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Diorite Diorite2.tif
Orbicular diorite from Corsica (corsite) Diorite orbiculaire-5729~2016 11 03.jpg
Orbicular diorite from Corsica (corsite)
Diorite classification on QAPF diagram QAPFdiorite.gif
Diorite classification on QAPF diagram
Mineral assemblage of igneous rocks Mineralogy igneous rocks EN.svg
Mineral assemblage of igneous rocks

Diorite ( /ˈd.əˌrt/ [1] [2] ) is an intrusive igneous rock composed principally of the silicate minerals plagioclase feldspar (typically andesine), biotite, hornblende, and/or pyroxene. The chemical composition of diorite is intermediate, between that of mafic gabbro and felsic granite. Diorite is usually grey to dark-grey in colour, but it can also be black or bluish-grey, and frequently has a greenish cast. It is distinguished from gabbro on the basis of the composition of the plagioclase species; the plagioclase in diorite is richer in sodium and poorer in calcium. Diorite may contain small amounts of quartz, microcline, and olivine. Zircon, apatite, titanite, magnetite, ilmenite, and sulfides occur as accessory minerals. [3] Minor amounts of muscovite may also be present. Varieties deficient in hornblende and other dark minerals are called leucodiorite. When olivine and more iron-rich augite are present, the rock grades into ferrodiorite, which is transitional to gabbro. The presence of significant quartz makes the rock type quartz-diorite (>5% quartz) or tonalite (>20% quartz), and if orthoclase (potassium feldspar) is present at greater than 10 percent, the rock type grades into monzodiorite or granodiorite. A dioritic rock containing feldspathoid mineral/s and no quartz is termed foid-bearing diorite or foid diorite according to content.

Igneous rock Rock formed through the cooling and solidification of magma or lava

Igneous rock, or magmatic rock, is one of the three main rock types, the others being sedimentary and metamorphic. Igneous rock is formed through the cooling and solidification of magma or lava. The magma can be derived from partial melts of existing rocks in either a planet's mantle or crust. Typically, the melting is caused by one or more of three processes: an increase in temperature, a decrease in pressure, or a change in composition. Solidification into rock occurs either below the surface as intrusive rocks or on the surface as extrusive rocks. Igneous rock may form with crystallization to form granular, crystalline rocks, or without crystallization to form natural glasses. Igneous rocks occur in a wide range of geological settings: shields, platforms, orogens, basins, large igneous provinces, extended crust and oceanic crust.

Plagioclase feldspars, albite - anorthite solid solution series

Plagioclase is a series of tectosilicate (framework silicate) minerals within the feldspar group. Rather than referring to a particular mineral with a specific chemical composition, plagioclase is a continuous solid solution series, more properly known as the plagioclase feldspar series (from the Ancient Greek for "oblique fracture", in reference to its two cleavage angles). This was first shown by the German mineralogist Johann Friedrich Christian Hessel (1796–1872) in 1826. The series ranges from albite to anorthite endmembers (with respective compositions NaAlSi3O8 to CaAl2Si2O8), where sodium and calcium atoms can substitute for each other in the mineral's crystal lattice structure. Plagioclase in hand samples is often identified by its polysynthetic crystal twinning or 'record-groove' effect.

Feldspar A group of rock-forming tectosilicate minerals

Feldspars (KAlSi3O8 – NaAlSi3O8 – CaAl2Si2O8) are a group of rock-forming tectosilicate minerals that make up about 41% of the Earth's continental crust by weight.


Diorite has a phaneritic, often speckled, texture of coarse grain size and is occasionally porphyritic.

Rock microstructure includes the texture of a rock and the small scale rock structures. The words "texture" and "microstructure" are interchangeable, with the latter preferred in modern geological literature. However, texture is still acceptable because it is a useful means of identifying the origin of rocks, how they formed, and their appearance.

Porphyry (geology) Textural form of igneous rock with large grained crystals in a fine matrix

Porphyry is a textural term for an igneous rock consisting of large-grained crystals such as feldspar or quartz dispersed in a fine-grained silicate rich, generally aphanitic matrix or groundmass. The larger crystals are called phenocrysts. In its non-geologic, traditional use, the term porphyry refers to the purple-red form of this stone, valued for its appearance.

Orbicular diorite shows alternating concentric growth bands of plagioclase and amphibole surrounding a nucleus, within a diorite porphyry matrix.

Matrix (geology) Finer-grained material in a rock within which coarser material is embedded

The matrix or groundmass of a rock is the finer-grained mass of material in which larger grains, crystals or clasts are embedded.

Diorites may be associated with either granite or gabbro intrusions, into which they may subtly merge. Diorite results from the partial melting of a mafic rock above a subduction zone. It is commonly produced in volcanic arcs, and in cordilleran mountain building, such as in the Andes Mountains, as large batholiths. The extrusive volcanic equivalent rock type is andesite.

