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Basic Petrology

3.1. Introduction 81 3.4.1. Origin of the Earth 86 The Protoplanet
3.2. Structure of the Earth 83
Hypothesis 87
3.3. Classication of Rocks 85 The Nebular Hypothesis 88
3.3.1. Igneous Rocks 85 Age of the Earth 88
3.3.2. Sedimentary Rocks 85 3.4.2. Plate Tectonics 89
3.3.3. Metamorphic Rocks 86
Further Reading 91
3.4. Origin of Earth and Theory of Plate
Tectonics 86

Petrology (from Greek: Petradrock and
logosdknowledge) is the study of rocks,
their occurrences, composition, origin and evolu-
tion. This research also focuses on the study of
minerals and meteorites (Fig. 3.1) as model to
unravel the interiors of planetary bodies. Petrog-
raphy deals with the detailed description and
classication of rocks, whereas petrology focuses
primarily on the rock formation, or petrogenesis.
A petrological description includes denition of FIGURE 3.1 Iron meteorite of 179 kg by weight: fragment
of a huge massive object that crashed into the Arizona desert
the unit in which the rock occurs, its attitude about 50,000 years ago and created the Barringer lunar
and structure, its mineralogy and chemical meteor impact circular crater of 1280 m diameter.
composition, and conclusions regarding its Photo source and courtesy: Grifth Observatory, Los Angeles, CA.

Introduction to Mineralogy and Petrology 81 Copyright 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

origin. The task of petrologists is to carry out Petrology is essentially a fundamental part of
research and study rocks, independent of geology. Rocks, as mineral aggregates, are
geological bodies, which are integral parts of composed of certain minerals, so petrology is
the lithosphere and are clearly different from closely associated with the mineralogy.
their surroundings. Determination of mineral constituents and
chemical composition of rocks is necessary to
know and distinguish minerals, and also for
Meteorite, small to extremely large size, is a resolving the origin of rocks. It is also necessary
natural object originating in the outer space that to have a good knowledge of the origin of min-
falls on Earth creating great surface impact. Most erals (mineral genesis). The researchers in this
meteorites are derived from small celestial bodies area conduct eld- and laboratory-based experi-
as well as produced by impacts of asteroids from mental modeling supported by advanced
the solar system. Meteorites are composed of sil- computational tools to read the records and un-
icate minerals and/or metallic ironenickel. The derstand the potential of high-temperature and
structure of Igneous Complex at Sudbury Mining high-pressure processes.
District, Canada is formed as the result of a Petrology is closely associated with chemis-
meteorite (1850 Ma age) impact that produced a try, especially mineral chemistry and geochem-
150e280 km multiring crater, containing 2e5-km- istry, for the purposes of studying the complex
thick sheet of andesite melt. The immiscible sul- chemical reactions and processes that lead to
de liquid differentiated into NiePlatinum Group crystallization, or conversion of minerals and
of Element dominated contact deposits by crys- rocks, as well as studying the share of chemical
tallization. There are 100 deposits/mines having elements in minerals, rocks, lithosphere, hydro-
a total resource, including past production, of sphere and atmosphere.
1648 million tonnes at 1% Ni, 1% Cu, and 1 g/t Petrology experiments and draws conclusive
Pd Pt. records about evolution and constitution of the
Earth beneath its rocky crust. It is primarily
based on volcanic eruptions, shape and composi-
The primary and most signicant processes to
tion of igneous bodies that have reached Earths
be focused are the following:
surface by tectonic processes and erosion. The
1. Tectonic movements of rock masses. fundamental research of meteorites in solar sys-
2. Volcanic eruptions and injection of magma tem provides additional support to these studies.
into the lithosphere. The geophysical responses of contrast in seismic
3. Physical, chemical and biological weathering velocity propagating through certain parts of the
and deposition in the surface areas of rocky crust and underneath have also been
rocky crust and in the hydrosphere and acclaimed signicant importance. It has been un-
atmosphere. derstood that the Earth has different laminate
4. Mutual chemical reactions and biological structures distinguished by either chemical or
processes in aqueous solutions. their rheological properties. This is based on
5. Metamorphic changes due to increasing remarkable geophysical response of primary
pressure and temperature at greater depths of seismic wave, particularly establishing the exis-
covering. tence of two major and a number of less pro-
6. Melting, migration, recrystallization, nounced discontinuity obtained. The two major
degassing and similar events on rocks. planes of discontinuity are established between

