You are on page 1of 24


THE CLASSIFICATION OF ROCKS – Whatever theory of earth origin is held it is at least

certain that all parts of the original surface of the earth passed through a molten stage and that the
first solid material which existed was derived form a melt or magma. This original crust is
nowhere exposed on the present surface, but all subsequently-formed rocks, in the first instance,
have been produced either from this, or from later irruption of molten matter. Rocks formed by
the consolidation of molten magma are said to be Primary or Igneous.

After the solidification of original crust, and the formation of hydrosphere and atmosphere, the
waters and the air, both probably of much greater chemical potency than now, began to attack the
primary rocks. Disintegrative action produced loose debris, and chemical action produced loose
debris, and chemical action produced both debris and material in solution. The loose fragments
would be swept away by water and wind, and would ultimately collect in the hollows of the
crust, where also the waters and soluble matters would be found. The collected debris deposited
from suspension in water or air would finally be cemented into hard rock, and would be thus
added to the solid crust. Under suitable circumstances the soluble matter likewise would be
precipitated, either directly or indirectly through the agency of organisms, the latter, of course, in
somewhat later geological times. The rocks thus produced would eventually become solid and
help in build up the crust. These processes have gone on throughout geological time, the newer
increments of the crust under going attack as well as the older parts. Hence it may be that some
of the material has gone through many successive cycles of change.

The rocks formed in these ways are called secondary, because they are composed of second-hand
or derived materials. They may be divided into Sedimentary chemical, or Organics, according to
the process by which they received their most distinctive characters.

Finally, both primary and secondary rocks may be subjected to earth movements which carry
down to depths in the crust where they are acted upon by great heat and pressure. By these
agencies the rocks are partly or wholly reconstituted; their original characters are partly or
wholly obliterated, and new ones impresses upon them. Rocks thus more or less completely
changed from their original condition are known as the metamorphic rocks.

We thus arrive at the time-honored three-fold classification of rocks according to their modes of
origin into Igneous, secondary (Sedimentary), and Metamorphic. The Primary rocks are
distinguished by the presence of crystalline minerals which interlock one with the other, or are
set in a minutely crystalline paste, or in a glass. They show signs, as do present-day lavas, of
having cooled from a high temperature. They are usually massive, unsatisfied, unfossiliferous,
and often occupy veins and fissures breaking across other rocks, which they have obviously
heated, baked and altered.

The secondary rocks are composed of clastic and precipitated materials, or of substances of
organic character and origin. The materials are often loose and unconsolidated, or are welded
together by pressure or by a cementing substance into a solid rock. They are further distinguished

by the frequent presence of bedding or stratification, organic remains (fossils), and other marks
indicative of deposition from water or air in the sea or on land.

The Metamorphic rocks present characters which, in some respects, are intermediate between
those of the primary and secondary rocks. Great heat and pressure cause re-crystallization;
hence, like the primary rocks, they often consist of interlocking crystals. Furthermore, pressure
causes the development of more or less regular layers, folia, or banding, in which the
metamorphic rocks resemble those of Secondary origin. Since the Metamorphic rocks are formed
from preexisting igneous or sedimentary rocks they often retain traces of their original structures.

THE PYROGENTIC MINERALS- The minerals formed from igneous magmas are termed
pyrogentic (i.e. formed by fire). Since oxygen and silicon are the most abundant elements in
magmas silicates and silica from the chief igneous minerals.

Most igneous rock minerals are, therefore, silicates, silicon is capable of forming several acids,
of which the following are the most important from the Petrographical point of view:-

Orthosilicic acid, H4SiO4 or 2H2O, SiO2, Ex. Olivine,

2 (Mg, Fe) O, SiO3

Metasilicic acid, H4SiO6 or 2H2O, 2SiO2, Ex. Enstatite,

(Mg, Fe)O, SiO2-

Polysilicic acid, H4SiO6 or 2H2O, 3SiO2, Ex Orthoclase

K2O, Al2O3, 6SiO2

Hence pyrogentic silicates fall into the three groups of orthosilicates, metasilicates, and
polysilicates, distinguishable, a s are the acids by the oxygen ratios of bases to silica being
respectively I:I, I:2, and 1:3. The olivine group varying from forsterite 2MgO,SiO2, through
2(MgFe) O, SiO2, to fayalite, 2FeO, SiO2. Leucite, K2O,Al2O3, 2SiO2, are also orthosilicates.
The pyroxenes and amphiboles are common examples of the metasilicates group, thus, for
example, diopside, CaO, (MgFe)O,2SiO2 and hypersthene, (MgFe)O,SiO2. Leucite, K2O,Al2O3,
4SiO2, is also a metasilicates, Pyrogentic polysilicates are best represented by orthoclase,
K2O,Al2O3,6SiO2, and albite, Na2O,Al2O2,6SiO2.

