Sedimentology

  • Article
    | Open Access

    Harmful algal and bacterial blooms are increasingly frequent in lakes and rivers. From the Sydney Basin, Australia, this study uses fossil, sedimentary and geochemical data to reveal bloom events following forest ecosystem collapse during the end-Permian event and that blooms have consistently followed warming-related extinction events, inhibiting the recovery of freshwater ecosystems for millennia.

    • Chris Mays
    • , Stephen McLoughlin
    •  & Vivi Vajda
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Reconciling the Snowball Earth hypothesis with sedimentological cyclicity has been a persistent challenge. A new cyclostratigraphic climate record for a Cryogenian banded iron formation in Australia provides evidence for orbital forcing of ice sheet advance and retreat cycles during Snowball Earth.

    • Ross N. Mitchell
    • , Thomas M. Gernon
    •  & Xiaofang He
  • Article
    | Open Access

    There is a lot of uncertainty about what Earth’s climate and geography were like in the early Cambrian, when animal life diversified throughout the oceans. Here we show that numeric comparisons of model simulations and climatically influenced rocks can help constrain geography and climate during this time.

    • Thomas W. Wong Hearing
    • , Alexandre Pohl
    •  & Thijs R. A. Vandenbroucke
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Present et al. examine the processes controlling lithification of microbial mats in a Caribbean peritidal carbonate environment. The authors present sedimentological and geochemical evidence of a surprising bias against preserving the most robust, widespread microbial ecosystems in the sedimentary record.

    • Theodore M. Present
    • , Maya L. Gomes
    •  & John P. Grotzinger
  • Article
    | Open Access

    This study investigates the underlying physical mechanisms of turbidity currents travelling thousands of miles in confined submarine settings, rather than diffusing after short distance. Using high resolution simulations with up to a billion grid points helps to understand the evolving layered structure of a current.

    • Jorge S. Salinas
    • , S. Balachandar
    •  & M. I. Cantero
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The authors here present a multi-lake paleoseismological approach to evaluate the role of earthquakes in causing a spatio-temporal cluster of large, prehistoric rockslides between 3000 and 4200 years ago in the Eastern European Alps and for which the triggering mechanisms are still debated.

    • Patrick Oswald
    • , Michael Strasser
    •  & Jasper Moernaut
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Human activities have accelerated soil erosion and landscape change in many areas. Here the authors show how rates of erosion, sediment transfer and alluvial sedimentation have increased by an order of magnitude across North America since European colonization, far exceeding the rates expected of natural processes.

    • David B. Kemp
    • , Peter M. Sadler
    •  & Veerle Vanacker
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Phosphorus is an essential nutrient critical for agriculture, but because it is non-renewable its future availability is threatened. Here the authors show that across the globe most nations have net losses of phosphorus, with soil erosion as the major route of loss in Europe, Africa and South America.

    • Christine Alewell
    • , Bruno Ringeval
    •  & Pasquale Borrelli
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The proliferation of dams since 1950 has promoted sediment deposition in reservoirs, which is thought to be starving the coast of sediment and decreasing resistance to storms and sea-level rise. Here, the authors show that century-long records of sediment mass accumulation rates and sediment accumulation rates more than doubled after 1950 in coastal depocenters around North America.

    • A. B. Rodriguez
    • , B. A. McKee
    •  & A. N. Atencio
  • Article
    | Open Access

    In this study, Smith and colleagues employ analogue experiments to show the controlling parameters on sediment bedforms in pyroclastic density current deposits. The findings are applied and validated on natural deposits.

    • Gregory Smith
    • , Peter Rowley
    •  & Samuel Capon
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Identification of stratospheric volcanic eruptions in the geological record and their link to mass extinction events during the past 540 million years remains challenging. Here, the authors report unexpected, large mass-independent sulphur isotopic compositions of pyrite in Late Ordovician sedimentary rocks, which they suggest originates from stratospheric volcanism linked to the first pulse of the Late Ordovician mass extinction.

    • Dongping Hu
    • , Menghan Li
    •  & Yanan Shen
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Tidewater glaciers in fjords can advance/retreat independent of climate due to stabilization by sediments at their termini. We show that an Alaskan paleo-ice stream behaved similarly on an open shelf, suggesting that increased sediment flux may delay catastrophic retreat of outlet glaciers in a warming world.

    • Ellen A. Cowan
    • , Sarah D. Zellers
    •  & Stewart J. Fallon
  • Article
    | Open Access

    A reference function for describing the orientation of clay platelets in clay-rich materials is still lacking, but is necessary for applications such as prediction of water and solute transfer and designs of innovative materials. Here, the authors determine a reference orientation function of clay platelets, and validate their function for both engineered and natural clay-rich media.