Partial melting anatexis

Partial melting occurs when only a portion of a solid is melted. For mixed substances, such as a rock containing several different minerals or a mineral that displays solid solution, this melt can be different from the bulk composition of the solid.

Volcanic arc A chain of volcanoes formed above a subducting plate

A volcanic arc is a chain of volcanoes formed above a subducting plate, positioned in an arc shape as seen from above. Offshore volcanoes form islands, resulting in a volcanic island arc. Generally, volcanic arcs result from the subduction of an oceanic tectonic plate under another tectonic plate, and often parallel an oceanic trench. The oceanic plate is saturated with water, and volatiles such as water drastically lower the melting point of the mantle. As the oceanic plate is subducted, it is subjected to greater and greater pressures with increasing depth. This pressure squeezes water out of the plate and introduces it to the mantle. Here the mantle melts and forms magma at depth under the overriding plate. The magma ascends to form an arc of volcanoes parallel to the subduction zone.

Orogeny The formation of mountain ranges

An orogeny is an event that leads to both structural deformation and compositional differentiation of the Earth's lithosphere at convergent plate margins. An orogen or orogenic belt develops when a continental plate crumples and is pushed upwards to form one or more mountain ranges; this involves a series of geological processes collectively called orogenesis.


Diorite Diorite.jpg

Diorite, although not rare, underlies comparatively small areas; source localities include Leicestershire (one name for microdiorite—markfieldite—exists due to the rock's being found in the village of Markfield) and Aberdeenshire, UK; Guernsey; Sondrio, Italy; Thuringia and Saxony in Germany; Finland; Romania; Northeastern Turkey; central Sweden; southern Vancouver Island around Victoria; [4] the Darrans range of New Zealand; [5] the Andes Mountains. [6]

Leicestershire County of England

Leicestershire is a landlocked county in the English Midlands. The county borders Nottinghamshire to the north, Lincolnshire to the north-east, Rutland to the east, Northamptonshire to the south-east, Warwickshire to the south-west, Staffordshire to the west, and Derbyshire to the north-west. The border with most of Warwickshire is Watling Street.

Markfield commuter village in the Hinckley and Bosworth district of Leicestershire, England

Markfield is a commuter village in both the National Forest and Charnwood Forest and in the Hinckley and Bosworth district of Leicestershire, England. The settlement dates back to at least the time of the Norman conquest and is mentioned in the Domesday Book under the name Merchenefeld. A variant of this is still used as the name for the village primary school, Mercenfeld. It is to the south-east of Junction 22 of the M1, and to the south of the A50. The highest point in Markfield is shown on OS sheet 129 at 222 metres above sea level. Nearby places are Newtown Linford, Groby, Field Head, and Stanton under Bardon. In the 1841 census its population was recorded at 1,203. In the 2011 census the parish had a population of 5681. Markfield is within the LE67 postcode district. In 2012 Hinckley & Bosworth Borough Council published an overview of Markfield conservation area.

Aberdeenshire Council area of Scotland

Aberdeenshire is one of the 32 council areas of Scotland.

An orbicular variety found in Corsica is called corsite.

Orbicular granite

Orbicular granite is an uncommon plutonic rock type which is usually granitic in composition. These rocks have a unique appearance due to orbicules - concentrically layered, spheroidal structures, probably formed through nucleation around a grain in a cooling magma chamber. Almost one third of known orbicular rock occurrences are from Finland. The occurrences are usually very small.

Corsica territorial collectivity of France

Corsica is an island in the Mediterranean Sea and one of the 18 regions of France. It is located southeast of the French mainland and west of the Italian Peninsula, with the nearest land mass being the Italian island of Sardinia to the immediate south. A single chain of mountains makes up two-thirds of the island.

Napoleonite A variety of diorite with orbicular structure

Napoleonite is a variety of diorite.

Historic use

Diorite is an extremely hard rock, making it difficult to carve and work with. Its hardness, however, also allows it to be worked finely and take a high polish, and to provide a durable finished work.

One comparatively frequent use of diorite was for inscription, as it is easier to carve in relief than in three-dimensional statuary. The use of diorite in art was most important among very early Middle Eastern civilizations such as Ancient Egypt, Babylonia, Assyria, and Sumer. It was so valued in early times that the first great Mesopotamian empire—the Empire of Sargon of Akkad—listed the taking of diorite as a purpose of military expeditions.

Pallavas mamallapuram is a great example of diorite relief sculpture. Although one can find diorite art from later periods, it became more popular as a structural stone and was frequently used as pavement due to its durability. Diorite was used by both the Inca and Mayan civilizations, but mostly for fortress walls, weaponry, etc. It was especially popular with medieval Islamic builders. In later times, diorite was commonly used as cobblestone; today many diorite cobblestone streets can be found in England, Guernsey and Scotland, and scattered throughout the world in such places as Ecuador and China. Although diorite is rough-textured in nature, its ability to take a polish can be seen in the diorite steps of St. Paul's Cathedral, London, where centuries of foot traffic have polished the steps to a sheen.

