Earth Science - Rock Formations

A rock is a rock is a rock ... or is it?

Earth Science - Rock Formations

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Anyone knows what a rock is right? Well, if you were asked to describe what a rock is, how would you describe it? You kind of have to think about that for a moment but to make it simple, a rock is a naturally occurring solid aggregate that contains one or more minerals.

Sounds simple except – what’s an aggregate? Well, an aggregate is a collection of materials that are combined together to make one whole object. So rocks, all rocks, are made up of several other materials. Are you still a little confused? Okay, let’s look at rocks more closely then. For starters, there are just three major rock formations: igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic.

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IGNEOUS

Now, what is an igneous rock? Igneous rocks are rocks that are formed from lava or magma as it cools. Igneous means “fire”. About 64.7% of the Earth’s crust consists of igneous rock.

Magma – is molten rock that is found underground. These rocks cool down over a long period of time.

Lava – is molten rock that is found above ground after a volcanic eruption. Because the lava is exposed to air it cools more rapidly.

Types of Igneous Rocks

Basalt
Crystals
Granite
Gypsum
Pumice
Quartz

SEDIMENTARY

Next we have sedimentary rocks. Sedimentary rocks are rocks that are formed from compacted sediments or what was once a pre-existing rock that has been broken down. Sediments are tiny bits and pieces of broken down rocks, minerals and shells.

Types of Sedimentary Rocks

Coal
Dolomite
Flint
Limestone
Shale
Siltstone
Travertine

METAMORPHIC

Metamorphic rocks are rocks that are a combination of igneous rocks and sedimentary rocks. Metamorphic means “change.” In geology, when one rock breaks down and combines with materials from another rock (i.e., sediments of another rock) and then over a period of time between temperatures and weathering, the two or more different rocks solidify and become a new rock, the new rock is a “changed” rock from the original or it is a metamorphic rock. In a volcanic eruption, as the lava flows it pulls within it other smaller rocks and sediments and when these harden, the end result is a series of metamorphic rocks.

Types of Metamorphic Rocks

Marble
Quartzite
Slate
Soapstone

Finally, did you know that the study of rocks is known as petrology? And a person who studies rocks is known as a petrologist. Petrology is a subfield of geology.

Did you find learning about rocks was easy? Well then, let’s see what you have learned so far by answering the following ten questions to see how many you can get right!
1.
In a volcanic eruption, as the lava flows it pulls within it other smaller rocks and when these harden, the end result is a series of ___________.
sedimentary rocks
metamorphic rocks
marble rocks
igneous rocks
In a volcanic eruption, as the lava flows it pulls within it other smaller rocks and when these harden, the end result is a series of metamorphic rocks. Answer (b) is correct
2.
Igneous means _______?
lava
magma
fire
change
Igneous means “fire.” Answer (c) is correct
3.
This is molten rock that is found underground.
Lava
Gypsum
Flint
Magma
Magma is molten rock that is found underground. Answer (d) is correct
4.
________ means “change.”
Aggregate
Metamorphic
Sediment
Petrology
Metamorphic means “change.” Answer (b) is correct
5.
Which of the following is NOT an example of an igneous rock.
Shale
Granite
Quartz
Crystal
Granite, quartz and crystal are all examples of igneous rock. Only shale is NOT an igneous rock. Shale is a sedimentary rock. Answer (a) is correct
6.
This is a collection of materials that are combined together to make one whole object.
Aggregate
Sediment
Lava
Magma
An aggregate is a collection of materials that are combined together to make one whole object. Answer (a) is correct
7.
The study of rocks is known as _______.
petrology
geology
archeology
earth science
The study of rocks is known as petrology. Answer (a) is correct
8.
This is molten rock that is found above ground after a volcanic eruption.
Metamorphic
Lava
Magma
Granite
Lava is molten rock that is found above ground after a volcanic eruption. Answer (b) is correct
9.
About 64.7% of the Earth’s crust consists of ________.
Sedimentary rock
Gypsum
Igneous rock
Metamorphic rock
About 64.7% of the Earth’s crust consists of igneous rock. Answer (c) is correct
10.
These are rocks that are made up of tiny bits and pieces of broken down rocks, minerals and shells.
Igneous rocks
Basalt rocks
Metamorphic rocks
Sedimentary rocks
Sedimentary rocks are rocks that are made up of tiny bits and pieces of broken down rocks, minerals and shells. Answer (d) is correct
Author:  Christine G. Broome

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