Many people do not know what Obsidian is. And sometimes, people even mistake it for glass. But Obsidian is a very fascinating rock with unique properties. You must have heard about it if you are a gamer or more specifically, a Minecraft player. However, if you are here seeking answers related to Obsidian, then this article will tell you where is Obsidian found and what are the uses of Obsidian rock.
1. What is Obsidian?
Obsidian is a naturally occurring igneous rock that is formed when molten rock matter from volcanic lava extrudes and cools down at such a rapid rate that the atoms cannot arrange themselves into a crystalline structure. It is usually considered an extrusive rock because it solidifies above the surface of the Earth. It forms along the edges of a lava flow, volcanic dome, a sill, or a dike and horizon where the lava comes in contact with water or air. (See What Is a Geode?)
2. What are its Properties?
Most of the Obsidians have a composition similar to rhyolite and granite. However, on rare occasions, this volcanic rock is also found with a composition similar to rocks like basalt and gabbro. Obsidian is a pseudo-mineral-like material because it is neither crystalline, like glass nor does it have a composition to be classified as a mineral. Though, at times, it can be classified as a mineraloid. Obsidian mainly consists of silicon dioxide (SiO2) about 70% in weight and sometimes more. (See 9 Unique Properties of Chalk)
3. Which Different Colors of Obsidian are Found?
The most common color of an Obsidian is Black. However, it can also be brown, tan, or green. But Obsidian is rarely blue, red, orange, or yellow since the color of Obsidian depends on its impurities.
- Occasionally, two colors can be intertwined together into one single specimen. For example, the most common color combination in Obsidian is black and brown when combined together forms Mahogany Obsidian.
- It can also have a metallic sheen caused by the light reflecting from small inclusions of mineral crystals, rock debris, or gas on rare occasions. These colored Obsidians can be rainbow, golden, or silver Obsidians, depending on the color of the sheen or iridescence. These specimens are in very high demand for the manufacturing of jewelry.
4. What is Snowflake Obsidian?
The glass part of Obsidian is usually chemically unstable. Therefore, as time passes, some of the Obsidian starts to crystallize. Though this process does not happen at a constant rate throughout the rock, it actually starts at different locations within the rock. As a result, different radical clusters of white or grey cristobalite crystals are formed due to the crystallization process at these locations. When these are cut and polished, these specimens are referred to as the snowflake Obsidian. Where is Obsidian found? See below! (Also read The Mystery of Devils Kettle Waterfall)
5. Where is Obsidian found?
A significant amount of Obsidian deposits can be found in Argentina, Canada, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, New Zealand, the United States, and other locations. However, in the United States, it cannot be seen or found in the east of the Mississippi River since there hasn’t been any recent geographical volcanic activity in that place. But in the western side of America, they are found in places like Arizona, California, New Mexico, & Washington. (See How Hot is Lava in Fahrenheit?)
6. How did Obsidian Come into Use?
A study conducted by the Idaho National Laboratory used composition studies, including an X-ray fluorescence that identified the source of Obsidian artifacts. It then mapped their use across the western United States. According to them, an enormous fracture of Obsidian caused it to break into many pieces. The rock fragments then produced had very sharp edges. This may have prompted the first use as a cutting tool by human beings. And then later, people would have found ways to skillfully transform Obsidian into cutting tools in varieties of shapes.
7. How was Obsidian Used during the Stone Age?
Obsidian was used to make knives, arrowheads, spear points, scrapers, and other weapons and tools. As a result, it quickly became the first choice of preference as a raw material for producing almost any of the sharp objects people knew at the time. Moreover, it was so valued that people started researching where is Obsidian found. They then mined, transported, and traded Obsidian and other Obsidian objects over distances of up to a thousand kilometers. Artists have also used Obsidian to make masks, small sculptures, and figurines for thousands of years. (See What is Terracotta?)
8. Does Obsidian make Good Jewelry?
Lastly, Obsidian is a very popular gemstone. It is usually cut into beads and used to manufacture tumbled stones. It is often faceted and polished into a highly reflective bead. However, the use of Obsidian in the field of jewelry is limited due to its durability. It has a hardness of about 5-6, making it easy to scratch. Also, it is easily broken or chipped upon impact. These durability concerns make Obsidian an inappropriate stone for rings and bracelets. Instead, it is best suited for use in low-impact pieces such as earrings, brooches, and pendants. (See What’s The Difference Between Turquoise And Teal?)
9. What is the Medicinal Use of Obsidian?
Although using rocks as a cutting tool might sound to you stone-age, it still plays an important role in modern surgery. Obsidian can be used to produce a cutting edge that is thinner and sharper than the best surgical steel we have to our advances. Nowadays, Obsidian is used to make thin blades of surgical scalpel required in some of the most precise surgery done today.