Matrix (geology)
The matrix or groundmass 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...

 is the finer grained mass of material in which larger grains, crystal
A crystal or crystalline solid is a solid material whose constituent atoms, molecules, or ions are arranged in an orderly repeating pattern extending in all three spatial dimensions. The scientific study of crystals and crystal formation is known as crystallography...

s or clasts are embedded.

The matrix of an igneous rock
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...

 consists of finer grained, often microscopic, crystals in which larger crystals (phenocryst
thumb|right|300px|[[Granite]]s often have large [[feldspar|feldspatic]] phenocrysts. This granite, from the [[Switzerland|Swiss]] side of the [[Mont Blanc]] massif, has large white [[plagioclase]] phenocrysts, [[triclinic]] [[mineral]]s that give [[trapezium|trapezoid]] shapes when cut through)...

s) are embedded. This porphyritic
Porphyry (geology)
Porphyry is a variety of igneous rock consisting of large-grained crystals, such as feldspar or quartz, dispersed in a fine-grained feldspathic matrix or groundmass. The larger crystals are called phenocrysts...

 texture is indicative of multi-stage cooling of magma
Magma is a mixture of molten rock, volatiles and solids that is found beneath the surface of the Earth, and is expected to exist on other terrestrial planets. Besides molten rock, magma may also contain suspended crystals and dissolved gas and sometimes also gas bubbles. Magma often collects in...

. For example, porphyritic andesite
Andesite is an extrusive igneous, volcanic rock, of intermediate composition, with aphanitic to porphyritic texture. In a general sense, it is the intermediate type between basalt and dacite. The mineral assemblage is typically dominated by plagioclase plus pyroxene and/or hornblende. Magnetite,...

 will have large phenocrysts of plagioclase
Plagioclase is an important series of tectosilicate minerals within the feldspar family. Rather than referring to a particular mineral with a specific chemical composition, plagioclase is a solid solution series, more properly known as the plagioclase feldspar series...

 in a fine-grained matrix. Also in South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

, diamond
In mineralogy, diamond is an allotrope of carbon, where the carbon atoms are arranged in a variation of the face-centered cubic crystal structure called a diamond lattice. Diamond is less stable than graphite, but the conversion rate from diamond to graphite is negligible at ambient conditions...

s are often mined from a matrix of weathered
Weathered is the third album by Creed, released on November 20, 2001. Some versions are enhanced CDs and include videos. It has been certified 6× platinum by the RIAA...

Clay is a general term including many combinations of one or more clay minerals with traces of metal oxides and organic matter. Geologic clay deposits are mostly composed of phyllosilicate minerals containing variable amounts of water trapped in the mineral structure.- Formation :Clay minerals...

-like rock (kimberlite
Kimberlite is a type of potassic volcanic rock best known for sometimes containing diamonds. It is named after the town of Kimberley in South Africa, where the discovery of an diamond in 1871 spawned a diamond rush, eventually creating the Big Hole....

) called "yellow ground".

The matrix of sedimentary rocks is finer grained sedimentary material, such as clay or silt
Silt is granular material of a size somewhere between sand and clay whose mineral origin is quartz and feldspar. Silt may occur as a soil or as suspended sediment in a surface water body...

, in which larger grains or clasts are embedded. It also used to describe the rock material in which a fossil is embedded.


All sediments are at first in an incoherent condition (e.g. sands, clays and gravels, beds of shells, etc.), and in this state they may remain for an indefinite period. Millions of years have elapsed since some of the early Tertiary
The Tertiary is a deprecated term for a geologic period 65 million to 2.6 million years ago. The Tertiary covered the time span between the superseded Secondary period and the Quaternary...

 strata gathered on the ocean floor, yet they are quite friable (e.g. the London Clay
London Clay
The London Clay Formation is a marine geological formation of Ypresian age which crops out in the southeast of England. The London Clay is well known for the fossils it contains. The fossils from the Lower Eocene indicate a moderately warm climate, the flora being tropical or subtropical...

) and differ little from many recent accumulations. There are few exceptions, however, to the rule that with increasing age sedimentary rocks become more and more indurated, and the older they are the more likely it is that they will have the firm consistency generally implied in the term "rock".

The pressure of newer sediments on underlying masses is apparently one cause of this change, though not in itself a very powerful one. More efficiency is generally ascribed to the action of percolating water, which takes up certain soluble materials and redeposits them in pores and cavities. This operation is probably accelerated by the increased pressure produced by superincumbent masses, and to some extent also by the rise of temperature which inevitably takes place in rocks buried to some depth beneath the surface. The rise of temperature, however, is never very great; we know more than one instance of sedimentary deposits which have been buried beneath four or five miles of similar strata (e.g. parts of the Old Red Sandstone
Old Red Sandstone
The Old Red Sandstone is a British rock formation of considerable importance to early paleontology. For convenience the short version of the term, 'ORS' is often used in literature on the subject.-Sedimentology:...

), yet no perceptible difference in condition can be made out between beds of similar composition at the top of the series and near its base.

The redeposited cementing material is most commonly calcareous or siliceous. Limestone
Limestone is a sedimentary rock composed largely of the minerals calcite and aragonite, which are different crystal forms of calcium carbonate . Many limestones are composed from skeletal fragments of marine organisms such as coral or foraminifera....

s, which were originally a loose accumulation of shells, corals, etc., become compacted into firm rock in this manner; and the process often takes place with surprising ease, as for example in the deeper parts of coral reef
Coral reef
Coral reefs are underwater structures made from calcium carbonate secreted by corals. Coral reefs are colonies of tiny living animals found in marine waters that contain few nutrients. Most coral reefs are built from stony corals, which in turn consist of polyps that cluster in groups. The polyps...

s, or even in wind-blown masses of shelly sand exposed merely to the action of rain. The cementing substance may be regularly deposited in crystalline continuity on the original grains, where these were crystalline; and even in sandstone
Sandstone is a sedimentary rock composed mainly of sand-sized minerals or rock grains.Most sandstone is composed of quartz and/or feldspar because these are the most common minerals in the Earth's crust. Like sand, sandstone may be any colour, but the most common colours are tan, brown, yellow,...

s (such as Kentish Rag) a crystalline matrix of calcite
Calcite is a carbonate mineral and the most stable polymorph of calcium carbonate . The other polymorphs are the minerals aragonite and vaterite. Aragonite will change to calcite at 380-470°C, and vaterite is even less stable.-Properties:...

 often envelops the sand grains. The change of aragonite
Aragonite is a carbonate mineral, one of the two common, naturally occurring, crystal forms of calcium carbonate, CaCO3...

 to calcite and of calcite to dolomite
Dolomite is a carbonate mineral composed of calcium magnesium carbonate CaMg2. The term is also used to describe the sedimentary carbonate rock dolostone....

, by forming new crystalline masses in the interior of the rock, usually also accelerates consolidations. Silica is less easily soluble in ordinary waters, but even this ingredient of rocks is dissolved and redeposited with great frequency. Many sandstones are held together by an infinitesimal amount of colloid or cryptocrystalline silica; when freshly dug from the quarry they are soft and easily trimmed, but after exposure to the air for some time they become much harder, as their siliceous cement sets and passes into a rigid condition. Others contain fine scales of kaolin or of 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...

. Argillaceous materials may be compacted by mere pressure, like graphite
The mineral graphite is one of the allotropes of carbon. It was named by Abraham Gottlob Werner in 1789 from the Ancient Greek γράφω , "to draw/write", for its use in pencils, where it is commonly called lead . Unlike diamond , graphite is an electrical conductor, a semimetal...

and other scaly minerals.
The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.