This fraction, which is enriched in heavy minerals relative to the sand fraction, is mainly detrital but contains a strong authigenic component. The authigenic silt heavy-mineral fraction is largely a product of the lateritic weathering and dominated by iron oxides and alterites. Grains of bladed rutile and leached ilmenite are common. Spatial variability in silt-fraction mineralogy is considerable. Within the Rio Cibuco system variability is related to compositional differences in rapidly eroding source rocks. On the shelf, silt heavy-mineral abundances are greatest at the river mouths and decrease seaward. Variability in the shelf samples is controlled primarily by source rivers and shelf sorting processes.