The rock Cycle

The absent cycle is a collection of processes that create and transform the species of rocks in Earth’s crust.

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Reunion Island Volcano

Active volcanoes prefer this one on Reunion Island—east of Madagascar, in the Indian Ocean—forms a type of igneous rock. Extrusive, or volcanic, igneous rocks are developed when molten hot material cools and also solidifies.

Photograph by Steve Raymer


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There space three main species of rocks: sedimentary, igneous, and metamorphic. Every of this rocks are developed by physics changes—such together melting, cooling, eroding, compacting, or deforming—that are component of the absent cycle.Sedimentary RocksSedimentary rocks are developed from piece of other existing rock or essential material. There room three different types of sedimentary rocks: clastic, essential (biological), and chemical. Clastic sedimentary rocks, prefer sandstone, form from clasts, or piece of various other rock. Necessary sedimentary rocks, prefer coal, kind from hard, biological materials like plants, shells, and bones that space compressed into rock. The formation of clastic and also organic rocks starts with the weathering, or break down, of the exposed absent into tiny fragments. With the process of erosion, these fragments are removed from their source and transported through wind, water, ice, or biological task to a new location. As soon as the sediment handle somewhere, and enough of that collects, the shortest layers end up being compacted therefore tightly that they kind solid rock.Chemical sedimentary rocks, prefer limestone, halite, and also flint, kind from chemistry precipitation. A chemical precipitate is a chemical compound—for instance, calcium carbonate, salt, and silica—that forms when the solution it is dissolved in, generally water, evaporates and also leaves the compound behind. This occurs together water travels through Earth’s crust, weathering the rock and also dissolving few of its minerals, transferring it elsewhere. These dissolved minerals room precipitated when the water evaporates.Metamorphic RocksMetamorphic rocks are rocks that have actually been readjusted from their original kind by immense warmth or pressure. Metamorphic rocks have two classes: foliated and nonfoliated. When a absent with level or elongated minerals is placed under enormous pressure, the minerals line up in layers, creating foliation. Foliation is the aligning of elongated or platy minerals, prefer hornblende or mica, perpendicular come the direction of press that is applied. An instance of this revolution can be seen with granite, one igneous rock. Granite contains long and also platy minerals that space not initially aligned, but when enough pressure is added, those minerals shift to all allude in the exact same direction while getting squeezed into flat sheets. As soon as granite undergoes this process, favor at a tectonic key boundary, that turns into gneiss (pronounced “nice”).Nonfoliated rocks are created the same way, but they perform not save the mineral that tend to line up under pressure and thus execute not have actually the layered figure of foliated rocks. Sedimentary rocks like bituminous coal, limestone, and sandstone, given sufficient heat and also pressure, can turn right into nonfoliated metamorphic rocks prefer anthracite coal, marble, and quartzite. Nonfoliated rocks can also kind by metamorphism, which happens as soon as magma come in contact with the bordering rock.Igneous RocksIgneous rocks (derived native the Latin word because that fire) are formed when molten warm material cools and solidifies. Igneous rocks can also be made a couple of various ways. Once they are created inside that the earth, lock are called intrusive, or plutonic, igneous rocks. If they are formed outside or on optimal of Earth’s crust, lock are dubbed extrusive, or volcanic, igneous rocks.Granite and diorite are instances of common intrusive rocks. They have a coarse texture with large mineral grains, indicating the they spent thousands or millions of years cooling down inside the earth, a time course the allowed large mineral crystals come grow.Alternatively, rocks choose basalt and obsidian have actually very tiny grains and also a reasonably fine texture. This happens due to the fact that when magma erupts into lava, that cools much more quickly than it would certainly if it continued to be inside the earth, providing crystals much less time to form. Obsidian cools into volcanic glass so easily when ejected that the grains are difficult to see through the naked eye.Extrusive igneous rocks can additionally have a vesicular, or “holey” texture. This happens as soon as the ejected magma still has gases inside of it so once it cools, the gas bubbles room trapped and end up offering the absent a bubbly texture. An example of this would be pumice.

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Active volcanoes favor this one on Reunion Island—east of Madagascar,in the Indian Ocean—forms a kind of igneous rock. Extrusive, or volcanic, igneous rocks are formed when molten hot material cools and also solidifies.