand was then buried deeply enough that it turned into rock. This lesson will explore how something like sand could become a rock.

Sedimentary Rock Formation

Accumulated sediments harden into rock by lithification, as illustrated in the Figure below. Two important steps are needed for sediments to lithify.

  1. Sediments are squeezed together by the weight of overlying sediments on top of them. This is called compaction. Cemented, non-organic sediments become clastic rocks. If organic material is included, they are bioclastic rocks.
  2. Fluids fill in the spaces between the loose particles of sediment and crystallize to create a rock by cementation.

The sediment size in clastic sedimentary rocks varies greatly (see Table in Sedimentary Rocks III: Classification).

This cliff is made of sandstone. Sands were deposited and then lithified.

Vocabulary

  • bioclastic: Sedimentary rock that forms from pieces of living organisms.
  • cementation: When fluids deposit ions to create a cement that hardens loose sediments.
  • clastic: Contains fragments or clasts of preexisting rock; sedimentary rock made of clasts.
  • compaction: When sediments are squeezed together by the weight of sediments and rocks on top of them.
  • lithification: The creation of rock from sediments.

Summary

  • Sedimentary rocks are made of fragments of older rocks or pieces of organisms.
  • Compaction and cementation lead to lithification of sedimentary rocks.
  • Compaction is the squeezing of sediments by the weight of the rocks and sediments above them. Cementation is when cement from fluids bind sediments together.

Practice

Use this resource to answer the questions that follow.

1. Explain how sedimentary rocks form.

2. What is a conglomerate?

3. Explain how limestone forms.

4. Why are sedimentary rocks important?

Review

1. How does compaction lead to lithification?

2. How does cementation lead to lithification?

3. What is the difference between clastic and bioclastic sedimentary rocks?

Vocabulary

bioclastic

bioclastic

Sedimentary rock that forms from pieces of living organisms.
cementation

cementation

When fluids deposit ions to create a cement that hardens loose sediments.
clastic

clastic

Contains fragments or clasts of preexisting rock; sedimentary rock made of clasts.
compaction

compaction

When sediments are squeezed together by the weight of sediments and rocks on top of them.
lithification

lithification

The creation of rock from sediments.

Image Attributions

Show Hide Details
Description
Difficulty Level:
At Grade
Grades:
Date Created:
Feb 24, 2012
Last Modified:
May 26, 2016
Files can only be attached to the latest version of Modality
Please wait...
Please wait...
Image Detail
Sizes: Medium | Original
 
SCI.ESC.234.2.L.1