Gneiss
Overview
Gneiss is a common and widely distributed type of rock
Rock (geology)
In geology, rock or stone is a naturally occurring solid aggregate of minerals and/or mineraloids.The Earth's outer solid layer, the lithosphere, is made of rock. In general rocks are of three types, namely, igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic...

 formed by high-grade regional metamorphic
Metamorphic rock
Metamorphic rock is the transformation of an existing rock type, the protolith, in a process called metamorphism, which means "change in form". The protolith is subjected to heat and pressure causing profound physical and/or chemical change...

 processes from pre-existing formations that were originally either igneous
Igneous rock
Igneous rock is one of the three main rock types, the others being sedimentary and metamorphic rock. Igneous rock is formed through the cooling and solidification of magma or lava...

 or sedimentary
Sedimentary rock
Sedimentary rock are types of rock that are formed by the deposition of material at the Earth's surface and within bodies of water. Sedimentation is the collective name for processes that cause mineral and/or organic particles to settle and accumulate or minerals to precipitate from a solution....

 rocks.
The etymology of the word "gneiss" is disputed. Some sources say it comes from the Middle High German
Middle High German
Middle High German , abbreviated MHG , is the term used for the period in the history of the German language between 1050 and 1350. It is preceded by Old High German and followed by Early New High German...

 verb
Verb
A verb, from the Latin verbum meaning word, is a word that in syntax conveys an action , or a state of being . In the usual description of English, the basic form, with or without the particle to, is the infinitive...

 gneist (to spark; so called because the rock glitters). It has occurred in English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 since at least 1757.

Other sources claim the root to be an old Saxon
Saxony
The Free State of Saxony is a landlocked state of Germany, contingent with Brandenburg, Saxony Anhalt, Thuringia, Bavaria, the Czech Republic and Poland. It is the tenth-largest German state in area, with of Germany's sixteen states....

 mining term that seems to have meant decayed, rotten, or possibly worthless material.
Gneissic rocks are usually medium- to coarse-foliated
Foliation (geology)
Foliation is any penetrative planar fabric present in rocks. Foliation is common to rocks affected by regional metamorphic compression typical of orogenic belts. Rocks exhibiting foliation include the standard sequence formed by the prograde metamorphism of mudrocks; slate, phyllite, schist and...

 and largely recrystallized
Recrystallization (geology)
In geology, solid-state recrystallization is a metamorphic process that occurs under situations of intense temperature and pressure where grains, atoms or molecules of a rock or mineral are packed closer together, creating a new crystal structure. The basic composition remains the same...

 but do not carry large quantities of mica
Mica
The mica group of sheet silicate minerals includes several closely related materials having highly perfect basal cleavage. All are monoclinic, with a tendency towards pseudohexagonal crystals, and are similar in chemical composition...

s, chlorite
Chlorite group
The chlorites are a group of phyllosilicate minerals. Chlorites can be described by the following four endmembers based on their chemistry via substitution of the following four elements in the silicate lattice; Mg, Fe, Ni, and Mn....

 or other platy mineral
Mineral
A mineral is a naturally occurring solid chemical substance formed through biogeochemical processes, having characteristic chemical composition, highly ordered atomic structure, and specific physical properties. By comparison, a rock is an aggregate of minerals and/or mineraloids and does not...

s.
Encyclopedia
Gneiss is a common and widely distributed type of rock
Rock (geology)
In geology, rock or stone is a naturally occurring solid aggregate of minerals and/or mineraloids.The Earth's outer solid layer, the lithosphere, is made of rock. In general rocks are of three types, namely, igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic...

 formed by high-grade regional metamorphic
Metamorphic rock
Metamorphic rock is the transformation of an existing rock type, the protolith, in a process called metamorphism, which means "change in form". The protolith is subjected to heat and pressure causing profound physical and/or chemical change...

 processes from pre-existing formations that were originally either igneous
Igneous rock
Igneous rock is one of the three main rock types, the others being sedimentary and metamorphic rock. Igneous rock is formed through the cooling and solidification of magma or lava...

 or sedimentary
Sedimentary rock
Sedimentary rock are types of rock that are formed by the deposition of material at the Earth's surface and within bodies of water. Sedimentation is the collective name for processes that cause mineral and/or organic particles to settle and accumulate or minerals to precipitate from a solution....

 rocks.

