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.

Latest Research and Reviews

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
    Nature Geoscience 10, 397–398
  • 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