Granulites are a type of high-grade metamorphic rock that forms under conditions of high temperature and pressure. They are characterized by the presence of granular minerals, which means that the mineral grains are roughly equidimensional and roughly the same size. The most common minerals found in granulites include feldspar, pyroxene, amphibole, and garnet.


Granulites are classified as a type of metamorphic rock, specifically within the high-grade metamorphic category. They are characterized by their fine-grained texture and the presence of minerals that have undergone recrystallization, resulting in the development of granular textures. The minerals in granulites often exhibit distinct crystal shapes and may display a preferred orientation.

The classification of granulites is based on the mineral assemblage and composition. Some common types of granulites include:

  1. Orthopyroxene Granulite: Dominated by orthopyroxene, with other minerals like garnet and biotite.
  2. Pyroxene Granulite: Contains pyroxene as a dominant mineral, along with other minerals like plagioclase and garnet.
  3. Hornblende Granulite: Dominated by hornblende (amphibole), often with plagioclase and garnet.
  4. Granite Granulite: Contains a significant amount of feldspar, in addition to other minerals like quartz and biotite.

Formation Conditions and Metamorphic Processes:

Granulites form under high-temperature and high-pressure conditions during the metamorphism of pre-existing rocks. The typical pressure range for granulite formation is 7-15 kilobars, and the temperature range is 700-900 degrees Celsius. These conditions are usually associated with the deep crust or the lower crust.

The metamorphic processes involved in the formation of granulites include:

  1. Recrystallization: Existing minerals in the protolith (original rock) undergo recrystallization, resulting in the development of new mineral grains with a granular texture.
  2. Mineral Growth: New minerals, such as garnet, pyroxene, and amphibole, may grow during metamorphism, contributing to the characteristic mineral assemblage of granulites.
  3. Pressure and Temperature Changes: The rock experiences changes in pressure and temperature, leading to the transformation of minerals into stable high-grade metamorphic assemblages.

Geological Settings:

Granulites are commonly found in the following geological settings:

  1. Deep Crustal Regions: Granulites are often associated with the deep crust, where high temperatures and pressures prevail. They can be found in regions that have undergone deep burial and subsequent exhumation.
  2. Collisional Orogenic Belts: Granulites are frequently encountered in collisional orogenic belts, where tectonic plates collide and undergo intense deformation and metamorphism. Examples include parts of the Himalayas and the Grenville Province in North America.
  3. Continental Shields: Some granulites are exposed at the Earth’s surface in continental shields, where ancient rocks have been uplifted and eroded over geological time. The Canadian Shield is a notable example with significant exposures of granulitic rocks.

In summary, granulites are high-grade metamorphic rocks formed under high-temperature and high-pressure conditions. They exhibit distinctive mineral assemblages and are commonly found in deep crustal regions, collisional orogenic belts, and continental shields.

Mineralogy of Granulites


The mineralogy of granulites is characterized by a specific assemblage of high-temperature and high-pressure minerals. The typical mineral constituents of granulites include a variety of ferromagnesian minerals, feldspar, and sometimes quartz. The specific mineral assemblage can vary depending on the protolith (the original rock) and the metamorphic conditions. Here are some key minerals commonly found in granulites:

  1. Orthopyroxene: Orthopyroxene is a common mineral in granulites and often occurs in large, equidimensional grains. It is a high-temperature silicate mineral and is part of the pyroxene group.
  2. Clinopyroxene: Clinopyroxene, another member of the pyroxene group, can be present in granulites, especially in those that have undergone partial melting.
  3. Amphibole (Hornblende): Amphibole minerals, such as hornblende, are often found in granulites. They are hydrous minerals and are part of the larger group of silicate minerals known as the amphibole group.
  4. Garnet: Garnet is a common accessory mineral in granulites and can occur in a range of colors. It often forms as large, conspicuous crystals and is an indicator of high-grade metamorphism.
  5. Feldspar (Plagioclase and Orthoclase): Feldspar minerals, including plagioclase and orthoclase, are common constituents of granulites. Plagioclase is more common, but orthoclase can also be present, especially in granites or granitoid granulites.
  6. Quartz: Quartz may be present in some granulites, particularly those with a significant amount of silica in their protolith. However, not all granulites contain quartz.
  7. Biotite: Biotite is a common mica mineral found in granulites. It is a sheet silicate mineral that contributes to the overall texture of the rock.
  8. Olivine: In some cases, olivine may be present, especially in ultramafic protoliths that undergo granulite facies metamorphism.
  9. Plagioclase: Plagioclase feldspar is often present in granulites and may show signs of recrystallization and deformation.

