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Geologic provinces of the world (USGS)
Large igneous province
Igneous rock (derived from the Latin word ignis meaning fire) is one of the three main rock types, the others being sedimentary and metamorphic rock. Igneous rock is formed through the cooling and solidification of magma or lava. Igneous rock may form with or without crystallization, either below the surface as intrusive (plutonic) rocks or on the surface as extrusive (volcanic) rocks. This magma can be derived from partial melts of pre-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. Over 700 types of igneous rocks have been described, most of them having formed beneath the surface of Earth’s crust.
Igneous and metamorphic rocks make up 90-95% of the top 16 km of the Earth’s crust by volume. Igneous rocks are geologically important because: their minerals and global chemistry give information about the composition of the mantle, from which some igneous rocks are extracted, and the temperature and pressure conditions that allowed this extraction, and/or of other pre-existing rock that melted; their absolute ages can be obtained from various forms of radiometric dating and thus can be compared to adjacent geological strata, allowing a time sequence of events; their features are usually characteristic of a specific tectonic environment, allowing tectonic reconstitutions (see plate tectonics); in some special circumstances they host important mineral deposits (ores): for example, tungsten, tin, and uranium are commonly associated with granites and diorites, whereas ores of chromium and platinum are commonly associated with gabbros. Morphology and setting
In terms of modes of occurrence, igneous rocks can be either intrusive (plutonic), extrusive (volcanic) or hypabyssal. Intrusive
Close-up of granite (an intrusive igneous rock) exposed in Chennai, India. Intrusive igneous rocks are formed from magma that cools and solidifies within the crust of a planet. Surrounded by pre-existing rock (called country rock), the magma cools slowly, and as a result these rocks are coarse grained. The mineral grains in such rocks can generally be identified with the naked eye. Intrusive rocks can also be classified according to the shape and size of the intrusive body and its relation to the other formations into which it intrudes. Typical intrusive formations are batholiths, stocks, laccoliths, sills and dikes. The central cores of major mountain ranges consist of intrusive igneous rocks, usually granite. When exposed by erosion, these cores (called batholiths) may occupy huge areas of the Earth’s surface. Coarse grained intrusive igneous rocks which form at depth within the crust are termed as abyssal; intrusive igneous rocks which form near the surface are termed hypabyssal. Extrusive
Extrusive igneous rock is made from lava released by volcanoes
Basalt (an extrusive igneous rock in this case); light coloured tracks show the direction of lava flow. Extrusive igneous rocks are formed at the crust’s surface as a result of the partial melting of rocks within the mantle and crust. Extrusive Igneous rocks cool and solidify quicker than intrusive igneous rocks. Since the rocks cool very quickly, they are fine grained. The melted rock, with or without suspended crystals and gas bubbles, is called magma. It rises because it is less dense than the rock from which it was created. When magma reaches the surface from beneath water or air, it is called lava. Eruptions of volcanoes into air are termed subaerial, whereas those occurring underneath the ocean are termed submarine. Black smokers and mid-ocean ridge basalt are examples of submarine volcanic activity. The volume of extrusive rock erupted annually by volcanoes varies with plate tectonic setting. Extrusive rock is produced in the following proportions: divergent boundary: 73% convergent boundary (subduction zone): 15% hotspot: 12%.
Magma which erupts from a volcano behaves according to its viscosity, determined by temperature, composition, and crystal content. High-temperature magma, most of which is basaltic in composition, behaves in a manner similar to thick oil and, as it cools, treacle. Long, thin basalt flows with pahoehoe surfaces are common. Intermediate composition magma such as andesite tends to form cinder cones of intermingled ash, tuff and lava, and may have viscosity similar to thick, cold molasses or even rubber when erupted. Felsic magma such as rhyolite is usually erupted at low temperature and is up to 10,000 times as viscous as basalt. Volcanoes with rhyolitic magma commonly erupt explosively, and rhyolitic lava flows typically are of limited extent and have steep margins, because the magma is so viscous. Felsic and intermediate magmas that erupt often do so violently, with explosions driven by release of dissolved gases — typically water but also carbon dioxide. Explosively erupted pyroclastic material is called tephra and includes tuff, agglomerate and ignimbrite.
