Anderson, Alfred T., Jr. Department of Geophysical Sciences, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois.
McLelland, James Department of Geology, Colgate University, Hamilton, New York.
Last reviewed:October 2019
- Definition, occurrence, and structure
- Layered anorthosites
- Massif anorthosites
- Lunar anorthosites
- Role in growth of continental crust
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
A rock composed of 90 vol % or more of plagioclase feldspar. Strictly, the rock is composed entirely of crystals discernible with the eye, but some finely crystalline examples from the Moon have been called anorthosite or anorthositic breccia. Two principal types of anorthosite are based on field occurrence: layers in stratified complexes of igneous rock, and large massifs of rock up to 12,000 mi2 (30,000 km2) in area. Scientists have been fascinated with anorthosites because they are spectacular rocks (dark varieties are quarried and polished for ornamental use); valuable deposits of iron and titanium ore are associated with anorthosites; and the massif anorthosites appear to have been produced during a unique episode of ancient Earth history (about 1–2 billion years ago).
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