Skip Navigation

Rocks and Processes of the Rock Cycle

The rock cycle depicts the three major rock types and the processes that lead to their formation.

Atoms Practice
This indicates how strong in your memory this concept is
Practice Now
Turn In
Making Sand

Making Sand

Credit: Mark A. Wilson, Department of Geology, The College of Wooster
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:PismoBeachSand.JPG
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

Along Pismo Beach in California the sand contains translucent grains of quartz. There is also chert, igneous rock and shell fragments.

Why It Matters

Credit: Eulinky
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/36113749@N00/2967203678
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

Beach made out of shells [Figure2]

  • Many beaches are made mostly of quartz sand. Other beaches are made of materials that are found nearby, other minerals or even shell fragments.
  • The materials found on a beach depend on what is nearby and what is brought in by streams.
  • The energy of the environment matters: If the energy is high, softer materials will wear away; if the energy is low, more materials survive.
  • The energy of water and of the particle striking the ground or other particles rounds the edges of grains.

Explore More

With the links below, learn more about sand. Then answer the following questions.

  1. How do different types of minerals form from an igneous magma?
  2. Why does the mineral quartz survive when other the other minerals that form in an igneous intrusive rock weather away?
  3. What are two reasons that might explain why the grains of sand that are found on a beach are of fairly uniform size and may be rounded?
  4. What is the size of sediments left by a stream from high upstream to downstream to a beach and even to offshore regions?
  5. On the map, there are two sands pictured from Hawaii (the two cameras on the left side of the map above the equator). Olivine is a high temperature mineral. Why is there olivine sand on the beach but no quartz sand?

Notes/Highlights Having trouble? Report an issue.

Color Highlighted Text Notes
Show More

Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: Mark A. Wilson, Department of Geology, The College of Wooster; Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:PismoBeachSand.JPG; License: CC BY-NC 3.0
  2. [2]^ Credit: Eulinky; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/36113749@N00/2967203678; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

Explore More

Sign in to explore more, including practice questions and solutions for Rocks and Processes of the Rock Cycle.
Please wait...
Please wait...