Back Country Campsite Closed
Due to bear activity at Bryce Canyon's back-country, the following campsite has been closed until further notice: Sheep Creek
Activity 6: Metamorphic Rocks
ALL STRESSED OUT!
Metamorphic rocks are normal rocks that have undergone incredible stresses. These stresses changed the previous rock into a new rock with some of the same properties and some new properties.
Explain to students that metamorphic rocks are new rocks made from old rocks and how this happens.
Preparation: 30 min
Metamorphic means 'changed'. When a rock has been affected by metamorphic processes it has changed from one kind of rock to another. Metamorphic rocks can begin as igneous, sedimentary or other metamorphic rocks. They form when any kind of rock is exposed to high heat and high pressure over a long period of time. Extreme conditions like these for long periods can develop deep within the crust or where tectonic plates collide.
All metamorphic rocks have one thing in common, time. The longer a rock is exposed to one or all of the metamorphic stresses the more metamorphosed it becomes.
The creation of metamorphic rocks never involves melting the original rock. If these stresses do melt the original rock, an igneous rock is created. Metamorphic rocks change in the solid state by replacement or rearrangement of molecules. These changes are brought about by squishing, folding, and heating without ever melting!
Classifying metamorphic rocks is sometimes more difficult than identifying igneous or sedimentary rocks because of the various results of the varying stresses that affect them. The important thing to remember is the different stresses that can affect any rock can turn it into a metamorphosed rock.
Two easy metamorphic classifications are: foliated and non-foliated. Foliation describes the texture (how the rock looks) of metamorphic rocks. It has to do with the way minerals are aligned in a rock. When rock is subject to extreme pressure grains will squish in the 'Y" plane of the pressure. Elongate or flat grains, such as mica, will align themselves parallel with each other in the 'Y" direction.
When minerals line up parallel to each other, the rock shows a tendency to split along a plane created by those parallel grains. This is called rock cleavage, or slate cleavage, named for the fine-grained metamorphic rock slate which demonstrates this phenomenon. Sometimes minerals will not only align themselves in parallel directions, but will also segregate into bands of differing composition. This happens when rocks are subjected to the most intense heat and pressure they can stand without melting. A common example of the result of this phenomenon is gneiss. Slate, schist and gneiss are all foliated metamorphic rocks.
You are now going to make a metamorphic chocolate rock. You will place different stresses on chocolate pieces to form a metamorphic chocolate rock. The chocolate pieces represent grains in a rock or more easily visualized, individual grains like sandstone. As different stresses are placed on pieces students can witness or imagine how real rock reacts to the same stresses.
As you perform the demonstration ask students to list the different stresses that form metamorphic rocks. On the same paper have students draw what is happening to the chocolate pieces. First, the pieces are normal. Second, placed on heat. Third, pressure applied, etc. Ask if one of the forces were removed would a metamorphic rock form? Try removing one of the forces (heat, pressure, or time). How much did the rock change from all stresses compared to only one? What changed from the first picture they drew to the last picture of the chocolate rock.
Instead of using chocolate based pieces you may want to try jellybeans or some type of jelly concoctions. Replace the condensed milk with a Karo syrup and water mixture. The demonstration can be performed the same way.
Have students collect possible metamorphic rocks from their neighborhood or surrounding area a few days before class. Bring them to class. Use their drawings of the chocolate rock and classify which of the real rocks are the most metamorphosed and which are least metamorphosed.
Included National Parks and other sites:
Utah Science Core:
2nd Grade Standard 6 Objective 1,2,3
Did You Know?
The Bryce Canyon Paintbrush was discovered June 24, 1965 at Inspiration Point in Bryce Canyon National Park. This rare wildflower is only found in southwestern Utah. More...