Just like water, rocks and minerals are also very abundant natural substances found on the face of the Earth. We can see how rocks are distributed across the Earth’s surface in the form of mountains, land, ocean beds, river banks, and much more. You must have wondered why there are so many rocks on Earth. You might ask uses of rock and minerals, what types of rocks can be found naturally, and how. Let’s find answers to what are the uses of rocks and all related questions in this article together.
1. What is a Rock?
We are definitely not talking about Dwayne Johnson! According to geologists, a rock is a naturally occurring material made of solid crystals of various minerals that have fused to form a cemented mass. The age of the minerals doesn’t matter here as they are mostly fossil minerals. Rocks contain various geological materials, including minerals, inorganic non-mineral solids like glass, and even fossils. (See What is the Most Expensive Rock in the World?)
Fun Fact: The ground soil you see in your garden once used to rock!
2. What are 3 Basic Types of Rocks?
Elementary school textbooks have always had a chapter called soil, which contains the three basic types of rocks. According to that, Igneous, Sedimentary, and Metamorphic rocks are the three types that occur in nature. Each of these rocks results from physical processes that are a component of the rock cycle, such as melting, freezing, degrading, compacting, or deforming.
- When molten lava cools and solidifies, igneous rocks are created. Igneous rocks don’t have any organic material or fossils because of the intense heat. For example, pumice, basalt, and obsidian. Also, check out where is obsidian found?
- Rocks whose shapes have been altered by intense heat or pressure are called metamorphic rocks. These rocks are formed from mostly sedimentary or igneous rocks that have been altered by intense heat and pressure. There are two types of metamorphic rocks: foliated and non-foliated. Examples are marble, gneiss, and slate.
- Deposits of sediment are the source of sedimentary rocks. At first, every rock grain was dissociated from neighboring rocks. Normally, small bits of granite are carried down from highlands to lowlands together with soils, sand, and other rubble from rock masses and eroded mountains. Sometimes, organic debris and fossil fuels may settle inside the sediments, causing cementation. Examples of sedimentary rocks are sandstone, limestone, and conglomerate.
3. Which Rocks contain Fossils?
Paleontologists use fossils to reconstruct the evolution of life. Understanding the prehistoric ecosystem that existed in a place when they were living is another major benefit of fossils. Therefore, the carbon data in a fossil mustn’t get destroyed during the formation of rocks.
The sedimentary rocks form at temperatures and pressures that do not destroy fossil remains, unlike most igneous and metamorphic rocks. This is the reason why fossils commonly occur cemented within sedimentary rocks. (See What are the Characteristics of Sedimentary Rocks?)
4. What Rock is used to build Roads?
Three types of rocks are especially associated with road making. These three types of rocks are limestone, basalt, and sandstone. Let’s read in detail what are the uses of rocks in road construction.
- Limestone can be broken easily, making it useful for concrete and brick production.
- Basalt does not easily break, making it useful as aggregate in concrete production, piling for bridges, rails, and river walls. Sandstone is not as hard as basalt but readily falls into piles, making it useful for rubble and concrete production. Must read about the road construction process.
5. What are the Uses of Rocks? What are the Uses of Rock and Minerals?
What would the planet be like without rocks? Rocks are significant due to their role as the universe’s foundational elements. So, what are the uses of rocks? Here are some uses of rock and minerals listed below:
- The parent material for soils is rocks. The majority of soil is made up of minerals that come from the weathering of rocks. As a result, most of the agriculture and construction sectors are directly and indirectly dependent on rocks.
- All the ores we use come from various rocks. Carbonaceous materials such as coal, natural gas, and petroleum are concentrated in sedimentary rocks. Also, check out how is Gasoline made from oil?)
- Igneous and metamorphic rocks may also provide precious stones like diamonds, ruby, and emeralds. These stones are used in jewelry.
- Numerous rocks are employed in the construction of buildings, roads, and dams. Building stones like marble and granite are highly demanded and regarded as extremely precious. They provide the houses and structures with a beautiful polish and are long-lasting.
- In igneous or metamorphic rocks, metallic minerals including iron, copper, bauxite, lead, zinc, and gold can be found. Iron ore is treated to manufacture steel, and copper is extracted from its ore by chemical processing. Bauxite is used to extract aluminum from it.
- Similarly, non-metallic minerals give products like silica, the key ingredient in glass, and coal, the most significant source of electricity globally. (See What are Rubies made of?)
6. How we use Rocks and Minerals in Everyday Life?
Minerals and rocks are everywhere around us. They are a part of daily life and aid in developing new technology. Let’s see what are the uses of rocks in more detail:
- We utilize rocks and minerals for construction, cosmetics, transportation, infrastructure, and appliances. (See What does Fool’s Gold look like?)
- People must eat minerals daily to be healthy and build their bodies.
- Gypsum serves as the foundation for much of the drywall in our lives. It acts as the first line of protection against building fires because it includes water in its mineral composition, which is lost when heated.
- Similarly, chalk, clay, and slate come in handy in our daily lives.
- You can see granite and marble used for flooring and furnishing purposes.
- We often use pumice scrubbers to exfoliate the thick skin of our feet.
- The elements sodium and chlorine, both dangerous on their own, combine to make the mineral known as salt. They combine to form an important nutrient. The majority of salt is created when seawater evaporates.
- The main mineral in the sand is quartz, which is melted to create glass.
- Sulfur is a naturally occurring element and a key component of gunpowder, which gives fireworks their explosive power and is previously employed as a propellant for bullets. Matches, one of the most reliable ways to ignite a fire, also contain sulfur.
- Furthermore, our bodies require minerals like calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, iron, iodine, and others in a minute amount to maintain the normal functions of all their processes.
- Even the electricity helping you read this article comes from coal burning. Coal is a fossil fuel found as a mineral trapped inside sedimentary rocks. So, this is how much rocks and minerals are embedded into our daily lives. (See Where does Sea Glass come from?)
7. What is the Economic Importance of Rocks?
After knowing what are the uses of rocks, you might ask about their economic importance. Let us state that rocks are the third most important building element of life on Earth, behind oxygen and water. They can be used for anything, and the economy relies heavily on the rocks and minerals mined from them. To summarize, here are five instances where the economy interacts with rocks:
- Rocks have a tremendous value as a direct and indirect resource, similar to minerals.
- It is the weathering of the rocks that make soil. Must read what are the uses of soil?
- Rocks are the source of almost all building materials needed to construct bridges, structures, and walls for homes.
- Precious metals like gold, silver, and platinum are found in rocks.
- Rock wastes, in addition to minerals and fossil fuels, are increasingly utilized to produce many other items. (See How much is a Meteorite Worth per pound?)
Thus, we can conclude that all living creatures and the entire universe are made up of minerals. The many applications of minerals are due to their distinctive chemical and physical characteristics. In this article, we learned a lot about what are the uses of rocks and the types of rocks commonly found in nature. We also learned the uses of rock and minerals and their sources. (Also read How Many Blocks make an Igloo?)