See also

Related Research Articles

In geology, felsic refers to igneous rocks that are relatively rich in elements that form feldspar and quartz. It is contrasted with mafic rocks, which are relatively richer in magnesium and iron. Felsic refers to silicate minerals, magma, and rocks which are enriched in the lighter elements such as silicon, oxygen, aluminium, sodium, and potassium. Felsic magma or lava is higher in viscosity than mafic magma/lava.

Gabbro A coarse-grained mafic intrusive rock

Gabbro is a phaneritic (coarse-grained), mafic intrusive igneous rock formed from the slow cooling of magnesium-rich and iron-rich magma into a holocrystalline mass deep beneath the Earth's surface. Slow-cooling, coarse-grained gabbro is chemically equivalent to rapid-cooling, fine-grained basalt. Much of the Earth's oceanic crust is made of gabbro, formed at mid-ocean ridges. Gabbro is also found as plutons associated with continental volcanism. Due to its variant nature, the term "gabbro" may be applied loosely to a wide range of intrusive rocks, many of which are merely "gabbroic".

Trachyte igneous rock

Trachyte is an igneous volcanic rock with an aphanitic to porphyritic texture. It is the volcanic equivalent of syenite. The mineral assemblage consists of essential alkali feldspar; relatively minor plagioclase and quartz or a feldspathoid such as nepheline may also be present.. Biotite, clinopyroxene and olivine are common accessory minerals.

Latite igneous rock

Latite is an igneous, volcanic rock, with aphanitic-aphyric to aphyric-porphyritic texture. Its mineral assemblage is usually alkali feldspar and plagioclase in approximately equal amounts. Quartz is less than five percent and is absent in a feldspathoid-bearing latite, and olivine is absent in a quartz-bearing latite. When quartz content is greater than five percent the rock is classified as quartz latite. Biotite, hornblende, pyroxene and scarce olivine or quartz are common accessory minerals.

Andesite An intermediate volcanic rock

Andesite ( or ) is an extrusive igneous, volcanic rock, of intermediate composition, with aphanitic to porphyritic texture. In a general sense, it is the intermediate type between basalt and rhyolite, and ranges from 57 to 63% silicon dioxide (SiO2) as illustrated in TAS diagrams. The mineral assemblage is typically dominated by plagioclase plus pyroxene or hornblende. Magnetite, zircon, apatite, ilmenite, biotite, and garnet are common accessory minerals. Alkali feldspar may be present in minor amounts. The quartz-feldspar abundances in andesite and other volcanic rocks are illustrated in QAPF diagrams.

Tonalite igneous rock

Tonalite is an igneous, plutonic (intrusive) rock, of felsic composition, with phaneritic texture. Feldspar is present as plagioclase with 10% or less alkali feldspar. Quartz is present as more than 20% of the rock. Amphiboles and pyroxenes are common accessory minerals.

Amphibolite A metamorphic rock containing mainly amphibole and plagioclase

Amphibolite is a metamorphic rock that contains amphibole, especially the species hornblende and actinolite, as well as plagioclase.

Aplite A fine-grained intrusive igneous rock type similar to granite

Aplite is an intrusive igneous rock in which the mineral composition is the same as granite, but in which the grains are much finer, under 1 mm across. Quartz and feldspar are the dominant minerals. The term 'aplite' or 'aplitic' is often used as a textural term to describe veins of quartz and feldspar with a fine to medium-grain "sugary" texture. Aplites are usually very fine-grained, white, grey or pinkish, and their constituents are visible only with the help of a magnifying lens. Dykes and veins of aplite are commonly observed traversing granitic bodies; they occur also, though less frequently, in syenites, diorites, quartz-diabases and gabbros.

Quartz monzonite

Quartz monzonite or adamellite is an intrusive, felsic, igneous rock that has an approximately equal proportion of orthoclase and plagioclase feldspars. It is typically a light colored phaneritic (coarse-grained) to porphyritic granitic rock. The plagioclase is typically intermediate to sodic in composition, andesine to oligoclase. Quartz is present in significant amounts. Biotite and/or hornblende constitute the dark minerals. Because of its coloring, it is often confused with granite, but whereas granite contains more than 20% quartz, quartz monzonite is only 5–20% quartz. Rock with less than five percent quartz is classified as monzonite. A rock with more alkali feldspar is a syenite whereas one with more plagioclase is a quartz diorite. The fine grained volcanic rock equivalent of quartz monzonite is quartz latite.

