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U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2005-1001
USGS East-Coast Sediment Analysis: Procedures, Database, and GIS Data
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Dry Sieve Method

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Image showing assortment of wisre-mesh sieves.
The most common and widely accepted method of separating sand- and gravel-sized material into classes is by the use of wire-mesh sieves.
Image showing assembled bank of sieves.
First, a bank of sieves is assembled consisting of a pan and the 3, 2, 1, 0, and -1 phi sieves arranged with the finest mesh on the bottom. It is not important whether the analyst uses Wentworth or phi scales for the sieve sizes as long as the interval between the sieves brings out the continuous nature of the frequency distribution.
Image showing sample being introduced into the top of the bank of sieves.
A sample of about 40 grams or less is introduced into the top of the bank, the cover is attached.
Image showing bank of sieves being placed into a mechanical shaker.
The bank is placed into a mechanical shaker.
Close-up image of bank of sieves in mechanical shaker.
After agitation for 10 to 15 minutes, the bank of sieves is removed from the mechanical shaker, and the sieves are separated.
Image showing residue material retained on the -1 phi sieve.
If material is retained on the -1 phi sieve, than gravel is present in the sample and the procedure must be repeated with a bank of gravel sieves to analyze that fraction.
Image showing sample material being emptied from sieve.
Each sieve that contains some sample is, in turn, emptied individually onto a large sheet of paper. Brushing and tapping the sieve on the flat work surface ensures that all of the sample has been dislodged from the sieve.
Image showing sediment sample being transferred to a tared beaker.
The sediment is transferred to a tared beaker.
Image showing sample being weighed and recorded.
The beaker with sample is weighed and the weight is recorded. The recorded weights of the phi sizes are added and normalized to determine the frequency distributions within the sand and gravel fractions.
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U.S. Geological Survey
Coastal and Marine Geology Program
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