Etymology

The etymology of the word "gneiss" is disputed. Some sources say it comes from the Middle High German
Middle High German
Middle High German , abbreviated MHG , is the term used for the period in the history of the German language between 1050 and 1350. It is preceded by Old High German and followed by Early New High German...

 verb
Verb
A verb, from the Latin verbum meaning word, is a word that in syntax conveys an action , or a state of being . In the usual description of English, the basic form, with or without the particle to, is the infinitive...

 gneist (to spark; so called because the rock glitters). It has occurred in English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 since at least 1757.

Other sources claim the root to be an old Saxon
Saxony
The Free State of Saxony is a landlocked state of Germany, contingent with Brandenburg, Saxony Anhalt, Thuringia, Bavaria, the Czech Republic and Poland. It is the tenth-largest German state in area, with of Germany's sixteen states....

 mining term that seems to have meant decayed, rotten, or possibly worthless material.

Composition

Gneissic rocks are usually medium- to coarse-foliated
Foliation (geology)
Foliation is any penetrative planar fabric present in rocks. Foliation is common to rocks affected by regional metamorphic compression typical of orogenic belts. Rocks exhibiting foliation include the standard sequence formed by the prograde metamorphism of mudrocks; slate, phyllite, schist and...

 and largely recrystallized
Recrystallization (geology)
In geology, solid-state recrystallization is a metamorphic process that occurs under situations of intense temperature and pressure where grains, atoms or molecules of a rock or mineral are packed closer together, creating a new crystal structure. The basic composition remains the same...

 but do not carry large quantities of mica
Mica
The mica group of sheet silicate minerals includes several closely related materials having highly perfect basal cleavage. All are monoclinic, with a tendency towards pseudohexagonal crystals, and are similar in chemical composition...

s, chlorite
Chlorite group
The chlorites are a group of phyllosilicate minerals. Chlorites can be described by the following four endmembers based on their chemistry via substitution of the following four elements in the silicate lattice; Mg, Fe, Ni, and Mn....

 or other platy mineral
Mineral
A mineral is a naturally occurring solid chemical substance formed through biogeochemical processes, having characteristic chemical composition, highly ordered atomic structure, and specific physical properties. By comparison, a rock is an aggregate of minerals and/or mineraloids and does not...

s. Gneisses that are metamorphosed igneous rocks or their equivalent are termed granite
Granite
Granite is a common and widely occurring type of intrusive, felsic, igneous rock. Granite usually has a medium- to coarse-grained texture. Occasionally some individual crystals are larger than the groundmass, in which case the texture is known as porphyritic. A granitic rock with a porphyritic...

 gneisses, diorite
Diorite
Diorite is a grey to dark grey intermediate intrusive igneous rock composed principally of plagioclase feldspar , biotite, hornblende, and/or pyroxene. It may contain small amounts of quartz, microcline and olivine. Zircon, apatite, sphene, magnetite, ilmenite and sulfides occur as accessory...

 gneisses, etc. Depending on their composition, they may also be called garnet
Garnet
The garnet group includes a group of minerals that have been used since the Bronze Age as gemstones and abrasives. The name "garnet" may come from either the Middle English word gernet meaning 'dark red', or the Latin granatus , possibly a reference to the Punica granatum , a plant with red seeds...

 gneiss, biotite
Biotite
Biotite is a common phyllosilicate mineral within the mica group, with the approximate chemical formula . More generally, it refers to the dark mica series, primarily a solid-solution series between the iron-endmember annite, and the magnesium-endmember phlogopite; more aluminous endmembers...

 gneiss, albite
Albite
Albite is a plagioclase feldspar mineral. It is the sodium endmember of the plagioclase solid solution series. As such it represents a plagioclase with less than 10% anorthite content. The pure albite endmember has the formula NaAlSi3O8. It is a tectosilicate. Its color is usually pure white, hence...

 gneiss, etc.

