Petrology

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A volcanic sand grain seen under the microscope, with plane-polarized light in the upper picture, and cross polarized light in the lower picture. Scale box is 0.25 mm. LvMS-Lvm.jpg
A volcanic sand grain seen under the microscope, with plane-polarized light in the upper picture, and cross polarized light in the lower picture. Scale box is 0.25 mm.

Petrology (from Ancient Greek πέτρος (pétros) 'rock',and λόγος (lógos) 'account, explanation, narrative') is the branch of geology that studies rocks and the conditions under which they form. Petrology has three subdivisions: igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary petrology. Igneous and metamorphic petrology are commonly taught together because they both contain heavy use of chemistry, chemical methods, and phase diagrams. Sedimentary petrology is, on the other hand, commonly taught together with stratigraphy because it deals with the processes that form sedimentary rock. [1]

Contents

Background

Lithology was once approximately synonymous with petrography, but in current usage, lithology focuses on macroscopic hand-sample or outcrop-scale description of rocks while petrography is the speciality that deals with microscopic details.

In the petroleum industry, lithology, or more specifically mud logging, is the graphic representation of geological formations being drilled through and drawn on a log called a mud log. As the cuttings are circulated out of the borehole, they are sampled, examined (typically under a 10× microscope) and tested chemically when needed.

Methodology

Ljudmila Dolar Mantuani (1906-1988) first female professor of petrography in Yugoslavia. Ljudmila Dolar Mantuani.jpg
Ljudmila Dolar Mantuani (1906-1988) first female professor of petrography in Yugoslavia.

Petrology utilizes the fields of mineralogy, petrography, optical mineralogy, and chemical analysis to describe the composition and texture of rocks. Petrologists also include the principles of geochemistry and geophysics through the study of geochemical trends and cycles and the use of thermodynamic data and experiments in order to better understand the origins of rocks.

Branches

There are three branches of petrology, corresponding to the three types of rocks: igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary, and another dealing with experimental techniques:

See also

Related Research Articles

Geology Study of the composition, structure and history of Earth

Geology is a branch of Earth science concerned with both the liquid and solid Earth, the rocks of which it is composed, and the processes by which they change over time. Geology can also include the study of the solid features of any terrestrial planet or natural satellite such as Mars or the Moon. Modern geology significantly overlaps all other Earth sciences, including hydrology and the atmospheric sciences, and so is treated as one major aspect of integrated Earth system science and planetary science.

Gneiss Common high-grade metamorphic rock

Gneiss is a common and widely distributed type of metamorphic rock. Gneiss is formed by high-temperature and high-pressure metamorphic processes acting on formations composed of igneous or sedimentary rocks. Gneiss forms at higher temperatures and pressures than schist. Gneiss nearly always shows a banded texture characterized by alternating darker and lighter colored bands and without a distinct cleavage.

Feldspar Group of rock-forming minerals

Feldspars are a group of rock-forming aluminium tectosilicate minerals, containing sodium, calcium, potassium or barium. The most common members of the feldspar group are the plagioclase (sodium-calcium) feldspars and the alkali (potassium-sodium) feldspars. Feldspars make up about 60% of the Earth's crust, and 41% of the Earth's continental crust by weight.

Metamorphic rock Rock that was subjected to heat and pressure

Metamorphic rocks arise from the transformation of existing rock to new types of rock, in a process called metamorphism. The original rock (protolith) is subjected to temperatures greater than 150 to 200 °C and, often, elevated pressure of 100 megapascals (1,000 bar) or more, causing profound physical or chemical changes. During this process, the rock remains mostly in the solid state, but gradually recrystallizes to a new texture or mineral composition. The protolith may be an igneous, sedimentary, or existing metamorphic rock.

Sedimentology encompasses the study of modern sediments such as sand, silt, and clay, and the processes that result in their formation, transport, deposition and diagenesis. Sedimentologists apply their understanding of modern processes to interpret geologic history through observations of sedimentary rocks and sedimentary structures.

Rock (geology) Naturally occurring mineral aggregate

In geology, a rock is any naturally occurring solid mass or aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter. It is categorized by the minerals included, its chemical composition and the way in which it is formed. Rocks form the Earth's outer solid layer, the crust, and most of its interior, except for the liquid outer core and pockets of magma in the asthenosphere.

