Interpret Changes In Rocks

Background: As the rock cycle continues and rocks change from one type to another, more changes occur than meet the eye. Color, grain size, texture, and mineral composition are easily observed and described visually. Yet, with mineral changes come changes in crystal structure and density. How can these be accounted for and described? Studying pairs of sedimentary and metamorphic rocks can show you how.

Question: How do the characteristics of sedimentary and metamorphic rock compare?

Materials samples of sandstone, shale, limestone, quartzite, slate and marble magnifying lens paper beam balance

100-mL graduated cylinder or beaker that is large enough to hold the rock samples water

Safety Precautions ^C'jItC

Procedure l. 2.

Read and complete the lab safety form. Prepare a data table similar to the one at the right. Adjust the width of the columns as needed. Observe each rock sample. Record your observations in the data table.

Recall that density = mass/volume. Make a plan that will allow you to measure the mass and volume of a rock sample.

Determine the density of each rock sample, and record this information in the data table.

Difference Between Shale And Slate

Sample Data Table

Sample Number





Rock type

Specific characteristics




3. Describe the textural differences you observe between shale and slate.

4. Infer Compare your calculated densities to those calculated by other students. Infer why yours might differ.

5. Explain why the color of a sedimentary rock changes during metamorphism.

6. Evaluate the changes in density between shale and slate, sandstone and quartzite, and limestone and marble. Does density always change in the same way? Explain your observed results.

Analyze and Conclude

1. Compare and contrast shale and sandstone.

2. Describe how the grain size of sandstone changes during metamorphism.

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