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Intrusive rock

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“Intrusion” redirects here. For other uses, see Intrusion (disambiguation) .
This article is largely based on an article in the out-of-copyright Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition , which was produced in 1911. It should be brought up to date to reflect subsequent history or scholarship (including the references, if any). When you have completed the review, replace this notice with a simple note on this article’s talk page. (January 2011)

Devils Tower , an igneous intrusion exposed when the surrounding softer rock eroded away

Intrusive rock (also called plutonic rock) is formed when magma crystallizes and solidifies underground to form intrusions, for example plutons , batholiths , dikes , sills , laccoliths , and volcanic necks . [1] [2] [3]


  • 1 Formation
  • 2 Related forms
  • 3 Related terms
  • 4 Intrusive suite
  • 5 Variations
  • 6 Structural types
  • 7 Characteristics
  • 8 See also
  • 9 References

Formation[ edit ]

Intrusive rock forms within Earth ‘s crust from the crystallization of magma . Many mountain ranges , such as the Sierra Nevada in California , are formed mostly from large granite (or related rock) intrusions; see Sierra Nevada batholith .

Related forms[ edit ]

Intrusions are one of the two ways igneous rock can form; the other is extrusive rock , that is, a volcanic eruption or similar event. Technically speaking, an intrusion is any formation of intrusive igneous rock; rock formed from magma that cools and solidifies within the crust of the planet . In contrast, an extrusion consists of extrusive rock; rock formed above the surface of the crust.

Related terms[ edit ]

Large bodies of magma that solidify underground before they reach the surface of the crust are called plutons . Plutonic rocks form 7% of the Earth’s current land surface. [4]

Coarse-grained intrusive igneous rocks that form at depth within the earth are called abyssal while those that form near the surface are called subvolcanic or hypabyssal. Intrusive structures are often classified according to whether or not they are parallel to the bedding planes or foliation of the country rock: if the intrusion is parallel the body is concordant, otherwise it is discordant.

Intrusive suite[ edit ]

An intrusive suite is a group of plutons related in time and space. [5] [6] [7]

Variations[ edit ]

Intrusions vary widely, from mountain-range-sized batholiths to thin veinlike fracture fillings of aplite or pegmatite .

Structural types[ edit ]

Diagram showing various types of igneous intrusion

A dike intrudes into the country rock , Baranof Island , Alaska , United States

Intrusions can be classified according to the shape and size of the intrusive body and its relation to the other formations into which it intrudes:

Batholith : a large irregular discordant intrusion
Chonolith : an irregularly-shaped intrusion with a demonstrable base
Cupola : a dome-shaped projection from the top of a large subterranean intrusion
Dike : a relatively narrow tabular discordant body, often nearly vertical
Laccolith : concordant body with roughly flat base and convex top, usually with a feeder pipe below
Lopolith : concordant body with roughly flat top and a shallow convex base, may have a feeder dike or pipe below
Phacolith : a concordant lens-shaped pluton that typically occupies the crest of an anticline or trough of a syncline
Volcanic pipe or volcanic neck : tubular roughly vertical body that may have been a feeder vent for a volcano
Sill : a relatively thin tabular concordant body intruded along bedding planes
Stock : a smaller irregular discordant intrusive
Boss : a small stock

Characteristics[ edit ]

An intrusion (pink Notch Peak monzonite ) inter-fingers (partly as a dike ) with highly metamorphosed black-and-white-striped host rock ( Cambrian carbonate rocks ) near Notch Peak, House Range , Utah

A body of intrusive igneous rock which crystallizes from magma cooling underneath the surface of the Earth is called a pluton . If the pluton is large, it may be called a batholith or a stock . [8]

Intrusive rocks are characterized by large crystal sizes, and as the individual crystals are visible, the rock is called phaneritic . [8] This is as the magma cools underground, and while cooling may be fast or slow, [9] cooling is slower than on the surface, so larger crystals grow. [8] If it runs parallel to rock layers, it is called a sill . If an intrusion makes rocks above rise to form a dome , it is called a laccolith . [8]

How deep-seated intrusions burst through the overlying strata causes intrusive rock to be recognized: Veins spread out into branches, or branchlike parts result from filled cracks , and the high temperature is evident in how they alter country rock. As heat dissipation is slow, and as the rock is under pressure, crystals form, and no vitreous rapidly chilled matter is present.

The intrusions did not flow while solidifying, hence do not show lines. Contained gases could not escape through the thick strata, thus form cavities , which can often be observed. Because their crystals are of the rough equal size, these rocks are said to be equigranular . [10]

There is typically no distinction between a first generation of large well-shaped crystals and a fine-grained ground-mass. The minerals of each have formed in a definite order, and each has had a period of crystallization that may be very distinct or may have coincided with or overlapped the period of formation of some of the other ingredients. Earlier crystals originated at a time when most of the rock was still liquid and are more or less perfect. Later crystals are less regular in shape because they were compelled to occupy the spaces left between the already-formed crystals. The former case is said to be idiomorphic (or automorphic); the latter is xenomorphic . There are also many other characteristics that serve to distinguish the members of these two groups. For example, orthoclase is typically feldspar from granite , while its modifications occur in lavas of similar composition. The same distinction holds for nepheline varieties. Leucite is common in lavas but very rare in plutonic rocks. Muscovite is confined to intrusions. These differences show the influence of the physical conditions under which consolidation takes place.

