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3.2.3. The rock cycle

The rock cycle

The rock cycle  is the set of processes that can occur in a rock over time by which a rock can be transformed into another type of rock.

Each of the types of rocks that we have seen, such as sedimentarymetamorphic or igneous rocks, can become other types of rocks if the conditions in which they are found change.

All kinds of rocks that are on the earth's surface, sedimentarymetamorphic or igneous, being under the processes of external geological processes (weatheringerosiontransport and sedimentation) tend to be destroyed and decompose into sediments. These sediments, by diagenesis, will give rise to sedimentary rocks. These sedimentary rocks, formed from compacted sediments from any type of rock or living beings, can also erode again and give rise to a new sedimentary rock, or be transformed by increased pressure and temperature into a metamorphic rock, or melt and give rise to a magmatic rock.

Sedimentary and igneous rocks were formed under certain conditions of pressure and temperature. As these rocks have changed environmental conditions, they can become metamorphic rocks without melting. These metamorphic rocks can erode and give rise to another sedimentary rock or change their pressure and temperature conditions and eventually melt and give rise to another igneous rock.

If the minerals that form the rocks melt and give rise to magma, the result will be a new igneousplutonic  or volcanic rock, depending on how the magma cools. The igneous rock, that consolidated magma, can be eroded and become sediment and then a sedimentary rock, or due to high pressure, become another metamorphic rock.

Ciclo de las rocas

Iñakietxe [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons