Chemical analyses of igneous rocks published from 1884 to 1900, with a critical discussion of the character and use of analyses

Professional Paper 14




In the first two or three decades of the last century, when the study of rocks as such was being differentiated from that of minerals and of rock terranes that is, when the science of petrogaphy was in its infancy little attention was paid to their chemical features. It is true that a number had been analyzed, but these were for the most part rocks that were of such a character as to lead the investigator of those early days to consider them as minerals, as was the case with the first described Ihcrzolite and wehrlite. In contradistinction to the individually well-defined minerals, rocks were regarded as merely aggregates of minerals, in presumably fortuitous combinations, and lacking that definiteness or constancy of composition in one mass or in different masses which would justify their chemical study as a whole. As, however, they became more and more the subjects of special research, beginning with the earliest investigations of Cordiera, a knowledge of their chemical composition assumed gradually increasing interest. The great importance of this side of the study of rocks was first clearly recognized by Abich, who pointed out, as early as 1841, the, necessity of a knowledge of their chemical composition for the solution of such problems as their origin, mode of formation, and connection with the interior of the earth, as well as the value of a comparison of their analyses as a proper basis for their classification and nomenclature. To him, therefore, is due the credit, of introducing the chemical composition of rocks as a basis for their classification; though the good influence of this suggestion for their right understanding was largely nullified by the coincident use of the feldspars alone as one of the main factors of classification, an idea which has had a deplorably retarding influence on the development of systematic petrography for many years, and which, even at the present day, holds many systematists firmly in its grasp.

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USGS Numbered Series
Chemical analyses of igneous rocks published from 1884 to 1900, with a critical discussion of the character and use of analyses
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Professional Paper
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Government Printing Office
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Washington, D.C.
495 p.
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