Potassium and sodium from the most active bases present in igneous magmas; calcium is less
active; magnesium and iron are relatively the weakest. Hence silica is taken up to the fullest
extent chiefly by the alkali metals, which , therefore, usually form polysilicates, the highest
possible amount of silica being bound up with them in orthoclase and albite. It is to be noted that
aluminum only enters into combination with silica along with a base-forming element, usually in
equal molecular amounts. Calcium tends to form metasilicates; magnesium and iron both

metasilicates and orthosilicates. Since iron has the weakest affinity for silica in this series, it is
often left out of combination if there is a deficiency of silica, and appears as oxide (magnetite). If
there is a considerable deficiency of silica in the magma, potassium and sodium may not be able
to combine with sufficient silica to form orthoclase and albite respectively, and the lower
silicates Leucite and nepheline will be formed instead. As potassium has the stronger affinity for
silica of the two, the albite molecule will first experience the desilication, and nepheline will be
formed in preference to Leucite.

Mineral of low silication + silica mineral of high silication; and the reaction is
reversible, i.e. it may run in either direction.

Minerals Low Sillication Minerals of high Sillication

Leucite Orthoclase
Nepheline Albite
Analcite Anorthoclase
Olivine Orhtohombic Pyroxenes Augite
Biotite Aegirine

Primary Magmas – the average igneous rock, the composition of which is given in table II, is an
abstraction, there utilized for the discussion of magma tic composition in general. It is only
incidentally corresponds with the composition of certain actual igneous rocks, and those by no
means the most abundant. It is necessary, then, to enquire as to the nature and composition of the
magma or magmas from which igneous rocks have actually been derived. It is out of the question
that the source of every variety of igneous rock was magma of corresponding composition. Field
and laboratory experience shows that igneous rocks are products of the origin of these sub-
magmas be traced far enough back, it is believed that the assumption of two primary magmas at
most, will suffice to account for the known variations of igneous rock composition.

This conclusion is based on the frequency with which the various rock types occur. It is a matter
of common observation that granite [or rather granodiorite), and basalt, are by far the most
abundant igneous rock types. Granites, granodiorites, or other granitoid rocks, form the basalts,
on the other hand, form enormous palteaux, which, in certain cases, cover areas of the order of
hundreds of thousands of square miles. Professor Daly has tested this observation statistically by
measuring the areas covered by the principal igneous rock types in North America.

The formation of Igneous Rocks

Glass and Crystals – the solid matter of which igneous rocks are composed consists either of
non-crstalline material (glass), of crystals, or of both crystals and glass. Magmas become igneous
rocks by solidification without crystallization (formation of glass), or by crystallization, with the
loss of much of their volatile material. The difference between crystalline and glassy matter is
analogous to the difference between a disciplined battalion and a scattered mob. The molecules

or ultimate particles of a crystal are arranged in a definite manner; they are, as it were, neatly
packed. In a glass, however, the molecules have settled down into a stable arrangement but
without any recognizable pattern. A glass must be regarded as an amorphous solid, not as a
glass-cooled liquid possessing high rigidity.

A glass is less dense than the corresponding crystalline substance, because its molecules are not
so neatly and closely arranged as those of the crystal. Thus a cubic inch off crystalline silica
(quartz) weighs 650 grains, but a cubic inch of glassy silica (melted quartz) only 560 grains It
follows that under great pressure crystalline matter will form more readily than glass, because
the crystalline state represents the greatest economy of space under the prevalent conditions.
Conversely, glass is more readily formed from magmas under conditions of low pressure.
Magmas which have crystallized under a heavy load of superincumbent rock at considerable
depths in the crust therefore form completely crystalline rocks; whereas in those which are
erupted to the surface glassy matter is frequently present.

Crystallization of Unicomponent Magma – magmas usually consist of many components, a

few of which greatly preponderate over the others. Hence most igneous rocks are
multicomponent; they consist of three four, or five principal mineral constituents, with a number
of minor ones. Igneous rocks of two principal components only, are known but are uncommon;
and unquestionably unicomponent rocks are extremely rare.

Fig. Curves Illustrating the super cooling of Augite.

A rock forming mineral which has been investigated in this way is augite. The crystallization of
augite is indicated by the diagram, in which the abscissa represents the power of spontaneous
crystallization measured by the number of crystals initiated in unit volume in unit time, and the
ordinate represents temperature below the freezing point.

According to Tamman the curve A represents the mode of crystallization. Crystallization begins
at the freezing point below the freezing-point the number of centers of crystallization increases
enormously, reaching a maximum at 55o , and then declining again as rapidly until crystallization
ceases at a temperature 120o below freezing-point.

This illustrates the phenomenon of super-cooling or super saturation; i.e. the main onset of
crystallization does not take place at the freezing –point, but at some distance below it. The
temperature region in which the generation of crystals is slow is called the metastable region;
that in which the rate of crystallization is rapid is the labile region.

Crystallization Of Binary Magmas – The crystallization of bi-component magmas can
be easily understood if the fundamental principle is kept in mind that the specific properties of
each constituent are modified in the presence of the other. Most important is the fact that the
freezing points are lowered. This fact is illustrated by the phenomena of freezing mixtures, such
as ice and salt. Water freezes at Oo C; molten salt solidifies at about 800oC; but a mixture of ice
and salt in certain proportions freezes at – 22oC. The lavas of Vesuvius furnish a petrographical
example of this property. Augite is frequently found enclosed in the leucite of these rocks, and is
therefore of earlier crystallization. The freezing-point of Vesuvian Augite may be taken as
1220oC. Hence the leucite must have crystallized at some temperature lower than 1220oC; but as
leucite by itself freezes at 1420oC , the presence of Augite has lowered its freezing-point by at
least 200o.