Scapolite marialite-meionite solid solution series

The scapolites (Gr. σκάπος, rod, and λίθος, stone) are a group of rock-forming silicate minerals composed of aluminium, calcium, and sodium silicate with chlorine, carbonate and sulfate. The two endmembers are meionite (Ca4Al6Si6O24CO3) and marialite (Na4Al3Si9O24Cl). Silvialite (Ca,Na)4Al6Si6O24(SO4,CO3) is also a recognized member of the group.

Granulite A class of high-grade medium to coarse grained metamorphic rocks

Granulites are a class of high-grade metamorphic rocks of the granulite facies that have experienced high-temperature and moderate-pressure metamorphism. They are medium to coarse–grained and mainly composed of feldspars sometimes associated with quartz and anhydrous ferromagnesian minerals, with granoblastic texture and gneissose to massive structure. They are of particular interest to geologists because many granulites represent samples of the deep continental crust. Some granulites experienced decompression from deep in the Earth to shallower crustal levels at high temperature; others cooled while remaining at depth in the Earth.

Lamprophyre igneous rock

Lamprophyres are uncommon, small volume ultrapotassic igneous rocks primarily occurring as dikes, lopoliths, laccoliths, stocks and small intrusions. They are alkaline silica-undersaturated mafic or ultramafic rocks with high magnesium oxide, >3% potassium oxide, high sodium oxide and high nickel and chromium.

Granodiorite A phaneritic-textured intrusive igneous rock similar to granite

Granodiorite is a phaneritic-textured intrusive igneous rock similar to granite, but containing more plagioclase feldspar than orthoclase feldspar. According to the QAPF diagram, granodiorite has a greater than 20% quartz by volume, and between 65% to 90% of the feldspar is plagioclase. A greater amount of plagioclase would designate the rock as tonalite.

QAPF diagram Classification system for igneous rocks

A QAPF diagram is a double ternary diagram which is used to classify igneous rocks based on mineralogic composition. The acronym, QAPF, stands for "Quartz, Alkali feldspar, Plagioclase, Feldspathoid (Foid)". These are the mineral groups used for classification in QAPF diagram. Q, A, P and F percentages are normalized.

Monzonite Igneous intrusive rock with low quartz and equal plagioclase and alkali feldspar

Monzonite is an igneous intrusive rock. It is composed of approximately equal amounts of plagioclase and alkali feldspar, with less than 5% quartz by weight. It may contain minor amounts of hornblende, biotite and other minerals. If quartz constitutes greater than 5%, the rock is termed a quartz monzonite.

This glossary of geology is a list of definitions of terms and concepts relevant to geology, its sub-disciplines, and related fields. For other terms related to the Earth sciences, see Glossary of geography terms.

Geology of Guernsey

Guernsey has a geological history stretching further back into the past than most of Europe. The majority of rock exposures on the Island may be found along the coastlines, with inland exposures scarce and usually highly weathered. There is a broad geological division between the north and south of the Island. The Southern Metamorphic Complex is elevated above the geologically younger, lower lying Northern Igneous Complex. Guernsey has experienced a complex geological evolution with multiple phases of intrusion and deformation recognisable.

Geology of Alderney

The geology of Alderney includes similarities in its rock to the neighbouring Normandy and Guernsey. Although Alderney is only five kilometers long, it has a geological history spanning half of the life of the earth. It is part of the Armorican Massif.

Cathedral Peak Granodiorite

The Cathedral Peak Granodiorite (CPG) was named after its type locality, Cathedral Peak in Yosemite National Park, California. The granodiorite forms part of the Tuolumne Intrusive Suite, one of the four major intrusive suites within the Sierra Nevada. It has been assigned radiometric ages between 88 and 87 million years and therefore reached its cooling stage in the Coniacian.


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  2. "Diorite". Merriam-Webster Dictionary . Retrieved 2016-01-21.
  3. Blatt, Harvey and Robert J. Tracy (1996) Petrology, W. H. Freeman, 2nd edition, p. 53 ISBN   0-7167-2438-3
  4. Muller, J.E. (1980). Geology Victoria Map 1553A. Ottawa: Geological Survey of Canada
  5. A Wandres; SD Weaver; D Shelley; JD Bradshaw (1998). "Diorites and associated intrusive and metamorphic rocks of the Darran Complex, Mount Underwood, Milford, southwest New Zealand". New Zealand Journal of Geology and Geophysics. 41 (1): 1–14. doi:10.1080/00288306.1998.9514786.
  6. Harmon, R.S. and Rapela, C. W. (editors) (1991). Andean Magmatism and Its Tectonic Setting (Geological Society of America Special Paper 265). Boulder, Colorado: Geological Society of America. pp. 7, 35, 101, 180, 182, 186, 268. ISBN   0-8137-2265-9.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  7. "Catalog Number: 30677.nosub[1]". Field Museum Anthropological Collections catalog. Field Museum of Natural History . Retrieved 25 August 2019.