Abstract Granulometric studies of Recent sediments in the Tay estuary region give significant data. Application of these methods can be useful in recognising ancient environments. A combination of distribution curves and moment measures gives the best results. In “open-ended” distributions, the moment measures alone are not very successful. In this case, better results are obtained by the use of graphic parameters. The river sands can be recognised from beach, marine and estuarine sands by its curve type ( F-types), and by first and second moment scatter plots. The beach and dune sands can be separated by plots of first and third moment as both have similar M-type curves. The estuarine sands can be separated from the rest by their mixed curves ( FM-type). The river and dune sands may be separated from beach sands by second and third moment plots. Cliff-fall sediments have ill-sorted B-type curves. Variance analysis is a valuable tool and significant results are obtained regarding environment differentiation. The Tay region was considered as a test case for these studies and the results obtained are discussed.