The formation and significance of irregularly shaped quartz grains in till



Thin sections and scanning electron microscopy of quartz sand grains from till show clearly that a number of grains have been modified in place. The irregular grains result from the action of circulating alkaline groundwater, episodically concentrated by evaporation on fracture surfaces within grains and on concave surfaces produced by fracture during glacial transport. Evaporation increases the pH of the pore water and localizes its effect in small pores with a high capillary potential. Subsequent dilution by rainwater or snow meltwater flushes the system so that evaporation can repeat the process again. Solution rounding in terrigenous sediments has a number of ramifications for any interpretation based on textural maturity of the sediment.