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10 igneous rocks

1. obsidian 2. pumice 3. rhyolite 4.andesite


6. granite 7. diorite 8. gabbro 9. porphyry

5. basalt
10. pegmatite

These rocks can be identified by their textures, mineral


content, and color.
Refer to Igneous Rocks Photos for more visual examples of
each of these igneous rock types.

glassy texture
1. obsidian
Obsidian is volcanic glass without gas bubbles. It is
usually black or dark brown in color
and breaks with a conchoidal (shell-like) fracture. Be careful
not to cut yourself on the sharp
edges. A variety of obsidian with white to light gray
crystallized patches surrounded by black
glass is known as snowflake obsidian.
2.

pumice

Pumice is volcanic glass filled with gas bubble holes


(vesicles). It may be thought of as
a glass foam. Because of the large number of holes, pumice
is very light-weight; it will
float on water. Pumice comes in many colors, but the most
common color is gray.

fine-grained (aphanitic texture)


3. rhyolite
Rhyolite is a high-silica, fine-grained rock. You cannot
see the mineral grains with the
naked eye. Its colors are gray, light brown, tan, pale yellow,
pink, and other earth-colors.
Sometimes there may be a sprinkling of small crystals, but
most of the rock is fine-grained.
Using food terms, it resembles baloney (unidentifiable

components). Rhyolite has the same


chemical and mineral content as granite.
4.

andesite

Andesite is the name of fine-grained igneous rocks that


are midway in color and mineral
composition between rhyolite and basalt. Andesites are
commonly gray or some shade of
medium brown. Commonly they have a porphyritic texture;
there are larger visible crystals
surrounded by the gray or brown andesite.
5.

basalt

Basalt is a fine-grained igneous rock rich in iron that


gives it a black to brown color.
Fluid lava flows, such as those in Hawaii, produce basalt. If
basalt has a large number of
gas bubble holes it is called vesicular basalt or scoria. Basalt
that has been exposed to air
and water for a long time may oxidize to
a red color.

coarse-grained (phaneritic) texture


6. granite
Granite is a coarse-grained igneous rock often with
a pink to reddish color. A large
portion of the granite is made of small crystals of orthoclase
feldspar which give the rock
the pink or reddish color. Other minerals present are quartz
(usually gray). albite feldspar
(white) and either white mica (muscovite) or black mica
(biotite). The word granite means
grain-rock; it it weathers, it crumbles into loose grains.
7.

diorite

Diorite is a coarse-grained igneous rock intermediate in


composition between granite
and gabbro. It can sometimes be described as a "white
granite" because of the abundance

of albite, a white feldspar. Depending upon the amount of


iron rich minerals present,
diorite can range from nearly white to quite dark. Diorite
has the same mineral content
as andesite.
8.

gabbro

Gabbro is a dark, coarse-grained igneous rock. It has the


same mineral content as
basalt, but the grains in gabbro are visible to the naked eye.

mixed grain sizes (large and small)


9. porphyry
The term porphyry simply refers to the two distinctly
different grain sizes present in an
igneous rock. The larger crystals are called phenocrysts and
the finer crystals are the
groundmass. The groundmass can
be rhyolite, andesite, or basalt and even, rarely, granite.
The phenocrysts are often feldspar crystals or hornblende
crystals.

very large grain size (larger than 1/2 inch)


10. pegmatite
Pegmatite is very coarsely crystallized. Some of the
largest crystals in the world have
been found in pegmatites. Pegmatites often have the same
mineral composition of granites
with large crystals of mica and feldspar. Gem minerals, such
as tourmaline and beryl are

Sedimentary Rocks

1.
2.
3.
4.
conglo brecc sands siltst
merate ia
tone one
6.
7.
8.
5. shale limes dolom gyps
tone ite
um
12.
10.
11.
9. salt
amb
chert coal
er
Sedimentary rocks fall into three major categories:
clastic sedimentary rocks chemical sedimentary rocks
biological sedimentary rocks
Refer to Sedimentary Rock Photos for more visual examples
of each of these
sedimentary rock types.

