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Contact: Rocks. Made By: Amy Barker. Rocks. In this lesson you will learn about the rock cycle and what some kinds of rocks there are on Earth. First thing we will begin with is identifying the three main different kinds of rocks.

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contact abarker@nmu edu


Made By: Amy Barker


In this lesson you will learn about the rock cycle

and what some kinds of rocks there are on Earth.

First thing we will begin with is identifying the

three main different kinds of rocks.

Below are three different kinds of rocks. Using what you already know about rocks, can you determine what kind is which?


The three main types of rocks are Igneous, Metamorphic, and Sedimentary. Igneous rocks are made from volcanic material. Metamorphic rocks are rocks that were something else but have been changed. Sedimentary rocks are made of small particles of rock.

This rock is called an obsidian.

It is an example of an igneous


This metamorphic

rock is called gneiss.

Limestone is considered

a sedimentary rock.


Believe it or not, but all of these kinds of rocks are related. Their

relationship to one another is called The Rock Cycle. Study the

picture and see how one type of rock can be changed to another kind.

igneous rocks
Igneous Rocks

The formation of igneous rocks depends solely on magma.

As you can see from this diagram, an oceanic plate drives itself

underneath the continental plate. This is called a fault. The oceanic

plate is more dense than the continental plate making it go underneath

the lighter continental plate. The oceanic plate activates the zone of

magma generation, causing it to come up through the Earth’s crust

and create a volcano. The magma that reaches the surface is

called lava, and when it cools, it forms igneous rock.


As you can see from this picture, not all of the magma, called the

batholith in this picture, reaches the surface. Some of it remains

in dikes, sills, and laccoliths. This magma then cools over a long

period of time and becomes igneous rock also.

For more information about the formation of igneous rocks, go to

Igneous Rock Formation


Here are some examples of igneous rocks.

This igneous rock is called basalt. It

is generally found on the surface of

the Earth, composed of cooled lava.

Granite is a common form of igneous

rock found. Below is a picture of

Granite in a close-up view.

metamorphic rocks
Metamorphic Rocks

Metamorphic rocks are rocks that were once of one kind but because

of heat, pressure, or a chemical change, they were changed into

something else. These rocks are called metamorphic rocks because

they are “morphed,” or changed to a different kind of rock. The rocks

could have been either igneous, sedimentary, or even another

metamorphic rock to begin with.

This rock is called granite.

It is an igneous rock. Because

of heat and pressure, it can be

changed to a metamorphic rock

called marble.

This is what becomes

Of granite when it is

“morphed.” This is marble.

This is a close-up of

a section of marble



A common way for metamorphic rocks to form is by the help of

the formation of igneous rocks. When igneous rock is hot magma,

the rock surrounding this magma heats up also. This rock will

become very hot and will change because of the heat and pressure.

When it cools, it will no longer be exactly like what it was originally.

It will have changed to metamorphic rock.

This is a conglomerate rock.

It was formed from heat and

pressure and turned into a

metamorphic rock.

This “morphed” rock is called



Chemical changes also can create metamorphic rock. This happens

when very hot fluids fill the pores of existing rock because of heat

and intense pressure. The fluids can cause chemical reactions to

occur. Over time, these chemical reactions can change what the

rock is made up of. The result is a new metamorphic rock.

Slate is a commonly found metamorphic

rock. It has been used for chalk boards

and gravestones, but because it has a

tendency to crack over time with exposure

to water, other rock materials are used in

replace of slate today.

sedimentary rocks
Sedimentary Rocks

Sedimentary rocks are made from other rocks that have been

weathered. Weathering is the breaking down of rock pieces into

smaller pieces. These small pieces of rock are then cemented

together, compacted tightly, crystallized again to form new

sedimentary rock.

This is a close-up view of sandstone,

a type of sedimentary rock. Notice

the different colored particles

that this rock is made up of. This

gives the impression that it is made

up of many different kinds of rock

that have been broken down into small

pieces and have been compacted

tightly together.


Sedimentary rocks are often formed in layers. This occurs

because the rocks were formed underwater. A river or stream picks

up sediment along its path. When the river or stream drains into a

large body of water, the sediment falls to the floor and accumulates.

Different kinds of sediment are carried downstream at different times.

This causes layers of different colored particles to accumulate.


Coal is made of buried leaves, plants,

and other organic material. Where

coal is found makes scientists believe

that there was plant growth in the past.

This is an example of a fossiliferous rock.

This simply means that fossils are present

in this sedimentary rock.

Four different types of sedimentary rock are fossiliferous, coal,

shale, and sandstone.

Sandstone is formed by sand that

could have been weathered by the

wind or could have accumulated in

part of a river bottom.

This sedimentary rock is called shale. It

is formed by mud, which gives us the impression

that it was part of a river or lake bottom in

the past.


This is called a conglomerate rock that is classified as sedimentary.

For more information on the formation of sedimentary rock, go to

Sedimentary Rock Formation


Today you have learned about the rock cycle and some information

about igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rocks.

Use what you know about rocks and go out into the world and

see if you can identify what kind of rocks are where.


Now that you have

learned a little about

the rock cycle and the

different rocks found on

Earth, complete the rock

worksheet provided.

Remember, if you get

stuck on a question, you

can always go back in the presentation and look for the answers.

The answer key is also provided when you finish the worksheet.

Good luck!

Rock Worksheet

The Answers

for the teacher
For the Teacher

Below are some links to various web sites that may be helpful

in making a more complete lesson on the rock cycle.

  • Activities for the Classroom
  • More Information on Igneous Rocks
  • More Information on Metamorphic Rocks
  • More Information on Sedimentary Rocks