Classification of igneous rocks

Jun 30th, 2015
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Classification of igneous rocks is one of the most confusing aspects of geology. This is partly due to historical reasons, partly due to the nature of magmas, and partly due to the various criteria that could potentially be used to classify rocks.• Early in the days of geology there were few rocks described and classified. In those days each new rock described

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Classification of igneous rocks is one of the most confusing aspects of geology. This is partly due to historical reasons, partly due to the nature of magmas, and partly due to the various criteria that could potentially be used to classify rocks.Early in the days of geology there were few rocks described and classified. In those days each new rock described by a geologist could have shown characteristics different than the rocks that had already been described, so there was a tendency to give the new and different rock a new name. Because such factors as cooling conditions, chemical composition of the original magma, and weathering effects, there is a potential to see an infinite variety of igneous rocks, and thus a classification scheme based solely on the description of the rock would eventually lead to a plethora of rock names. Still, because of the history of the science, many of these rock names are firmly entrenched in the literature, so the student must be aware of all of these names, or at least know where to look to find out what the various rocks names mean.Magmas, from which all igneous rocks are derived, are complex liquid solutions. Because they are solutions, their chemical composition can vary continuously within a range of compositions. Because of the continuous variation in chemical composition there is no easy way to set limits within a classification scheme.There are various criteria that could be used to classify igneous rocks. Among t

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