Three main kinds of syndepositional deformation are found in cross-bedded sand-grade sediments. The first type is characterized by simple recumbent folds of broadly parabolic form. The second is marked by series of folds, with or without overturning. The third type is much more complex, presenting a combination of faulting, folding, and the local destruction of bedding.
The type marked by recumbent folds is interpreted as due to the deformation of a liquefied (or perhaps fluidized) sand by current drag following an event in the majority of cases suspected to be an earthquake shock. By reference to empirical and theoretical studies of sedimenting systems, and the behaviour under small shear stresses of liquids of high viscosity, this physical model is developed analytically to yield equations describing the geometry of the deformations in terms of the thickness of the deformed bed, the settling velocity and concentration of particles in the liquefied sand, the viscosity of the liquefied sand, and the magnitude of the deforming force. The equations describe a fold surface that is a portion of a flat-lying parabola, and show that the proposed circumstances of deformation are plausible in terms of what is known of the real situation. They further reveal that, under the assumptions made in the analysis, the vertical height of the fold hinge above the base of the bed is a function only of the initial shape of the deformed cross-stratum, the shear rate in the liquefied materials, and the falling velocity and concentration of particles in the liquefied bed. The shapes of deformations calculated from the equations agree well with patterns observed from the geological record.