Sedimentary rock is one of the three main rock groups (along with igneous and metamorphic rocks) and is formed in four main ways: by the deposition of the weathered remains of other rocks (known as 'clastic' sedimentary rocks); by the accumulation and the consolidation of sediments; by the deposition of the results of biogenic activity; and by precipitation from solution.
Sedimentary rocks include common types such as chalk, limestone, sandstone, clay and shale.
Sedimentary rocks cover 75% of the Earth's surface.
Four basic processes are involved in the formation of a clastic sedimentary rock: weathering (erosion)caused mainly by friction of waves, transportation where the sediment is carried along by a current, deposition and compaction where the sediment is squashed together to form a rock of this kind.
Sedimentary rocks are formed from overburden pressure as particles of sediment are deposited out of air, ice, or water flows carrying the particles in suspension.
As sediment deposition builds up, the overburden (or 'lithostatic') pressure squeezes the sediment into layered solids in a process known as lithification ('rock formation') and the original connate fluids are expelled.
The term diagenesis is used to describe all the chemical, physical, and biological changes, including cementation, undergone by a sediment after its initial deposition and during and after its lithification, exclusive of surface weathering.