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Granite rock hand sample Granite.jpg
Granite rock hand sample

A granitoid is a generic term for a diverse category of coarse-grained igneous rocks that consist predominantly of quartz, plagioclase, and alkali feldspar. [1] Granitoids range from plagioclase-rich tonalites to alkali-rich lsyenites and from quartz-poor monzonites to quartz-rich quartzolites. [2] As only two of the three defining mineral groups (quartz, plagioclase, and alkali feldspar) need to be presentfor the rock to be called a granitoid, foid-bearing rocks, which predominantly contain feldspars but no quartz, are also granitoids. [2] The terms granite and granitic rock are often used interchangeably for granitoids; however, granite is just one particular type of granitoid.

Granitoids are diverse; no classification system for granitoids can give a complete and unique characterization of the origin, compositional evolution, and geodynamic environment for the genesis of a granitoid. Accordingly, multiple granitoid classification systems have been developed such as those based on: geochemistry, modal content, emplacement depth, and tectonic regime.

Granitoid generalizations

Illustration of continental collision as a result of convergence Continental-continental convergence en.svg
Illustration of continental collision as a result of convergence

There are several generalizations that apply to majority of granitoids. Typically, granitoids occur where orogeny thickens continental crust either by subduction yielding a continental arc or by convergence yielding continental collisions. [3] Generally, the evolution to granitoid magmas requires a thermal disturbance to ascent though continental crust. [3]   Most granitoids are generated from crustal anatexis, the partial melting of the crust;  however the mantle may contribute both heat and material. [3]   Granitoids can occur coeval with volcanic rocks that have equivalent chemical composition ( granites-rhyolites, syenite-trachyte, dacite-granodiorite etc.) however, these extrusive rocks are often eroded so just the plutonic rocks outcrop. [3]   Granitoids can form in all tectonic environments. [3]

There are numerous exceptions to these generalizations. [4] [3]   For example, granitoids can form in anorogenic  environments, a granitoid source rock can be from the mantle (ex. intraplate hotspots) and the melting mechanism can be radiogenic crustal heat. [4] [5] [6]

Related Research Articles

Granite common type of intrusive, felsic, igneous rock with granular structure

Granite is a coarse-grained (phaneritic) intrusive igneous rock composed mostly of quartz, alkali feldspar, and plagioclase. It forms from magma with a high content of silica and alkali metal oxides that slowly cools and solidifies underground. It is common in the continental crust of Earth, where it is found in igneous intrusions. These range in size from dikes only a few centimeters across to batholiths exposed over hundreds of square kilometers.

Gabbro 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". By rough analogy, gabbro is to basalt as granite is to rhyolite.

Syenite Intrusive igneous rock

Syenite is a coarse-grained intrusive igneous rock with a general composition similar to that of granite, but deficient in quartz, which, if present at all, occurs in relatively small concentrations. Some syenites contain larger proportions of mafic components and smaller amounts of felsic material than most granites; those are classed as being of intermediate composition. The volcanic equivalent of syenite is trachyte.

Rhyolite Igneous, volcanic rock, of felsic (silica-rich) composition

Rhyolite is the most silica-rich of volcanic rocks. It is generally glassy or fine-grained (aphanitic) in texture, but may be porphyritic, containing larger mineral crystals (phenocrysts) in an otherwise fine-grained groundmass. The mineral assemblage is predominantly quartz, sanidine, and plagioclase. It is the extrusive equivalent to granite.

Dacite Volcanic rock intermediate in composition between andesite and rhyolite

Dacite is a volcanic rock formed by rapid solidification of lava that is high in silica and low in alkali metal oxides. It has a fine-grained (aphanitic) to porphyritic texture and is intermediate in composition between andesite and rhyolite. It is composed predominantly of plagioclase feldspar and quartz.

Andesite Intermediate volcanic rock

Andesite is an extrusive volcanic rock of intermediate composition. In a general sense, it is the intermediate type between basalt and rhyolite. It is fine-grained (aphanitic) to porphyritic in texture, and is composed predominantly of sodium-rich plagioclase plus pyroxene or hornblende.

Anorthosite Mafic intrusive igneous rock composed predominantly of plagioclase

Anorthosite is a phaneritic, intrusive igneous rock characterized by its composition: mostly plagioclase feldspar (90–100%), with a minimal mafic component (0–10%). Pyroxene, ilmenite, magnetite, and olivine are the mafic minerals most commonly present.