The specific mineralogy of a granulite is influenced by factors such as the composition of the original rock, the pressure and temperature conditions during metamorphism, and the presence of fluids. As granulites are high-grade metamorphic rocks, they typically form in the deep crust or lower crust under conditions of elevated temperature and pressure. The minerals present in granulites provide valuable information about the conditions and processes that occurred during their formation.

Granulites Properties


Granulites are high-grade metamorphic rocks that form under conditions of high temperature and pressure. Their properties are influenced by the mineralogy, texture, and the processes involved in their metamorphic evolution. Here are some key properties of granulites:

  1. Mineral Composition:
    • Granulites are typically composed of mineral assemblages indicative of high-grade metamorphism. Common minerals include orthopyroxene, clinopyroxene, amphibole (hornblende), garnet, feldspar (plagioclase and/or orthoclase), and sometimes quartz.
    • The specific mineral composition can vary depending on the protolith and the metamorphic conditions.
  2. Texture:
    • Granulites exhibit a granular texture, characterized by equidimensional and relatively uniform-sized mineral grains. This texture is a result of recrystallization and the development of new minerals during metamorphism.
    • The minerals often display a preferred orientation, contributing to the rock’s foliated or non-foliated appearance.
  3. Color:
    • The color of granulites can vary widely depending on mineral composition. Common colors include shades of red, brown, green, and gray. Garnet, in particular, can impart a reddish hue to the rock.
  4. Hardness:
    • The hardness of granulites varies based on the minerals present. Garnet and pyroxene, being relatively hard minerals, contribute to the overall hardness of the rock.
  5. Density:
    • The density of granulites depends on the mineral composition and the degree of metamorphic compaction. Generally, granulites have a higher density compared to their protoliths due to the removal of pore spaces during metamorphism.
  6. Pressure-Temperature Conditions:
    • Granulites form under high-pressure, high-temperature conditions, typically in the range of 7-15 kilobars of pressure and 700-900 degrees Celsius. The specific conditions can influence the mineralogy and textures observed in the rock.
  7. Metamorphic Grade:
    • Granulites represent a high metamorphic grade and are indicative of advanced metamorphism. They are associated with the granulite facies, which is one of the highest metamorphic grades defined by specific mineral assemblages.
  8. Occurrence:
    • Granulites are commonly found in deep crustal regions and are associated with tectonic processes such as continental collision, subduction, and crustal thickening. They occur in specific geological settings, including continental shields, orogenic belts, and ancient cratons.
  9. Cleavage and Fracture:
    • The cleavage and fracture properties of granulites can vary based on mineral types. Feldspar, for example, may exhibit cleavage planes, while minerals like garnet may show conchoidal fractures.
  10. Use in Construction:
  • While not as widely used in construction as some other rock types, granulites with attractive mineral compositions and textures can be used as decorative stones in architectural applications, such as countertops and flooring.

Understanding the properties of granulites is essential for geological studies, and certain characteristics, such as hardness and mineral composition, may also influence their potential use in certain industrial applications.

Metamorphic History


Protoliths and Pre-Metamorphic History:

Granulites originate from a variety of protoliths, which are the original rocks that undergo metamorphism. The nature of the protolith influences the mineralogy and texture of the resulting granulites. Common protoliths for granulites include:

  1. Basaltic Rocks: Basalts, which are volcanic rocks rich in mafic minerals, can give rise to basaltic granulites.
  2. Gabbros: Gabbros, intrusive rocks also rich in mafic minerals, can undergo metamorphism to produce gabbroic granulites.
  3. Pelitic Sediments: Fine-grained sediments rich in clay minerals and organic matter can metamorphose into pelitic granulites.
  4. Felsic Rocks: Granitic or felsic rocks can transform into felsic granulites, characterized by the presence of minerals like feldspar, quartz, and mica.
  5. Ultramafic Rocks: Ultramafic rocks, composed mainly of olivine and pyroxene, can metamorphose into ultramafic granulites.

The pre-metamorphic history involves the geological processes that affected the protoliths before metamorphism. This history includes sedimentation, volcanic activity, tectonic processes (such as subduction or continental collision), and burial. The protoliths undergo changes in temperature and pressure during these processes, setting the stage for subsequent metamorphism.

Pressure-Temperature (P-T) Paths and Conditions of Granulite Formation:

Granulites form under high-pressure, high-temperature conditions, typically in the range of 7-15 kilobars of pressure and 700-900 degrees Celsius. The metamorphic conditions are often associated with the deep crust or lower crust. The P-T path represents the trajectory of a rock mass in the pressure-temperature space during metamorphism. The specific path a rock takes depends on various factors, including the rate of heating or cooling, the presence of fluids, and the mineral assemblages that are stable at different conditions.