Intrusive rocks formed at greater depths are called plutonic or abyssal. Some intrusive rocks solidified in fissures as dikes and intrusive sills at shallow depth and are called subvolcanic or hypabyssal. They show structures intermediate between those of extrusive and plutonic rocks. They are very commonly porphyritic , vitreous , and sometimes even vesicular . In fact, many of them are petrologically indistinguishable from lavas of similar composition. [11]

See also[ edit ]

  • Ellicott City Granodiorite
  • Guilford Quartz Monzonite
  • Methods of pluton emplacement
  • Norbeck Intrusive Suite
  • Volcanic rock
  • Woodstock Quartz Monzonite

References[ edit ]

  1. ^ Intrusive Rocks: Intrusive rocks , accessdate: March 27, 2017.
  2. ^ Igneous intrusive rocks: Igneous intrusive rocks , accessdate: March 27, 2017.
  3. ^ intrusive rock | geology | , accessdate: March 27, 2017.
  4. ^ Wilkinson, Bruce H.; McElroy, Brandon J.; Kesler, Stephen E.; Peters, Shanan E.; Rothman, Edward D. (2008). “Global geologic maps are tectonic speedometers—Rates of rock cycling from area-age frequencies” . Geological Society of America Bulletin. 121 (5–6): 760–779. doi : 10.1130/B26457.1 .

  5. ^ Glazner, Allen F., Stock, Greg M. (2010). Geology Underfoot in Yosemite. Mountain Press, p. 45. ISBN   978-0-87842-568-6 .
  6. ^ Oxford Academic: Crustal Contamination of Picritic Magmas During Transport Through Dikes: the Expo Intrusive Suite, Cape Smith Fold Belt, New Quebec | Journal of Petrology | Oxford Academic , accessdate: March 27, 2017.
  7. ^ 9/28/94: 9/28/94 , accessdate: March 27, 2017.
  8. ^ a b c d Intrusive and Extrusive Rocks: Intrusive and Extrusive Rocks , accessdate: March 28, 2017.
  9. ^ Sciencing: Characteristics of Intrusive Rocks | Sciencing , accessdate: March 28, 2017.
  10. ^ rocks and minerals: Geology – rocks and minerals , accessdate: March 28, 2017.
  11. ^ Public Domain  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain : Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). “Petrology” . Encyclopædia Britannica . 21 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 323–333.
  • v
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Geologic principles and processes
Stratigraphic principles
  • Principle of original horizontality
  • Law of superposition
  • Principle of lateral continuity
  • Principle of cross-cutting relationships
  • Principle of faunal succession
  • Principle of inclusions and components
  • Walther’s law
Petrologic principles
  • Intrusive
  • Extrusive
  • Volcanic
  • Exfoliation
  • Weathering
  • Pedogenesis
  • Diagenesis
  • Compaction
  • Metamorphism
Geomorphologic processes
  • Plate tectonics
  • Salt tectonics
  • Tectonic uplift
  • Subsidence
  • Marine transgression
  • Marine regression
Sediment transport
  • Fluvial processes
  • Aeolian processes
  • Glacial processes
  • Mass wasting processes

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  • Igneous petrology
  • Intrusions
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      Igneous Rocks Lesson #12

      When most people think about igneous rocks they envision a volcano erupting pumice and lava . The term igneous comes to us from the Latin word “Ignis” which means fire. Igneous rocks are produced this way but most igneous rocks are produced deep underground by the cooling and hardening of magma . Magma is molten (melted) rock under the surface of the Earth. It is produced in the upper reaches of the mantle or in the lowest areas of the crust usually at a depth of 50 to 200 kilometers.




      The diagram above shows you where magma is produced at a subduction zone . Magma is less dense than the surrounding rock which causes it to rise. When magma reaches the surface it is then called lava and the eruptions of lava and ash produce volcanoes. The lava that reaches the Earth’s surface will harden and become igneous rock. When the magma does not reach the surface it produces a variety of geologic structures. When lava reaches the surface of the Earth through volcanoes or through great fissures the rocks that are formed from the lava cooling and hardening are called extrusive igneous rocks. Some of the more common types of extrusive igneous rocks are lava rocks, cinders, pumice, obsidian , and volcanic ash and dust.



      This is the volcano Paricutin that is located in Mexico. It is erupting cinders and pumice which are examples of extrusive igneous rocks.



