Quantitative particle size, microtextural and outline shape analyses of glacigenic sediment reworked by paraglacial debris flows
Particle size analysis and scanning electron microscopy have been used with some success to differentiate sediments sampled from varying geomorphological environments. In the paraglacial environment, however, discrimination of paraglacially reworked deposits from in situ glacigenic deposits has proven to be problematic. We consider till sediments that have been reworked by paraglacial debris flows and in situ, unreworked parent material, and apply a series of quantitative techniques in an attempt to discriminate samples from each environment. Initial analysis of particle size suggests some eluviation of fines from the debris-flow-reworked deposits but is of insufficient significance to allow reliable differentiation of geomorphological environment. Similarly, although slight differences are identified in terms of quartz grain surface microtextures and quartz grain outline shape, subsequent PCA, cluster and Fourier analyses fail to reliably differentiate quartz grains from each geomorphological environment, owing to high levels of intra-sample heterogeneity. This lack of apparent difference may arise from a lack of paraglacial process operation of significant magnitude or duration for a characteristic process imprint to emerge at this scale of observation. Accordingly, further assessment of particle-size and microtextural characteristics of glacial and paraglacial sediments may be most fruitful where sediments have been reworked over long distances. Moreover, differentiating glacial from paraglacial deposits is likely to yield the most reliable results where rigorous statistical analyses are combined with a wide range of sedimentological and geomorphological techniques. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley and Sons, Ltd.