The Rock Cycle


Staff member
Jun 3, 2020
The rock cycle is a concept that describes transition of rocks among igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks. The rock types won't remain forever, but keep changing. The magma or lava solidifies to form igneous rocks, the weathering and deposition of pre-existing rocks lead to formation of sedimentary rocks, and the metamorphism of rocks under high pressure and temperature leads to the formation of metamorphic rocks. When the rocks melt, they become magma, and the cycle continues. The following image clearly depicts the rock cycle.

the rock cycle

The currently existing rocks may melt & solidify to become igneous rocks, eroded & deposited to become sedimentary rocks, or metamorphose to become metamorphic rocks. The study of environment and the conditions of formation of a rock are major areas of interest in the subject Petrology.

The role of Plate Tectonics
The movement of tectonic plates lead to the destruction of crust, accelerated erosion or the mantle upwelling. These processes influence the rock cycle to a great extent as the existing rocks melt, erode or deform, and the new rocks form. The plate tectonics are also responsible for the deformation of crust which leads to the formation of several surface features like mountains, gorges, volcanoes etc. They eventually contribute to the formation of rocks.

The role of water
The water plays an important role in the rock cycle. The water serves as an agent of transportation of weathered and eroded material, helps in dissolving rocks and minerals, and plays a key role in melting crustal rocks in the wedge above the subduction zone.

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