On the origin of chevron marks and striated grooves, and their use in predicting mud bed rheology

Dylan McGowan, Amisha Salian, Jaco H. Baas, Jeff Peakall, Jim Best

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Understanding of the formative conditions of many sole structures is limited, with chevron marks and striated groove marks being particularly enigmatic. These sedimentary structures are examined here through laboratory modelling. An idealized tool, resembling an armoured mud clast, was dragged through substrates of kaolinite–seawater mixtures of different yield strengths while submerged in seawater. The experiments suggest that armoured mud clasts are the likely tools producing fine striae in striated grooves and, given the common occurrence of striated groove marks in outcrops, that these clasts are more prevalent in deep-marine settings than previously thought. Chevron marks were observed to form over a narrow range of substrate yield stresses, likely explaining their relative rarity. Furthermore, their form is shown to be a function of substrate rheology, with chevron angle relative to the movement direction of the tool being less in weaker substrates. Moreover, the size of cut chevron marks, characterized by a narrow central cut, bears no relationship to the size of the incising tool, but rather reflects a substrate with a low yield stress that is sufficiently mobile to close behind the tool. In contrast, interrupted chevron marks, characterized by a distinct central groove, reflect greater substrate strength. Striated grooves without chevrons formed at the highest yield stresses simulated in the experiments. The relationship between tool mark type and yield stress, in combination with changes in chevron angle, enables these sole structures to be utilized as indicators of palaeosubstrate rheology. The conditions required to preserve such features include a prolonged period of bed consolidation, flow bypass and lack of bioturbation. Given changes in seafloor communities and bioturbation over time and their impact on substrate rheology, particularly during the early Palaeozoic, the present work supports the idea that the frequency of these sole structures likely changed over geological time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)687-708
Number of pages22
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2024


  • Bed density
  • chevron marks
  • continuous tool marks
  • groove marks
  • physical experiments
  • striations
  • yield stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology
  • Stratigraphy


Dive into the research topics of 'On the origin of chevron marks and striated grooves, and their use in predicting mud bed rheology'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this