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.
Extrusive igneous rocks form above the surface. The lava cools quickly as it pours out onto the surface (Figure). Extrusive igneous rocks cool much more rapidly than intrusive rocks. They have smaller crystals, since the rapid cooling time does not allow time for large crystals to form. Some extrusive igneous rocks cool so rapidly that crystals do not develop at all. These form a glass, such as obsidian. Others, such as pumice, contain holes where gas bubbles were trapped in the lava. The holes make pumice so light that it actually floats in water. The most common extrusive igneous rock is basalt. It is the rock that makes up the ocean floor. Figure shows four types of extrusive igneous rocks.
(A) Lava cools to form extrusive igneous rock. The rocks here are basalts. (B) The strange rock formations of Chiricahua National Monument in Arizona are formed of the extrusive igneous rock rhyolite.
(A) This rhyolite is light colored. Few minerals are visible to the naked eye. (B) Andesite is darker than rhyolite. (C) Since basalt crystals are too small to see, the rock looks dark all over. (D) Komatiite is a very rare ultramafic rock. This rock is derived from the mantle.