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Sediment (A) may someday become a clastic rock (B) if compacted and cemented together.
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(A) courtesy of Bruce Molnia, Terra and (B) courtesy of Martin Miller, University of Oregon

Step 4: Turning a Pile of Sediment into Solid Rock!

Sediment is not a sedimentary rock unless the sediments become stuck together. The material that holds sediment together into a rock is called cement. It is made of mineral crystals. Cement forms when seawater or groundwater travels through the empty spaces between sediment and leaves mineral crystals behind.

A pile of sediment becomes a sedimentary rock more quickly when it is buried deep underground. This makes the sediment grains become squished closely together. However, turning a pile of sediment into solid rock takes a long time. It can take even take hundreds of thousands of years.

Last modified August 25, 2003 by Lisa Gardiner.

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The Fall 2010 issue of The Earth Scientist, focuses on rocks and minerals, including articles on minerals and mining, the use of minerals in society, and rare earth minerals, and includes 3 posters!

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