FIGURE 3.2 (A) Schematic diagram of the Earths structure representing a three-dimensional perspective and (B) a
sectional view portraying from central core to outer surface.

crustemantle and mantleecore boundary. The 3.2. STRUCTURE OF THE EARTH

minor discontinuities are set up between upper,
middle and lower mantle as well as outer and in- The Earth is an oblate spheroid. It is
ner core (Fig. 3.2). Therefore, petrology is also composed of a number of different layers in
associated with geophysics and has an important spherical shells as determined by deep drilling
role in geophysical research of the lithosphere. and seismic evidence (Fig. 3.2). These layers are
the following:

1. The Earth can broadly be modeled as an

Rheology is the study of the ow of the mantle,
outer solid silicate crust, a highly viscous
normally in the liquid state, but often as sift solids
mantle, a liquid outer core that is much less
or solids that react as plastic ow in contrast to
viscous than the mantle, and a solid inner
deforming elastically to the applied force.

2. The core is approximately 7000 km in increasing temperature and pressure. The litho-
diameter (3500 km in radius) and is located at sphere is also the favorable zone of earthquakes,
the Earths center. mountain building, volcanoes, and continental
3. The mantle surrounds the core and has a drift.
thickness of 2900 km. The topmost part of the lithosphere consists of
4. The crust oats on top of the mantle. It is crust. This material is cool, rigid, and brittle. Two
composed of basalt-rich oceanic crust and types of crust can be identied: oceanic crust and
granitic-rich continental crust. continental crust (Fig. 3.2). Both these types of
crust are less dense than the rock found in the
The core is a layer rich in iron and nickel that is underlying upper layer of the mantle. Ocean
composed of two layers: the inner and the outer crust is thin and the thickness varies between 4
cores. The inner core is theorized to be solid with and 12 km. It is also composed of basalt and
a density of about 10.3 g/cm3 in comparison to has a density of about 3 g/cm3.
Earths average density of 5.52 g/cm3 and a The thickness of the continental crust varies
radius of about 1220 km. The outer core is liquid between 40 and 70 km and composed mainly
and has a density of about 6 g/cm3. It surrounds of lighter granites, pegmatites and gneisses
the inner core and has an average thickness of (Fig. 3.2). The density of continental crust is
about 2250 km. about 2.8 g/cm3. Both these crust types are
The mantle is almost 2900 km thick and com- composed of numerous tectonic plates that oat
prises about 83% of the Earths volume. It is on top of the mantle. These plates move slowly
composed of several different layers. The upper across the asthenosphere caused by the convec-
mantle exists from the base of the crust down- tion currents within the mantle.
ward to a depth of about 400 km. This region The continental and oceanic crusts have one
of the Earths interior is thought to be composed common property. These tectonic plates have
of peridotite, an ultramac rock made up of the the ability to rise and sink. This phenomenon,
minerals olivine and pyroxene. known as isostasy, occurs because the crust oats
The middle layer of the mantle, 400e1000 km on top of the mantle-like ice cubes in water.
below surface, is called the asthenosphere. Scienti- These tectonic plates deform and sink deeper
c studies suggest that this layer has physical into the mantle as and when the Earths crust
properties that are different from the rest of the gains weight due to mountain building or glaci-
upper mantle. The rocks in this upper portion ations. The crust becomes more buoyant and
of the mantle are more rigid and brittle because oats higher in the mantle if the weight is
of cooler temperatures and lower pressures. removed.
The lower mantle stands below the upper mantle The Mohorovicic discontinuity (Moho) is the line
and extends from 1000 to 2900 km below the between the Earths crust and the mantle. It sepa-
Earths surface. This layer is hot and plastic. rates oceanic crust and continental crust from the
The higher pressure in this layer causes the for- mantle. The Mohorovicic discontinuity named af-
mation of minerals that are different from those ter Andrija Mohorovicic, a Croatian geophysicist,
of the upper mantle. who has established it. The Mohorovicic disconti-
The lithosphere is a layer that includes the crust nuity is 5e10 km (3e6 miles) below the ocean
and the upper portion of the mantle (Fig. 3.2). oor and 20e90 km (10e60 miles) beneath the
This layer is about 400 km thick and has the abil- continents.
ity to glide over the rest of the upper mantle. The The Gutenberg discontinuity, named after
deeper portions of the lithosphere are capable of German scientist Bruno Gutenberg, is located
plastic ow over geologic time because of at 2900 km depth beneath the Earths surface.
The boundary is observed by the applications of
seismic waves. This discontinuity is due to the
differences between the acoustic impedances of
the solid mantle and the molten outer core.

