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A porphyroclast is a clast or mineral fragment in a metamorphic rock, surrounded by a groundmass of finer grained crystals. Porphyroclasts are fragments of the original rock before dynamic recrystallisation produced the groundmass. This means they are older than the groundmass. They were stronger pieces of the original rock, that could not as easily deform and were therefore not or hardly affected by recrystallisation. They may have been phenocrysts or porphyroblasts in the original rock.
Porphyroclasts are often confused with porphyroblasts. The latter are also large crystals in a finer matrix, but they grew after deformation took place and after the matrix was formed. The timing of porphyroblast growth can be determined by examining the microstructure preserved (or not) within them as poikiloblasts.