Snowflake obsidian is a type of black obsidian with white or grayish spots. These spots are called spherulites, and they are composed of needle-shaped cristobalite, a type of quartz.
Snowflake Obsidian is usually black in color, with white patches called Phenocryst. It resembles snowflakes, hence the name.
Geology of Snowflake Obsidian
The geology of snowflake obsidian is similar to that of other types of obsidian. Snowflake Obsidian is formed when the felsic lava from a volcano rapidly cools down with very minimum crystal growth. It’s basically a volcanic glass that formed as an igneous rock.
Obsidian's high silica content makes the lava it forms from highly viscous, or thick. It also has a low water content, since as the magma reaches the surface, most of the water evaporates as steam. The lava therefore moves quite slowly. The composition of obsidian can change over time, just as any type of rock changes over time, moving through different phases of the rock cycle.
The white or grayish spots in snowflake obsidian are formed when the lava contains small amounts of water. As the lava cools, the water molecules escape and form tiny bubbles. These bubbles then solidify into cristobalite crystals. The size and distribution of the cristobalite crystals determines the appearance of the snowflake obsidian.
Snowflake Obsidian Composition
Snowflake obsidian is composed of about 70% silica, along with other minerals such as feldspar, quartz, and mica.
Snowflake Obsidian Texture
Snowflake obsidian has a smooth, glassy texture. The spherulites can be seen as small, white speckles or as larger, snowflake-like patterns.
Where to find Snowflake Obsidian
Snowflake obsidian is found in many areas around the world where volcanic activity has taken place. Some of the most famous locations for snowflake obsidian include:
Iceland: The Blue Lagoon, a geothermal spa in Iceland, is known for its beautiful snowflake obsidian formations.
Mexico: The state of Puebla in Mexico is home to a number of obsidian mines, including the famous Teotihuacan mines.
United States: The western United States is home to a number of obsidian deposits, including the Obsidian Cliff in Yellowstone National Park.
Obsidian forms two ways:
1) very rapid cooling of lava, which prevents the formation of crystals.
2) cooling of high-viscosity lava, which prevents easy movement of atoms to form crystals. An example of obsidian that formed the first way is along the margins of basaltic lava flows at Kilaeua Volcano (Hawaii Hotspot, central Pacific Ocean).
It’s also known as White Snowflake Obsidian and Gray Snowflake Obsidian.Large deposits of Snowflake Obsidian can be found in Mexico, Iceland, and the USA.
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