Isostasy (isos is equal and stsis means

standstill) is the state of gravitational equilib-
rium between the lithosphere and asthenosphere
such that the tectonic plates oat at an elevation
which depends on their thickness and density to
explain the different topographic heights on Earth FIGURE 3.3 The Himalayan snow-capped peaks ranging
surface (Fig. 3.3). In the event of any dynamic between 10,000 and 15,000 ft (3000 and 4500 m) high above
change in isostasy, the plates collide or move mean sea level (MSL) in the background and Deodar
causing Earthquake, Tsunami and related natural (Cedrus deodara) and Chilgoza pines (Pinus gerardiana) in the
foreground, viewed from Kalpa town in Himachal Pradesh,
hazards and calamities.
India. The central core of the mountain range consists of
Atmosphere is a layer of gases surrounding the intrusive granite rising as pointed high peaks within meta-
Earth by gravity, distributed from surface upward phyllites. The Himalaya Mountain is still young and rising
as Troposphere, Stratosphere with ozone layer, by the force of the impacting Indian plates under the Tibetan
Mesosphere and Ionosphere. It protects life forms plates and that makes the area earthquake prone.
by absorbing ultraviolet solar radiation and
greenhouse effect (water vapor, carbon dioxide,
that are originally formed in and/or on the
methane and ozone). Air is the part of atmosphere
Earth. They occur in two main ways:
used for breathing and photosynthesis.
Biosphere is the universal sum of total 1. Underground: direct cooling, crystallization
ecosystem or the zone of life for plants, animals and solidication of rocks inside the Earths
and microbes on the Earths crust controlled by crust from molten rock mass (magma). The
natural self-regulating system. type is intrusive (plutonic).
Hydrosphere is the physical distribution of the 2. On surface: crystallization of the lava, i.e.
combined mass of water found under, on, and magma poured onto the surface of the Earth,
over the surface of the Earth. seabed or shallow under surface of the Earth.
The type is extrusive (volcanic).

3.3.2. Sedimentary Rocks

Sedimentary (depositional) rocks are formed
in the sea, fresh water or on land by precipita-
The rocks of Earths crust are divided into
tion, deposition and sedimentation processes
three main groups (Fig. 3.4) according to the
(Fig. 3.6) of the following:
manner of their origin.
1. Solid waste material of physical and chemical
weathering of rocks formed earlier.
3.3.1. Igneous Rocks
2. Organogenic or fossil remains and other
Igneous (ignis means re in Latin and biochemical and chemical products extracted
eruptive) rocks (Fig. 3.5) are the primary rocks from the water.





MIS = Igneous intrusive rocks VS = Vulcanic rocks

MS = Metamorphic rocks S = Sedimentary rocks

FIGURE 3.4 Conceptual diagram depicting the mode of formation and three fundamental genetic types of rocks that make
up the Earths crust: Igneous, Sedimentary and Metamorphic.

occurs under increased temperature (150 to

200  C) and pressure (1500 bars) at greater
depth of covering or at the contacts with magma
in the Earths rocky crust. The metamorphic pro-
cess accelerates with the introduction of chemi-
cally active uids.
Clarke7, an US geochemist, calculated the
lithosphere to a depth of 16 km. He opined
that the lithosphere is consisting of 95% of
igneous rocks and 5% of sedimentary rocks.
The metamorphic rock components are in-
cluded into the igneous or sedimentary group
depending from which the original rocks are
FIGURE 3.5 A typical light-color ne- to medium-
grained igneous rock (granite) containing interlocking min-
metamorphosed. He also observed that from a
erals of quartz (white) and feldspar (light rosy or pink) with total of 5% of sedimentary rocks, around 4%
minor grains (black) of actinolitic hornblende, biotite and are shales, only about 0.75% sandstones and
chlorite. Source: Prof. A.B. Roy. remaining 0.25% limestone.

