Chapter 2: Section 4 - Metamorphic Rocks and the Geologic History of Your Community

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In this section you will find materials that support the implementation of EarthComm, Section 4: Metamorphic Rocks and the Geologic History of Your Community.

Learning Outcomes

  • Carry out an investigation that identifies metamorphic rock specimens according to their physical properties.
  • Use a model that examines how rocks change their shape during metamorphosis.
  • Analyze data on a geologic map and legend to locate metamorphic rocks in your region.
  • Obtain information about how the formation of metamorphic rocks is connected to plate tectonic processes.

Inquiring Further

  1. To learn more about the formation of metamorphic rocks in the Appalachian Mountains, visit the following web sites:

    Summary of the Geology of the Southern Appalachians, USGS
    Describes the geologic history of the Southern Appalachians. A useful poster shows the tectonic history of the Appalachian Mountains and the opening of the Atlantic Ocean.

Geology of the Appalachian Mountains, Encyclopedia Britiannica
Describes the geologic history and the rock types of various parts of the Appalachian Mountains.

The Southern Appalachian Mountains -How They Got Where They Are, Mountain Area Information Network
Describes the events which formed the Southern Appalachian Mountains.

The Geology of the Great Smoky Mountains, USGS
The Great Smoky Mountains are part of the famous Blue Ridge of the Appalachian Mountains. This archived website contains many photos with descriptions of metamorphic rocks in their natural setting.

  1. To learn more about how hydrothermal alteration leads to the formation of deposits of valuable minerals like gold, silver, and copper, visit the following web sites:

Copper Deposits, Seafloor Spreading, and the Appalachians, USGS
Scroll through this pdf to Figures 8 - 10 to learn how copper forms hydrothermally and in other ways during the opening of an ocean basin.

Gold, USGS
Describes the formation of gold deposits.

Hydrothermal Features, USGS
Follow the link to a diagram of hydrothermal features in a typical geysir basin, such as those in the Yellowstone region.

Hydrothermal Alterations and the Formation of Metal Ores in the Sierra Nevada, Indiana University
Explains how hydrothermal alteration processes result in many metallically rich chemical compositions.

Saturn's moon: Hydrothermal Activity on Enceladus, NASA
This article talks about the facinating implications of results from the Cassini mission.


To learn more about this topic, visit the following web sites:

Formation of Metamorphic Rocks

Metamorphic Rocks, USGS
Explains the processes which form metamorphic rocks, as well as the difference between foliated and non-foliated metamorphic rocks.

Deformation, Textures, and Metamorphism

Animation of Deformation creating Metamorphic Texture, TERC
Provides an overview of how metamorphic rocks form.

Deformation and Foliation, USGS
Description and diagram showing the development of foilation and an example of a foliated rock from USGS Visual Glossary.

Metamorphism and Metamorphic Rocks, Tulane University
Explains what happens when temperature and pressure deform a rock and includes diagrams.

Common Metamorphic Rocks, Radford University
Navigate several pages on foliated and non-foliated metamorphic rocks. This site also has large photographs of different textures.

Atlas of Igneous and Metamorphic Rocks, Minerals and Textures, University of North Carolina
Images from under a microscope showing details of microtextures, including foliation.

Schist, Serpentine, Slate, etc., USGS
Use the USGS Glossary to learn the definitions of important terms.

Metamorphic Rocks in Museums

Metamorphic Rock Exhibit, American Museum of Natural History, NYC
See the display and examine the accompanying text.

Q?Ruis Metamorphic Rocks, Smithsonian, DC
Excellent photos from the collection of metamorphic rocks, several pages to explore.