Clastic (Fragmental) Sedimentary Rocks


1. conglomerate
Conglomerate is made of rounded or semi-rounded rock
fragments cemented

together. The rounding of the fragments implies that the


fragments were transported
a substantial distance from their source and were abraded in
contact with other
moving fragments. The rounded fragments were probably
deposited along a stream
channel or a shoreline. Fragments within a conglomerate
are pea-sized and larger.
An older name for conglomerate is "pudding stone".
2.

breccia

Breccia consists of angular rock fragments cemented


together. The angular shape
implies that the fragments have not moved far from their
source. Fragments are

pea-sized and larger, similar to conglomerate. Commonly,


breccias are found along
fault zones. Breccias can be any color.
3.

sandstone

Sandstone consists of sand grains that have been


cemented together. Sandstones
can range from coarse-grained to fine-grained. You should
be able to distinguish the
sand grains with the naked eye. Light-colored sandstones
consisting mainly of
rounded, well-sorted, quartz grains are referred to as
mature sandstones or
quartz sandstones. Sandstones that contain angular grains
of several different
minerals are referred to as immature sandstones
or graywackes. Sandstones
containing feldspar grains are arkoses. Sandstones can
be white, gray, pink, red,
brown, or black. A fresh broken surface of sandstone has a
gritty feel.
4.

siltstone

Siltstone is made of silt-sized particles, finer than sand


grains, but coarser than
clay. It is a difficult rock to identify because it closely
resembles a fine-grained
sandstone or a coarse shale. Then general way of
describing it is that you cannot
see the individual grains, but the surface of siltstone has a
slightly feel to it.
Siltstones occur in a wide range of colors.
5.

shale

Shale is made of clay-sized particles or clay minerals that


have compressed by
the weight of overlying rocks. Generally, shale has the
tendency to split in fairly
flat fragments; this property is known as fissility. Shales can
be many colors, such

as black, gray, brown, red or gray, depending upon the


presence of organic
materials and iron oxides. Shales represent the
accumulation of clay at the
bottom of oceans or lakes. Shales are often a good source
of fossils.

Chemical Sedimentary Rocks


6. limestone
There are dozens of forms that limestone can take, often
making it visually
difficult to identify. However, since limestone is made of the
mineral calcite
(CaCO3), it will bubble freely when strong hydrochloric acid
is applied to it.
Limestone varies from light gray or brown to dark gray
or brown.
Common forms of limestone include:
coquina limestone made of broken shell fragments
fossiliferrous limestone rich in fossils
lithographic limestone very fine-grained and dense
chalk fine-grained porous
encrinal limestone made of crinoid fragments
travertine deposited by surface waters (noted for its
holes)
7.

dolomite

Dolomite looks almost exactly like calcite. There is a


good reason for this
similarity. Dolomite originally started out as limestone but
was chemically altered
at a later time by the replacement of some of its calcium by
magnesium. When
hydrochloric acid is applied to dolomite, it fizzes (produces
bubbles) at a much
slower rate than limestone (calcite).
8.

gypsum
Gypsum is the name of both the mineral and rock,

although there have been


attempts to separate the two by calling the rock gypstone.
Gypsum is softer than
your fingernail and can be scratched or bruised easily. It
does not taste like salt
and it does not fizz when hydrochloric acid is applied to
it. Gypsum is usually white
or a pale reddish-brown when stained by iron oxide. Gypsum
is baked at high
temperatures to drive water out of its chemical structure
and then ground
to a fine powder to produce plaster of Paris.
9.

salt

Salt is the mineral halite (NaCl) that was deposited by the


evaporation of a body
of salt water. Typically, salt is white or colorless, but it
might also be lightly colored
by the inclusion of iron oxide or clay. Salt can easily be
identified by its salty taste,
but it is generally not recommended to lick strange rocks.
Salt is water soluble,
producing a melted-looking surface when it is washed off
with water. It can also be
identified by the cubical cleavage of halite (salt).
10. chert
Chert is chemically deposited cryptocrystalline quartz,
usually a dull gray or
brown in color. It is commonly found as nodules embedded
in limestone which
project out of the limestone as the limestone is slowly
dissolved by rainwater.
If the chert has a waxy luster rather than a dull surface, it is
called flint. Flint also
tends to chip with conchoidal fractures better than chert; it
is this property that allows
flint to be made into arrowheads. Jasper is chert that is
colored red,
reddish brown, or bright yellowish brown.

