In the context of sediment deformation, why are some structures called load and founder structures? I know what a load is, but what is a founder?

I read it in Sam Boggs, Jr's Principles of Sedimentology and Stratigraphy and can't figure out why the author uses that word. He lists several deformation structures as being load and founder structures: convolute bedding & lamination, flame structures, ball & pillow structures, and load casts.

A few ideas for founder come to mind:

  1. the foundering of a ship filling with water
  2. the founding of metal (liquifying & casting it; seems vaguely applicable)
  3. found as in the root of foundation (Perhaps the load sediment overlies the founder?)

Sorry my research turned up flat. My instructors don't know, and the only hint I've found online is the Encyclopedia Britannica using the phrase in the same context, but they too do not mention it again.


1 Answer 1


If we look at definitions online, at Merriam-Webster online we find this as one of the options:

3: to become submerged: SINK

This would seem to coincide with the usage in a geological context from the US Geological Bulletin article found here:

Figure 29 Outcrop of facies SL massive sandstone in southwestern part of Powder River Basin Teapot Dome area Hammer at base is approximately 28 cm 1 ft long Load casts are developed where fine grained sandstone overlies a zone of very fine grained massive silty sandstone Load casts are believed to form by unequal loading of water saturated hydroplastic sediments that founder into unstable sediments below Overlying the load casts are foresets of planar crossbeds deformed and oversteepened by rapid sediment loading from above.

So it appears founder in this context indicates sinking.

Without seeing your exact context, possibly a layer which shows some intermixing with the layer above due to some sinking sediments during formation.


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