Controls on quartz silt formation by crystalline defects

R. Kumar, I. F. Jefferson*, K. O'Hara-Dhand, I. J. Smalley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Silt composed predominately of quartz occurs abundantly in the sedimentary material found in deposits worldwide. Its origin is still the subject of many debates, but one acknowledged source is due to glacial grinding. To examine this problem and test the apparent contradictory evidence in the literature, a series of experiments were performed. In these experiments, the Bromhead ring shear apparatus was used as it can simulate glacial grinding due to its uninterrupted shearing action; hence, it provides an effective reproduction of glacial grinding. Experiments conducted on unweathered sand-sized vein quartz produced little silt, while use of sand from a sedimentary deposit, Leighton Buzzard sand, produced plentiful silt. Experimental results suggest that there is an internal mineralogical control on the formation of quartz silt particles. It is argued that the processes involved in the formation of quartz introduce defects (Moss defects) into the low-quartz crystal structure, demonstrated by the presence of peaks in the particle size curve around 20 μm. This indicates that there is a lithological control for the silt yielded under weathering, and this could explain why a pronounced mode at around 20-60 μm is commonly observed in silts, such as loess.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)185-188
Number of pages4
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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