Nepheline syenite

Nepheline syenite is a holocrystalline plutonic rock that consists largely of nepheline and alkali feldspar. The rocks are mostly pale colored, grey or pink, and in general appearance they are not unlike granites, but dark green varieties are also known. Phonolite is the fine-grained extrusive equivalent.

Intrusive rock Magmatic rock formed below the surface

Intrusive rock is formed when magma penetrates existing rock, crystallizes, and solidifies underground to form intrusions, such as batholiths, dikes, sills, laccoliths, and volcanic necks.


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.

Rock cycle Transitions through geologic time among the three main rock types: sedimentary, metamorphic, and igneous

The rock cycle is a basic concept in geology that describes transitions through geologic time among the three main rock types: sedimentary, metamorphic, and igneous. Each rock type is altered when it is forced out of its equilibrium conditions. For example, an igneous rock such as basalt may break down and dissolve when exposed to the atmosphere, or melt as it is subducted under a continent. Due to the driving forces of the rock cycle, plate tectonics and the water cycle, rocks do not remain in equilibrium and change as they encounter new environments. The rock cycle explains how the three rock types are related to each other, and how processes change from one type to another over time. This cyclical aspect makes rock change a geologic cycle and, on planets containing life, a biogeochemical cycle.

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, formed by slow cooling of underground magma that has a moderate silica content and is enriched in alkali metal oxides. Monzonite is composed mostly of plagioclase and alkali feldspar.

Myrmekite Tiny intergrowths of quartz and feldspar in rocks

Myrmekite describes a vermicular, or wormy, intergrowth of quartz in plagioclase. The intergrowths are microscopic in scale, typically with maximum dimensions less than 1 millimeter. The plagioclase is sodium-rich, usually albite or oligoclase. These quartz-plagioclase intergrowths are associated with and commonly in contact with potassium feldspar. Myrmekite is formed under metasomatic conditions, usually in conjunction with tectonic deformations. It has to be clearly separated from micrographic and granophyric intergrowths, which are magmatic.


Monzogranites are biotite granite rocks that are considered to be the final fractionation product of magma. Monzogranites are characteristically felsic (SiO2 > 73%, and FeO + MgO + TiO2 < 2.4), weakly peraluminous (Al2O3/ (CaO + Na2O + K2O) = 0.98–1.11), and contain ilmenite, sphene, apatite and zircon as accessory minerals. Although the compositional range of the monzogranites is small, it defines a differentiation trend that is essentially controlled by biotite and plagioclase fractionation. (Fagiono, 2002). Monzogranites can be divided into two groups (magnesio-potassic monzogranite and ferro-potassic monzogranite) and are further categorized into rock types based on their macroscopic characteristics, melt characteristics, specific features, available isotopic data, and the locality in which they are found.

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.

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.

Alkali feldspar granite Granitoid in which at least 90% of the total feldspar is alkali feldspar

Alkali feldspar granite, some varieties of which are called 'red granite', is a felsic igneous rock and a type of granite rich in the mineral potassium feldspar (K-spar). It is a dense rock with a phaneritic texture. The abundance of K-spar gives the rock a predominant pink to reddish hue; peppered with minor amounts of black minerals.

Tonalite-trondhjemite-granodiorite Intrusive rocks with typical granitic composition

Tonalite-trondhjemite-granodiorite rocks or TTG rocks are intrusive rocks with typical granitic composition but containing only a small portion of potassium feldspar. Tonalite, trondhjemite, and granodiorite often occur together in geological records, indicating similar petrogenetic processes. Post Archean TTG rocks are present in arc-related batholiths, as well as in ophiolites, while Archean TTG rocks are major components of Archean cratons.


  2. 1 2 Streckeisen, A. (1974). "Classification and Nomenclature of Plutonic Rocks: Recommendations of the IUGS Subcommission on the Systematics of Igneous Rocks". Geologische Rundschau (in German). 63 (2): 773–86. Bibcode:1974GeoRu..63..773S. doi:10.1007/BF01820841. S2CID   130569261.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Winter, John D. (2014). Principles of igneous and metamorphic petrology (Second ; Pearson new international ed.), p. 402. ISBN 9781292021539.
  4. 1 2 Clarke, D. B. (1992) Granitoid Rocks, Chapman  & Hall, London.
  5. Pitcher, W. S. 1982. Granite type and tectonic environment. In Hsu, K. J. (ed.) Mountain Building Processes, 19–40. London: Academic Press.
  6. Barbarin, B. (1990). Granitoids: Main petrogenetic classifications in relation to origin and tectonic setting. Geological Journal (Chichester, England), 25(3‐4), 227–238.