3.3.3. Metamorphic Rocks 3.4. ORIGIN OF EARTH AND

Metamorphic (transformed) rocks (Fig. 3.7)
are formed by metamorphism of preexisting
3.4.1. Origin of the Earth
igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks
with changes in crystal form (texture and struc- There are many different hypotheses on the
ture) in solid state. The mineral transformation origin of the solar system, including the Earth
FIGURE 3.6 A classical example of sedi-
mentary rock formation of shale (gray) and
limestone (yellowish brown) with sharp
contact at the snow capped summit of
Jungfrau, one of the main peak of Bernese
Alps, Switzerland. Photo from top of Europe
at 11,782 ft or 3571 m above mean sea level,
September, 2009. The position of the in situ
rock at high altitude is due to mountain
building process of Alps.

as a planet of this system. The most famous and passed, the cloud shrank under the pull of its
accepted among them are the following: own gravitation or was made to collapse by the
explosion of a passing star. Most of the clouds The Protoplanet Hypothesis material gathered around its own center. Its
The protoplanet hypothesis suggests that a shrinking made it rotate faster, like a spinning
great cloud of gas and dust of at least 10,000 whirlpool. The compression of its material
million kilometers in diameter rotated slowly in made its interior so hot that a powerful reaction,
space about 5,000 million years ago. As time hydrogen fusion, began and the core of the cloud

FIGURE 3.7 A typical metamorphic rock

composed of biotite, quartz, feldspar gneiss
displaying strong uxion banding with
numerous white porphyroblasts and por-
phyoclasts of feldspar showing varying de-
grees of attening into the fabric. This
implies blastesis during the mylonitization
of sediments.

blazed into a newborn Sun. About 10% of the protoplanetary disk is a rotating circumstellar
material in the cloud formed a great plate-like disk of dense gas surrounding a young newly
disk surrounding the Sun far into space. Friction formed star, i.e. a TTS. If the disk is massive
within the disk caused most of its mass to collect enough, the runaway accretions begin resulting
in a number of huge whirlpools or eddies. These in the rapidd100,000e300,000 yearsdformation
eddies shrank into more compact masses called of Moon- to Mars-sized planetary embryos. The
protoplanets and later formed planets and planetary embryos undergo through a stage of
moons. Some uncollected material remains violent mergers, producing a few terrestrial
even today as comets, meteoroids, and planets near the star. The last stage takes around
asteroids. 100 millione1,000 million years. The Nebular Hypothesis

