Bed (geology)

Beds are the layers of sedimentary rocks that are distinctly different from overlying and underlying subsequent beds of different sedimentary rocks. Layers of beds are called stratigraphy or strata. They are formed from sedimentary rocks being deposited on the Earth's solid surface over a long periods of time.[1] The stratigraphy are layered in the same order that they were deposited, allowing a differentiation of which beds are younger and which ones are older (the Law of Superposition).[2] The structure of a bed is determined by its bedding plane.[3] Beds can be differentiated in various ways, including rock or mineral type and particle size. The term is generally applied to sedimentary strata, but may also be used for volcanic flows or ash layers.

In a quarry, bedding is a term used for a structure occurring in granite and similar massive rocks that allows them to split in well-defined planes horizontally or parallel to the land surface. Other kinds of beds are cross beds and graded beds. Cross beds are not layered horizontally and are formed by a combination of local deposition on the inclined surfaces of ripples or dunes, and local erosion. Graded beds shows a gradual change in grain or clast sizes from one side of the bed to the other. A normal grading is when there are bigger grain sizes on the older side while an inverse grading is when there are smaller grain sizes on the older side. By knowing the type of beds, geologists can determine the relative ages of the rocks.[4]

Estratificación Bedding
Tilted sedimentary bedding in shales of the Cretaceous Salto del Fraile Formation, Peru.

Bed thickness

Bed and Laminae Thickness
Thickness of bed and laminae sizes in centimeters

A bed is the smallest lithostratigraphic unit, usually ranging in thickness from a centimeter to several meters and distinguishable from beds above and below it. The thickness of the bed is determined by the time period involving the deposition of the rocks.

  • Very Thick Bed - 100cm
  • Thick Bed - 30cm
  • Medium Bed - 10cm
  • Thin Bed - 3cm
  • Very Thin Bed - 1cm
  • Thinner than 1cm is called a Lamina[5]

Engineering considerations

In geotechnical engineering a bedding plane often forms a discontinuity that may have a large influence on the mechanical behaviour (strength, deformation, etc.) of soil and rock masses in, for example, tunnel, foundation, or slope construction.

Geologic principles

Geologic Principles
Law of Superposition, Law of Original Horizontality, Law of Lateral Continuity, Cross-Cutting Relationship

There are geologic principles that the beds normally follow. Even though there can be cases where the principles do not apply mostly due to faults, they are true for most cases.

  • Law of Superposition is the law that states that the oldest rocks are deposited first and has the younger layers deposited last, as long as the beds have not been overturned through tectonic activities. This is used to date the stratigraphy and their relative ages. [2]
  • Law of Original Horizontality states that if the beds are not horizontal, then the layers were caused to either fold or tilt through tectonic activities. They were all deposited horizontally due to gravity. [6]
  • Law of Lateral Continuity states that the bed deposits extends in all lateral directions. This means that if two places separated by erosional features have similar rocks, it could mean that they were originally continuous. [2]
  • Cross-Cutting Relationship states that a fault is younger than the rock layers that it goes through. It helps with relatively dating the rocks.

See also


  1. ^ Einsele, Gerhard (1991), Cycles and Events in Stratigraphy, New York, p. 955
  2. ^ a b c Steensen, Niels (1671), The Prodromus to a Dissertation Concerning Solids Naturally Contained Within Solids (2nd ed), London, p. 112
  3. ^ Boggs, Sam (2001), Principles of Sedimentology and Stratigraphy (3rd ed), Pearson Education, p. 726
  4. ^ Lyell, Charles (1990), Principles of Geology (Volume 1), Chicago
  5. ^ Campbell, Charles (1979), Lamiae, laminaset, bed and bedset: Sedimentology (Volume 8)
  6. ^ Levin, H.L. (2009), The Earth Through Time (9 ed.), John Wiley and Sons, p. 15, ISBN 978-0-470-38774-0
  • Lamina, Laminaset, Bed and Bedset. Campbell, Charles V. Sedimentology, vol. 8, issue 1, pp. 7-26.

Chirotherium, also known as Cheirotherium (‘hand-beast’), is a Triassic trace fossil consisting of five-fingered (pentadactyle) footprints and whole tracks. These look, by coincidence, remarkably like the hands of apes and bears, with the outermost toe having evolved to extend out to the side like a thumb, although probably only functioning to provide a firmer grip in mud. Chirotherium tracks were first found in 1834 in Lower Triassic sandstone (Buntsandstein) in Thuringia, Germany, dating from about 243 million years ago (mya).

The creatures who made the footprints and tracks were probably pseudosuchian archosaurs related to the ancestors of the crocodiles. They likely belonged to either prestosuchidae or rauisuchidae groups, which were both large carnivores with semi-erect gaits.

Lamination (geology)

In geology, lamination is a small-scale sequence of fine layers (laminae; singular: lamina) that occurs in sedimentary rocks. Laminae are normally smaller and less pronounced than bedding. Lamination is often regarded as planar structures one centimetre or less in thickness, whereas bedding layers are greater than one centimetre. However, structures from several millimetres to many centimetres have been described as laminae. A single sedimentary rock can have both laminae and beds.


A road is a thoroughfare, route, or way on land between two places that has been paved or otherwise improved to allow travel by foot or some form of conveyance, including a motor vehicle, cart, bicycle, or horse.

Roads consist of one or two roadways (British English: carriageways), each with one or more lanes and any associated sidewalks (British English: pavement) and road verges. There is sometimes a bike path. Other names for roads include parkways, avenues, freeways, tollways, interstates, highways, or primary, secondary, and tertiary local roads.


Stratigraphy is a branch of geology concerned with the study of rock layers (strata) and layering (stratification). It is primarily used in the study of sedimentary and layered volcanic rocks.

Stratigraphy has two related subfields: lithostratigraphy (lithologic stratigraphy) and biostratigraphy (biologic stratigraphy).


In geology and related fields, a stratum (plural: strata) is a layer of sedimentary rock or soil, or igneous rock that were formed at the Earth's surface, with internally consistent characteristics that distinguish it from other layers. The "stratum" is the fundamental unit in a stratigraphic column and forms the basis of the study of stratigraphy.

History of geology
Сomposition and structure
Historical geology


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