Fig. Temperature – Composition Diagram

The crystallization of a magma consisting of two independent constituents may be illustrated by

the use of the temperature-composition diagram, in which the abscissa represents composition,
and the ordinate temperature. As an example a magma consisting of a mixture of the minerals A
( freezing-point Tao ) and B (freezing –point Tbo) may be taken. A magma consisting entirely of
A would crystallize at Tao , and its freezing-point is represented by the point P on the diagram.
Similarly, a magma consisting entirely of B would crystalline at Tbo , the freezing point being
represented by the point R. The addition of IO per cent of B to the A magma, producing magma
or the composition A90B10, causes a further lowering of the freezing point to P2 and so on. A
similar lowering of freezing point is produced in a B magma by the addition of A, and may be
represented by the points R1, R2 etc. By joining up these we obtain the curves PE and RE
meeting in E, which represent the freezing points of any possible mixture of A and B.

Any point on the diagram, such as X, indicates a definite condition of the magma in regard to
temperature and composition. Any change may be indicated means change of composition at
constant temperature vertical movement means change of temperature at constant composition.

The curves PE and RE may also be regarded as saturation curves. Magmas represented by points
above the curves are unsaturated. Points on the curve PE indicate magmas saturated with A; and
points on the curve RE magmas saturated with B. the point E represents a magma saturated with
both A and B.

Reaction Series : In cooling magma, during crystallization, earlier formed minerals react with
the melt and forms new mineral. The two minerals so related form a reaction pair. A number of
minerals may be related in this manner and when they are arranged in a order, they form a
reaction series. The reaction series mauy be of two types:
Continuous : When change from one mineral to another is continuous
Discontinuous: when the change from one mineral to another takes place only at certain definite
temperature. Two such series of minerals, called Bowen’s reaction series is given as below.


Lava Flows-Lavas are emitted either from individual cones, like Vesuvius or Etna, or from
fissures, such as are exemplified by some Icelandic eruptions. They usually form tabular bodies,
of wide a real extent in proportion to their thickness, and elongated in the main direction of flow.

Fig. Eruption of Viscous Lava. A puy.

The form of a lava flow depends chiefly on the fluidity of the magma, which, again, depends on
its composition, and on the temperature of eruption. Thus basic lavas, such as basalt, are highly
mobile, and flow for great distances; whereas acid magmas, such as rhyolite and trachyte, are
aluggish in their flow and remain heaped up, often in steep sided bulbous masses, about the
orifice of eruption, as in some of the puys of Auvergne. Basalt lavas have been described as
ousting rivers from their beds, and producing lava-falls instead of waterfalls(Hawaii).

Pyroclastic Deposits- The intermittently explosive action that takes place in volcanic eruption
produces a fragmental type of igneous material. The crust that forms over the lava column in a
period of quiescence may be blown to pieces by renewal of activity, and the fragment may be
distributed in and about the crater as a mass of agglomerate lapilli are small cindery fragments
between the size of a walnut and a pea, which are ejected to greater distances than the large
fragments may be distributed in and about the crater as a mass of agglomerate. Lapilli are small
cindery fragments between the size of a walnut and a pea, which are ejected to greater distances
than the large fragments forming agglomerate. Finest of all are the dust-like particles which are
produced by sudden explosion in liquid lava. These form volcanic dusts or sands, which may be
deposited near the volcano or over the surrounding country, and may consolidate to form beds of
volcanic tuff. All these ejectamenta may be mixed with foreign fragments torn from the sides of
the volcanic vent, or with sand and mud co-deposited with the volcanic material.

Fig. Fissure Eruption

Thus beds of more or less pure volcanic debris are produced, the characters of which, however,
especially in tuffs, partake more of those of sedimentary than of igneous rocks.

Intrusions And Their Relations To Geological Structures- Their relations to be Geological

structures-Intrusions are those masses of molten rock which have been injected between the
layers of the earth’s crust. The forms that they take depend primarily on the geological structure,
and they take depend primarily on the geological structure, and subordinately on their relations
to the structural features, such as bedding-planes, of the rocks which they penetrate. Two main
types of geological structures may be distinguished in this connection: one in which the strata
remain more or less horizontal over wide areas, but in which, while mainly unaffected by
folding, they are frequently broken by nearly vertical fractures due to tension; the other
comprising mountain belts characterized by intense folding, contortion, and fracturing along
gently inclined planes (thrust-planes). The forms of intrusions in these two strongly contrasted
structural types are widely different.

The other factor by which the forms of intrusive bodies are governed is their attitude to the main
structural planes of the rocks into which they are bedding planes of the indant. On the other

hand, the magma may break across the mass. The distinction between concordant and discordant
is easiest to apply when the intrusions have penetrated strata which are more or less horizontal.

Intrusions in regions of Unfolded, Gently Intrusions in Regions of highly-

–folded , or Tilted Strata folded and compressed Rocks
Concordant Sill Phacolith
Laccolith Concordant batholith
Discordant Dyke Discordant Batholith
Cone-sheets (Stocks Bosses)
Volcanic neck “ Chonolith”
Ring Dyke


Sills – Sills are relatively thin tabulate sheets of magma which have penetrated along
approximately horizontal bedding planes. They show nearly parallel upper and lower margins for
considerable distances; but as they thin out in distance the shape is flatly lenticular. The
thickness may vary from a few inches to many hundreds of feet, Sills spread to a distance which
is dependent on the hydrostatic force with which they are injected, their temperature, degree of
fluidity, and the weight of the block of strata which they have to lift in order to make room for
themselves. Since basic magmas are more fluid than acid, the rocks composing the more
extensive sills are usually dolerities and basalts. Some of the best examples of sills in this
country are the quartz-dolerite and teschenite instructions of north Britain.

