Geochemistry has been used to determine the provenance and diagenetic history of eolian sandstone deposits. However, the grain size, sorting, cementation, and detrital composition of eolian units can change along dune foreset laminae. The purpose of this study was to test for consistent trends of compositional change along dune foresets. Such trends could increase the quality of geochemical sampling of eolian sandstones and possibly aid in estimating the original height of ancient sand dunes. XRF data was gathered for both major and trace elements from the Pennsylvanian to Permian Weber Sandstone, Early Jurassic Navajo Sandstone, and modern Coral Pink Sand Dunes of southern Utah. Data was plotted using both 2-dimensional scatter plots and 3-dimensional principal components analysis (PCA) plots. The PCA plots proved to be the most informative and suggest that there are no consistent, statistically significant geochemical trends within or between the three units sampled. However, this study found that PCA was able to show significant geochemical differences between the three units sampled, even when they are all dominated by a single mineral (>90% quartz). The Weber Sandstone had the most varied composition, and dunes within the unit could be highly dissimilar to each other. The Navajo Sandstone had less overall geochemical variability than the Weber Sandstone, and individual dunes were similar to each other. The modern Coral Pink Sand Dunes had much less compositional variation than either of the other two units, and dunes in this unit were very similar to each other.



College and Department

Physical and Mathematical Sciences; Geological Sciences



Date Submitted


Document Type





Weber Sandstone, Navajo Sandstone, Coral Pink Sand Dunes, principal components analysis, XRF, geochemistry, eolian

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Geology Commons