1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Greywacke

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GREYWACKE, or Grauwacke (a German word signifying a grey earthy rock), the designation, formerly more generally used by English geologists than at the present day, for impure, highly composite gritty rocks belonging to the Palaeozoic systems. They correspond to the sandstones, grits and fine conglomerates of the later periods. Greywackes are mostly grey, brown, yellow or black, dull-colored sandy rocks which may occur in thick or thin beds along with slates, limestones, &c., and are abundant in Wales, the south of Scotland and the Lake district of England. They contain a very great variety of minerals, of which the principal are quartz, orthoclase and plagioclase, calcite, iron oxides and graphitic carbonaceous matters, together with (in the coarser kinds) fragments of such rocks as felsite, chert, slate, gneiss, various schists, quartzite. Among other minerals found in them are biotite and chlorite, tourmaline, epidote, apatite, garnet, hornblende and augite, sphene, pyrites. The cementing material may be siliceous or argillaceous, and is sometimes calcareous. As a rule greywackes are not fossiliferous, but organic remains may be common in the finer beds associated with them. Their component particles are usually not much rounded by attrition, and the rocks have often been considerably indurated by pressure and mineral changes, such as the introduction of interstitial silica. In some districts the greywackes are cleaved, but they show phenomena of this kind much less perfectly than the slates. Although the group is so diverse that it is difficult to characterize mineralogically, it has a well-established place in petrographical classifications, because these peculiar composite arenaceous deposits are very frequent among Silurian and Cambrian rocks, and rarely occur in Secondary or Tertiary systems. Their essential features are their gritty character and their complex composition. By increasing metamorphism greywackes frequently pass into mica-schists, chloritic schists and sedimentary gneisses. (J. S. F.)