• How to Identify Rocks

    Igneous Rock is formed when a magma cools underground and crystallizes or when it erupts unto the surface of the ground, cools and crystallizes. Magma that erupts onto the surface is called lava. When magma cools slowly underground the crystals are large enough to see. When it cools quickly on the surface, the crystals are very small and you would need a magnifier or a microscope to see them. Sometimes, when the magma cools very quickly, it forms a kind of black glass that you cannot see through. Granite & Basalt are a few examples of Igneous Rocks.

    Sedimentary Rock forms from particles, called sediment, that are worn off other rocks. The particles are sand, silt, and clay. Sand has the largest particles while clay has the smallest. If there are a lot of pebbles mixed with the sand, it is called gravel. The sediment gets turned into rock by being buried and compacted by pressure from the weight above it. Another way it becomes rock is from being cemented together by material that has been dissolved in water. Often, both cementing and compaction take place together. A few examples of Sedimentary Rocks are Limestone, Sandstone & Shale .

    Metamorphic Rock is formed by great heat, or pressure, or both. The pressure can come from being buried very deep in the earth’s crust, or from the huge plates of the earth’s crust pushing against each other. The deeper below the surface of the earth, the higher the temperature, so deep burial also means high temperatures. Another way that high temperatures occur is when magma rises through the earth’s upper crust. It is very hot and bakes the rock through which it moves. Hot liquids or gases from the magma also can cause chemical changes in the rock around the magma. Marble & Quartzite are a few examples of Metamorphic Rocks.


    What is the Rock Cycle?
    Rocks, like mountains, do not last forever. The weather, running water, and ice wear them down. All kinds of rocks become sediment. Sediment is sand, silt, or clay. As the sediment is buried it is compressed and material dissolved in water cements it together to make it into sedimentary rock. If a great amount of pressure is exerted on the sedimentary rock, or it is heated, it may turn into a metamorphic rock. If rocks are buried deep enough, they melt. When the rock material is molten, it is called a magma. If the magma moves upward toward the surface it cools and crystallizes to form igneous rocks. This whole process is called the Rock Cycle.

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