Gneiss displays compositional banding where the minerals are arranged into bands of more mafic
Mafic
Mafic is an adjective describing a silicate mineral or rock that is rich in magnesium and iron; the term is a portmanteau of the words "magnesium" and "ferric". Most mafic minerals are dark in color and the relative density is greater than 3. Common rock-forming mafic minerals include olivine,...

 minerals and more felsic
Felsic
The word "felsic" is a term used in geology to refer to silicate minerals, magma, and rocks which are enriched in the lighter elements such as silicon, oxygen, aluminium, sodium, and potassium....

 minerals. This is developed under high temperature and pressure conditions.

Types

Orthogneiss designates a gneiss derived from an igneous rock, and paragneiss is one from a sedimentary rock. Gneissose is used to describe rocks with properties similar to gneiss.

Lewisian

Most of the Outer Hebrides
Outer Hebrides
The Outer Hebrides also known as the Western Isles and the Long Island, is an island chain off the west coast of Scotland. The islands are geographically contiguous with Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, one of the 32 unitary council areas of Scotland...

 of Scotland have a bedrock formed from Lewisian gneiss
Lewisian complex
The Lewisian complex or Lewisian Gneiss is a suite of Precambrian metamorphic rocks that outcrop in the northwestern part of Scotland, forming part of the Hebridean Terrane. These rocks are of Archaean and Paleoproterozoic age, ranging from 3.0–1.7 Ga. They form the basement on which the...

. These are amongst the oldest rocks in Europe and some of the oldest in the world, having been formed in the Precambrian
Precambrian
The Precambrian is the name which describes the large span of time in Earth's history before the current Phanerozoic Eon, and is a Supereon divided into several eons of the geologic time scale...

 "super-eon", up to 3 billion years ago. In addition to the Outer Hebrides, they form basement deposits on the Scottish mainland west of the Moine Thrust
Moine Thrust Belt
The Moine Thrust Belt is a linear geological feature in the Scottish Highlands which runs from Loch Eriboll on the north coast 190 km south-west to the Sleat peninsula on the Isle of Skye...

 and on the islands of Coll
Coll
Coll is a small island, west of Mull in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland. Coll is known for its sandy beaches, which rise to form large sand dunes, for its corncrakes, and for Breachacha Castle.-Geography and geology:...

 and Tiree
Tiree
-History:Tiree is known for the 1st century BC Dùn Mòr broch, for the prehistoric carved Ringing Stone and for the birds of the Ceann a' Mhara headland....

. These rocks are largely igneous in origin, mixed with metamorphosed marble
Marble
Marble is a metamorphic rock composed of recrystallized carbonate minerals, most commonly calcite or dolomite.Geologists use the term "marble" to refer to metamorphosed limestone; however stonemasons use the term more broadly to encompass unmetamorphosed limestone.Marble is commonly used for...

, quartzite
Quartzite
Quartzite is a hard metamorphic rock which was originally sandstone. Sandstone is converted into quartzite through heating and pressure usually related to tectonic compression within orogenic belts. Pure quartzite is usually white to gray, though quartzites often occur in various shades of pink...

 and mica schist and intruded by later basaltic dykes and granite magma. The gneiss's delicate pink colours are exposed throughout the islands and it is sometimes referred to by geologists as "The Old Boy".

Augen gneiss

Augen
Augen
Augen are large, lenticular eye-shaped mineral grains or mineral aggregates visible in some foliated metamorphic rocks. In cross section they have the shape of an eye.Feldspar, quartz, and garnet are common minerals which form augen....

 gneiss, from the German Augen ˈaʊɡən, meaning "eye", is a coarse-grained gneiss, interpreted as resulting from metamorphism of granite, which contains characteristic elliptic or lenticular
Lens (geology)
In geology a lens is a body of ore or rock or a deposit that is thick in the middle and thin at the edges, resembling a convex lens in cross-section. Adjective: "lenticular"....

 shear bound feldspar porphyroclast
Porphyroclast
thumb|350px|right|A [[mylonite]] showing a number of porphyroclasts: a clear red [[garnet]] left in the picture while smaller white [[feldspar]] porphyroclasts can be found all over...

s, normally microcline
Microcline
Microcline is an important igneous rock-forming tectosilicate mineral. It is a potassium-rich alkali feldspar. Microcline typically contains minor amounts of sodium. It is common in granite and pegmatites. Microcline forms during slow cooling of orthoclase; it is more stable at lower temperatures...

, within the layering of the quartz, biotite and magnetite bands.
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