Fig. Sills in the Karroo, South Africa

Laccoliths: Magma of considerable viscosity injected into stratified rocks does not spread very
far, but tends to heap itself up about the orifice of irruption. Thus a bun shaped mass of igneous
rock is formed which has a flat base and domed top; the strata above it are lifted up in the form

of an inverted bowl. This is the type of intrusions which was first described by G.K. Gilbert as a
laccolithic form is produced if the supply of magma from beneath is greater than can be
accommodated by lateral spreading. Laccoliths are occasionally circular, or more often elliptical,
in ground plan, according as the supply is from a cylindrical vent or from their margins and
dykes may occupy tension cracks n the dome of stretched strata above.

Fig. Laccolites
A. Typical Laccolith
B. B. Upfaulted Laccolith or bysmalith.

Lopoliths – The name lapolith has been given to massive intrusions of basic rocks which are
generally concordant, have a lenticular shape, and are centrally sunken like a saucer or basin.
The thickness is approximately one-tenth to one-twentieth of the diameter. The type example is
the Duluth Gabbro mass, which ahs a diameter of 150 miles, and a maximum thickness estimated
at 50,000 feet. Its outcrops enclose an area of 15,000 square miles, and its volume is believed to
be of the order of 50,000 cubic miles.’

A. Theoretical section through a lopolith

B. Section of part of Insizwa lopolith

Dykes – The intrusion of magma into more or less vertical fissures, which cut across the bedding
or other structures of the invaded rock, results in the formation of dykes. A dyke as the name
indicates, is thus a narrow elongated, parallel sided wall of igneous rock. The thickness may vary
from an inch or two to many hundreds of feet, but the great majority of dykes are probably less
than to feet thick. Similarly, the length of a dyke may vary from a few yards to many miles.

Illustrating their modes of weathering

Dykes tend to occur as systems or swarms which are parallel to one direction, or are radial to a


Dykes are symptomatic of regional tension in the crust within an area of igneous activity. They
have to open up their way along fractures, for it is extremely rare to find open fissures of the
width necessary for simple infilling. Owing to the existing tension the intrusion of magma, so to
speak, touches off or relieves the tensile stress, the fissures opening up with a minimum
expenditure of the energy of the intrusion. Thus the injection of dykes may take place with great
rapidity, which is also to be inferred from their great linear extensions and narrow widths.

Ring-Dykes And cone Sheets- A ring-dyke is a dyke of accurate outcrop which, with full
development, would have a closed, ring shaped outcrop. Ring dykes may be arranged in
concentric series, with screens of country-rock separating the individual members of the
complex. Some of the most perfect examples of ring-structures are to be found in mull and
Arddamurchan among the Kainozoic intrusions.

Origin of Ring Dykes

Cone Sheets ( inclined-sheets, Harker), or cone-sheet complexes, are assemblages of inclined

dyke-like masses with accurate outcrops, the members of which dip at angles of 30o to 40o
towards common centers. Their arrangement suggests the partial infilling of a number of coaxial
cone-shaped fractures, with inverted apices united underground. Cone-sheets have hitherto only
been recognized among the Kainozoic igneous rocks of Skye, Mull and Ardnamurchan, where
they are extremely abundant.

Origin of cone Sheets and Ring Dykes

Volcanic Necks: These are igneous masses which seal up the vents of ancient volcanoes. They
may completely occupy the cylindrical channel or may be intrusive around and into the
agglomerate which partly fills it. Volcanic necks may throw off sills and dykes into the
surrounding strata and may, in exceptional cases, pass laterally into lava flows.


Structure and Texture- Under the term structure are included certain large-scale features, such as
the blocky or ropy surfaces of lavas, pillowy structures, flow-banding, jointing structures, and
the potential fractures of rift and grain. Structure also denotes some small-scale features which
are due to juxtaposition of more than one kind of textural aggregate within a rock, such as
amygdaloidal and spherulitic structures. Textures, on the other hand, indicate the intimate mutual
relations of the mineral constituents and glassy matter in a rock made up of a uniform aggregate.

Sedimentary rocks are also called secondary rocks. This group includes a wide variety of rocks
formed by accumulation, compaction and consolidation of sediments, particles or remains of
organisms in suitable environment under ordinary conditions of temperature and pressure. The
accumulation and compaction of solid matter making the sedimentary rocks commonly takes
place under water at least in the presence of water.

The solid matter may itself be derived in different ways from different sources. A great bulk of
all the sedimentary rocks is comprised of the sediments or grains broken from preexisting rocks
by the action of natural agencies such as wing, water and ice. These sediments are transported for
varying distances and finally deposited in suitable basins (or places of deposition) such as sea
floor, lakes, river banks and channel floors.

Some sediments may be derived as precipitates or evaporates from lake and sea waters. Animal
and vegetable life, especially in seas and lakes, also contributes a good supply of organic
residues which on accumulation and compaction turn into hard massive rock bodies of
considerable size.