Metamorphism Change of minerals in pre-existing rocks without melting into liquid magma

Metamorphism is the transformation of existing rock to rock with a different mineral composition or texture. Metamorphism takes place at temperatures in excess of 150 to 200 °C, and often also at elevated pressure or in the presence of chemically active fluids, but the rock remains mostly solid during the transformation. Metamorphism is distinct from weathering or diagenesis, which are changes that take place at or just beneath Earth's surface.

Migmatite Mixture of metamorphic rock and igneous rock

Migmatite is a composite rock found in medium and high-grade metamorphic environments. It consists of two or more constituents often layered repetitively; one layer was formerly paleosome, a metamorphic rock that was reconstituted subsequently by partial melting; the alternate layer has a pegmatitic, aplitic, granitic or generally plutonic appearance. Commonly, migmatites occur below deformed metamorphic rocks that represent the base of eroded mountain chains, commonly within Precambrian cratonic blocks,

Lithology Description of its physical characteristics of a rock unit

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.

Xenolith

A xenolith is a rock fragment that becomes enveloped in a larger rock during the latter's development and solidification. In geology, the term xenolith is almost exclusively used to describe inclusions in igneous rock entrained during magma ascent, emplacement and eruption. Xenoliths may be engulfed along the margins of a magma chamber, torn loose from the walls of an erupting lava conduit or explosive diatreme or picked up along the base of a flowing body of lava on the Earth's surface. A xenocryst is an individual foreign crystal included within an igneous body. Examples of xenocrysts are quartz crystals in a silica-deficient lava and diamonds within kimberlite diatremes. Xenoliths can be non-uniform within individual locations, even in areas which are spatially limited, e.g. rhyolite-dominated lava of Niijima volcano (Japan) contains two types of gabbroic xenoliths which are of different origin - they were formed in different temperature and pressure conditions.

Lithostratigraphy

Lithostratigraphy is a sub-discipline of stratigraphy, the geological science associated with the study of strata or rock layers. Major focuses include geochronology, comparative geology, and petrology.

Komatiite Ultramafic mantle-derived volcanic rock

Komatiite is a type of ultramafic mantle-derived volcanic rock defined as having crystallised from a lava of at least 18 wt% MgO. Komatiites have low silicon, potassium and aluminium, and high to extremely high magnesium content. Komatiite was named for its type locality along the Komati River in South Africa, and frequently displays spinifex texture composed of large dendritic plates of olivine and pyroxene.

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.

In geology, igneous differentiation, or magmatic differentiation, is an umbrella term for the various processes by which magmas undergo bulk chemical change during the partial melting process, cooling, emplacement, or eruption. The sequence of magmas produced by igneous differentiation is known as a magma series.

Fractional crystallization (geology) One of the main processes of magmatic differentiation

Fractional crystallization, or crystal fractionation, is one of the most important geochemical and physical processes operating within crust and mantle of a rocky planetary body, such as the Earth. It is important in the formation of igneous rocks because it is one of the main processes of magmatic differentiation. Fractional crystallization is also important in the formation of sedimentary evaporite rocks.

Boninite is a mafic extrusive rock high in both magnesium and silica, thought to be usually formed in fore-arc environments, typically during the early stages of subduction. The rock is named for its occurrence in the Izu-Bonin arc south of Japan. It is characterized by extreme depletion in incompatible trace elements that are not fluid mobile but variable enrichment in the fluid mobile elements. They are found almost exclusively in the fore-arc of primitive island arcs and in ophiolite complexes thought to represent former fore-arc settings or at least formed above a subduction zone.

Neomorphism refers to the wet metamorphic process in which diagenetic alterations systematically transform minerals into either polymorphs or crystalline structures that are structurally identical to the rock(s) from which they developed.

Metamorphic zone

In geology, a metamorphic zone is an area where, as a result of metamorphism, the same combination of minerals occur in the bedrock. These zones occur because most metamorphic minerals are only stable in certain intervals of temperature and pressure.

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.

Provenance in geology, is the reconstruction of the origin of sediments. The Earth is a dynamic planet, and all rocks are subject to transition between the three main rock types: sedimentary, metamorphic, and igneous rocks. Rocks exposed to the surface are sooner or later broken down into sediments. Sediments are expected to be able to provide evidence of the erosional history of their parent source rocks. The purpose of provenance study is to restore the tectonic, paleo-geographic and paleo-climatic history.

References

Citations

  1. Frost, B. R.; Frost, C. D. (2014). Essentials of Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology. Cambridge University Press.

Sources