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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 the Ancient Greek : πέτρος , translit.  pétros, lit.  'rock' and λόγος , lógos ) 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]

Literal translation, direct translation, or word-for-word translation is the rendering of text from one language to another one word at a time with or without conveying the sense of the original whole.

-logy is a suffix in the English language, used with words originally adapted from Ancient Greek ending in -λογία (-logia). The earliest English examples were anglicizations of the French -logie, which was in turn inherited from the Latin -logia. The suffix became productive in English from the 18th century, allowing the formation of new terms with no Latin or Greek precedent.

Geology The study of the composition, structure, physical properties, and history of Earths components, and the processes by which they are shaped.

Geology is an earth science concerned with the 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.


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.

Lithology science of rocks

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. Lithology is the basis of subdividing rock sequences into individual lithostratigraphic units for the purposes of mapping and correlation between areas. In certain applications, such as site investigations, lithology is described using a standard terminology such as in the European geotechnical standard Eurocode 7.

Petrography is a branch of petrology that focuses on detailed descriptions of rocks. Someone who studies petrography is called a petrographer. The mineral content and the textural relationships within the rock are described in detail. The classification of rocks is based on the information acquired during the petrographic analysis. Petrographic descriptions start with the field notes at the outcrop and include macroscopic description of hand specimens. However, the most important tool for the petrographer is the petrographic microscope. The detailed analysis of minerals by optical mineralogy in thin section and the micro-texture and structure are critical to understanding the origin of the rock. Electron microprobe analysis of individual grains as well as whole rock chemical analysis by atomic absorption, X-ray fluorescence, and laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy are used in a modern petrographic lab. Individual mineral grains from a rock sample may also be analyzed by X-ray diffraction when optical means are insufficient. Analysis of microscopic fluid inclusions within mineral grains with a heating stage on a petrographic microscope provides clues to the temperature and pressure conditions existent during the mineral formation.

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.

Petroleum industry activities linked to handling oil and gas products

The petroleum industry, also known as the oil industry or the oil patch, includes the global processes of exploration, extraction, refining, transporting, and marketing of petroleum products. The largest volume products of the industry are fuel oil and gasoline (petrol). Petroleum (oil) is also the raw material for many chemical products, including pharmaceuticals, solvents, fertilizers, pesticides, synthetic fragrances, and plastics. The extreme monetary value of oil and its products has led to it being known as "black gold". The industry is usually divided into three major components: upstream, midstream, and downstream.

Mud logging

Mud logging is the creation of a detailed record of a borehole by examining the cuttings of rock brought to the surface by the circulating drilling medium. Mud logging is usually performed by a third-party mud logging company. This provides well owners and producers with information about the lithology and fluid content of the borehole while drilling. Historically it is the earliest type of well log. Under some circumstances compressed air is employed as a circulating fluid, rather than mud. Although most commonly used in petroleum exploration, mud logging is also sometimes used when drilling water wells and in other mineral exploration, where drilling fluid is the circulating medium used to lift cuttings out of the hole. In hydrocarbon exploration, hydrocarbon surface gas detectors record the level of natural gas brought up in the mud. A mobile laboratory is situated by the mud logging company near the drilling rig or on deck of an offshore drilling rig, or on a drill ship.

Borehole narrow shaft bored in the ground

A borehole is a narrow shaft bored in the ground, either vertically or horizontally. A borehole may be constructed for many different purposes, including the extraction of water, other liquids or gases, as part of a geotechnical investigation, environmental site assessment, mineral exploration, temperature measurement, as a pilot hole for installing piers or underground utilities, for geothermal installations, or for underground storage of unwanted substances, e.g. in carbon capture and storage.


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.

Mineralogy Scientific study of minerals and mineralised artifacts

Mineralogy is a subject of geology specializing in the scientific study of the chemistry, crystal structure, and physical properties of minerals and mineralized artifacts. Specific studies within mineralogy include the processes of mineral origin and formation, classification of minerals, their geographical distribution, as well as their utilization.

Optical mineralogy

Optical mineralogy is the study of minerals and rocks by measuring their optical properties. Most commonly, rock and mineral samples are prepared as thin sections or grain mounts for study in the laboratory with a petrographic microscope. Optical mineralogy is used to identify the mineralogical composition of geological materials in order to help reveal their origin and evolution.

Geochemistry is the science that uses the tools and principles of chemistry to explain the mechanisms behind major geological systems such as the Earth's crust and its oceans. The realm of geochemistry extends beyond the Earth, encompassing the entire Solar System, and has made important contributions to the understanding of a number of processes including mantle convection, the formation of planets and the origins of granite and basalt.


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

Igneous petrology is the study of igneous rocks—those that are formed from magma. As a branch of geology, igneous petrology is closely related to volcanology, tectonophysics, and petrology in general. The modern study of igneous rocks utilizes a number of techniques, some of them developed in the fields of chemistry, physics, or other earth sciences. Petrography, crystallography, and isotopic studies are common methods used in igneous petrology.

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.

