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Metamorphic Rock Classification

Describes several of the common types of metamorphic rocks.

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Metamorphic Rock Classification

Why is this called Marble Canyon?

Marble Canyon in the Grand Canyon is made of sedimentary rock. But Marble Canyon in Death Valley is made of marble, metamorphosed limestone. Notice how shiny the marble is where it was smoothed by sand in rushing water. The rock has the altered appearance of metamorphic rock.

Metamorphic Rocks

Table below shows some common metamorphic rocks and their original parent rock.

Picture Rock Name Type of Metamorphic Rock Comments
Slate Foliated Metamorphism of shale
Phyllite Foliated Metamorphism of slate, but under greater heat and pressure than slate
Schist Foliated Often derived from metamorphism of claystone or shale; metamorphosed under more heat and pressure than phyllite
Gneiss Foliated Metamorphism of various different rocks, under extreme conditions of heat and pressure
Hornfels Non-foliated Contact metamorphism of various different rock types
Quartzite Non-foliated Metamorphism of quartz sandstone
Marble Non-foliated Metamorphism of limestone
Metaconglomerate Non-foliated Metamorphism of conglomerate


  • Foliated metamorphic rocks are platy; non-foliated metamorphic rocks are massive.
  • The more extreme the amount of metamorphism, the more difficult it is to tell what the original rock was.
  • Marble is metamorphosed limestone.


Use this resource to answer the questions that follow.

1. How are metamorphic rocks classified?

2. How do metamorphic rocks form?

3. What is recrystallization?

4. Why are these rocks the most dense?

5. Where do metamorphic rocks form?

6. Where does regional metamorphism occur?

7. What is a foliated rock?

8. What does shale become when heated and put under pressure?

9. What is schist?

10. Describe gneiss.

11. What is the evidence for regional metamorphosis?

12. What is contact metamorphism?

13. Where does contact metamorphism occur?

14. Describe non-foliated rocks.

15. Why is hornfels unique?


Answer these questions in a document.

1. How do geologists tell what the parent rock of a metamorphic rock was, particularly a rock that was highly metamorphosed?

2. How do slate, phyllite, and schist differ from each other? How are they the same?

3. How does quartzite differ from a metamorphosed sandstone that is made of more than one mineral?

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