They are commonly composed of a carbonate mineral such as calcite; an amorphous or microcrystalline form of silica such as chert, flint, or jasper; or an iron oxide or hydroxide such as goethite and hematite.They can also be composed of other minerals that include dolomite, ankerite, siderite, pyrite, marcasite, barite and gypsum.This process results in roughly spherical concretions that grow with time.
Some of the most unusual concretion nuclei, as documented by Al-Agha et al.(1995), are World War II military shells, bombs, and shrapnel, which are found inside siderite concretions found in an English coastal salt marsh.Because of the variety of unusual shapes, sizes and compositions, concretions have been interpreted to be dinosaur eggs, animal and plant fossils (called pseudofossils), extraterrestrial debris or human artifacts.Detailed studies (i.e., Boles et al., 1985; Thyne and Boles, 1989; Scotchman, 1991; Mozley and Burns, 1993; Mc Bride et al., 2003; Chan et al., 2005; Mozley and Davis, 2005) published in peer-reviewed journals have demonstrated that concretions form after sediments are buried but before the sediment is fully lithified during diagenesis.Other concretions, which formed as a result of microbial sulfate reduction, consist of a mixture of calcite, barite, and pyrite.
Concretions are found in a variety of rocks, but are particularly common in shales, siltstones, and sandstones.
Concretions are formed from mineral precipitation around some kind of nucleus while a nodule is a replacement body.
Descriptions dating from the 18th century attest to the fact that concretions have long been regarded as geological curiosities.
They often outwardly resemble fossils or rocks that look as if they do not belong to the stratum in which they were found.
Occasionally, concretions contain a fossil, either as its nucleus or as a component that was incorporated during its growth but concretions are not fossils themselves.
Depending on the environmental conditions present at the time of their formation, concretions can be created by either concentric or pervasive growth (Mozley, 1996; Raiswell and Fisher, 2000).