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Granites and Plutons

Granites and plutons

Granites and plutons

  • Exhibition Text

    • Granite forms the core of many mountain chains, such as the Andes, Himalayas, and Sierra Nevada, and makes up most of the upper continental crust. The majority of granitic magmas are formed by melting near the base of the continents. The magmas slowly rise through the crust like great balloons. They solidify near the surface to form gigantic bodies of igneous rock called plutons, which are exposed later when uplift and erosion remove the overlying rock.

      Cooling and crystallization
      Granite and pegmatite have similar compositions, but they differ in the size and proportion of their crystals. Granite is composed of crystals large enough to be seen because the magma cools and solidifies slowly at depth, giving individual crystals time to grown. Pegmatites are rocks composed of very large crystals, sometimes as large as automobiles. These from from water-rich magmas.

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  • For Educators

    • Topic: Earth Science

      Subtopic: Mountain Building

      Keywords: Geology, Granite, Intrusions (Geology), Magmas, Mountains, Orogeny, Pegmatites

In This Section

Granite

Granite

This pink granite crystallized from magma.

Granite Pegmatite

Granite Pegmatite

This granite pegmatite illustrates the growth of extremely large crystals from a magma.

The Cascade Range and the Ring of Fire

The Cascade Range and the Ring of Fire

More than 500 volcanoes have erupted during the last millennium, and nearly four-fifths of them constitute the Ring of Fire, a series of volcanic arcs surrounding the Pacific basin.

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