    • Thomas Dabat
    • , Fabien Hubert
    •  & Eric Ferrage
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Marine chemistry during the Early Earth (over 2.7 billion years ago) is commonly inferred to have been inorganically sulfate-reducing. Here, the authors argue that organic sulfur cycling may have played a previously unrecognized, yet important, role in the formation of ancient Archean marine sulfides.

    • Mojtaba Fakhraee
    •  & Sergei Katsev
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The nature of erosion featured at the outlet of submarine channels is still a topic of debate. Here the authors present, based on scaled experiments, a novel flow mechanism for turbidity currents at the end of submarine channels and for the first time describe their erosional character.

    • F. Pohl
    • , J. T. Eggenhuisen
    •  & M. J. B. Cartigny
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The transition from smectite to illite requires potassium incorporation, yet the role of microbes in facilitating K+ uptake remains debated, especially during the early Earth. Here, the authors suggest that the Paleoproterozoic microbial mats extracted potassium from sea water and induced localized illitization during early low-temperature diagenesis.

    • Jérémie Aubineau
    • , Abderrazak El Albani
    •  & Kurt O. Konhauser
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Sediments have the potential to preserve the signature of geologic events such as earthquakes. Here, the authors provide a paleoseismological analysis of the sediments of Lake Rara, Nepal, to reconstruct the number of earthquakes that caused lake shaking and subsequent turbidite deposition during the last centuries.

    • Z. Ghazoui
    • , S. Bertrand
    •  & P. A. van der Beek
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Glacier meltwater can penetrate the glacier bed and act as a lubricant, accelerating retreat. Here, the authors use the unique Glacsweb wireless probe at Skálafellsjökull in Iceland and find evidence for two types of stick-slip events: small diurnal events in summer and large multiday events in winter.

    • Jane K. Hart
    • , Kirk Martinez
    •  & David S. Young
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Ferromanganese minerals are abundant in marine environments but the extent of these minerals in subseafloor sediments remains unknown. Here the authors find abundant ferromanganese microparticles in oxic pelagic clays, accounting for 14–16% of the new estimate of the global manganese budget (9.2–47.4 Tt).

    • Go-Ichiro Uramoto
    • , Yuki Morono
    •  & Fumio Inagaki
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The Cretaceous Oceanic Anoxic Event 2 represents one of the warmest episodes in the last 250 million years. Here, the authors present spore-pollen data and temperature estimates (TEX86) across an expanded stratigraphic section illustrating the dynamic response of vegetation during this exceptionally warm interval.

    • Ulrich Heimhofer
    • , Nina Wucherpfennig
    •  & Ariane Kujau
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Triggers of gas hydrate instability along continental margins remain debated. Here, via numerical simulations, the authors show that pulses in sedimentation, rather than bottom water temperature or sea level change, likely triggered gas hydrate dissociation offshore Norway at the end of the last glaciation.

    • Jens Karstens
    • , Haflidi Haflidason
    •  & Jürgen Mienert
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Within sediments in deep ocean trenches an earthquake record may be observed. Here, the authors present 14C data on bulk organic carbon (OC) and thermal decomposition from a sediment core in the Japan Trench and match OC values with known earthquake events.

    • Rui Bao
    • , Michael Strasser
    •  & Timothy I. Eglinton
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Gas hydrates are maintained via a balance of temperature and pressure, if this changes then destabilization may occur. Here, the authors show instead that due to recent changes in the salinity of the sea water of the Black Sea, gas hydrates may become destabilized with widespread methane seepage.

    • Vincent Riboulot
    • , Stephan Ker
    •  & Gabriel Ion
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The Bronze-age Indus civilisation (4.6–3.9 ka) was thought to have been linked to the development of water resources in the Himalayas. Here, the authors show that along the former course of the Sutlej River the Indus settlements developed along the abandoned river valley rather than an active Himalayan river.

    • Ajit Singh
    • , Kristina J. Thomsen
    •  & Sanjeev Gupta
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Snowball Earth glaciations were some of the most extreme climate events in Earth history, and are temporally linked to major biogeochemical changes. Here, using geochemical proxies, the authors show that during the Marinoan glaciation, there was likely open water, active oxygen production, and nitrogen cycling.