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

Granite is a common type of felsic intrusive igneous rock that is granular and phaneritic in texture. Granites can be predominantly white, pink, or gray in color, depending on their mineralogy. The word "granite" comes from the Latin granum, a grain, in reference to the coarse-grained structure of such a holocrystalline rock. Strictly speaking, granite is an igneous rock with between 20% and 60% quartz by volume, and at least 35% of the total feldspar consisting of alkali feldspar, although commonly the term "granite" is used to refer to a wider range of coarse-grained igneous rocks containing quartz and feldspar.

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Metamorphic rock Rock which was subjected to heat and pressure causing profound physical or chemical change

Metamorphic rocks arise from the transformation of existing rock types, in a process called metamorphism, which means "change in form". The original rock (protolith) is subjected to heat and pressure, causing profound physical or chemical change. The protolith may be a sedimentary, igneous, 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) A naturally occurring solid aggregate of one or more minerals or mineraloids

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 are usually grouped into three main groups: igneous rocks, metamorphic rocks and sedimentary rocks. Rocks form the Earth's outer solid layer, the crust.

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

Metamorphism is the change of minerals or geologic texture in pre-existing rocks (protoliths), without the protolith melting into liquid magma. The change occurs primarily due to heat, pressure, and the introduction of chemically active fluids. The chemical components and crystal structures of the minerals making up the rock may change even though the rock remains a solid. Changes at or just beneath Earth's surface due to weathering or diagenesis are not classified as metamorphism. Metamorphism typically occurs between diagenesis, and melting (~850°C).

Migmatite A mixture of metamorphic rock and igneous rock

Migmatite is a rock that is a mixture of metamorphic rock and igneous rock. It is created when a metamorphic rock such as gneiss partially melts, and then that melt recrystallizes into an igneous rock, creating a mixture of the unmelted metamorphic part with the recrystallized igneous part. They can also be known as diatexite.

Metasomatism The chemical alteration of a rock by hydrothermal and other fluids

Metasomatism is the chemical alteration of a rock by hydrothermal and other fluids. It is the replacement of one rock by another of different mineralogical and chemical composition. The minerals which compose the rocks are dissolved and new mineral formations are deposited in their place. Dissolution and deposition occur simultaneously and the rock remains solid.

Komatiite An ultramafic mantle-derived volcanic rock

Komatiite is a type of ultramafic mantle-derived volcanic rock defined as having crystallised from a lava with ≥ 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 the transitions through geologic time among the three main rock types: sedimentary, metamorphic, and igneous. As the adjacent diagram illustrates, each of the types of rocks is altered or destroyed when it is forced out of its equilibrium conditions. 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 are forced to change as they encounter new environments. The rock cycle is an illustration that 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.

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 the Earth's crust and mantle. 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.

Metamorphic facies

A metamorphic facies is a set of mineral assemblages in metamorphic rocks formed under similar pressures and temperatures. The assemblage is typical of what is formed in conditions corresponding to an area on the two dimensional graph of temperature vs. pressure. Rocks which contain certain minerals can therefore be linked to certain tectonic settings, times and places in the geological history of the area. The boundaries between facies are wide because they are gradational and approximate. The area on the graph corresponding to rock formation at the lowest values of temperature and pressure is the range of formation of sedimentary rocks, as opposed to metamorphic rocks, in a process called diagenesis.

Metamorphic zone mass of metamorphic rock in which the formation pressure and temperature conditions can be established according to the minerals that compose it

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.

<i>Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology</i> journal

Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology is a peer-reviewed scientific journal published by Springer Science+Business Media since 1947. The journal accepts high quality research papers in the fields of igneous and metamorphic petrology, geochemistry and mineralogy.

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.

Titanium in zircon geothermometry

Titanium in zircon geothermometry is a form of a geothermometry technique by which the crystallization temperature of a zircon crystal can be estimated by the amount of titanium atoms which can only be found in the crystal lattice. In zircon crystals, titanium is commonly incorporated, replacing similarly charged zirconium and silicon atoms. This process is relatively unaffected by pressure and highly temperature dependent, with the amount of titanium incorporated rising exponentially with temperature, making this an accurate geothermometry method. This measurement of titanium in zircons can be used to estimate the cooling temperatures of the crystal and infer conditions during which it crystallized. Compositional changes in the crystals growth rings can be used to estimate the thermodynamic history of the entire crystal. This method is useful as it can be combined with radiometric dating techniques that are commonly used with zircon crystals, to correlate quantitative temperature measurements with specific absolute ages. This technique can be used to estimate early Earth conditions, determine metamorphic facies, or to determine the source of detrital zircons, among other uses.

Mihir Kumar Bose (1933–2009) was an Indian geologist and a professor at the Presidency College, Kolkata. He was known for his studies on igneous petrology and was an elected fellow of the Geological Survey of India, Indian National Science Academy, and the Indian Academy of Sciences. The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, the apex agency of the Government of India for scientific research, awarded him the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize for Science and Technology, one of the highest Indian science awards for his contributions to Earth, Atmosphere, Ocean and Planetary Sciences in 1976.

Dominique Weis is a Canadian scientist, currently a Canada Research Chair at University of British Columbia.

Mark S. Ghiorso American geochemist

Mark S. Ghiorso is an American geochemist who resides in Seattle, Washington. He is best known for creating MELTS, a software tool for thermodynamic modeling of phase equilibria in magmatic systems.


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.



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