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Diversity of Rocks

Use the rock cycle as a starting point for a discussion of the conditions responsible for the diversity of rocks that we find on Earth.

What are the chef rock types, and which processes may change one rock type into another?

What are the temperature and pressure conditions leading to differing characteristics of rocks?

Describe how rocks and processes may vary with respect to plate tectonic settings.

How do the minerals common in rocks and sediments reflect or respond to the changing conditions?

How might the apparent rock ages determined by radioactive dating methods be established or altered in the various environments?


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The rock cycle shows us how each type of rock is transformed into the other types. Volcanic rock is ejected onto the surface of the earth, where it is subject to erosion or burial. Eroded rocks form sediments, which are washed out to sea or buried in layers. As the layers increase in depth, sediments are compressed into sedimentary rocks. These rocks are subject to erosion and burial as well. Those rocks which are buried may be exposed again through the lifting of tectonic plates and subsequent erosion, or melted into magma and ejected as lava.

The drivers of these processes are earth's internal heat, which causes the tectonic plates to move, and the Sun's energy, which creates wind and rain. Wind and rain are the causes of erosion, and the movement of tectonic plates causes mountains to rise. In addition, the movement of the hot mantle beneath the earth's crust causes volcanoes ...

Solution Summary

How the rock cycle accounts for the diversity of rocks on the earth's surface