Sedimentary rocks are broadly grouped into three classes depending upon their mode of
formation: classic rocks ( mechanically formed); chemically formed and organically formed
sedimentary rocks.

Process of Formation


These sedimentary rocks are formed through a number of steps.

(a) Decay and Disintegration: Preexisting rock everywhere on the surface of the Earth are
exposed to natural process of decay and disintegration like weathering and erosion. The
original hard coherent rocks are loosened, decomposed in some cases, and the grains and
particles so obtained are transported to places of deposition (se floor), lake basins and
river channels)The disintegrated product is often called detritus. Hence, these rocks are
also sometimes called detrital rocks.

(b) Gradual Deposition: The sediments as produced through weathering and erosion and
transported to depositional basins start setting there. Those sediments which are carried in
suspension settle down layers. The particles that have been transported in solution are
first precipitated due to evaporation and then settle down. Deposition generally takes
place under ordinary temperature and pressure conditions.

(c) Compaction and consolidation – Digenesis : The sediments accumulate at first in the
form of layers or heaps but gradually these get transformed into cohesive, hard and
massive rocks when conditions are favorable. This process of transformation of loose
particles into hard cohesive rock-like masses is called digenesis. It may be achieved by
either of the two methods: welding or cementation.

Welding: It is process of compaction and consolidation of the sediments accumulated in

a basin due to pressure. This results in squeezing out of all or most of the water room in between
the sediments, which are brought together so that their boundaries almost unite together. Pressure
is most commonly due to the load of the overlying sediments. Sometimes it is also due to the
earth movements, which if too intense, results in the formation of metamorphic rocks.

The degree of packing of the grains in a sedimentary rock depends on the extent of welding
under gone by the sediments.

Cementation: it is the process by which loose grains in a sedimentary deposit are held
together by a foreign biding or cementing material. These binding substances are commonly
supplied by percolating waters which are rich in carbonates of calcium and magnesium oxides of
iron and silicon and clay.


Water is a great solvent. Water form springs, steams, rivers, lakes and seas dissolves
many compounds from the rocks with which it comes into contact. Under favorable
conditions, a stage is reached when a part of this water may become saturated with one or
more of the dissolved components. This may be followed by precipitation of salts as
crystalline substances and their gradual accumulation in the basin. The Rock Salt (NaCl) id
formed more or less by this method. In other cases, precipitation of a salt may take place due
to loss of some constituent of the water. Limestone is formed by precipitation from
carbonated water due to loss carbon dioxide. Such chemically formed rocks fall in two
categories: precipitates and evaporates. Gypsum, anhydrite salt and limestone are a few


More than 70 percent of the globe is covered by oceans and seas. These extensive and
immense water bodies contain a variety of animal and plant life. The hard parts of many sea
organisms are constituted chiefly of carbonates of calcium. Death and decay of these organisms
within the water bodies gradually results into huge accumulations of carbonate materials which
get compacted and consolidated with the passage of time. Limestone is very often compacted
and consolidated form of remains of these organisms. Generally the evidence of the source
material gets obliterated from these rock bodies due to compaction in many cases it may be quite
easy to determine the source. The coral limestones, for instance, can be easily recognized as
having resulted from the tiny shells of organisms called corals.


Facies: The concept of formation of sedimentary rock in a particular type of environment is

explained by the facies. Three distinct facies are recognized with respect to sedimentary rocks.

(a) Continental Facies: Sedimentary rocks formed on the continents such as in the lakes,
rivers and streams and form alluvial fans are said to belong to this facies. Coarse grained
rocks are like conglomerates, breccias and sandstones are typical examples of
sedimentary rocks of continental facies. Boulder clays and varved clays of glacial and
lacustarine origin, respectively, also fall in this category. The rock of this facies is
relatively dense, loosely packed and often cemented.

(b) Transitional facies : Some sedimentary rocks may be formed by accumulation and
compaction of sediments along the seashore, even along the continental shelf as on
beaches and deltas. These represent the transitional facies. Many varities of sanstones and
claystones are commonly formed in such environments.

(c) Marine Facies: This type of environment prevails In the middle of the sea where
sediments from the contributing streams do not reach easily. (because they have been

already deposited along the shelf). In this marine environment, these are the organic
remains ( bones and shells of sea organisms) that go on accumulating and getting
compacted by fresh accumulation at top. Limestones are the best example of sedimentary
rocks of marine facies.

Like composition, sedimentary rock show considerable variation in their texture ( or mutual
relationship of the constituent minerals). Their texture is determined by at least six contributing

(i) Origin of grains: A sedimentary rock may be partially or wholly composed of clastic
(allogenic) grains, or of chemically or organically contributed components. Thus , the
rock may show a clastic texture or a non-clastic texture.
(ii) Size of Grains: The grian size in the sedimentary rocks varies within wide limits.
Individual grains of less than 0.002 mm abd more than 250 mm may form a part or
whole of these rocks. Accordingly , rocks are divided into three textural types on this

Coarse – grained= average diameter >5

Medium grained = grians range between 1-5 mm
Fine grained = particles < 1 mm size makeup the rock

(iii) Shape of Grains: The sedimentary grains are of various shapes: rounded, sub rounded,
angular and sub angular. They may show sphericity to various degrees. Roundness
and sphericity of grains are the indications of varying degree of abrasion and
transport of the grains before their deposition. Breccias are made up mostly of rough
fragments of angular shapes whereas conglomerates have rounded to sub rounded

(iv) Packing of grains: Sedimentary may be open-packed or densely packed giving rise to
a porous or dense texture. The degree of packing is generally related to the load from
above or pressure due to earth movements.

