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Metamorphic Rocks

Metamorphic rocks originate from the alteration of the texture and mineral constituents of igneous, sedimentary, and older metamorphic rocks under extreme heat and pressure deep within the earth (see metamorphism). Some (e.g., marble and quartzite) are massive in structure; others, and particularly those which have been subject to the more extreme forms of metamorphism, are characterized by foliation (i.e., the arrangement of their minerals in roughly parallel planes, giving them a banded appearance). A distinguishing characteristic of many metamorphic rocks is their slaty cleavage. Among the common metamorphic rocks are schist (e.g., mica schist and hornblende schist), gneiss, quartzite, slate, and marble.

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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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