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Three Kinds of Rocks

All rocks belong to one of the three main groups making up the earth's
crust: igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic.

Igneous Rock

Igneous rock is any rock made by the cooling of magma or lava. Magma is
molten material that flows under the earth's crust. Sometimes it finds a
weak spot and breaks through to form great areas of rock called flood
basalts, or it may erupt as a volcano. Besides basalt, examples of igneous
rock are granite and obsidian. Igneous rocks come with or without
observable crystals that are not in layers or with or withour air holes or
glasslike.

Igneous Rock Examples

Obsidian - A usually black or banded, hard volcanic glass that displays


shiny, curved surfaces when fractured and is formed by rapid cooling of
lava.

Granite - A common, coarse-grained, light-colored, hard igneous rock


consisting chiefly of quartz, orthoclase or microcline, and mica, used in
monuments and for building.

Pumice - A light, porous, glassy lava, used in solid form as an abrasive and
in powdered form as a polish and an abrasive.
Basalt - A hard, dense, dark volcanic rock composed chiefly of plagioclase,
pyroxene, and olivine, and often having a glassy appearance.

Sedimentary Rock

Sedimentary is gravel, sand, clay, or soil that settles out of water in


riverbeds, ponds, lakes, and oceans. Sediment may contain shells and
skeletons. Sedimentary rock is formed in layers, like a giant cake, after
sediment has been under great pressure for millions of years. If the
sediment was originally sand, it becomes sandstone. Clay turns into shale.
Shells and skeletons make limestone. Small pebbles and sand form
conglomerate. Sedimentary rocks are rounded-appearing mineral and rock
particles that are cemented together.

Sedimentary Rock Examples

Sandstone - A sedimentary rock formed by the consolidation and


compaction of sand and held together by a natural cement, such as silica.

Limestone - A common sedimentary rock consisting mostly of calcium


carbonate, CaCO3, used as a building stone and in the manufacture of
lime, carbon dioxide, and cement.

Shale - A fissile rock composed of layers of claylike, fine-grained


sediments.

Conglomerate - A rock consisting of pebbles and gravel embedded in


cement.

Metamorphic Rock
Metamorphic rock has been through a process much like baking.
(Meta means changed, and mophic means form.) The change is caused by
intense heat and great pressure deep in the earth. Under these conditins,
sedimetary limestone becomes marbel. Sedimentery sandstone turns into
quartzite. Igneous granite changes into gneiss (pronounced "nice".
Metamorphic rocks are crystals/minerals, often in layers.

Metamorphic Rock Examples

 gneiss - A common and widely distributed type of rock formed by high-


grade regional metamorphic processes from pre-existing formations that
were originally either igneous or sedimentary rocks.

 Schist - The schists constitute a group of medium-grade metamorphic


rocks, chiefly notable for the preponderance of lamellar minerals such as
micas, chlorite, talc, hornblende, graphite, and others

Quartzite - a hard metamorphic rock which was originally sandstone.

 
 
The Rock Cycle Diagram

A useful way to illustrate how the three main types of rock are related to
one another and how changes to rocks happen in a recurring sequence
is the rock cycle. It can be presented in a diagram like the one below. 

The concept of the rock cycle is attributed to James Hutton (1726—


1797), the 18th-century founder of modern geology. The main idea is
that rocks are continually changing from one type to another and back
again, as forces inside the earth bring them closer to the surface (where
they are weathered, eroded, and compacted) and forces on the earth
sink them back down (where they are heated, pressed, and melted). So
the elements that make up rocks are never created or destroyed —
instead, they are constantly being recycled. The rock cycle helps us to
see that the earth is like a giant rock recycling machine!