Rocks and classifications

Making up the majority of the Earth's crust, rock is usually defined as a mixture of common minerals. Rocks can be hard or soft, as small as a grain or as large as a building. They have been an integral part of the history of mankind, first being used as tools for hunting and defense, and as a building materials to construct shelters and monuments. Combined with the effects of tectonics, weathering and vegetation, rocks define the natural landscapes we see around us. The minerals and metals we find in rocks are essential to the prosperity and cultural splendor of human civilization. There are many kinds of rock, and they can be classified in a number of ways. However, geologists classify rocks based on how the rocks were formed. The three classes are igneous rocks (formed directly from liquid rock), metamorphic rocks (formed by direct alteration of existing rocks), and sedimentary rocks (formed by eroded materials from other rocks).

Credit: Dar Roberts, Department of Geography, University of California, Santa Barbara

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