What is Petrology?


Staff member
Jun 3, 2020
Petrology is a major branch of Geology that studies the origin, structure and composition of the rocks. The study of rocks involves the macroscopic study, called as Lithology, and microscopic study, called as Petrography. Petrology has 3 sub-divisions based on the origin of the rocks.

Igneous Petrology deals with the Igneous Rocks, which are formed due to the solidification of magma or lava. The magma is the molten rock within the subsurface of the Earth, which is called lava when comes to surface through volcanic eruptions.

Sedimentary Petrology deals with the Sedimentary Rocks, which are formed due to the weathering and deposition of the rocks. They contain fragments of Igneous and Metamorphic Rocks in a fine matrix. The deposits are either physical, chemical or biological in nature. The deposition is generally limited to a small area or a basin. The study of Sedimentary Rocks helps in understanding the environment over several millions of years. The fossils are also preserved only in Sedimentary Rocks.

Metamorphic Petrology deals with the Metamorphic Rocks, which are deformed under extreme temperature and/or pressure conditions. The study of metamorphic rocks involves establishing the deformation over a period of time. The process of this deformation is called metamorphism, which generally happens over a regional scale.

Petrology is different from Pedology, which is the study of soils in their natural environment. The study of rocks is necessary to understand the Geological formation of the area, evolution & extinction of life, paleo-environment, stability of the rocks for engineering constructions, exploration of mineral resources, natural disasters etc. The subject has a broad scope in several industries.

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