University of Phoenix

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Igneous rocks form in three main places: where lithospheric plates pull apart at mid-ocean ridges, where plates come together at seduction zones and where continental crust is pushed together, making it thicker and allowing it to heat to melting. There are two ideas about igneous rocks that are geologically important. The first idea is that igneous rocks evolve - they change from one kind of rock into another. The second idea is that rocks are not randomly distributed across the earth. Specific kinds of rocks are always found in specific places for specific reasons, all tied into plate tectonic processes. Igneous rocks begin as hot, fluid material, and the word "igneous" comes from the Latin for fire. This material may have been lava erupted at the Earth's surface, or magma (un-erupted lava) at shallow depths, or magma in deep bodies (plutons). People commonly think of lava and magma as a liquid, like molten metal, but geologists find that magma is usually a mush — a liquid carrying a load of mineral crystals. Magma crystallizes into a collection of minerals, and some crystallize sooner than others. Not just that, but when they crystallize, they leave the remaining liquid with a changed chemical composition. When a body of magma, as it cools, evolves, and as it moves through the crust, interacting with other rocks, it evolves further. This makes igneous petrology a very complex field. Tell the three types of igneous rocks apart by their texture, starting with the size of the mineral grains. Extrusive rocks cool quickly over periods of seconds to…...

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