Chapter 6. The Rock Cycle

Adapted by Karla Panchuk from Physical Geology by Steven Earle

Figure 6.1 A petrified beach near Rock Springs, Wisconsin, U. S. A. The wrinkled face of this vertical cliff displays ripples from an ancient beach. Flowing water moved sand grains to form ripples, and over time the sand was transformed into a solid sedimentary rock. The petrified beach was buried deeper and deeper, and the higher pressures and temperatures caused the sand grains to lose their individual boundaries and merge together. Thus, the sedimentary rock was transformed into a different type of rock, called a metamorphic rock. Source: Karla Panchuk (2017) CC BY-SA 4.0. Click the image for more attributions.

Learning Objectives

After reading this chapter and answering the Review Questions at the end, you should be able to:

  • Explain what a rock is.
  • Summarize the main characteristics of igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks.
  • Describe the rock cycle and the types of processes that lead to the formation of igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks.
  • Explain why there is an active rock cycle on Earth.