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History of Rocks

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History of Rock Worksheet

Leah Bechtel
Robert Dillon

Write a 500- to 750-word explanation regarding the role of plate tectonics in the origin of igneous rocks.

The role of plate tectonics in the origin of igneous rock is extremely important. Igneous rock is formed from magma that reaches the continental and oceanic crust or through hot spots that are around the world. There are three different places where igneous rocks can form; where the lithospheric plates pull apart at mid ocean ridges, where plates come together at seduction zones, and where continental crust is pushed together making the crust thicker and allowing it to heat to a melting point. The word igneous comes from the Latin word for fire, igneous rocks start off as a hot, fluid material which is usually erupted from the Earth’s surface as lava, or magma at shallow depths or deep depths. Magma is a mush like material that can carry a load of minerals, but people often think of lava and magma as a liquid like material of molten metals. The three types of igneous rocks are extrusive, intrusive and platonic rocks. Extrusive rocks are rocks that form and cool on the crust of the Earth whether it is on the continental crust or the oceanic crust. Extrusive rocks cool quickly, within a few seconds to months and they have invisible or very small grains; extrusive rocks have an aphanitic texture. Intrusive rocks are rocks that form within already existing rocks causing sills and dikes. Intrusive rocks cool slower than extrusive rocks, taking over thousands of years to cool completely and leaving them with small to medium sized grains. Plutonic rocks take over millions of years to cool and have large “pebble” size grains. These “pebbles” are often up to a meter across. Both intrusive and platonic rocks have a phaneritic texture. Hot spots are another way that magma is released onto the crust and when it is on the ocean floor can create new islands. This is how the Hawaiian islands were formed. The hot spot releases the magma into the water and it starts to form an island. These islands are moved off of the hot spot by the pacific plate which is constantly moving to the northwest. The islands that are no longer connected to the hot spot will continue to erode into the sea because there is no renewal of land being made through the cooling of the lava. The main minerals of the hard igneous rocks are feldspar, quartz, pyroxene, and amphiboles, also known as the dark minerals, and mica which is a softer mineral. The two most common types of igneous rocks are basalt and granite. Basalt is a dark, fine grained material of many, many lava flows and magma intrusions and granite is a light, course grained rock that is formed in the deepest parts of the crust and are exposed only after deep erosion or the digging of the crust. |

Write a 500- to 750-word explanation regarding the role of plate tectonics in the origin of metamorphic rocks.

The role plate tectonics play in the origin of metamorphic rock is significant. Metamorphic rocks are formed when rocks undergo the exposure to extremely high pressure or a temperature increase and they begin to change. The temperature must be hot enough to change the matter of the rock, without being so hot that it will melt the rock. The hot magma will push to the surface at the plate boundaries; when the magma that is pushing to the surface comes into contact with rocks it heats them and as it heats them they change and become metamorphic rocks. This process is known as contact metamorphism. During the process of metamorphism the structural and textual features that were in the original rock are eventually destroyed and new minerals begin to replace the old to create a new rock texture. These textures are formed by the constant movement of the tectonic plates. Metamorphic rocks are formed from igneous, sedimentary, or even already metamorphosed rocks. Intense pressure that occurs at the convergent plate boundaries is called regional metamorphism. When two plates meet together the crust of the Earth folds and faults, which is what would happen if you pushed one side of a rug towards the other, the intense pressure then changes the large areas of the Earth’s crust into metamorphic rock. Mountain ridges around the world are made of metamorphic rocks that are formed through the plate tectonic process. Metamorphism occurs while the rock is in a solid form, if the rock riches the point of melting it is then becomes an igneous rock. The rocks that do not melt begin to recrystallize and start to develop into large mineral grains in the process called metamorphism. A new rock type with distinctive fabric and texture or even an all new mineral composition is the final result in the metamorphism process. The minerals that are found in the metamorphic rocks are stable only at high temperatures and high pressure that is found deep within the Earth’s crust. Foliation is the new plate mineral grains that grow in the direction of the least amount of stress, producing a planar texture. A granular texture is formed when rocks with only one mineral, like limestone, or others that are recrystallized in the absence of varying stresses. Mylonite develops where the shearing along a fracture forms small grains by the destruction of the larger grains. The major types of granular rocks are marble, granulite, quartzite and greenstone and the major types of foliated rocks are slate, mylonite, gneiss, and schist. These metamorphic rocks can be identified by their textures and their composition. |

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