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Graywacke or Wacke

Pictures of Sedimentary Rock Types


Wacke ("wacky") is a name for a poorly sorted sandstone, a mixture of grains of sand, silt and clay size. Graywacke is a specific type of wacke. (more below)
A dirty sandstone
Photo (c) 2006 Andrew Alden licensed to About.com
Wacke contains quartz, like other sandstones, but it also has more delicate minerals and small fragments of rock (lithics). Its grains are not well rounded. But this hand specimen is in fact a graywacke, which refers to a specific origin as well as a wacke composition and texture. The British spelling is "greywacke."

Graywacke forms in the seas near fast-rising mountains. The streams and rivers from these mountains yield fresh, coarse sediment that doesn't fully weather into proper surface minerals. It tumbles from river deltas down slope to the deep seafloor in gentle avalanches and forms bodies of rock called turbidites.

This graywacke is from a turbidite sequence in the heart of the Great Valley Sequence in western California, roughly 100 million years old. It contains sharp quartz grains, hornblende and other dark minerals, lithics and small blobs of claystone. Clay minerals hold it together in a strong matrix.

For more photos see the Sedimentary Rocks Gallery.

Other galleries:
Geologic Features and Processes
Glaciers and Ice
Geology and Society

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