Science - 2017-18

ES.5 - Rock Cycle

The student will investigate and understand the rock cycle as it relates to the origin and transformation of rock types and how to identify common rock types based on mineral composition and textures. Key concepts include
a) igneous rocks;
b) sedimentary rocks; and
c) metamorphic rocks. 

Bloom's Levels:  Analyze; Understand

Adopted: 2010


  • Rocks and minerals emerge from the ever-changing Earth.
  • Geologists study rocks and minerals around the world to explore their properties and formations to differentiate between them.

  • I can determine the history and age of an area based on the rocks found within.


  • Rocks can be identified on the basis of mineral content and texture.
  • The processes by which rocks are formed define the three major groups of rocks.
  • The rock cycle is the process by which all rocks are formed and how basic Earth materials are recycled through time.
  • Igneous rock forms from molten rock that cools and hardens either below or on Earth’s surface. Extrusive igneous rocks have small or no crystals, resulting in fine-grained or glassy textures and include pumice, obsidian, and basalt. Intrusive igneous rocks have larger crystals and a coarser texture and include granite. 
  • Sedimentary rocks may be formed either by rock fragments or organic matter being bound together or by chemical precipitation. Clastic sedimentary rocks are made up of fragments of other rocks and include sandstone, conglomerate, and shale. Non-clastic sedimentary rocks include limestone and rock salt. 
  • Metamorphic rocks form when any rock is changed by the effects of heat, pressure, or chemical action. Foliated metamorphic rocks have bands of different minerals and include slate, schist, and gneiss. Unfoliated metamorphic rocks have little or no banding and are relatively homogenous throughout and include marble and quartzite. 


In order to meet this standard, it is expected that students will

a)  comprehend and identify various igneous rock textural features and mineral components with a hand sample or by description, and analyze the significance of these features in terms of mode of origin and history.

     compare and contrast distinguishing characteristics of the crystal structure and textures of extrusive and intrusive igneous rocks.

b)  analyze and identify various sedimentary rocks in terms of mode of origin and history, using sedimentary features (grain size, texture, and composition). 

     differentiate between clastic and nonclastic sedimentary rocks.

c)  analyze the major groups of metamorphic rocks for mineral composition and textural features and determine the potential parent rock and in terms of the rock cycle.

     describe the structure of foliatedand unfoliated metamorphic rocks.

a-c)  analyze a sequence of rocks in terms of types, textures, composition, fossils, structural, and weathering features in order to infer the history of the sequence over time.

     integrate the rock cycle with Plate Tectonics Theory and determine how this is reflected in the geology of Virginia’s five physiographic provinces.

     classify the following rock types as igneous, metamorphic, or sedimentary: pumice, obsidian, basalt, granite, sandstone, conglomerate, shale, limestone, slate, schist, gneiss, marble, and quartzite.


chalk, clastic rock, coal, compaction, contact metamorphism, coquina, coarse-grained, deposition, erosion, extrusive, fine-grained, foliated, geodes, glassy, intrusive, lithify, metamorphic, non-foliated, organic, parent rock, porphyry, regional metamorphism, rock cycle, rock, sedimentary, sediments, weathering, igneous

Updated: Nov 28, 2017