The P-T path for granulite facies metamorphism generally involves the following stages:

  1. Burial and Heating: Protoliths experience burial to depths in the Earth’s crust where high temperatures prevail. Heating can result from geothermal gradients, magma intrusions, or other processes.
  2. Pressure Increase: As rocks are buried, pressure increases. This can occur due to the weight of overlying rocks or tectonic forces.
  3. Metamorphic Reactions: At certain depths and temperatures, metamorphic reactions begin, leading to the transformation of minerals in the protolith into new minerals stable under high-grade metamorphic conditions. This is when granulite facies mineral assemblages develop.
  4. Peak Metamorphism: The rocks reach their maximum temperature and pressure conditions during peak metamorphism, characterized by the formation of key minerals such as garnet, pyroxene, amphibole, and others.
  5. Cooling and Exhumation: Following peak metamorphism, the rocks cool and may be uplifted to shallower crustal levels through processes such as tectonic exhumation or erosion.

The specific P-T path can vary depending on geological settings. For example, rocks undergoing granulite facies metamorphism in collisional orogens may experience a different P-T path compared to those in extensional settings. Studying P-T paths provides valuable insights into the geological history of a region and the processes that shaped the Earth’s crust over time.

Field Relationships


In the field, granulites are often associated with other rock types, and the relationships between these rocks provide important geological insights. The field relationships can vary depending on the tectonic setting and the geological history of the region. Here are some common associations:

  1. Gneisses and Schists: Granulites are frequently found in association with gneisses and schists. These rocks may represent different levels of metamorphism within a single crustal section, with granulites typically forming at deeper levels.
  2. Migmatites: Migmatites, which are rocks that have undergone partial melting, can be associated with granulites. The migmatization process often occurs during high-grade metamorphism and can lead to the formation of granitic veins or lenses within the granulitic rocks.
  3. Amphibolites: Amphibolites, which are medium- to high-grade metamorphic rocks rich in amphibole, are often found in association with granulites. They may represent transitional zones between lower-grade and higher-grade metamorphic rocks.
  4. Mafic and Ultramafic Rocks: In certain tectonic settings, granulites may be associated with mafic and ultramafic rocks such as basalts and gabbros. These rocks may have been the protoliths for the granulites or may represent different stages of metamorphism within the same region.
  5. Metasedimentary Rocks: Metasedimentary rocks, such as metapelites (metamorphosed shales) and metagreywackes (metamorphosed sandstones), can occur alongside granulites. These rocks provide clues about the composition and history of the sedimentary protoliths.

Understanding the spatial relationships between these rocks helps geologists reconstruct the geological history of an area and infer the tectonic processes that shaped it.

Tectonic and Structural Implications:

The occurrence of granulites in the field has significant tectonic and structural implications. Here are some key considerations:

  1. Crustal Depth: The presence of granulites suggests that the rocks have experienced high-pressure, high-temperature conditions at significant crustal depths. This has implications for the tectonic history of the region, indicating periods of crustal thickening and burial.
  2. Tectonic Settings: The association of granulites with other metamorphic rocks provides information about the tectonic setting in which they formed. For example, granulites in collisional orogenic belts may indicate continental collision and crustal thickening, while those in extensional settings may suggest periods of rifting.
  3. Metamorphic Grades: The coexistence of different metamorphic rock types, such as granulites, gneisses, and amphibolites, provides insights into the metamorphic grades experienced by the rocks. This information helps geologists understand the thermal and tectonic history of the crust in a particular region.
  4. Structural Deformation: The structural relationships between granulites and other rocks reveal details about the deformation history of the region. Features such as folds, faults, and shear zones can provide information about the tectonic forces that acted on the rocks during their geological evolution.
  5. Uplift and Exhumation: The presence of granulites at the Earth’s surface implies that these rocks have undergone uplift and exhumation. Studying the timing and mechanisms of these processes contributes to our understanding of regional tectonics.

In summary, field relationships of granulites with other rock types provide crucial information about the geological history, tectonic setting, and structural evolution of a region. Geologists use these relationships to piece together the puzzle of Earth’s dynamic processes over time.

