Porphyritic is an adjective used in geology, specifically for igneous rocks, for a rock that has a distinct difference in the size of the crystals, with at least one group of crystals obviously larger than another group. Porphyritic rocks may be aphanites or extrusive rock, with large crystals or phenocrysts floating in a fine-grained groundmass of non-visible crystals, as in a porphyritic basalt, or phanerites or intrusive rock, with individual crystals of the groundmass easily distinguished with the eye, but one group of crystals clearly much bigger than the rest, as in a porphyritic granite. Most types of igneous rocks may display some degree of porphyritic texture. One main type of rock that has a porphyritic texture are porphyry, though not all porphyritic rocks are porphyries.
Porphyritic rocks are formed when a column of rising magma is cooled in two stages. In the first stage, the magma is cooled slowly deep in the crust, creating the large crystal grains, with a diameter of 2 mm or more. In the final stage, the magma is cooled rapidly at relatively shallow depth or as it erupts from a volcano, creating small grains that are usually invisible to the unaided eye typically referred to as the ground mass.
- Dietrich, R. and Skinner, B., 1979, Rocks and Rock Minerals, pg. 108.