Peer-Reviewed Journal Details
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Tunwal, M;Mulchrone, KF;Meere, PA
Quantitative characterization of grain shape: Implications for textural maturity analysis and discrimination between depositional environments
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Grain shape plays an important role in textural analysis of sedimentary grains. Textural analysis helps to determine the formation, transportation and deposition processes of sedimentary rocks. However, there is a lack of standardized methodology for quantitative characterization of grain shapes. The utility of fully automated image analysis for grain shape measurement is assessed in this paper. This research aimed to identify the most useful shape parameters for textural characterization of populations of grains and determine the relative importance of the parameters. A key aspect of this study is to determine whether, in a particular sedimentary environment, textural maturity of the samples can be ranked based on their grain shape data. Furthermore, discrimination of sedimentary depositional environments is explored on the basis of grain shape. In this study, 20 loose sediment samples from four known depositional environments (beach, aeolian, glacial and fluvial) were analysed using newly implemented automatic image analysis methods. For each sample, a set of 11 shape parameters were calculated for 200 grains. The data demonstrate a progression in textural maturity in terms of roundness, angularity, irregularity, fractal dimension, convexity, solidity and rectangularity. Furthermore, statistical analysis provides strong support for significant differences between samples grouped by environment and generates a ranking consistent with trends in maturity. Based on novel application of machine learning algorithms, angularity and fractal dimension are found to be the two most important parameters in texturally classifying a grain. The results of this study indicate that textural maturity is readily categorized using automated grain shape parameter analysis. However, it is not possible to absolutely discriminate between different depositional environments on the basis of shape parameters alone. This work opens up the possibility of detailed studies of the relationship between textural maturity and sedimentary environment, which may be more complicated than previously considered.
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