List of rock types

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The following is a list of rock types recognized by geologists. There is no agreed number of specific types of rocks. Any unique combination of chemical composition, mineralogy, grain size, texture, or other distinguishing characteristics can describe a rock type. Additionally, different classification systems exist for each major type of rock. [1] There are three major types of rock: igneous rock, metamorphic rock, and sedimentary rock.


Igneous rocks

A sample of andesite (dark groundmass) with amygdaloidal vesicles filled with zeolite. Diameter of view is 8 cm. Amygdaloidal andesite.jpg
A sample of andesite (dark groundmass) with amygdaloidal vesicles filled with zeolite. Diameter of view is 8 cm.

Sedimentary rocks

Bituminous coal seam in West Virginia Coalseam 8618.JPG
Bituminous coal seam in West Virginia
Limey shale overlaid by limestone. Cumberland Plateau, Tennessee Limestoneshale7342.jpg
Limey shale overlaid by limestone. Cumberland Plateau, Tennessee
Dolomite crystals from Touissite, Morocco Dolomite Morocco.jpg
Dolomite crystals from Touissite, Morocco
Turbidite (Gorgoglione Flysch), Miocene, South Italy Turbidite 2.JPG
Turbidite (Gorgoglione Flysch), Miocene, South Italy

Metamorphic rocks

Phyllite PhylliteUSGOV.jpg
Banded gneiss with a dike of granite orthogneiss Skagit-gneiss-Cascades.jpg
Banded gneiss with a dike of granite orthogneiss
Marble MarbleUSGOV.jpg
Quartzite Quartzite 2 jpg.jpg
Manhattan Schist, from Southeastern New York Schist.jpg
Manhattan Schist, from Southeastern New York
Slate SlateUSGOV.jpg

Specific varieties

The following are terms for rocks that are not petrographically or genetically distinct but are defined according to various other criteria; most are specific classes of other rocks, or altered versions of existing rocks. Some archaic and vernacular terms for rocks are also included.

See also

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In geology, felsic is an adjective describing 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". By rough analogy, gabbro is to basalt as granite is to rhyolite.

Schist Medium grade metamorphic rock with lamellar grain

Schist is a medium-grade metamorphic rock formed from mudstone or shale. Schist has medium to large, flat, sheet-like grains in a preferred orientation. It is defined by having more than 50% platy and elongated minerals, often finely interleaved with quartz and feldspar. These lamellar minerals include micas, chlorite, talc, hornblende, graphite, and others. Quartz often occurs in drawn-out grains to such an extent that a particular form called quartz schist is produced. Schist is often garnetiferous. Schist forms at a higher temperature and has larger grains than phyllite. Geological foliation with medium to large grained flakes in a preferred sheetlike orientation is called schistosity.

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.


Trachyte is an extrusive igneous rock composed mostly of alkali feldspar. It is usually light-colored and fine-grained, with minor amounts of mafic minerals, and is formed by the rapid cooling of lava enriched with silica and alkali metals. It is the volcanic equivalent of syenite.


Phonolite is an uncommon extrusive rock, of intermediate chemical composition between felsic and mafic, with texture ranging from aphanitic (fine-grain) to porphyritic. Its intrusive equivalent is nepheline syenite.

Basanite A silica-undersaturated basalt

Basanite is an igneous, volcanic (extrusive) rock with aphanitic to porphyritic texture. It is composed mostly of feldspathoids, pyroxenes, olivine, and plagioclase and forms from magma low in silica and enriched in alkali metal oxides that solidifies rapidly close to the Earth's surface.

Amphibolite A metamorphic rock containing mainly amphibole and plagioclase

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

Volcanic rock

Volcanic rock is a rock formed from lava erupted from a volcano. In other words, it differs from other igneous rock by being of volcanic origin. Like all rock types, the concept of volcanic rock is artificial, and in nature volcanic rocks grade into hypabyssal and metamorphic rocks and constitute an important element of some sediments and sedimentary rocks. For these reasons, in geology, volcanics and shallow hypabyssal rocks are not always treated as distinct. In the context of Precambrian shield geology, the term "volcanic" is often applied to what are strictly metavolcanic rocks. Volcanic rocks and sediment that form from magma erupted into the air are called "volcaniclastics," and these are technically sedimentary rocks.


Nephelinite is a fine-grained or aphanitic igneous rock made up almost entirely of nepheline and clinopyroxene. If olivine is present, the rock may be classified as an olivine nephelinite. Nephelinite is dark in color and may resemble basalt in hand specimen. However, basalt consists mostly of clinopyroxene (augite) and calcic plagioclase.

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.


The lithology of a rock unit is a description of its physical characteristics visible at outcrop, in hand or core samples, or with low magnification microscopy. Physical characteristics include colour, texture, grain size, and composition. Lithology may refer to either a detailed description of these characteristics, or a summary of the gross physical character of a rock. Examples of lithologies in the second sense include sandstone, slate, basalt, or limestone.


A granitoid is a generic term for a diverse collection of coarse-grained igneous rocks that consist predominately of quartz, plagioclase, and alkali feldspar. Granitoids range from plagioclase-rich tonalites to alkali-rich syenites and from quartz-poor monzonites to quartz-rich quartzolites. As only 2 of the 3 defining mineral groups need to be presence to be a Granitoid, foid-bearing or feldspathoid rocks, meaning rocks predominately containing feldspars but no quartz, are also granitoids. The terms ‘granite’ and ‘granitic rock’ are commonly used interchangeably for granitoids; however granite is just a particular type of granitoid.

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.

Essexite a dark gray or black holocrystalline plutonic rock

Essexite, also called nepheline monzogabbro, is a dark gray or black holocrystalline plutonic igneous rock. Its name is derived from the type locality in Essex County, Massachusetts, in the United States.

Theralite is, in petrology, the name given to calcic foidal gabbro, a plutonic hylocrystalline rock consisting of augite, olivine, calcic plagioclase (labradorite), and nepheline, along with accessories including biotite, magnetite, ilmenite and analcime.

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.

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.

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.

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.


  1. "BGS Rock Classification Scheme - Igneous - Metamorphic - Sedimentary - Superficial". British Geological Survey (BGS). Retrieved 2019-05-28.