    • Benjamin W. Johnson
    • , Simon W. Poulton
    •  & Colin Goldblatt
  • Article
    | Open Access

    While a number of subglacial lakes have been discovered beneath the modern Antarctic ice sheet, little is known regarding their prevalence during past glaciations. Here, Kuhnet al. present sedimentological evidence for an active palaeo-subglacial lake in Pine Island Bay during the last glaciation.

    • Gerhard Kuhn
    • , Claus-Dieter Hillenbrand
    •  & José M. Mogollón
  • Article
    | Open Access

    It has been previously assumed that deep river channels could not have developed in the Proterozoic due to lack of vegetation. Here, the authors present remote sensing and outcrop data to show that large scale and deeply channelled river networks did exist in the Proterozoic despite the absence of vegetation.

    • Alessandro Ielpi
    • , Robert H. Rainbird
    •  & Massimiliano Ghinassi
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Oceanic shield volcanoes flank failures can generate large tsunamis. Here, the authors provide evidence that two tsunamis impacted the coast of Tenerife 170 Ma, the first generated by volcano flank failure and the second following a debris avalanche of the edifice during an on-going ignimbrite-forming eruption.

    • Raphaël Paris
    • , Juan J. Coello Bravo
    •  & François Nauret
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Britain’s separation from mainland Europe is believed to be the result of spillover from a proglacial lake in the North Sea, but this has remained unproven. Here, the authors show that the opening of the Dover Strait occurred in two episodes, where initial lake spillover was followed by catastrophic flooding.

    • Sanjeev Gupta
    • , Jenny S. Collier
    •  & John C. R. Arthur
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The onset of modern central Asian atmospheric circulation is often linked to the interplay of late Cenozoic paleogeographic changes and global cooling. Here the authors present sedimentary provenance data from early Cenozoic dust deposits, which indicate long-term stability of the central Asian high pressure system.

    • A. Licht
    • , G. Dupont-Nivet
    •  & D. Giesler
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Sediments record variations of the Earth’s magnetic field via the alignment of magnetic grains during and after deposition, yet the role of post-depositional processes remains unclear. Here, the authors present experiments showing how microbially-induced bioturbation controls the alignment process.

    • Xiangyu Zhao
    • , Ramon Egli
    •  & Sebastian Müller
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Given the absence of a major river system in the Western Sahara, the source of late Quaternary fluvial sediments along the West African margin remains unclear. Here, the authors present geomorphological data that reveal the existence of a large buried paleodrainage network on the Mauritanian coast.

    • C. Skonieczny
    • , P. Paillou
    •  & F. Grousset
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Theories of Cenozoic mountain uplift and associated global cooling assume that eroded mountain sediments are stored in marine basins. Here, based on detailed provenance data, Nie et al. show that Northeast Tibetan sediments are in fact stored inland, in the Chinese Loess Plateau and Mu Us desert.

    • Junsheng Nie
    • , Thomas Stevens
    •  & Baotian Pan
  • Article |

    Numerous theories exist regarding the evolution of a deep-water oxygen deficiency in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. Here, the authors test several popular hypotheses with a focus on the S1 event showing that long-term stagnation was necessary, preconditioned by the changes associated with the last deglaciation.

    • Rosina Grimm
    • , Ernst Maier-Reimer
    •  & Kay-Christian Emeis
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The role of cohesion is vital to our understanding of how sedimentary bedforms evolve. Here, the authors show that microorganisms within the sediment affect cohesion and demonstrate that ripples can take up to one hundred times as long to develop when extracellular polymeric substances are present.

    • Jonathan Malarkey
    • , Jaco H. Baas
    •  & Peter D. Thorne
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Submarine mud volcanoes are difficult to observe from the sea surface and previous recordings at depth have been short term. Here, the authors provide the first long-term monitoring from Håkon Mosby and suggest that mud volcanoes may be more important to the global methane budget than previously thought.

    • Tomas Feseker
    • , Antje Boetius
    •  & Dirk de Beer
  • Article |

    Sedimentary rocks record planetary environmental history convolved with the internal dynamics of depositional landscapes. Ganti et al.show that the advection length of settling sediment sets bounds on internal landscape dynamics, providing a new tool to unravel sedimentary archives.

    • Vamsi Ganti
    • , Michael P. Lamb
    •  & Brandon McElroy
  • Article |

    Humans have influenced the shaping of the landscape for generations, yet disentangling these influences from those of climate is a challenge. Giguet-Covex et al.take the novel approach of using lake sediment DNA to reconstruct a detailed picture of human land use since the Neolithic Period.

    • Charline Giguet-Covex
    • , Johan Pansu
    •  & Pierre Taberlet