Revised January 19

Metamorphic Rocks
 Rocks formed by placing pre-existing rocks under pressure and/or temperature
(also by hot fluid flow)
 Often associated with “plastic” deformation and reorientation or recrystallization
of minerals into gneissic foliation (planar structures due to mineral alignment)
 Metamorphism changes in the minerals present and their orientations due to
heat, pressure, or chemical changes due to fluids (metasomatism). Note,
material need not move.
o Regional metamorphism (heating/pressure over a broad area)
o Contact metamorphism (metamorphism of a “rind” in contact with
hot/molten material.
 What you get depends on what you start with (protolith – original rock)
 Pressure will re-orient (and align) mineral growth or deform pre-existing ones
(often flattens grains)
 Metamorphic grade refers to the amount (degree) of metamorphism (dependent
on increasing P and T)
o Metamorphic grades are defined by characteristic minerals that are
present. Low P, T conditions result in chlorite or serpentine, resulting in
“greenschist” facies. High P conditions produce a “blueschist” due to a
variety of amphibole. Actual mineralogy depends on the minerals in the
 Some metamorphic rocks: quartzite (protolith sandstone), slate (protolith shale),
marble (protolith limestone), schist and gneiss (protolith varies)

© 1995 W. C. Brown

Rock cycle
 Any kind of rock can turn into any other kind of rock, including back to itself as a
result of processes of melting and crystallization (igneous – high temperature,

caused by… o rocks not deposited (hiatus – term also used to refer to the gap in time represented by an unconformity). and then had more sediment deposited on top so that the bedding above and below the unconformity is not at the same angle. what happened first.pressure. melting). weathering.  Unconformities – gaps in the geologic record. need wind. heating and pressure causing deformation and recrystallization (metamorphic . o original horizontality – sedimentary layers (and most extrusive igneous) were laid down flat  tilted layers imply later deformation/tectonics o cross-cutting relations – something that cuts across something else is younger  examples include intrusions and faults o inclusions – things included in rocks (like pebbles in a conglomerate) are older than the rock itself. or may not. o rocks deposited but then removed (eroded by the work of wind and/or water) (a disconformity)  rock layers are generally parallel o rocks deposited on igneous or metamorphic basement (nonconformity) o angular unconformities are where rock were deformed. etc. temperature). sedimentation and lithification (sedimentary – near surface. eroded.  Stratigraphy – the study of the succession of rock layers. o superposition – the youngest layer is on top  complications like overturned beds exist (this one can often be solved by up-indicators discussed in lecture 3). water). second. o Unconformities imply some geologic event has occurred that has exposed the pre-existing rocks to wind or water – usually uplift or deformation  Folding requires compressional forces to squeeze and tilt the rocks  Erosion requires exposure to the Earth’s surface so wind and water can act on the rocks  Deposition requires subsidence below “base level” (more later) . ideas for the evolution of the earth were focused on catastrophism (controlled by unique events) and uniformitarianism (“the present is the key to the past”). be required  The rock record tells us the history of a region at all different time scales o Including recent events which may show traces of “small” (for the Earth) natural hazards. Geologic time  In the late 18th century. o spatial movement of the material may.  Dating of rocks: relative vs “absolute” o relative dating – the sequence of events.

g. and a short duration in time. may not be time synchronous (e.. evolution. correlations can be/are usually performed by rock type The Geologic Time Scale  Sequence of rock units (more in lecture 5)  Assembled from separate localities  Only relative dating and paleontology o no radioactive dating.  Correlation o Identifying and linking (correlating) rock layers of the same age from place to place and across or between continents o Law of Faunal Succession . I will post the answer sometime mid-next week. . (why?) o Rock type can be different  over short distances. due to change in water depth)  No fossils in igneous rocks so they have to be fit in by cross-cutting relations  Complex layers and folding need to be changes with time (note: no cause used)  Need to use index fossils or assemblages:  these must have a wide geographic range. or other late 19th century ideas involved  Developed by 1800 (see supplementary materials on D2L)  Some rock/geologic units are not time synchronous: o Facies – rock type of characteristic depositional environment. PWKBDLAFQ I will let you do the sequence of events above.