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3.9: Igneous Rock Classification

Difficulty Level: Basic Created by: CK-12
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Is this igneous rock intrusive or extrusive?

You can't really tell from this view. A close up view would show small crystals in a dark colored rock. This indicates rapid cooling from a basalt lava. The most interesting feature you can see are the hexagonal "posts". For them to form cooling must not have been too rapid. This amazing feature is Devil's Tower in Wyoming.

Igneous Rock Classification

Igneous rocks are classified by composition and texture. The composition can be felsic, intermediate, mafic or ultramafic. The composition depends on the minerals the rock includes. A felsic rock will contain felsic minerals.

The mineral compositions are listed in Table below. The table includes examples of minerals.

Properties of Igneous Rock Compositions
Composition Color Density Minerals
Felsic Light Low Quartz, orthoclase feldspar
Intermediate Intermediate Intermediate Plagioclase feldspar, biotite, amphibole
Mafic Dark High Olivine, pyroxene
Ultramafic Very dark Very high Olivine

Texture indicates how the magma cooled. Magma that cools rapidly has small or no visible crystals. Magma that cools slowly has large crystals. Table below shows the type of rock, the amount of silica it has, and examples.

Is this an intrusive or an extrusive igneous rock?

Is this an intrusive or an extrusive igneous rock?

In Figures above and above are two pairs of igneous rocks. The first pair is two rocks that formed from mafic magma. The basalt cooled rapidly and the gabbro cooled slowly. The second pair is two rocks that formed form a felsic magma. The rhyolite cooled rapidly and the granite cooled slowly. The color of the rocks and sizes of the crystals are your clues. There are other rock pairs that you could find in the Table below.

Silica Composition and Texture of Major Igneous Rocks
Type Amount of Silica Extrusive Intrusive
Ultramafic <45% Komatiite Peridotite
Mafic 45-52% Basalt Gabbro
Intermediate 52-63% Andesite Diorite
Intermediate-Felsic 63-69% Dacite Granodiorite
Felsic >69% SiO2 Rhyolite Granite


  • Igneous rocks are classified first by composition. Categories go from from felsic to ultramafic. Color can indicate composition.
  • Texture is second when classifying igneous rocks. Texture indicates how a rock cooled.
  • Igneous rocks are categorized in pairs. The two rocks in a pair have the same composition but different textures: gabbro-basalt, diorite-andesite, and granite-rhyolite.


Use this resource to answer the questions that follow.

Types of Igneous Rocks at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dgn-xSZHItU (2:14)

  1. Describe andesite.
  2. What is basalt?
  3. What is diorite?
  4. Describe gabbro.
  5. What is granite?
  6. How is obsidian formed? What is it?
  7. What is pegmatite?
  8. What is peridotite composed of?
  9. What is pumice?
  10. What is rhyolite?
  11. Describe scoria. How does it differ from pumice?
  12. What is tuff?


  1. Describe the formation of the igneous rock pair gabbro-basalt. Compare and contrast the two rock types.
  2. How does the composition of a rock affect its color?
  3. What are ultramafic rocks? What is their color?

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Date Created:
Jan 04, 2013
Last Modified:
Aug 29, 2016
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