The nebular hypothesis is the most widely Star is a massive and luminous sphere of vast
accepted model explaining the formation and plasma held together by gravitational forces.
evolution of the Solar System. It was rst pro- Sun is the nearest star to the planet Earth and is
posed in 1734 by Emanuel Swedenborg, a the source of most of the energy on the planet.
Swedish scientist with occupation as mining Stars are innumerable in number and can be
engineer, anatomist and astronomer. The hy- seen glowing and twinkling far away in the
pothesis was originally applied only to our night. Stars are grouped together forming
own Solar System. This method of planetary constellations.
system formation is now thought to be A planet is an astronomical or celestial object
at work throughout the universe. The nebular orbiting a star. Planet is massive enough to rotate
hypothesis postulates that the stars form in its own axis by its own gravity.
in massive and dense clouds of molecular The Solar System consists of the Sun (Star) and
hydrogendgiant molecular clouds. They are its planetary system of eight, their moons formed
gravitationally unstable, and matter coalesces 4,600 million years ago from the collapse of a giant
to smaller and denser clumps within, which cloud. The eight planets from nearest to the Sun
then proceed to collapse and form stars. Star outwards are Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars (rocks
formation is a complex process, which always and metals), Jupiter, Saturn (hydrogen and heli-
produces a gaseous protoplanetary disk um), Uranus, and Neptune (watereammonia and
around the young star. This may give birth to methane). All planets rotate in almost circular
planets in certain circumstances, which are orbits that lie within a nearly at disk called the
not well known. Thus the formation of plane- ecliptic plane.
tary systems is thought to be a natural result Star, planets and solar system are originated
of star formation. A Sun-like star usually takes from the same giant massive parent cloud and
around 100 million years to form. dust and complimentary to each other.
The protoplanetary disk is an accretion disk
which continues to feed the central star. The
disk is initially very hot and cools later in what Age of the Earth
are known as the T Tauri Star (TTS) stage by Some of the oldest surface felsic rocks on
possible formation of small dust grains made Earth had been found in the Canadian Shield,
of rocks and ices. The grains may eventually Australia and Africa with age varying between
coagulate into kilometer-sized planetesimals. 2,500 and 3,800 million years. The oldest rock
Planetesimals are solid objects thought to exist from Nuvvuagittuq greenstone belt on the coast
in protoplanetary disks and in debris disks. A of Hudson Bay in northern Quebec was dated as
3,800e4,280 million years at McGill University. The lithosphere portrays the Earths evolution
In 1999, the oldest-known rock of the Acasta history which is constantly changingdit was
Gneiss of the Slave craton in northwestern changing yesterdaydit is changing today and
Canada was dated to 4,031  3 million years. will continue to change in the future. It is assumed
The age of the Earth is estimated as 4,540 million that initially the lithosphere was a uniform contin-
years based on evidence from radiometric age uous mass (Supercontinent) during late Paleozoic
dating of meteorite materials. This has been era and known as Pangaea. The lithosphere was
corroborated by the age dating of the oldest- gradually separated and rifted into several parts,
known rocks of granulites gneissesedimentary and then in the Carboniferous and Permian era
siliciclasticemac/ultramac sequence (zircon (about the 350e250 million of years) recollected.
crystal) from Jack Hills, Western Australia as The separation repeated again during the Triassic
4,404 million years. Basaltic rock samples, period (before w250e200 millions of years) to cur-
collected from the Moon surface and from the rent conguration of the component continents
highlands during 1993 space mission, have consisting of multiple faults separated plates of
been measured by radiometric dating techniques different thickness and extension. However,
and age reported as 3,160 and 4,500 million years from the Triassic to the present, there is a global
old, respectively. tendency of reapproaching these plates. The term
The recent estimate by the astrophysicist as well plate includes some solid parts of the oceanic or
as dating of meteorite can be summarized that the continental crust which are apart from each other
upper limit of the Solar System including the Earth with large horizontal (transform) faults, mountain
is 4,567,000,000 years or 4,567 million years. chains, oceanic arcs, oceanic ridges and trenches.
There exist seven such primary plates on the Earth
today with roughly dened boundaries: the Pa-
3.4.2. Plate Tectonics
cic Plate, the North American Plate, the South
The upper part of the Earth is composed of a American Plate, the African Plate, the Eurasian
solid rock mass and divided into continental Plate, the Indo-Australian plate and the Antarctic
crust, oceanic crust and upper mantle or the lith- plate. There is equal number of smaller secondary
osphere as clearly illustrated in Fig. 3.2. The lith- plates on Earth: Arabian Plate, Caribbean Plate,
osphere is underlain below by a melt or Cocos plate, Indian Plate, Juan de Fuca Plate,
asthenosphere. Since the formation of the Earth, Nazca Plate, Philippine Plate and Scotia plate. In
more than 4,500 million years ago, the surface addition, there are several small tertiary plates
and its interior are constantly undergoing that are grouped with major primary plates,
rebuilding processes that create, release and without having distinct identity. Some related def-
transfer heat energy, and the process of cooling initions are the following:
of parts of its surface. While the Sun heats the at-
mosphere and the very surface of the Earth, the 1. Transform faults are the horizontal
primary heat sources for the Earths interior are displacements, or spaces, between plates and
radioactive processes which release a very also the main place of earthquakes that have
high-temperature. Thus the emerged heat is shallow epicenter under the surface of the
transferred from the interior to the Earths sur- Earth.
face and in the lithosphere leads to remelting of 2. Oceanic ridges stand as boundaries between
rocks. The melting of rocks and minerals in the the divergent plates movement. In that
lithosphere is endothermic reaction, i.e. absorp- process, magma is injected between plates or
tion of heat. The crystallization of minerals is poured on the ocean oor forming growth of
exothermic reaction, i.e. heat release process. oceanic crust. The mid-oceanic ridges and

