Exercise 1 Rock Review

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1 Exercise 1 Rock Review The purpose of this lab exercise is to help refresh your memory of igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rock types. Rocks are the physical record of past events in Earth s history. Therefore, with an understanding of how different kinds of rocks were formed, it is possible to reconstruct conditions and processes operating at various times in the geologic past. The ultimate goal of geology is to resonstruct those conditions and processes over the entire course of Earth s history. BUT FIRST, A WORD ON UNIFORMITARIANISM The Principle of Uniformitarianism holds that there are laws of nature that have not changed in the course of time. In other words, we assume that phenomena such as gravity and magnetism operated in the past pretty much as they do today. The idea embodied in uniformitarianism is sometimes expressed in the catchphrase the present is the key to the past. Figure 1 Ripples formed in loose sand on a modern beach (left) and similar ripples preserved on the surface of a block of sandstone. Ripple-forming processes are assumed to be essentially the same in the geologic past as they are today. 1 1

2 Uniformitarianism is vitally important in geology because it allows us to infer that rock-forming processes have remained more or less unchanged over time. For example, today we can directly observe the formation of current ripples on a sandy river bed. We can measure the size of the sand grains, the velocity of the river current, and the size and shape of the sand ripples. Given these observations, we can reasonably interpret the conditions and processes that might have operated to produce similar ripples in an ancient river bed, now preserved as sandstone (Fig. 1). IGNEOUS ROCKS Recall that igneous rocks are those that crystallized from molten magma, and they are classified according to texture and composition. Texture refers to the size of individual mineral crystals, whereas composition refers to kinds of minerals present in the rock. Finely crystalline igneous rocks cooled rapidly at or near Earth s surface, so they are termed extrusive. Coarsely crystalline ones cooled more slowly at depth, so they are termed intrusive. Mafic igneous rocks are composed of magnesium- and iron-rich minerals, are generally dark colored and dense, and they have relatively high melting temperatures. Felsic rocks are rich in feldspars and silica, they are lighter colored and less dense, and they have relatively lower melting temperatures (Table 1). Table 1 Examples of common igneous rocks classified according to texture and composition. TEXTURE Finely crystalline (extrusive) Coarsely crystalline (intrusive) Mafic basalt gabbro COMPOSITION Intermediate andesite diorite Felsic rhyolite granite 1 2

3 Igneous rock examples: Complete the igneous rock worksheet (below) for each of the four examples. List the minerals you can identify in each sample, identify the texture, and give the correct rock name. Igneous rock worksheet Sample No. Mineral composition Texture Rock name METAMORPHIC ROCKS Metamorphic rocks are those that have been altered in the solid state by temperature and/or pressure. Metamorphism changes the original texture and mineralogy of a parent rock to produce a new rock with unique appearance and composition. Many metamorphic rocks are characterized by foliated texture: i.e., the presence of banding or wavy layering caused by elongation and alignment of mineral grains. Common examples of foliated metamorphic rocks are schist and gneiss. Nonfoliated metamorphic rocks are massive and lack distinct banding. Common examples are quartzite and marble. Table 2 lists some important metamorphic rocks along with their parent rocks and characteristics. 1 3

4 Table 2 Characteristics and parents of common metamorphic rocks. Metamorphic rock Marble Quartzite Slate Schist Gneiss Parent rock Characteristics Limestone or dolomite Nonfoliated, coarsely crystalline, usually light colored, fizzes in weak HCl Quartz-rich sandstone Nonfoliated, massive, extremely hard, quartz grains bound very tightly and may be partially recrystallized Shale Weakly foliated, very fine grained, resembles shale except harder and with distinct cleavage planes, sometimes appears and feels waxy Virtually any igneous or sedimentary rock Virtually any igneous or sedimentary rock Foliated, mineral grains elongated and aligned, garnet and mica are common minerals Strongly foliated, with prominent bands of light and dark minerals, usually coarsely crystalline Metamorphic rock examples: Use Table 2 to help you identify the following four examples. Metamorphic rock worksheet Sample No. Rock name

5 SEDIMENTARY ROCKS Sedimentary rocks are the most common rocks exposed at the Earth s surface, and in general, they also form at Earth s surface. There are two main categories of sedimentary rocks, clastic and chemical/biochemical. Clastic sedimentary rocks are made up of mineral grains or small rock fragments that have been weathered and eroded from preexisting rocks and then transported to a site of deposition. With burial, the loose sediment becomes compacted and naturally cemented to form rock. The grains that make up clastic sedimentary rocks may range in size from boulders to microscopic clay flecks. Clastic sediments may be deposited in a variety of continental and marine environments, including deserts, rivers, lakes, swamps, tidal flats, and shallow to deep seas. Clastic sedimentary rocks are classified according to grain size, mineralogy and texture, as summarized in Table 3. Table 3 Classification of clastic sedimentary rocks. Major category Mudrocks (clay and silt sized) Arenites (sand Rock name Shale Mudstone Siltstone Sandstone Grain size Mineralogy, texture and other characteristics < 1/256 mm (clay) < 1/256 mm (clay) > 1/256 mm but < 1/16 mm (silt) > 1/16 mm but < 2mm sized) Arkose > 1/16 mm but < 2mm Rudites (gravel Any of a variety of clay minerals (kaolinite, illite, smectite, chlorite), with platey structure ( fissility ) Same as above, but with blocky structure (no fissility ) Mostly quartz with minor feldspars and other accessory minerals Mostly quartz with minor feldspars and other accessory minerals Mostly quartz but with significant feldspars (~25% or more) Conglomerate > 2mm Rounded rock particles of variable composition sized) Breccia > 2mm Angular rock particles of variable composition 1 5

6 Chemical/biochemical sedimentary rocks are those that form by organic or inorganic precipitation of minerals from water. They are classified mainly on the basis of composition. Examples are limestone, gypsum, rock salt (halite), and chert. Most limestones are made up of organically precipitated calcium carbonate (CaCO 3 ). This calcium carbonate originates as skeletal material in aquatic organisms (e.g., sea shells). Upon death of the organisms and decay of soft tissue, the empty shells simply become sedimentary particles susceptible to abrasion, transportation and deposition. Many limestones contain variable amounts of lime mud, microscopic crystals of calcium carbonate. Although some lime mud may be inorganically precipitated, most probably derives from the disarticulation of weakly skeletonized marine algae. Gypsum and halite are examples of chemical sedimentary rocks that form from inorganic precipitation. They are so-called evaporite minerals, because when a standing body of water evaporates it becomes more and more saline until it reaches a point of saturation at which minerals precipitate as solid crystals. Experiments have shown that gypsum begins to precipitate when 70% of an original volume of normal sea water has evaporated. Halite begins to precipitate only after 90% of the original volume has evaporated. Chert is a very fine-grained sedimentary rock composed of microcrystalline silica (SiO 2 ). Bedded chert forms on the seafloor when the empty shells of siliceous marine organisms accumulate and eventually become lithified (after a sequence of fairly complex chemical reactions). Nodular chert is normally a replacement mineral: i.e., it is formed when SiO 2 replaces CaCO 3 or some other mineral, on a molecule-by-molecule basis, within a preexisting rock. Sedimentary rock examples: Use Table 3 and the discussion of chemical/biiochemical sedimentary rock to help you identify the following six examples. 1 6

7 Sedimentary rock worksheet Sample No. Diagnostic features Rock name

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