Rhyolite

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This page is about a volcanic rock. For the ghost town see Rhyolite, Nevada, and for the satellite system, see Rhyolite/Aquacade.

Rhyolite is an igneous, volcanic (extrusive) rock, of felsic (silica-rich) composition (typically > 69% SiO2 — see the TAS classification). It may have any texture from glassy to aphanitic to porphyritic. The mineral assemblage is usually quartz, alkali feldspar and plagioclase (in a ratio > 1:2 — see the QAPF diagram). Biotite and hornblende are common accessory minerals.

Contents

Geology

Rhyolite can be considered as the extrusive equivalent to the plutonic granite rock, and consequently, outcrops of rhyolite may bear a resemblance to granite. Due to their high content of silica and low iron and magnesium contents, rhyolite melts are highly polymerized and form highly viscous lavas. They can also occur as breccias or in volcanic plugs and dikes. Rhyolites that cool too quickly to grow crystals form a natural glass or vitrophyre, also called obsidian. Slower cooling forms microscopic crystals in the lava and results in textures such as flow foliations, spherulitic, nodular, and lithophysal structures. Some rhyolite is highly vesicular pumice. Many eruptions of rhyolite are highly explosive and the deposits may consist of fallout tephra/tuff or of ignimbrites.

History

During the second millennium BC, rhyolite was quarried extensively in what is now eastern Pennsylvania in the United States. Among the leading quarries was the Carbaugh Run Rhyolite Quarry Site in Adams County, where as many as fifty small quarry pits are known.[1]

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