Rocks (Book)

This chapter discusses the rock cycle and each of the three major types of rocks that form on Earth. Separate sections cover igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks individually.

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The Rock Cycle

All rocks on Earth change, but these changes usually happen very slowly. Some changes happen below Earth’s surface. Some changes happen above ground. These changes are all part of the rock cycle. The rock cycle describes each of the main types of rocks, how they form and how they change.

The figure shows how the three main rock types are related to each other. The arrows within the circle show how one type of rock may change to rock of another type. For example, igneous rock may break down into small pieces of sediment and become sedimentary rock. Igneous rock may be buried within the Earth and become metamorphic rock. Igneous rock may also change back to molten material and re-cool into a new igneous rock.

The rock cycle image

The rock cycle.

rock clues image

Rocks are made of minerals. The minerals may be so tiny that you can only see them with a microscope. The minerals may be really large. A rock may be made of only one type of mineral. More often rocks are made of a mixture of different minerals. Rocks are named for the combinations of minerals they are made of and the ways those minerals came together. Remember that different minerals form under different environmental conditions. So the minerals in a rock contain clues about the conditions in which the rock formed (Figure)

Rocks contain many clues about the conditions in which they formed. The minerals contained within the rocks also contain geological information.