      Millions and even billions of years ago molten rock was cooling and thus hardening into igneous rocks deep under the surface of the Earth. These rocks are now visible because mountain building has thrust them upward and erosion has removed the softer rocks exposing the much harder igneous rocks. These are called intrusive igneous rocks because the magma has intruded into pre-exiting rock layers. Types of intrusive igneous rocks are granite and basalt .

      The diagram above shows you a large intrusive igneous body called a batholith. A batholith is the largest of the intrusive bodies. They are larger than 100 square kilometers and usually form granite cores.



      As you can see in the diagram above a batholith is a very large intrusive igneous body. There are two types of intrusive bodies that we are going to discuss 1)Discordant and 2) Concordant. A discordant igneous rock body cuts across the pre-exiting rock bed. Batholiths and dikes are examples of discordant rock bodies. A dike is a vertical or near vertical intrusive igneous rock body that cuts across rock beds. They frequently form from explosive eruptions that crack the area around a volcano with the magma filling the cracks forming a dike.

      A concordant igneous rock body runs parallel to the pre-existing bedrock. Laccoliths and sills are examples of concordant igneous rock bodies. A laccolith is a dome shaped intrusive body that has intruded between layers of sedimentary rock. The rising magma forces the overlying layers to rise up into a dome . A sill is similar to a dike with the exception that sills run parallel to the existing rock bed instead of cutting through it.




      The composition of igneous rocks falls into four main categories. They are determined by the amount of silica that the rocks contain. The four categories are acidic, intermediate , basic , and ultramafic . Acidic rocks have a high silica content (65% or more) along with a relatively high amount of sodium and potassium. These rocks are composed of the minerals quartz and feldspar. Rhyolite and granite are the two most common types of acidic rock.

      Intermediate rocks contain between 53% and 65% silica. They also contain potassium and plagioclase feldspar with a small amount of quartz. Diorite and Andesite are the two most common types of intermediate rock.



      Basic rocks are composed of less than 52% silica and a large amount of plagioclase feldspar and very rarely quartz. The two most common types of basic rocks are basalts and gabbros.

      Ultrabasic rocks are composed of less than 45% silica and contain no quartz or feldspar. They are composed mainly of the minerals olivine and pyroxene. The most common ultrabasic rock is periodite. Periodite is a dark green, coarse-grained igneous rock that many scientists believe is the main rock of the mantle.



      Basalts are dark colored, fine-grained extrusive rock. The mineral grains are so fine that they are impossible to distinguish with the naked eye or even a magnifying glass. They are the most widespread of all the igneous rocks. Most basalts are volcanic in origin and were formed by the rapid cooling and hardening of the lava flows. Some basalts are intrusive having cooled inside the Earth’s interior.



      This is a vertical columnar basalt formation . When basaltic lava cools it often forms hexagonal (six sided) columns. Some famous examples of columnar basalt formations are the Columbia Plateau overlooking the Columbia River near Portland, the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland, and the Devils Postpile National Monument in California (Above).



      Pumice is a very light colored, frothy volcanic rock. Pumice is formed from lava that is full of gas. The lava is ejected and shot through the air during an eruption. As the lava hurtles through the air it cools and the gases escape leaving the rock full of holes.

      Pumice is so light that it actually floats on water. Huge pumice blocks have been seen floating on the ocean after large eruptions. Some lava blocks are large enough to carry small animals.

      Pumice is ground up and used today in soaps, abrasive cleansers, and also in polishes.



      Rhyolite is very closely related to granite. The difference is rhyolite has much finer crystals. These crystals are so small that they can not be seen by the naked eye. Rhyolite is an extrusive igneous rock having cooled much more rapidly than granite giving it a glassy appearance. The minerals that make up rhyolite are quartz, feldspar, mica, and hornblende.



      Gabbros are dark-colored, coarse-grained intrusive igneous rocks. They are very similar to basalts in their mineral composition. They are composed mostly of the mineral plagioclase feldspar with smaller amounts of pyroxene and olivine.



      Obsidian is a very shiny natural volcanic glass. When obsidian breaks it fractures with a distinct conchoidal fracture. Notice in the photo to the left how it fractures. Obsidian is produced when lava cools very quickly. The lava cools so quickly that no crystals can form.

      When people make glass they melt silica rocks like sand and quartz then cool it rapidly by placing it in water. Obsidian is produced in nature in a similar way.

      Obsidian is usually black or a very dark green, but it can also be found in an almost clear form.



      Ancient people throughout the world have used obsidian for arrowheads, knives, spearheads, and cutting tools of all kinds. Today obsidian is used as a scalpel by doctors in very sensitive eye operations.


      Write the answers to the following questions in complete sentences on a piece of paper.



      In your own words write a definition for magma and lava.


      What is the difference between intrusive and extrusive igneous rocks?


      What are the most common extrusive and intrusive igneous rocks?


      What is the difference between granite and rhyolite and how are they similar?


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