Petrology

Definition

Petrology is the study of the macroscopic and microscopic mineralogical and chemical composition of rocks. In addition to assessing sedimentary, igneous, and metamorphic rocks that are accessible at the surface, experimental petrology aims to create high pressure and temperature conditions to investigate what rock types may exist in the Earth’s subsurface.

Featured

Latest Research and Reviews

  • Research |

    Quartz minerals in Earth’s crust are thought to melt at high temperatures. Laboratory friction experiments, however, show that metastable melting of quartz on a fault surface can occur at lower temperatures, and could lead to large earthquakes.

    • Sung Keun Lee
    • , Raehee Han
    • , Eun Jeong Kim
    • , Gi Young Jeong
    • , Hoon Khim
    •  & Takehiro Hirose
  • Research | | open

    Toba Caldera in Indonesia had one of the largest volcanic eruptions over the last 100 kyr and has since undergone periods of resurgence. Here, the authors present zircon and sediment age data showing resurgence started after the climactic eruption and lasted until 2.7 ka, advancing west and south.

    • Adonara E. Mucek
    • , Martin Danišík
    • , Shanaka L. de Silva
    • , Axel K. Schmitt
    • , Indyo Pratomo
    •  & Matthew A. Coble

News and Comment

  • News and Views |

    The long-term cooling of Earth's mantle is recorded in the declining temperature and volume of its volcanic outpourings over time. However, analyses of 89-million-year-old lavas from Costa Rica suggest that extremely hot mantle still lurks below.

    • Oliver Shorttle
  • News and Views |

    The composition of Earth's oldest crust is uncertain. Comparison of the most ancient mineral grains with more recent analogues suggests that formation of the earliest crust was heavily influenced by re-melting of igneous basement rocks.

    • Elizabeth Bell
  • News and Views |

    The geological record preserves scant evidence for early plate tectonics. Analysis of eclogites — metamorphic rocks formed in subduction zones — in the Trans-Hudson mountain belt suggests modern-style subduction may have operated 1,800 million years ago.

    • Clare Warren
    Nature Geoscience 10, 245–246
  • News and Views |

    Mantle enrichment processes were thought to be limited to parts of oceanic plates influenced by plumes and to continental interiors. Analyses of mantle fragments of the Pacific Plate suggest that such enrichment processes may operate everywhere.

    • Jonathan E. Snow
    Nature Geoscience 9, 862–863
  • News and Views |

    The composition of Earth's crust depends on the style of plate tectonics and of the melting regimes in the mantle. Analyses of the oldest identified rocks suggest that these styles and the resulting crust have changed over Earth's history.

    • Alan Brandon
    Nature Geoscience 9, 731–732
  • Correspondence |

    • Richard J. Arculus
    • , Osamu Ishizuka
    • , Kara A. Bogus
    • , Michael Gurnis
    • , Rosemary Hickey-Vargas
    • , Mohammed H. Aljahdali
    • , Alexandre N. Bandini-Maeder
    • , Andrew P. Barth
    • , Philipp A. Brandl
    • , Laureen Drab
    • , Rodrigo do Monte Guerra
    • , Morihisa Hamada
    • , Fuqing Jiang
    • , Kyoko Kanayama
    • , Sev Kender
    • , Yuki Kusano
    • , He Li
    • , Lorne C. Loudin
    • , Marco Maffione
    • , Kathleen M. Marsaglia
    • , Anders McCarthy
    • , Sebastién Meffre
    • , Antony Morris
    • , Martin Neuhaus
    • , Ivan P. Savov
    • , Clara Sena
    • , Frank J. Tepley III
    • , Cees van der Land
    • , Gene M. Yogodzinski
    •  & Zhaohui Zhang
    Nature Geoscience 9, 338–339