The gabbros and associated hornblende rocks occurring in the neighborhood of Baltimore, Maryland

Bulletin 28




Considerable attention has been devoted during late years to the metamorphism of igneous rocks, and it can now be regarded as placed beyond reasonable doubt that such rocks may be changed to more or less schistose masses, which often closely resemble crystallized sediments. This possibility has heretofore been largely ignored, owing doubtless to the extensive obliteration of those characteristics which are generally regarded as most typical of eruptive rocks. Schistose or banded structure, however, can now hardly be considered as necessarily an indication of sedimentary origin. The minerals which are most characteristic of the so-called crystalline schists have been repeatedly shown to be derived from the alteration of igneous as well as of aqueous formations. These minerals only represent the final and most stable combination of certain elements under certain conditions, and are quite independent of the earlier combinations in which these elements may have existed. A lava bed and a clay bank, if the two may be supposed to have originally had the same chemical composition, might, under the influence of the same metamorphic agencies, ultimately give rise to the same rock in spite of original differences in structure or mineralogical composition. Stratification may be obliterated by metamorphism, while foliation, or even a banded structure, may, by the same means, be secondarily induced. Neither structure nor mineral composition can be taken as an infallible guide in determining the origin or the age of rocks.

The present paper is intended as a contribution to our knowledge of a particular phase of metamorphism in eruptive rocks, i. e., that one which is dependent on the secondary development of hornblende by the paramorphism or pseudomorphism of pyroxene. This is a change the frequency of which renders it of fundamental geological importance. It has already received considerable attention from many eminent geologists, but no locality heretofore studied seems to have afforded opportunities for tracing out every stage in the process of alteration superior to those offered by the area of massive rocks west and northwest of the city of Baltimore. Here, covering a district of over fifty square miles, the unchanged pyroxene rock and its resultant hornblendic equivalent occur in the most intimate relations. Exposures of both rocks in situ are numerous, and the opportunity of following out the gradual transition of one into the other is proportionately great.

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The gabbros and associated hornblende rocks occurring in the neighborhood of Baltimore, Maryland
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U.S. Government Printing Office
78 p.
United States