(v) Fabric of grains: A given sedimentary rock may conatin many elongate particles.
Their orientation is studied and described in terms of their longer axis, and is of great
textural arrangement.


1. Mechanical Structures

These are the most prevalent structures of clastic sedimentary rocks and are developed
due to physical processes operating at the time of deposition of these rocks. These include
following specific types.

Stratification: By stratification is understood a layered arrangement in a sedimentary rock. This
may be developed very prominently and can be seen from a distance or only slightly and may be
detected after close examination. The different layers (also called beds or strata) may be of
similar or dissimilar color, grain size and composition. The beds are separated from each other
by planes of weakness- the bedding planes. The thickness of each layer in s sedimentary
formation may show great variation from a few centimeters to many meters. In lateral extension,
the layered structure may continue for several kilometers or even hundreds of kilometers.
Further, the layers may be horizontal, slightly dipping, steeply dipping or even overturned,
folded and faulted depending upon the forces that have acted upon them their formation.

Fig: Stratification , beds and Bedding planes

Lamination: This is similar to stratification but in this case, the individual layers are quite thin
(generally less than one cm. in thickness). Lamination is a characteristic structure of very fine
textured sedimentary rocks like shale and clay.

Cross Bedding: it is a sedimentary structure in which various lying one above another are not
parallel but bear an irregular, inclined relationship. Such a structure results in shallow water
deposits when the stream suffers repeated changes in its direction of flow. The structure is
sometimes referred as false bedding or current bedding.

Graded Bedding: In some stratified rocks the component sediments in each layer appear to be
characteristically sorted and arranged according tot heir grain size, the, most coarse being
towards the bottom and the finest at the top in each layer. Such an individual layer is said to be
graded. When a sequence of rocks is made up of a number of such sorted out layers, the result is
referred as graded bedding. Normally, such perfectly graded beds are the result of sedimentation
in bodies of standing water where there are seasonal variations in the process. In many cases,
however the exact cause of this structure is far from simple and may be attributed to a number of
such unrelated processes as sub aqueous landslides and submarine earthquakes.


Sedimentary rocks have been variously classified on the basis of their mineralogical
composition, environment of deposition, mode of formation and textual and structural features.

A classification system combing most of the above characters has been widely favored and will
be followed in this book. In this classification, all the sedimentary rocks are grouped under two
divisions on the mode of formation: the clastic (detrital) rocks and the non-clastic (non detrital)
rocks. These groups are further sub divided on the basis of grain size, composition and nature of
the source material.


These are also called Mechanically formed sedimentary rocks and include all those sedimentary
rocks that have been formed pre-existing rocks through the mechanical action of denuding agents
like wind, water and ice. Their formation is achieved in three steps : erosion, transportation and
deposition of the sediments followed by their compaction and consolidation.

Further sub-division of the clastic rocks is based on the average grain size or grade of the
sediments of the sediments making the rock. Following terminology has now been widely
adopted by the sediments making the rock. Following terminology has now been widely adopted
by the sedimentologists for various grades of sediments.

(a) Gravels: all sediments and fragments of rocks irrespective of their composition
and shape , which are bigger than 2 mm in average diameter are termed as
Gravels are further distinguished into:
Boulders: grain size greater than 256 mm
Cobbles : gerain size between 256-16 mm
Pebbles : grain size between 16-2 mm

(b) Sands: All sediments which lie within the size range of 2 mm and 1/16 mm are
grouped as sands. This term is generally used for siliceous sediments. Sands may
be further distinguished into carse, medium and fine as follows:

Coarse sands: Size range between 2 mm and ½ mm

Medium Sands: size range between ½ mm and ¼ mm
Fine Sands: size range between ¼ mm and 1/1/6 mm
Quartz is the dominant mineral in most sands.

(c) Silts: These are very fine sized particles in the size range of 1/16 mm – 1/256 mm.
These are also distinguished into coarse (1/16 – 132 mm), medium (132 – 164
mm) and fine silts(164 – 11256 mm). Silts are so fine in nature that such as
distinction is seldom necessary in practical studies.

(d) Clays: All sedimentary particles finer in size than 1/256 mm is broadly grouped as
clays. The mineralogical constitution of clays can be studied only under very high
resolution microscopes.

Based on the predominance of the sediments of a particular grade, the clastic rocks are sub-
divided into following three major classes:

1. Rudites (Psephites)
These are also called rudaceous rocks and include all coarse grained clastic rocks of
heterogeneous composition. The average grain size of the constituent sediments in rudities is
greater than 2 mm . They are composed of boulders, cobbles and pebbles that are generally
held together by some natural cementing material ( clay being the most common).

Examples: Breccia and Conglomerates are important are important type rocks of this group.