Global Distribution


Granulites are found in various regions around the world, and their occurrence is often associated with specific tectonic settings. Here are some regions and tectonic settings where granulites are commonly found:

  1. Continental Shields:
    • Canadian Shield: Granulites are widespread in the Canadian Shield, particularly in regions like the Superior Province. Rocks of the Canadian Shield have undergone multiple episodes of metamorphism and deformation.
    • Baltic Shield: The Baltic Shield in Scandinavia is another area where granulites are common. It includes parts of Sweden, Finland, and Norway.
  2. Orogenic Belts:
    • Himalayan Orogeny: In the Himalayan orogenic belt, granulites are found in association with high-grade metamorphic rocks. The collision between the Indian and Eurasian plates has led to intense metamorphism and the formation of granulitic terrains.
    • Grenville Orogeny (North America): The Grenville Province in North America, extending from the southeastern United States through eastern Canada, is known for extensive granulite occurrences. This region reflects the tectonic history associated with the assembly of the supercontinent Rodinia.
  3. Archean Cratons:
    • Kaapvaal Craton (South Africa): The Kaapvaal Craton in South Africa contains granulite terrains, and it is a critical location for understanding the evolution of Earth’s early crust.
    • Dharwar Craton (India): The Dharwar Craton in India also hosts granulites, providing insights into the Archean tectonic history of the region.
  4. Antarctica:
    • East Antarctica: Portions of East Antarctica, including the Prince Charles Mountains and the Dronning Maud Land, contain granulites. Antarctica’s bedrock offers a unique opportunity to study the geological history of the continent.

Case Studies of Specific Granulite Terrains:

  1. Southern India (Kerala Khondalite Belt): This region is known for its extensive exposure of granulite terrains, particularly the Kerala Khondalite Belt. The belt contains a variety of high-grade metamorphic rocks, including orthopyroxene and garnet-bearing granulites. These rocks are associated with the collision and amalgamation of different crustal blocks during the Proterozoic.
  2. Rogaland, Norway: The Rogaland region in Norway is well-known for its granulite occurrences. The rocks here have been extensively studied to understand the tectonic evolution of the Caledonian orogeny, which involved the collision of Laurentia, Baltica, and Avalonia.
  3. Limpopo Belt, Southern Africa: The Limpopo Belt in Southern Africa is characterized by granulite terrains associated with the collision and assembly of the supercontinent Gondwana. The evolution of the Limpopo Belt is crucial for understanding the amalgamation of continental blocks in the late Precambrian.
  4. Madras Block, Southern India: The Madras Block in southern India contains granulites that have been studied to decipher the tectonic history of the region. The rocks here have undergone multiple episodes of metamorphism and deformation, providing insights into the assembly of the Indian subcontinent.

These case studies highlight the diversity of granulite occurrences and their significance in unraveling the geological history of the Earth’s crust. Studying granulite terrains helps geologists piece together the puzzle of tectonic events, crustal evolution, and the dynamics of Earth’s lithosphere over geological time.

Industrial Applications


Granulites, due to their mineral composition and metamorphic history, can have economic importance and find applications in various industries. Here are some aspects of the economic significance of granulites:

  1. Mineral Resources:
    • Garnet Mining: Granulites often contain significant amounts of garnet, a valuable industrial mineral. Garnet is used as an abrasive in sandpaper, waterjet cutting, and other abrasive applications.
    • Feldspar and Quartz Production: Granulites may also contain feldspar and quartz, which are essential raw materials in the production of ceramics, glass, and other industrial products. Feldspar is particularly important in the ceramics industry for its role in the manufacture of tiles, sanitaryware, and glass.
  2. Dimension Stone:
    • Decorative Stone: In some cases, granulites with distinctive mineral assemblages and textures are used as decorative stones in construction. The unique patterns and colors of the minerals, especially garnet, make them desirable for use in countertops, flooring, and other architectural elements.
  3. High-Grade Metamorphic Rocks:
    • Educational and Scientific Uses: Granulites, being high-grade metamorphic rocks, are valuable for educational and scientific purposes. They provide insights into Earth’s geological processes and are often studied to understand the conditions and mechanisms of deep crustal metamorphism.
  4. Geothermal Energy Exploration:
    • Indicator of Geothermal Potential: The presence of granulites in certain regions may indicate the potential for geothermal resources. Geothermal exploration often involves understanding the subsurface conditions, and the study of granulites can contribute to this assessment.
  5. Historical and Geological Heritage:
    • Tourism and Geological Heritage: Some granulite terrains, with their unique geological features and scenic landscapes, can attract tourists interested in geological heritage. Interpretative centers and geological tours can promote the economic value of such areas.

While granulites may not be as widely used in construction as some other rock types like granite or marble, their economic significance lies in the minerals they contain and their role in industrial processes. As technology advances and the demand for specific minerals increases, the economic importance of granulites may evolve accordingly. Additionally, ongoing geological research may uncover new uses and applications for granulites in various industries.