AP Environmental Science : Rock Cycle

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP Environmental Science

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Rock Cycle

Which of the following rock types is a result of the rapid cooling of magma?

Possible Answers:

Igneous

Sedimentary

Fossilized

Metamorphic

Oceanic

Correct answer:

Igneous

Explanation:

The three main rock types are sedimentary, igneous, and metamorphic. Sedimentary rock is the result of the build up of sediment, such as sand or dirt. Igneous rocks are the result of the cooling of lava and molten rock, and can be crystalline in structure. Metamorphic rock is the compression of igneous and/or sedimentary rock, creating a new type of rock from intense pressure. Metamorphic rock comprises the majority of the Earth's crust.

Example Question #2 : Rock Cycle

A scientist is examining two pebbles of a similar composition lying next to each other in a stream. One has a smooth, polished texture, while the other is angular with sharp edges. The differences in surface texture can indicate which of the following regarding the distance each pebble has traveled?

Possible Answers:

None of these

Both pebbles are from far away but come from different parent rocks

The angular pebble has traveled a farther distance and the round pebble has traveled a short distance.

The round pebble has traveled a farther distance and the angular pebble has traveled a short distance

Correct answer:

The round pebble has traveled a farther distance and the angular pebble has traveled a short distance

Explanation:

As rocks travel further from the original outcrop, bumps and abrasions round corners and polish the rock. 

Example Question #2 : Rock Cycle

Which of the following factors can cause a sedimentary rock to change into a metamorphic rock?

Possible Answers:

All of these

Addition of fluids

Increasing pressure

Increasing temperature

Correct answer:

All of these

Explanation:

Increasing temperature and pressure—through burial or submersion—causes the minerals that compose the rock to become unstable. This results in recrystallization of the minerals, which forms a new rock.

Example Question #3 : Rock Cycle

A sedimentary rock is buried deep within the earth. At a certain depth, the rock melts completely and recrystallizes. Which of the following best identifies what type of rock is formed post recrystallization?

Possible Answers:

Conglomerate

Igneous

Sedimentary

Metamorphic

Correct answer:

Igneous

Explanation:

The question indicated that the rock melted completely. When a partially melted rock recrystallizes, it becomes a metamorphic rock; however, when a rock completely melts and any crystallization occurs, it results in the production of an igneous rock.

Example Question #4 : Rock Cycle

Which of the following best explains the difference between weathering and erosion?

Possible Answers:

Erosion is the process that creates sediment, while weathering is the process of transporting sediment

Weathering is the physical process that creates sediment, while erosion is the chemical process of creating sediment

Weathering is the process that creates sediment, while erosion is the process of transporting sediment

Weathering is the chemical process that creates sediment, while erosion is the physical process of creating sediment

Correct answer:

Weathering is the process that creates sediment, while erosion is the process of transporting sediment

Explanation:

Weathering is a process that creates sediment. There are physical and chemical weathering processes. On the other hand, erosion is described as a process that transports sediment. Erosion transports sediment through exogenous processes, such as by water or wind.

Example Question #5 : Rock Cycle

In the desert, a rock can experience seasonal cycles of freezing and cooling. The heat of the day causes ice to melt and the cold temperatures at night causes water to freeze and expand inside cracks present in the rock. This example is indicative of which of the following types of weathering? 

Possible Answers:

Exergonic weathering

Seasonal weathering

Physical weathering

Chemical weathering

Correct answer:

Physical weathering

Explanation:

The freeze-thaw cycle acts like a chisel that produces fractures throughout the rock. Water rests in cracks on the rock’s surface and when it freezes it expands and causes more fractures. Water can then lay in these new fractures and further weather or crack the rock. This example represents a physical weathering process.

Example Question #6 : Rock Cycle

Which of the following statements about the rock cycle is not true?

Possible Answers:

Sedimentary rock can become metamorphic rock or igneous rock.

Sedimentary rock can become metamorphic rock, but not igneous rock.

Igneous rock can form from either sedimentary or metamorphic rock.

Metamorphic rock can become sedimentary rock or igneous rock.

Correct answer:

Sedimentary rock can become metamorphic rock, but not igneous rock.

Explanation:

Rocks can transition between sedimentary, metamorphic, and igneous rocks. Sedimentary rock forms from the weathering of any rock type. Igneous rock forms from the melting of any rock type. Metamorphic forms from recrystallization (without melting) any type of rock.

Example Question #5 : Rock Cycle

Which of the following kinds of rock is most commonly formed in desert environments?

Possible Answers:

Conglomerate, a sedimentary rock

Sandstone, a sedimentary rock

Gneiss, a metamorphic rock

Rhyolite, an igneous rock

Correct answer:

Sandstone, a sedimentary rock

Explanation:

Sandstone is created in many environments, however it is most commonly produced in deserts and beaches.

Example Question #11 : Soil And Geology

Which of the following types of rock forms primarily in the Hawaiian Islands?

Possible Answers:

Metamorphic

Sedimentary

Igneous

None of these

Correct answer:

Igneous

Explanation:

The Hawaiian Islands were formed when hotspots that allowed the mantle to crystallize into igneous rock on the ocean floor. Over time this process created the island chain.

Example Question #7 : Rock Cycle

Which of the following pairs of terms best identifies the two types of igneous rock?

Possible Answers:

Metamorphic, volcanic

Intrusive, extrusive

Lava, ash

Plutonic, mafic

Correct answer:

Intrusive, extrusive

Explanation:

Igneous rocks are divided into two types: intrusive and extrusive. Intrusive means that the rock cooled inside the earth and these rocks are usually large-grained. Extrusive means that the rock cooled outside the earth and is usually fine-grained (volcanic rock).

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