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Mudstone formation on Lyme Regis East Beach

Mudstone, a type of mudrock, is a fine-grained sedimentary rock whose original constituents were clays or muds. Grain size is up to 0.0625 mm (0.0025 in) with individual grains too small to be distinguished without a microscope. With increased pressure over time, the platey clay minerals may become aligned, with the appearance of fissility or parallel layering. This finely bedded material that splits readily into thin layers is called shale, as distinct from mudstone. The lack of fissility or layering in mudstone may be due to either original texture or the disruption of layering by burrowing organisms in the sediment prior to lithification. Mud rocks such as mudstone and shale comprise some 65% of all sedimentary rocks. Mudstone looks like hardened clay and, depending upon the circumstances under which it was formed, it may show cracks or fissures, like a sun-baked clay deposit.[1]

Mudstone can be separated into these categories:

  • Siltstone – more than half of the composition is silt-sized particles.
  • Claystone – more than half of the composition is clay-sized particles.
  • Mudstone – hardened mud; a mix of silt and clay sized particles. Mudstone can include:
    • Shale – exhibits lamination or fissility.
    • Argillite – has undergone low-grade metamorphism.[1]

Dunham classification of limestones[edit]

In the Dunham classification of limestones, a mudstone is a matrix-supported carbonate rock that contains less than 10% allochems in a carbonate mud matrix. As defined by the Dunham classification, a mudstone is more or less synonymous with calcilutite.[2]

Mudstone Mineralogy on Mars[edit]

On December 13, 2016, NASA reported further evidence supporting habitability on the planet Mars as the Curiosity rover climbed higher, studying younger layers, on Mount Sharp.[3] Also reported, the very soluble element boron was detected for the first time on Mars.[3] Since landing on Mars in August 2012, Curiosity has driven 15.0 km (9.3 mi) and climbed 165 m (541 ft) in elevation.[4]

Curiosity rover - Mudstone Mineralogy - 2013 to 2016 on Mars (CheMin; December 13, 2016)[5]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Blatt, H., and R.J. Tracy, 1996, Petrology. New York, New York, W. H. Freeman, 2nd ed, 529 pp. ISBN 0-7167-2438-3
  2. ^ Dunham, R.J. (1962). Classification of carbonate rocks according to depositional texture. In Ham, W. E.. Classification of carbonate rocks. American Association of Petroleum Geologists Memoir. no. 1, pp. 108-121.
  3. ^ a b Cantillo, Laurie; Brown, Dwayne; Webster, Guy; Agle, DC; Tabor, Abigail; Mullane, Laura (December 13, 2016). "Mars Rock-Ingredient Stew Seen as Plus for Habitability". NASA. Retrieved December 14, 2016. 
  4. ^ Staff (December 13, 2016). "PIA21145: Curiosity Rover's Martian Mission, Exaggerated Cross Section". NASA. Retrieved December 15, 2016. 
  5. ^ Staff (December 13, 2016). "PIA21146: Mudstone Mineralogy from Curiosity's CheMin, 2013 to 2016". NASA. Retrieved December 16, 2016.