Biological Sedimentary Rocks


11. coal
Coal represents the accumulation of decomposed plant
materials. Coal is sorted
by the degree of alteration and compaction of the original
organic materials. The
least altered material is peat, followed by lignite, then
bituminous coal, and finally
anthracite. In peat, you can still see an abundance of the
original organic materials.
Lignite is called soft, brown coal. Bituminous coal is black,
and somewhat waxy-looking.
Anthracite is hard, black coal. Peat has the lowest level of
carbon content and anthracite
has the highest. Coal is less dense than normal rocks.
12. amber
Amber is ancient, hardened tree sap. It is a natural
plastic and it is light-weight.
When you first pick it up, your first impression is that it is
much lighter in weight than
a typical stone. Unworked amber has a dull surface marked
by a myriad of
minute fractures. The clear, inner amber can only be
exposed by chipping off a corner
of the stone or grinding of the surface. Amber ranges from
a creamy yellow to
ransparent yellow or red to a dark brown. Amber is famous
for preserving
trapped insects for millions of years.
found in pegmatites.

Pictures of Sedimentary Rocks

Breccia is a clastic sedimentary rock that is composed of large (over two-millimeter diameter) angular fragments.

What Are Sedimentary Rocks?


Sedimentary rocks are formed by the accumulation of sediments. There are three basic types of
sedimentary rocks.
Clastic sedimentary rocks such as breccia,conglomerate, sandstone, siltstone, and shale are
formed from mechanical weathering debris.
Chemical sedimentary rocks, such as rock salt, iron ore, chert, flint, some dolomites, and
some limestones, form when dissolved materials precipitate from solution.
Organic sedimentary rocks such as coal, somedolomites, and some limestones, form from the
accumulation of plant or animal debris.
Photos and brief descriptions of some common sedimentary rock types are shown on this page.

Coal is an organic sedimentary rock that forms mainly from plant debris. The plant debris usually accumulates in a
swamp environment. Coal is combustible and is often mined for use as a fuel. The specimen shown above is about
two inches (five centimeters) across.

Chert is a microcrystalline or cryptocrystalline sedimentary rock material composed of silicon dioxide (SiO 2). It
occurs as nodules and concretionary masses, and less frequently as a layered deposit. It breaks with a conchoidal
fracture, often producing very sharp edges. Early people took advantage of how chert breaks and used it to fashion
cutting tools and weapons. The specimen shown above is about two inches (five centimeters) across.

Conglomerate is a clastic sedimentary rock that contains large (greater than two millimeters in diameter) rounded
particles. The space between the pebbles is generally filled with smaller particles and/or a chemical cement that
binds the rock together. The specimen shown above is about two inches (five centimeters) across.

Flint is a hard, tough, chemical or biochemical sedimentary rock that breaks with a conchoidal fracture. It is a form
of microcrystalline quartz that is typically called chert by geologists. It often forms as nodules in sedimentary
rocks such as chalk and marine limestones.

Dolomite (also known as "dolostone" and "dolomite rock") is a chemical sedimentary rock that is very similar
to limestone. It is thought to form when limestone or lime mud is modified by magnesium-rich ground water. The
specimen shown above is about four inches (ten centimeters) across.

Limestone is a rock that is composed primarily of calcium carbonate. It can form organically from the accumulation
of shell, coral, algal, and fecal debris. It can also form chemically from the precipitation of calcium carbonate from
lake or ocean water. Limestone is used in many ways. Some of the most common are: production of
cement, crushed stone, and acid neutralization. The specimen shown above is about two inches (five centimeters)
across.

Iron Ore is a chemical sedimentary rock that forms when iron and oxygen (and sometimes other substances)
combine in solution and deposit as a sediment. Hematite (shown above) is the most common sedimentary iron ore
mineral. The specimen shown above is about two inches (five centimeters) across.

Rock Salt is a chemical sedimentary rock that forms from the evaporation of ocean or saline lake waters. It is also
known by the mineral name "halite." It is rarely found at Earth's surface, except in areas of very arid climate. It is
often mined for use in the chemical industry or for use as a winter highway treatment. Some halite is processed for
use as a seasoning for food. The specimen shown above is about two inches (five centimeters) across.

Oil Shale is a rock that contains significant amounts of organic material in the form of kerogen. Up to 1/3 of the
rock can be solid organic material. Liquid and gaseous hydrocarbons can be extracted from the oil shale, but the
rock must be heated and/or treated with solvents. This is usually much less efficient than drilling rocks that will
yield oil or gasdirectly into a well. The processes used for hydrocarbon extraction also produce emissions and waste
products that cause significant environmental concerns.

Shale is a clastic sedimentary rock that is made up of clay-size (less than 1/256 millimeter in diameter) weathering
debris. It typically breaks into thin flat pieces. The specimen shown above is about two inches (five centimeters)
across.

