The shiny volcanic glass obsidian comes in many interesting forms – and has a long and rich history. From varied shapes and a range of colors to chemistry that allows obsidian to be traced back to the originating volcano, plus the wealth of artifacts that people have produced for tens of thousands of years, there are many fascinating facts about obsidian.
Obsidian, smooth and shiny black volcanic glass, has fascinated humans for tens of thousands of years. Researchers believe that humans have a natural reaction to shininess that is tied to an innate need–specifically, water. The Eastern Sierra Nevada is a fabulous place to see dark obsidian, especially in areas where it is swirled and folded together with frothy pale gray pumice..
What will define the beginning of the Anthropocene—the proposed subdivision of geologic time marking the onset of significant human impact on our planet’s geology and ecosystems? One possibility is a new material that scientists have named "plastiglomerate".
Machu Picchu is truly one of the wonders of the world. The spectacular ridge-top site of this city and the fine masonry of royal Inca buildings are stunning aesthetic and technical accomplishments. Early Spanish chroniclers reported "molten gold" was used as mortar during stone block construction, and a research paper by a chemist presents some intriguing insights.
Colorful rocks extend across wide swaths of the Southwest, showcased in sedimentary rock formations in Zion, Arches, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands, and other national and state parks. There is an interesting story behind the spectacular bedrock “palette” of rich shades of pink and red, purple and creamy white, and yellow and green tones.