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Contact Metamorphism Vs.

Regional Metamorphism
0 Metamorphic, Rocks 9:11 PM



If you ever roasted a marshmallow over a hot campfire and ended

up with a lump of something black and charred, rather than
something gooey and delicious, what you actually did was
performed a mini-experiment in contact metamorphism. Of course
with true contact metamorphism we are using heat to change rocks,
not marshmallows. we will learn more about contact metamorphism
and how it differs from regional metamorphism, which relies more
on pressure to cause rock minerals to change. Hydrothermal

Metamorphic Rocks

Now, before we go too far into our terminology, it's important to

understand that when geologists are talking about something going
through a process of metamorphism, they are most likely talking
about metamorphic rocks. These rocks are kind of neat because
they were previously-formed rocks that have been transformed by
exposure to heat and/or pressure into new rocks. So, at one time
these rocks may have been igneous, sedimentary or even other
metamorphic rocks, but due to forces placed upon them they were
transformed, or metamorphosed, into different rocks.
(Read about Metamorphic Rock Textures)

Contact Metamorphism


Now, as we mentioned earlier, there are two types of

metamorphism: contact metamorphism and regional metamorphism.
Let's start by discussing contact metamorphism, which is the one
we introduced with the marshmallow experiment. Contact
metamorphism is a type of metamorphism where rock minerals and
texture are changed, mainly by heat, due to contact with magma.
This is an easy name to recall if you remember that these rocks
change by actually coming in contact with something very hot,
like magma.
Image you were looking at a cross-section of the Earth where you
can see the Earth's surface, as well as some deep layers of rock
underground. Now imagine that an intrusion of hot liquid magma
forces its way up through these deep layers of rock. The magma
bakes the surrounding rocks causing them to change, or
metamorphose. So all around the outer boundary of the intrusion
of magma you will have the formation of metamorphic rocks. Now,
keep in mind that because there is a somewhat direct contact with
the heat source, contact metamorphism takes place over a
relatively small area.

Regional Metamorphism

Regional or Barrovian metamorphism covers large areas of

continental crust typically associated with mountain ranges,
particularly those associated with convergent tectonic plates or
the roots of previously eroded mountains. Conditions producing
widespread regionally metamorphosed rocks occur during an
orogenic event. The collision of two continental plates or island
arcs with continental plates produce the extreme compressional
forces required for the metamorphic changes typical of regional
metamorphism. These orogenic mountains are later eroded, exposing
the intensely deformed rocks typical of their cores. The
conditions within the subducting slab as it plunges toward the
mantle in a subduction zone also produce regional metamorphic
effects, characterised by paired metamorphic belts. The
techniques of structural geology are used to unravel the
collisional history and determine the forces involved. Regional
metamorphism can be described and classified into metamorphic
facies or metamorphic zones of temperature/pressure conditions
throughout the orogenic terrane.

Read also The formation of Foliated Metamorphic Rock