Rock cycle

Like most materials that exist on Earth, rocks are created and destroyed in cycles . The rock cycle is a model that describes the formation , decomposition, and transformation of a rock as a result of a series of sedimentary , igneous, and metamorphic processes . All rocks are composed of minerals and we must know that a mineral is defined as a natural crystalline solid of defined chemical composition and that it also has a crystalline structure. characteristic. A rock is any aggregate mass that is naturally formed, has no life, is firm in consistency, and is part of a planet.

What is the rock cycle?

The rock cycle is the description of the different processes in the area of geology that rocks undergo in their transformation process into one of the three types of rocks that exist:  igneous , sedimentary or metamorphic .

  • What is the rock cycle?
  • History
  • What forces influence the rock cycle
  • Phases
  • Explanation of the rock cycle
  • Importance

What is the rock cycle?

The rock cycle consists of a series of different geological processes through which one of the three large groups of rocks that exist on the planet is created. The rock cycle is a continuous process and never stops, on the contrary, it is always happening slowly and continuously .

The rock cycle may begin with the generation of magma inside the Earth, where temperatures and pressures are so high that pre-existing rocks can melt. This internal activity of the Earth is called the plutonic episode in honor of Pluto .


In the 1700s, Scottish physicist James Hutton challenged biblical interpretation by observing that rivers overflowed, depositing a thin layer of sediment in the floodplain, a process he called the principle of uniformitarianism , a process that lasted thousands of years. His ideas were not immediately accepted by the scientific community, until his death. Later, the theory of plate tectonics emerged, which gave a better understanding of the rock cycle.

What forces influence the rock cycle

There are important forces on the planet that directly influence the formation of rocks and their cycle, these forces are the following:

  • Tectonic plates :  fragments that the lithosphere has that are capable of moving and whose limits are located in the place where the magma rises to the surface.
  • Water : water has the ability to dissolve acids that exist in the soil to break down rocks. It is also capable of causing wear on marine rocks or those that are in contact with water. It even participates in the metamorphic processes that occur in volcanic rocks that are located at the bottom of the sea, a process known as serpentinization .


The phases of the rock cycle are as follows:


It happens when magma cools underground or on the surface and hardens into igneous rock . As magma cools , crystals form at different temperatures, which undergo crystallization . The rate of cooling determines how long the crystals will take to form and slow cooling produces larger crystals.

Erosion and sedimentation

Weathering is responsible for wearing down the rocks on the earth’s surface into smaller pieces called sediments . Water, ice, and gravity carry sediment from one place to another by erosion . During sedimentation , rock particles settle to form a sedimentary rock .


This process happens when a rock is exposed to extreme heat and pressure inside the Earth but does not melt but the rock metamorphoses . Metamorphism can change the mineral composition and texture of the rock so that a metamorphic rock can have a new mineral composition and / or texture.


This is the process of cementation and / or compaction , it is a process in which a conversion of sediments into rocks occurs . Lithification is a process by which a sediment that has been deposited in a certain medium slowly turns into a solid sedimentary rock .

Explanation of the rock cycle

The rock cycle begins when volcanoes expel magma out of the Earth. This magma contains molten minerals that, once cooled, give rise to crystalline structures that together form igneous rocks . These igneous rocks can also be formed below the surface of the ground, especially when the magma cannot rise to the surface, so it cools more slowly, giving shape to the rock.

Depending on where the igneous rocks are and after they have suffered the effects of erosion , water and wind , the rocks wear away forming rocky sediments .

Sedimentary rocks have their origin from the sum of the remains of rocky sediments on the ground surface of igneous rocks , due to erosion and other effects of nature. Among the sedimentary rocks we can also find dendritic rocks, chemical rocks and organic rocks .

Metamorphic rocks are born from sedimentary rocks and are formed when they remain in the earth’s crust along with other rocks, which produces a change in structures caused by pressure and temperature . The rocks then become metamorphic. Metamorphic rocks can be located when large erosions occur on the ground, in other words, they are under several layers of earth .


The rock cycle is of utmost importance because it is closely related to the internal and external processes that the rocks and materials that make up the Earth go through. It is also a powerful instrument for observing the earth, allowing scientists to study history and make predictions about the future. These rocks are of utmost importance to scientists because, being composed of fossil remains, they give us a great deal of important information about life on Earth and its composition .

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