Igneous rocks are crystalline solids which form directly from the cooling of magma. This is an exothermic process (it loses heat) and involves a phase change from the liquid to the solid state. The earth is made of igneous rock - at least at the surface where our planet is exposed to the coldness of space. Igneous rocks are given names based upon two things: composition (what they are made of) and texture (how big the crystals are).
In most places on the surface, the igneous rocks which make up the majority of the crust are covered by a thin veneer of loose sediment, and the rock which is made as layers of this debris get compacted and cemented together. Sedimentary rocks are called secondary, because they are often the result of the accumulation of small pieces broken off of pre-existing rocks. There are three main types of sedimentary rocks:
The metamorphics get their name from "meta" (change) and "morph" (form). Any rock can become a metamorphic rock. All that is required is for the rock to be moved into an environment in which the minerals which make up the rock become unstable and out of equilibrium with the new environmental conditions. In most cases, this involves burial which leads to a rise in temperature and pressure. The metamorphic changes in the minerals always move in a direction designed to restore equilibrium. Common metamorphic rocks include slate, schist, gneiss, and marble.
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Nov 4th, 2014
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