What are rocks?

I have been fascinated with rocks my whole life, even as a little kid. I have always had a rock and crystal collection and often come home with rocks in my pockets. So what is the difference between a rocks and a mineral?

Mineral Exhibition composite

A Minerals can be made from a single element or a combination of elements. An example is Quartz which is made up of oxygen and silicon. Rocks are made up of minerals. Each type of rocks is formed from a different mixture of minerals. Some minerals act as a glue sticking other mineral particles together.

© Australian Museum

The three main types of rock are sedimentary, metamorphic, and igneous. They are groups depending on how they are formed.

  1. Igneous rocks are form from the cooling of magma deep inside the earth. 
  2. Sedimentary rocks are formed from particles of sand, shells, pebbles, and other fragments of material.
  3. Metamorphic rocks are formed through the change (metamorphosis) of igneous and sedimentary rocks
Rock cycle illustration sedimentary, metamorphic and igneous formation Copyright : normaals  
© Australian Museum

Below are some common rocks and they groups they belong to.

© Australian Museum

Student Recommendations

Kara from Lyndhurst STEM Club recommends ‘A Career in Geology’ a website with a collection of great links on rocks, minerals and geology. Thanks for sharing this with us Kara.

Piper was volunteering at her school’s library to put together a collection of geology related references to help update the library guide. She recommends ‘Rocks, Minerals and Precious Stones’ as a great link with lots of other resources.

Carissa a student from Lakeville Nature Conservancy Earth Science and Environmental Education workshop wanted to share this link. It covers rock creation, rock classification, and has a great selection of rocks and minerals quizzes! Carissa is excited to share it with us because it covers the science behind rocks and has some fun rock collecting ideas!

Sarah Perowne thinks this collection of geology and earth science resources are perfect addition to anyones reserarch.

Find out more with Australian Environmental Education resources