Interpreting depositional setting is a fundamental task of many sedimentary geologists. Existing analytical techniques using sediment properties to characterize depositional setting and related mechanism of transport can produce results with varying accuracy or can be cost prohibitive. Here, Eamer and co-workers describe a new method that uses freely available software and an optical microscope to differentiate coastal sands transported by eolian and littoral processes. The method is based on the principle of eolian sand sorting, in which wind preferentially transports rounded grains to angular grains. The software was used to classify grain solidity. Results from application of this method are promising, with correct identification of the transport mechanism of 76% of nearly 6000 tested sand grains. Determining the depositional setting of sand grains provides important information for paleoenvironmental reconstruction, stratigraphic interpretation, and applied sciences (e.g., hydrogeology).
Distinguishing depositional setting for sandy deposits in coastal landscapes using grain shape by Jordan Blair Reglin Eamer, Dan Hirsh Shugar, Ian James Walker, Olav B. Lian, and Christina M. Neudorf