gneiss (nĪs) [key], coarse-grained, imperfectly foliated, or layered, metamorphic rock. Gneiss is characterized by alternating light and dark bands differing in mineral composition and having coarser grains than those of schist. The light bands of gneiss are generally composed of quartz and feldspar. Hornblende, biotite mica, garnet, or graphite commonly form the dark bands. Gneisses result from the metamorphism of many igneous or sedimentary rocks, and are the most common types of rocks found in Precambrian regions. Gneiss is found in New England, the Piedmont, the Adirondacks, and the Rocky Mts. Some gneisses are used as facing stone on buildings.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.