Basalt Grains Texture Rock-Forming Mineral Granite Igneous Rocks Sedimentary Rocks Metamorphic Rocks What characteristics do geologists use to identify rocks? What are the three main groups of rocks? Rocks are mixtures of minerals and other materials.
Rocks are made of mixtures of minerals and other materials. Some rocks contain only a single mineral. Granite contains the minerals, quartz, feldspar, hornblende, and mica. 20 minerals make up most of the rocks on Earth. These minerals are known as rock-forming minerals.
A rock’s color provides clues to its mineral composition. Granite is generally a light-colored rock that has a high silica content. Basalt, is a dark-colored rock that has is low in silica. Color alone is not enough information to identify a rock.
Geologists observe the shape and color of crystals in a rock to identify the minerals the rock contains. Basalt mineral crystals are too small to be seen without a hand lens. Some tests are used. Testing the surface with acid determines whether the rock includes minerals made of compounds called carbonates.
A rock’s texture is very useful in identifying a rock. Most rocks are made up of particles of minerals or other rocks, which geologist call grains. Grains give the rock its texture. To a geologist, a rocks texture is the look and feel of the rock’s surface. Some are smooth and glassy, others are rough and chalky.
Often the grains in a rock are large and easy to see. Such rocks are said to be coarse-grained. In other rocks the grains are so small they can only be seen with a microscope. These rocks are said to be fine-grained. Some even have no visible grain when looked at under a microscope.
The grains in a rock vary in shape. Some look like particles of sand. Others look like seeds or exploding stars. In some rocks like granite, the grain is a result of the crystals that form the rock. In other rocks, the grain shape results from fragments of several rocks. These fragments can be smooth and rounded or they can be jagged.
The grain in a rock often forms a pattern. Some lie in flat layers that look like a stack of pancakes. Some form swirling patterns. Some a different colors in bands, like gneiss. Others are just random.
Igneous rocks make up 95% of the rocks of the crust of Earth. They are also some of the oldest rocks that are found at the surface of Earth. Igneous rocks form from molten rock which is either ejected at the surface of Earth or cools off underground. When volcanoes erupt, they can eject molten rock. Igneous rocks are classed on the basis of where they form. Igneous rocks are sub divided into two types of classifications: extrusive and intrusive
Extrusive igneous rocks form when molten rock reaches the earth's surface and cools. Air and moisture cool the lava rapidly. The quick cooling doesn't allow the formation of large crystals, so most extrusive rocks have small crystals or none at all. In some extrusive rocks, like pumice and scoria, air and other gases are trapped in the lava as it cools. We can see holes remaining in the rock where the bubbles of gas were located. The most common extrusive rock is basalt. The black beaches of Hawaii are formed from eroded basalt.
Another kind of extrusive rock is pumice. Pumice cools off very quickly and also is associated with gaseous eruptions. Therefore, pumice is very lightweight, and has no crystals. Some pumice will float in water.
Obsidian is also an extrusive igneous rock. Obsidian cools so rapidly that it has no crystals. Apache Tears (from Arizona) or Pele's Tears (from Hawaii) are examples of small pieces of obsidian.
Some other common extrusive igneous rocks are scoria, which is like basalt but has a lot more air bubbles trapped in the rock, and rhyolite a very light colored extrusive igneous rock..
With intrusive igneous rocks the molten rock cools before it reaches the surface. Molten rock that is still underground is called magma. Magma originates from the melting of Earth's crust and upper mantle. This melting occurs about a depth of 60 to 200 km. Molten rock that cools before it reaches the surface hardens to become intrusive igneous rock. Because it forms deep beneath Earth's surface, it has more time to cool and it develops large crystals.
Sedimentary rocks are the result of the processes of weathering and erosion which are continually breaking down and rearranging them. Small rocks, fragments and organic remains that have been moved by water, wind or other agents of erosion are called sediment. Over a period of time, sediment is cemented together to form sedimentary rocks. Sedimentary rocks can be formed from metamorphic, igneous or other sedimentary rocks that have been broken down by weathering. Sedimentary rocks account for 75% of the rocks exposed at Earth's surface. In nature sedimentary rocks are usually found in layers with the oldest layer on the bottom.
There are three types of sedimentary rocks. The first are referred to as clastic. Sedimentary rocks that have been formed from the fragments of other rocks are clastic rocks. The word clastic comes from the greek word klastos which means "broken." The following are examples of clastic rocks.
Conglomerate rocks are made of large rock pieces that have been cemented together. When looking at this rock type, you can easily see the parts that it has been made of. Pushing hard on single rock pieces in the conglomerate may result in these pieces being broken off of the rock.
Sandstone rocks are made of fine sand grains. Like conglomerate, the grains of sand have been cemented together. Rubbing the surface of sandstone rocks may result in small grains of sand being rubbed off of the rock.
Shale is made up of very fine grains of clay like particles. The texture of shale is very smooth to the touch. If you apply pressure to the shale, it is possible to break it into pieces that also have smooth textures.
The second type of sedimentary rocks are the result of chemical deposits. Halite is an example of a rock that formed when water evaporated and left behind minerals. Sedimentary rocks that result from chemical deposits are called chemical rocks. The formations you see in caves are made when water drips from the top of the cave and leaves behind minerals. These formations are another example of chemical rocks.
The third form of sedimentary rocks are known as organic rocks. Organic rocks are formed from the life processes of living organisms or the remains of the organisms. Limestone that is formed from the shells of clams and other organisms is organic. When you write with chalk on the chalkboard, you are actually using the shells of organisms that lived long ago! Coal is made from plants that died in swamps millions of years ago. Coal, therefore is another example of organic rocks.
Rocks that have changed shape or composition due to intense heat and pressure are called metamorphic rocks. Metamorphic rocks are created from sedimentary, igneous or other metamorphic rocks. They are formed deep inside the earth. Heat and pressure from the rock above flatten and bend the rock. The texture of metamorphic rocks are classified into two categories: foliated and non-foliated
In foliated metamorphic rocks, the composition of the original rock is not apparent. This is because as the heat and pressure have resulted in a recombination to form new minerals in the rock. The individual mineral grains may re-crystallize to form larger crystals that make parallel bands or lines in the rock. Three common foliated rocks are slate, gneiss and schist.
Slate is formed by the heating and pressure on shale. Because slate separates so easily along the bands, it is used to make roof and floor tiles.
Granite can also go under heat and pressure to make a rock called gneiss
Marble is formed from limestone, which is formed from calcite. Even though limestone and marble are made of the same thing, sculptures would never use limestone for making statues. Marble is used because it is compact and has bigger crystals from all of the heat and pressure
Quartzite forms from sandstone, which is mostly the mineral quartz that has been broken into very small pieces of sand. The heat and pressure makes the sand melt together.