2. Arenites (Psamites)

These are also called arenaceous rocks. Arenites are made up of sediments of sand grade (2mm
1/16mm). The sand grains may be held together either by pressure (welding ) or by cementation.
In a particular rock, sand grains of a particular grade may be predominating giving rise to coarse
arenites, medium arenites and fine arenites.
Examples: Sandstone; Greywacke; Arkoses.

3. Lutites (Pelites)

These are also called argillaceous rocks. Lutites may be defined as sedimentary rocks of the
finest particle size. They are made up of particles of slit and clay grades, which are invariably
packed together with varying degree of compaction (loosely packed, densely packed). These are
among the softest of rocks showing a complex behavior towards imposed loads – that depends
on the porosity and moisture content besides the mineralogical composition.

Examples: Shales, clays, Mudstone

It may be mentioned here that many times a sedimentary rock is made up of sediments of more
than one grade. Inn such cases, it is the dominant grade which is taken into consideration. If the
other grade is also present in significant proportions, say beyond 5 percent, it is also reflected by
adopting a mixed nomenclature. For example: Argillaceous sandstone, silty sands sandy
siltstone, arenaceous shales and so on.

Non clastic Rocks:

This group includes all those sedimentary rocks that have been formed by:

(i) Operation of simple chemical processes such as evaporation, precipitation and
crystallization a ordinary temperature and pressure;
(ii) Accumulation of hard parts of organisms followed by their compaction and
These are also called non-detrital rocks. They are generally homogeneous in character, fine
grained in particle size and varying in chemical composition. These may be further divided
into two sub-divisions: chemically formed rocks and organically formed rocks.

(A) Chemically Formed Rocks:

They are generally formed by precipitation, evaporation or crystallization from aqueous

solutions carrying the weathered material in a dissolved state. On the basis of their chemical
composition, these rocks are further subdivided into following groups.

(i) Siliceous Deposits: In which silica (SiO2) is the choief constituent. Some forms of
silica like chalcedony and opal are slightly soluble in water. When solutions saturated
with this type of silica are allowed to evaporate, deposits of siliceous mass are made.
Example : Flint, Chert, Jasper,

(ii) Carbonate Deposits: these are precipitated from carbonate rich waters under
different conditions controlled by the concentration of carbon dioxide. Many deposits
of limestone’s, Dolomites and Magnesite are of chemical origin from solutions rich in
calcium carbonate and magnesium carbonate.
Carbonate deposits of Iron (Siderite) having a similar origin are also known.

(iii) Ferruginous Deposits: Oxides and hydroxides of iron are common examples of
chemically precipated iron deposits. At places these may from huge deposits which
can be used as an ore of the metal. The so-called bog iron ores are iron hydroxides of
chemical origin.

(iv) Phosphatic Deposits: common examples of phosphatic deposits are rock phosphates
that have formed from sea water rich in phosphoric acid. Similarly, some other rocks
like limestone’s and shales may also be rich in phosphate content derived from
chemical process.

(v) Evaporties: These may be treated as a special class of chemically formed

sedimentary rocks in which evaporation is the distinct process responsible for their
formation. These include some of the very important sedimentary deposits of
economic value like gypsum, anhydrite, rock salt, borates, rock sulphur and nitrate.
The deposits have formed in the past from bodies of sea water that got detached from
the main source and were then concentrated to the point of saturation due to loss of
moisture. Even at present common salt is manufactured by a similar process from sea

The pre-existing rocks may not undergo any physical or chemical changes after their formation.
This depends upon the environment in which they exist. There will be, their formation, no
change, in the physical makeup or chemical constitution of a rock if it has adjusted itself to the
surrounding environment. This theoretical state of no change may be explained by saying that
the rock is in equilibrium with the physical and chemical conditions that surround it. But once
there is a significant and effective change in any one or more of these surrounding conditions the
equilibrium is disturbed and the rock is unable to exist in its original form. The surrounding
conditions that play important role in this regard are: temperature, pressure and chemical
environment. When there is a change in any one nature or more of these conditions, there must
take place a corresponding change in the nature of rock also. What kind of change will take place
in the rock? This will depend on the nature of rock under question and nature of the change in
the conditions surrounding the rock. The changed rock will be stable and in equilibrium with the
new set of conditions.

Factors of metamorphism
Metamorphic changes in the rocks are the result of a number of factors that may operate
singularly or in close cooperation with each other. The metamorphic effects are, however, very
pronounced and widely developed that result from the collective action of these factors. Among
such factors heat, pressure and chemically active fluids may be named as most important.

Temperature: Two common sources of heat for metamorphism are the initial heat and the
magmatic heat. As mentioned earlier the temperature of the materials of the earth rises with
depth. Such increase in the temperature may induce some changes in those rocks that are bought
downwards after their formation .Similarly, magma tic intrusions may cause partial or complete
recrystallization of the invaded rocks.

It is believed that most metamorphic changes take place within 350oC-850oC range of

Pressure: Many temperature changes are induced solely due to pressure factor whereas in great
majority of cases pressure is a dominant factor assisted considerably by heat factor. Any given
rock at a suitable depth below the surface of the earth is subject to pressure from two sources:
first, load of the overlying rocks and second crustal disturbances during the orogenic or mountain
building activity. The first type of pressure generally acts in a vertical direction whereas the
pressure from orogenic activity is lateral or horizontal and is commonly termed directed
pressure. Rocks situated near or within the geosynclinal tracts are especially subjected to directed
pressure and show severe degree of metamorphic changes.


