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natural history page title
Identifying rocks, minerals and fossils

Introduction
What is a rock?
What is a mineral?
What is a fossil?
Rock, mineral or 
    fossil?

Rock key
    Sedimentary
   
Igneous

   
Metamorphic
       
Marble / 
            quartzite

       
Crystal band 
            key

        Gneiss / 
            schist

       
Layers key
       
Slate
       
Unknown 
         metamorphic


   
Unknown
Mineral key
Fossil key
Helpful books

  
Gneiss & schist
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image of the metamorphic rock gneiss

Your specimen could be either gneiss or schist. Gneiss is formed during very high grade metamorphism, when temperatures and pressures are extremely high, and it is thought that the parent rock (the original rock being exposed to metamorphism) may almost melt and then recrystallise into light and dark mineral bands. The light bands are made up of feldspar and quartz, and the dark bands of biotite and hornblende minerals. Gneisses form from a range of igneous and sedimentary parent rocks, and although not found in the Potteries area they can be found in Scotland.
Schists are formed during medium grade metamorphism: the pressures and temperatures are not as high as those needed to form gneiss but are higher than those needed to form slate. Schists contain a range of different minerals (which often indicate the precise condition in which the rock formed) and mica crystals in the rock often align to produce a texture known as schistosity.


If you want to see some examples of metamorphic rocks from The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery's collections, click here to search the Virtual Store.