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BeachSediment

Particulate solid matter that is deposited on the surface of land

Sediment is a naturally occurring material that is broken down by processes of

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Sediment

Particulate solid matter that is deposited on the surface of land

Sediment is a naturally occurring material that is broken down by processes of weathering and erosion, and is subsequently transported by the action of wind, water, or ice or by the force of gravity acting on the particles. For example, sand and silt can be carried in suspension in river water and on reaching the sea bed deposited by sedimentation. If buried, they may eventually become sandstone and siltstone (sedimentary rocks) through lithification.



Cobbles on a beach

River Rhône flowing into Lake Geneva. Sediments make the water appear brownish-grey; they are an indicator of increased water runoff, land degradation, erosion due to intensive industrialized land use, land sealing, and poor soil management.

Sediments are most often transported by water (fluvial processes), but also wind (aeolian processes) and glaciers. Beach sands and river channeldeposits are examples of fluvial transport and deposition, though sediment also often settles out of slow-moving or standing water in lakes and oceans. Desert sand dunes and loess are examples of aeolian transport and deposition. Glacial moraine deposits and till are ice-transported sediments.

Classification

Sediment in the Gulf of MexicoSediment off the Yucatán Peninsula

Sediment can be classified based on its grain size or composition.

Grain size

Sediment size is measured on a log base 2 scale, called the "Phi" scale, which classifies particles by size from "colloid" to "boulder".

More information: φ scale, Size range (metric) …

Composition

Composition of sediment can be measured in terms of:

parent rock lithology

mineral composition

chemical make-up.

This leads to an ambiguity in which clay can be used as both a size-range and a composition (see clay minerals).

Sediment transport

Sediment builds up on human-made breakwaters because they reduce the speed of water flow, so the stream cannot carry as much sediment load.Glacial transport of boulders. These boulders will be deposited as the glacier retreats.

Sediment is transported based on the strength of the flow that carries it and its own size, volume, density, and shape. Stronger flows will increase the lift and drag on the particle, causing it to rise, while larger or denser particles will be more likely to fall through the flow.

Fluvial processes: rivers, streams, and overland flow

Particle motion

Rivers and streams carry sediment in their flows. This sediment can be in a variety of locations within the flow, depending on the balance between the upwards velocity on the particle (drag and lift forces), and the settling velocity of the particle. These relationships are shown in the following table for the Rouse number, which is a ratio of sediment fall velocity to upwards velocity.

{displaystyle { extbf {Rouse}}={frac { ext{Settling velocity}}{ ext{Upwards velocity from lift and drag}}}={frac {w_{s}}{kappa u_{*}}}}

where

{displaystyle w_{s}} is the fall velocity

{displaystyle kappa } is the von Kármán constant

{displaystyle u_{*}} is the shear velocity



Hjulström curve: The velocities of currents required for erosion, transportation, and deposition (sedimentation) of sediment particles of different sizes.

More information: Mode of Transport, Rouse Number …

If the upwards velocity is approximately equal to the settling velocity, sediment will be transported downstream entirely as suspended load. If the upwards velocity is much less than the settling velocity, but still high enough for the sediment to move (see Initiation of motion), it will move along the bed as bed load by rolling, sliding, and saltating (jumping up into the flow, being transported a short distance then settling again). If the upwards velocity is higher than the settling velocity, the sediment will be transported high in the flow as wash load.

As there are generally a range of different particle sizes in the flow, it is common for material of different sizes to move through all areas of the flow for given stream conditions.

Fluvial bedforms

Modern asymmetric ripples developed in sand on the floor of the Hunter River, New South Wales, Australia. Flow direction is from right to left.

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