Presence or absence of chemically active fluids beneath the surface is regarded as a very
important consideration in the process of metamorphism. When present, the chemically active
fluids exert a positive role in bringing about metamorphic changes. In the vicinity of magmas in
particular an din many other situations certain liquids and gases approach and act upon the rocks
in a selective and persistent manner. Among such fluids, steam deserves first mention. Some
water is supplied by the magmas; a part of water goes down from the surface as meteoric water.
Chemically active water is invariably at high temperature. Carbon dioxide, hydrofluoric acid,
bromine, fluorine and some other gases are also present and induce many important changes in
some rocks during the process of metamorphism.


THREE major kinds of metamorphism differentiated on the basis of dominant factors are:
thermal metamorphism, dynamic metamorphism and dynamo thermal metamorphism.
A. Thermal Metamorphism : It is s general term including a variety of metamorphic
processes in which the heat factor has played a predominant role. The pressure and
chemically active fluids are attributed only secondary importance.

Contact metamorphism: it is a very common type of thermal metamorphism observed in
rocks existing near the magmatic injections or intrusions or flows. In this case, the heat from
magmatic source travels through the body of the surrounding rock which undergoes
structural changes depending upon the intensity of the heat transmitted. The effect is intense
in the immediate neighborhood of the magmatic source and decreases with distance from
contact point.

Pyrometamorphism: it is another type of thermal metamorphism in which case a part of

country rock may actually get entrapped within a magmatic body. The effects result due to
intense localized heating (Short of melting). It is illustrated by changes in a block of
sedimentary rock that has incidentally fallen in a body of flowing lava; the block may be so
heated up that its original minerals are forced to recrystallize and re-arrange themselves in
accordance with the conditions imposed by the rise in temperature.

In thermal metamorphism, the change is generally in the direction of mineralogical

reconstitution. These processes may induce changes varying from simple baking effects to
complete recrystallization of all nearly all of the original minerals.

B. Dynamic Metamorphism

It is also called clastic metamorphism, mechanical metamorphism or dislocation

metamorphism and is brought about by pressure ( or stresses) acting along zones of
dislocation in the crust of the earth. Sometimes the pressure is of hydrostatic type, i.e. due to
load from above; the process is then called Load Metamorphism.

C. Dynamothermal Metamorphism

This is also referred as REGIONAL METAMORPHISM and may be considered as the

most important as well as common type of metamorphic process. This involves development
of large scale changes in the structural and chemical constitution of the preexisting rocks
under the combined action of pressure, temperature and fluids. Such conditions are available
during the mountain- building activity in the history of the earth. Rocks metamorphosed
through this process form extensive continuous belts in many mountainous regions of the
world. The process involves both formation of new minerals and imposition of new textures
and structures on the rocks.


It may broadly be defined as a “metamorphic process involving formation of new minerals by

the mechanism of chemical replacement of the pre-existing minerals, chiefly under the influence
of chemically active fluids.


A great variation occurs in the nature of effects of metamorphic processes on different rocks.
This depends on a number of factors chief among which are

(i) The type of rock involved in the process;

(ii) The kind of metamorphism that is predominant in the process.

Generally speaking, the metamorphic processes may result in one of more of the following
effects : recrystallization, rock flowage, granulation and metasomatic replacement


All the changes in the direction of mineralogical reconstitution and textural variation of rocks
during the process of metamorphism may be collectively expressed by the term
recrystallization. This process involves simultaneous growth of new crystals from the
existing ones when the later are subjected to conditions of metamorphism. The changes takes
place essentially in a solid state. Temperature is always the dominant factor in causing the
recrystallization. Pressure and steam are believed to facilitate the process. This effect is most
notable in the rocks adjoining the magmatic intrusions. In such cases, following conditions
control the recrystallization.

Metamorphic Zones

The grade of metamorphism generally increases with depth for the simple reason that both
pressure and temperature factors become stronger at deeper levels. This fact has given birth
to the concept of Metamorphic Zones, which signify the range of metamorphic effects at
different depths below the surface. In other words, zones indicate depth-wisw extension of
particular grades of metamorphism in a general way.

The three metamorphic zones are: epizone, mesozone and ketazone.

(i) The Epizone: It is the near surface zone and is characterized by a low-temperature,
generally less than 300oC and strong shear stress. Rocks in this zone are rocks
resulting in this zone are Slates and Mica Schists.

(ii) The Mesozone : It is the middle zone in which temperature becomes rather moderate
(300o – 500oC) and the pressure factor is of both the shear as well as hydrostatic

Dynamo thermal metamorphism is the typical kind of metamorphism of this zone, and
Schists (like biotite – garnet Schists) are chief rocks developed.

(iii) The ketazone: It is high temperature (500o – 800oC) and great depth type of
metamorphic zone where hydrostatic type of stresses are rather dominant. Plutonic
metamorphism is representative kind and the rocks formed are Gneisses of great


It has been found possible to classify metamorphic rocks on the basis of metamorphic
environment through which these rocks have passed. An association of such metamorphic
rocks that have formed under a closely related metamorphic environment (i.e. within a
specific range of temperature and pressure conditions), is termed a Metamorphic Facies. It
is essentially characterizes by a set of minerals.