Encyclopedia of Paleoclimatology and Ancient Environments

2009 Edition
| Editors: Vivien Gornitz

Red Beds

  • Nathan D. Sheldon
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-4411-3_202
Red beds are red-colored clastic sedimentary deposits (Figure R7). The term is widespread in the literature and has been used to describe both marine and non-marine rocks, so it is non-genetic. The presence of oxidized (ferric) iron (usually as fine-grained hematite) disseminated throughout the matrix of the deposits is the unifying feature of red beds. Reddening typically forms as a result of the post-depositional dehydration of oxyhydroxides such as goethite to hematite and indicates + υ (positive) Eh conditions. Rocks previously called red beds include paleosols (including laterites), banded iron formations, sandstones, siltstones, conglomerates, and deep sea shales. Marine red beds are rare and form only in areas with little organic matter and slow sedimentation rates that allow all of the organic matter to be broken down prior to burial. Only red bed sequences containing or composed of paleosols or evaporites are useful for paleoclimatic reconstructions.
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  • Nathan D. Sheldon

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