growth of the oceanic crust represent in the underscores (subduction) under a continent
form of effusive volcanic rocks. In this way, or island arc (Fig. 3.8). Subduction zone is
for example, Middle-Atlantic ridge at the slope surface tilted in the direction of
bottom of the Atlantic Ocean was originated. subduction, along which the main focus of
In the lithosphere, this growth of oceanic earthquake takes place and along which
crust, however, compensates with convergent remelting of rocks occur.
plate movement (subduction) or underscores
one plate under another, which leads to Plate movement, mobility of mountain
narrowing of areas of the ocean or even ranges and oceanic ridges are recognized under
disappearance of the ocean. the common names such as plate tectonics or
3. Subduction zone is a place where the Earths global tectonics. Plate tectonics and global tec-
crust is broken down and consumes part of tonics explain almost all the geological phenom-
the oceanic crust or oceanic plate, which ena on large scale, particularly closely

FIGURE 3.8 Illustrations of the three types of plate boundaries such as transform (top), convergent (middle) and divergent
(bottom) associated with the relative process of plate tectonics.
associated with earthquakes, faults, volcanic the resulting overthrust structures are the
areas, the origin of mountain chains (orogeny), consequence of pulling in both directions. The
oceanic arcs, oceanic ridges and the deep ocean uplift causes deposition of clastic ysch
trenches or furrows. sediments on both sides of the mountain
Orogenetic movements, i.e. orogeny or pro- areas.
cesses of forming mountain chains in the Earths
crust, are a direct consequence of plate tectonics
and subduction. There are two basic types of
Ophiolite is the thrust sheets of ancient oceanic
orogeny: collisional and noncollisional.
crust and upper part of mantle rocks that has been
1. Collisional orogeny includes long-term uplifted and exposed above sea level and often
underscore or subduction zone where it has emplaced on top of the continental lithosphere.
consumed and melted much of the oceanic Ophiolite is composed of green colored altered
crust and oceanic plates. This leads to a spilite (ne-grained oceanic basalt), pillow lava,
mutual approach of two continents, or even serpentinites, gabbros and chert. It occurs close to
up to their clash or the clash of the continent the oceanic ridges, orogenic belt, within mountain
and the island arc. In this type of orogeny, belts of Alps and Himalayas, documenting the
clastic ysch sediments do not occur, and existence of former ocean basins that have now
overthrust structures have only one direction. been absorbed by thrusts, subduction zone and
Subduction zone reaches deep into the plate tectonics.
lithosphere and along with it the magma
inject from very deep source (from the
asthenosphere), forming ophiolite igneous
rocks. The ophiolite groups and assemblages The main volcanoes on Earth are located in
are the community of basic, ultrabasic/ areas of divergent and convergent plate move-
ultramac intrusives (gabbro, peridotite, and ment, and the most signicant places of forma-
pyroxenite) and effusive igneous rocks that tion of igneous (volcanic) rocks are now
originate from oceanic crust (Sections, divergent plate margins, especially middle and oceanic ridges, which makes annually over
2. Noncollisional orogeny is associated with the 20 km3 of basalt rocks.
converging trends by pinch of the plates and
subduction. The orogeny takes place over part
of the oceanic crust and the oceanic plate is FURTHER READING
subducted under the island arc, as, for
example, the case in the present oceanic The Principles of Petrology-An Introduction to the
trenches in the western Pacic. The andesite Science of Rocks by G.W. Tyrrell56 is worth
volcanism is strong above the subduction reading for the beginners in this subject. Blatt
zone and the basaltic volcanism is most active et al.2 will be a good reference for overall
on the ocean bottom. Metamorphic zones petrology. The interior of the Earth by Bott5 is
exist on both sides of the subduction zone and informative.