Sandstone is a clastic sedimentary rock made up mainly of sand-size (1/16 to 2 millimeter diameter) weathering
debris. Environments where large amounts of sand can accumulate include beaches, deserts, flood plains, and deltas.
The specimen shown above is about two inches (five centimeters) across.
The best way to learn about rocks is to have a collection of specimens to examine while you study. Seeing and
handling the rocks will help you understand their composition and texture much better than reading about them on a
website or in a book. The Geology.com store offers inexpensive rock collections that can be mailed anywhere in
the United States or U.S. Territories. Mineral collections and instructive booksare also available.

Siltstone is a clastic sedimentary rock that forms from silt-size (between 1/256 and 1/16 millimeter diameter)
weathering debris. Specimens in the photo are about two inches (five centimeters) across.

Metamorphic Rocks

Pictures of Metamorphic Rocks

Amphibolite is a non-foliated metamorphic rock that forms through recrystallization under conditions of high
viscosity and directed pressure. It is composed primarily of hornblende(amphibole) and plagioclase, usually with
very little quartz. The specimen shown above is about two inches (five centimeters) across.

What are Metamorphic Rocks?


Metamorphic rocks have been modified by heat, pressure, and chemical processes, usually while
buried deep below Earth's surface. Exposure to these extreme conditions has altered the
mineralogy, texture, and chemical composition of the rocks.
There are two basic types of metamorphic rocks. Foliated metamorphic rocks such
as gneiss, phyllite, schist, andslate have a layered or banded appearance that is produced by
exposure to heat and directed pressure.

Non-foliated metamorphic rocks such as hornfels,marble, quartzite, and novaculite do not


have a layered or banded appearance. Pictures and brief descriptions of some common types of
metamorphic rocks are shown on this page.

Hornfels is a fine-grained nonfoliated metamorphic rock with no specific composition. It is produced by contact
metamorphism. Hornfels is a rock that was "baked" while near a heat source such as a magma chamber, sill, or dike.
The specimen shown above is about two inches (five centimeters) across.

Gneiss is a foliated metamorphic rock that has a banded appearance and is made up of granular mineral grains. It
typically contains abundant quartz or feldspar minerals. The specimen shown above is about two inches (five
centimeters) across.

Marble is a non-foliated metamorphic rock that is produced from the metamorphism of limestone or dolostone. It
is composed primarily of calcium carbonate. The specimen shown above is about two inches (five centimeters)
across.

Phyllite is a foliated metamorphic rock that is made up mainly of very fine-grained mica. The surface of phyllite is
typically lustrous and sometimes wrinkled. It is intermediate in grade between slate and schist. The specimen shown
above is about two inches (five centimeters) across.

Novaculite is a dense, hard, fine-grained, siliceous rock that breaks with a conchoidal fracture. It forms from
sediments deposited in marine environments where organisms such as diatoms (single-celled algae that secrete a
hard shell composed of silicon dioxide) are abundant in the water. The specimen shown above is about three inches
across.

Lapis Lazuli, the famous blue gem material, is actually a metamorphic rock. Most people are surprised to learn that,
so we added it to this photo collection as a surprise. Blue rocks are rare, and we bet that it captured your eye. The
round objects in the photo are lapis lazuli beads about 9/16 inch (14 millimeters) in diameter. Image iStockPhoto /
RobertKacpura.

Quartzite is a non-foliated metamorphic rock that is produced by the metamorphism of sandstone. It is composed
primarily of quartz. The specimen above is about two inches (five centimeters) across.

Slate is a foliated metamorphic rock that is formed through the metamorphism of shale. It is a low-grade
metamorphic rock that splits into thin pieces. The specimen shown above is about two inches (five centimeters)
across.

Schist is a metamorphic rock with well-developed foliation. It often contains significant amounts of mica which
allow the rock to split into thin pieces. It is a rock of intermediate metamorphic grade between phyllite and gneiss.
The specimen shown above is a "chlorite schist" because it contains a significant amount of chlorite. It is about two
inches (five centimeters) across.

The best way to learn about rocks is to have a collection of specimens to examine while you study. Seeing and
handling the rocks will help you understand their composition and texture much better than reading about them on a
website or in a book. The Geology.com store offers inexpensive rock collections that can be mailed anywhere in
the United States or U.S. Territories. Mineral collections and instructive booksare also available.

Soapstone is a metamorphic rock that consists primarily oftalc with varying amounts of other minerals such as
micas,chlorite, amphiboles, pyroxenes, and carbonates. It is a soft, dense, heat-resistant rock that has a high specific
heat capacity. These properties make it useful for a wide variety of architectural, practical, and artistic uses.