Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A Look Back…75 Years

Rivers obey the laws of physics and flow downhill, commonly eroding elevated regions and flowing towards the ocean.  Seventy-five years ago, Edelman described the mineralogical character of sediment in rivers in the Netherlands (grain size characterization was described as “unjust”).  The data reveal that the mineralogy (and grain size) changes markedly downstream; changes that he interpreted to reflect a North Sea source for downstream segments.  He pointed out that rivers in the Netherlands “do not succeed in transporting even one single sand grain to the neighboring North Sea… exactly the opposite… of what inference teaches.”  [Although he did not explicitly state it, this dynamic is due to tides in the estuaries.  See HERE and HERE for more information.]  Edelman suggests that these data “warn us not to apply the pattern-like conceptions of rivers and their sediments…without a critical examination.”

Petrology of Recent Sands of the Rhine and the Meuse in the Netherlands, by C. H. Edelman, Journal of Sedimentary Petrology, August 1938, v. 8, p. 59-66.


  1. Dear SEPM, I love you. The great Dutch soil scientist Edelman, picked up from a dusty shelf by you. Thank you!!

  2. Thanks, KiKa! We are proud of the rich SEPM legacy, and of the wonderful, perceptive, and engaging scientists who have contributed to our science by publishing in JSR. One of the goals of these "Look Backs" are to remind us that we do indeed stand on the shoulders of the giants who have come before us!