World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article


Article Id: WHEBN0000011795
Reproduction Date:

Title: Felsic  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Igneous rock, Rhyolite, Mafic, Intermediate composition, Granite
Collection: Igneous Petrology, Mineralogy
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


In geology felsic refers to igneous rocks that are relatively rich in elements that form feldspar and quartz.[1] It is contrasted with mafic rocks, which are relatively richer in magnesium and iron (ferric). It refers to those rocks rich in silicate minerals, magma, and rocks which are enriched in the lighter elements such as silicon, oxygen, aluminium, sodium, and potassium.

They are usually light in color and have specific gravities less than 3. The most common felsic rock is granite. Common felsic minerals include quartz, muscovite, orthoclase, and the sodium-rich plagioclase feldspars. In terms of chemistry, felsic minerals and rocks are at the other end of the elemental spectrum from the mafic minerals and rocks.


  • Terminology 1
  • Classification of felsic rocks 2
  • See also 3
  • Notes 4
  • References 5


In modern usage, the term acid rock, although sometimes used as a synonym, refers to a high-silica-content (greater than 63% SiO2 by weight) volcanic rock, such as rhyolite.

The term was used more broadly in older geologic literature. It is considered archaic now, as the terms "acidic" and "basic rock" were based on an incorrect idea, dating from the 19th century, that silicic acid was the chief form of silicon occurring in rocks.

The term "felsic" combines the words "feldspar" and "silica". The similarity of the term felsic to the German words Fels, meaning "rock", and felsig, meaning "rocky", is purely accidental, as feldspar is a borrowing from German Feldspat, which derives from German Feld, meaning "field".[2]

Classification of felsic rocks

A felsic volcanic lithic fragment, as seen in a petrographic microscope. Scale box is in millimeters.

In order for a rock to be classified as felsic, it generally needs to contain more than 75% felsic minerals; namely quartz, orthoclase and plagioclase. Rocks with greater than 90% felsic minerals can also be called leucocratic, meaning 'light-coloured'.

Felsite is a petrologic field term used to refer to very fine-grained or aphanitic, light-colored volcanic rocks which might be later reclassified after a more detailed microscopic or chemical analysis.

In some cases, felsic volcanic rocks may contain phenocrysts of mafic minerals, usually hornblende, pyroxene or a feldspar mineral, and may need to be named after their phenocryst mineral, such as 'hornblende-bearing felsite'.

The chemical name of a felsic rock is given according to the TAS classification of Le Maitre (1975). However, this only applies to volcanic rocks. If the rock is analyzed and found to be felsic but is metamorphic and has no definite volcanic protolith, it may be sufficient to simply call it a 'felsic schist'. There are examples known of highly sheared granites which can be mistaken for rhyolites.

For phaneritic felsic rocks, the QAPF diagram should be used, and a name given according to the granite nomenclature. Often the species of mafic minerals is included in the name, for instance, hornblende-bearing granite, pyroxene tonalite or augite megacrystic monzonite, because the term "granite" already assumes content with feldspar and quartz.

The rock texture thus determines the basic name of a felsic rock.

Close-up of granite from Yosemite National Park.
A specimen of rhyolite.
Rock texture Name of felsic rock
Pegmatitic Granite pegmatite
Coarse-grained (phaneritic) Granite
Coarse-grained and porphyritic Porphyritic granite
Fine-grained (aphanitic) Rhyolite
Fine-grained and porphyritic Porphyritic rhyolite
Pyroclastic Rhyolitic tuff or breccia
Vesicular Pumice
Amygdaloidal None
Vitreous (Glassy) Obsidian or porcellanite

See also


  1. ^ Marshak, Stephen, 2009, Essentials of Geology, W. W. Norton & Company, 3rd ed. ISBN 978-0393196566
  2. ^


  • Le Maitre, L. E., ed. 2002. Igneous Rocks: A Classification and Glossary of Terms 2nd edition, Cambridge
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.