In oceanography, terrigenous sediments are those derived from the erosion of rocks on land; that is, they are derived from terrestrial (as opposed to marine) environments. Consisting of sand, mud, and silt carried to sea by rivers, their composition is usually related to their source rocks; deposition of these sediments is largely limited to the continental shelf.
Sources of terrigenous sediments include volcanoes, weathering of rocks, wind-blown dust, grinding by glaciers, and sediment carried by icebergs.
Terrigenous sediments are responsible for a significant amount of the salt in today's oceans. Over time rivers continue to carry minerals to the ocean but when water evaporates, it leaves the minerals behind. Since chlorine and sodium are not consumed by biological processes, these two elements constitute the greatest portion of dissolved minerals.
- Pinet, Paul R. (1996). Invitation to Oceanography. Saint Paul, MN: West Publishing Company. ISBN 0-314-06339-0.