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Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department/Program

Earth and Planetary Science


English (en)

Date of Award


Degree Type

Restricted Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (AM/MA)


Sediments in caves preserve clues to cave history, landscape evolution, and past climate and biological activity. This project contributes the first known comprehensive chemical compositional analysis of two prevalent "types" of sediment found in Missouri caves: (1) tan-colored silty sediments common in caves near major rivers, believed to be reworked glacial loess; and (2) oddly distributed, fine-grained red clays of uncertain significance first popularized by J H Bretz over 60 years ago. Chemical data from cave sediments and presumably related surface materials, loess and "residuum," were combined with new and existing mineralogic analyses to study the character, variability, and origin of the cave sediments. Most samples were collected within 60 miles of Saint Louis County, Missouri. Over 90 field-classified sediments were analyzed using XRF spectroscopy; a subset of -30 samples was analyzed for bulk mineralogy using powder XRD


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