Exploring the Rock Cycle: Igneous, Sedimentary, and Metamorphic Rocks


The rock cycle is a natural process where rocks on Earth change from one type to another over time. There are 3 important types of rocks

Igneous Rocks: These are formed from molten rock that cools and hardens. Examples include granite and basalt.

Sedimentary rocks: These are made up of layers of sediments like sand and clay that become compacted over time. Consists of limestone and sandstone.

Metamorphic rocks: These are formed when existing rocks are altered by heat and pressure. Examples include marble and slate.

The rock cycle shows how these three types of rocks can change into each other through geological processes such as melting, cooling, erosion, and pressure.

Based on their origin, three major divisions of rock are recognized:

1. Igneous Rock:

(Ignis meaning fire) Igneous rocks are the product of the cooling and crystallization of magma.

2. Sedimentary Rock:

Sedimentary rocks are the weathering products of pre-existing rocks deposited on the earth’s surface by wind, water, ice, and biological activities.

3. Metamorphic Rock:

(Meta meaning change, and morph meaning form). Metamorphic rocks are these rocks whose original form has been changed as a result of a rise in temperature, pressure, and chemically active fluids.

Much of geology concerns interactions among the forces that produce these three rock types. The relationship can be explained with the help of the rock cycle.

In simple terms, igneous rocks are eroded, forming sediment and solution load which get deposited and become sedimentary rocks. It may get burial and may lead to changes in temperature and pressure starting metamorphic rocks. Eventually, temperature and pressure may rise so high that rock melts and forms new magma.

The magma rises, includes new igneous rocks and the cycle will continuously continue. Thus, any new type of rock may be formed from parent igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks.



  • Igneous rocks are formed from the crystallization of molten material called magma/lava which usually consists of a solution of the Earth’s most abundant elements, oxygen, and silicon, with smaller amounts of aluminum, calcium, magnesium, iron, sodium, and potassium. The major elements of common magmas combine, on cooling, to produce different rock-forming minerals and other minor constituents.
  • The history of igneous rock begins with the formation of magma. When sufficient melt has been created and merged, buoyancy causes it to rise. The magma may rise to the surface and extrude as lava or if it contains volatile, may explode onto the surface to be widely distributed as volcanic ash. Most field evidence indicates that igneous rocks have formed from upward-moving bodies of either magma, a mixture of magma and crystals, magma and gas bubbles, or even solid rock. The rate, at which magma flows, depends on the pressure gradient, magma viscosity, and the shape of the conduit.
  • Magmas usually consist of many components. To study the solidification of magma, it is necessary to understand the process of simultaneous crystallization of different minerals. In magmas composed of several constituents, the special properties of each constituent are modified by the presence of others. Magma may undergo the process of crystallization at different cooling conditions at different depths. If cooling is rapid, the process of crystallization is also rapid and thus the final product is in the form
    of natural glass. On the other hand, if the cooling condition is slow, proportionally crystallization is also a slow process. As a result, the product is coarse-grained.


● Sedimentary rocks are formed at the surface by the accumulation and consolidation of the products of weathering derived from older rock masses and by the accumulation of organic debris. Most of them are deposited as beds or layers. They comprise only 5% volume of the earth but they cover 75% of the exposed land surface.


● Metamorphism involves partial or complete recrystallization of the parent rocks that takes place in the presence of high hu temperature, high pressure, and hot chemical active fluids. The word metamorphism is used here to include the responses in solid rocks and earthen material to marked changes in the physicochemical environment, the changes taking place because of various factors.

● The changes observed are typically mineralogical as well as textural. Thus, a rock that is formed originally in an igneous or sedimentary environment recrystallizes in response to new conditions to form metamorphic rocks. Most metamorphic rocks retain some of the characteristics of their parent material, such as bulk chemical composition or major features like bedding, while developing new textures and minerals.

  1. New High Court Building construction recently completed
  2. Advantages and Disadvantages Longest National Highways
  3. What are the different types of road barriers?     
  4. Do you know about Percentage rate contract
  5. What is filtration/theory of filtration?

Leave a comment