Fine volcanic ash is also erupted and forms ash tuff deposits which can often cover vast areas. Because lava cools and crystallizes rapidly, it is fine grained. If the cooling has been so rapid as to prevent the formation of even small crystals after extrusion, the resulting rock may be mostly glass (such as the rock obsidian). If the cooling of the lava happened slowly, the rocks would be coarse-grained. Because the minerals are mostly fine-grained, it is much more difficult to distinguish between the different types of extrusive igneous rocks than between different types of intrusive igneous rocks. Generally, the mineral constituents of fine-grained extrusive igneous rocks can only be determined by examination of thin sections of the rock under a microscope, so only an approximate classification can usually be made in the field. Hypabyssal
Hypabyssal igneous rocks are formed at a depth in between the plutonic and volcanic rocks. These are formed due to cooling and resultant solidification of rising magma just beneath the earth surface. Hypabyssal rocks are less common than plutonic or volcanic rocks and often form dikes, sills, laccoliths, lopoliths, or phacoliths. Classification
Igneous rocks are classified according to mode of occurrence, texture, mineralogy, chemical composition, and the geometry of the igneous body. The classification of the many types of different igneous rocks can provide us with important information about the conditions under which they formed. Two important variables used for the classification of igneous rocks are particle size, which largely depends upon the cooling history, and the mineral composition of the rock. Feldspars, quartz or feldspathoids, olivines, pyroxenes, amphiboles, and micas are all important minerals in the formation of almost all igneous rocks, and they are basic to the classification of these rocks. All other minerals present are regarded as nonessential in almost all igneous rocks and are called accessory minerals. Types of igneous rocks with other essential minerals are very rare, and these rare rocks include those with essential carbonates. In a simplified classification, igneous rock types are separated on the basis of the type of feldspar present, the presence or absence of quartz, and in rocks with no feldspar or quartz, the type of iron or magnesium minerals present.
Rocks containing quartz (silica in composition) are silica-oversaturated. Rocks with feldspathoids are silica-undersaturated, because feldspathoids cannot coexist in a stable association with quartz. Igneous rocks which have crystals large enough to be seen by the naked eye are called phaneritic; those with crystals too small to be seen are called aphanitic. Generally speaking, phaneritic implies an intrusive origin; aphanitic an extrusive one. An igneous rock with larger, clearly discernible crystals embedded in a finer-grained matrix is termed porphyry. Porphyritic texture develops when some of the crystals grow to considerable size before the main mass of the magma crystallizes as finer-grained, uniform material. We will classify igneous rocks on the basis of texture and composition. Texture refers to the size, shape and arrangement of the mineral grains or crystals of which the rock is composed. Texture
Gabbro specimen showing phaneritic texture; Rock Creek Canyon, eastern Sierra Nevada, California; scale bar is 2.0 cm. Main article: Rock microstructure
Texture is an important criterion for the naming of volcanic rocks. The texture of volcanic rocks, including the size, shape, orientation, and distribution of mineral grains and the intergrain relationships, will determine whether the rock is termed a tuff, a pyroclastic lava or a simple lava. However, the texture is only a subordinate part of classifying volcanic rocks, as most often there needs to be chemical information gleaned from rocks with extremely fine-grained groundmass or from airfall tuffs, which may be formed from volcanic ash. Textural criteria are less critical in classifying intrusive rocks where the majority of minerals will be visible to the naked eye or at least using a hand lens, magnifying glass or microscope. Plutonic rocks tend also to be less texturally varied and less prone to gaining structural fabrics. Textural terms can be used to differentiate different intrusive phases of large plutons, for instance porphyritic margins to large intrusive bodies, porphyry stocks and subvolcanic dikes (apophyses). Mineralogical classification is used most often to classify plutonic rocks. Chemical classifications are preferred to classify volcanic rocks, with phenocryst species used as a prefix, e.g. “olivine-bearing picrite” or “orthoclase-phyric rhyolite”. see also List of rock textures and Igneous textures
Basic classification scheme for igneous rocks on their mineralogy. If the approximate volume fractions of minerals in the rock are known the rock name and silica content can be read off the diagram. This is not an exact method because the classification of igneous rocks also depends on other components than silica, yet in most cases it is a good first guess. Chemical classification
Igneous rocks can be classified according to chemical or mineralogical parameters: Chemical: total alkali-silica content (TAS diagram) for volcanic rock classification used when modal or mineralogic data is unavailable: felsic igneous rocks containing a high silica content, greater than 63% SiO2 (examples granite and rhyolite) intermediate igneous rocks containing between 52 – 63% SiO2 (example andesite and dacite) mafic igneous rocks have low silica 45 – 52% and typically high iron – magnesium content (example gabbro and basalt) ultramafic rock igneous rocks with less than 45% silica. (examples picrite, komatiite and peridotite) alkalic igneous rocks with 5 – 15% alkali (K2O + Na2O) content or with a molar ratio of alkali to silica greater than 1:6. (examples phonolite and trachyte) Chemical classification also extends to differentiating rocks which are chemically similar according to the TAS diagram, for instance; Ultrapotassic; rocks containing molar K2O/Na2O >3
Peralkaline; rocks containing molar (K2O + Na2O)/ Al2O3 >1
Peraluminous; rocks containing molar (K2O + Na2O)/ Al2O3