This year for the Festival of Geology BGS has put together a little programme of activities looking at the rock cycle.
So dive right in and learn a little more about the incredible things that happen beneath our feet….
What is the rock cycle?
A rock is a solid collection of materials. Rocks can be divided into three main types depending on how they have been sourced or formed – sedimentary, igneous, and metamorphic. By learning about the rock cycle will you understand how these three rock types form, and where you might find them.
We have created an activity that you can do at home to help you understand how the different rock types are formed and reformed with starburst sweets.
We learnt from the sweet rock cycle activity that sedimentary rocks are recycled rocks, formed by the deposition of fragments of material that have been eroded and weathered from other parent rocks. Sediments are usually deposited in layers which gradually build up and then become compressed into solid rock.
Why not try this yourself? Leanne Hughes, a BGS geologist, shows how sedimentary rocks form in layers in this jam-jar geology video that you can re-create at home:
Metamorphic rocks can start out as a sedimentary, igneous, or even another metamorphic rock. Rocks that are buried underground can become subject to very high pressure and temperatures. Gradually the rocks undergo physical or chemical changes to become a metamorphic rock, good examples are marble or slate. Can you find any metamorphic rocks in your home? What is your roof made of? Or maybe your kitchen counter? Or floor?
Igneous rocks form when very hot molten material cools. This can happen deep underground, or at the Earth’s surface, such as near a volcano. You may think that volcanoes only exist in far off places, but did you know that there are the remains of volcanoes in the UK? A really good example is Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh. You can print out our volcano model, and build your own to learn a bit more about the internal structures of volcanoes.
UK and Ireland Geology
We have learnt about the rock cycle and the three types of rock. But how are they distributed around us? Colour in our geology map of the UK and Ireland and see for yourself.
If you want to know more about rocks and minerals and how they form you can visit our Discovering Geology web pages. Or maybe you would like to know the kind of rock underneath your house or school – you can use our Geology of Britain viewer to zoom into anywhere in the country and learn more about the rocks beneath our feet.