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Igneous rock
Felsic: igneous quartz and alkali feldspar (sanidine and sodic plagioclase), biotite and hornblende

Rhyolite ( /ˈr.ə.lt,ˈr.-/ RY-ə-lyte, RY-oh-) is an igneous, volcanic 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, sanidine and plagioclase (in a ratio > 2:1 – see the QAPF diagram). Biotite and hornblende are common accessory minerals. It is the extrusive equivalent to granite.



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, rhyolitic magmas form highly viscous lavas. They 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.

Eruptions of rhyolite are relatively rare compared to eruptions of less felsic lavas. Only three eruptions of rhyolite have been recorded since the start of the 20th century: at the St. Andrew Strait volcano in Papua New Guinea, Novarupta volcano in Alaska, and Chaiten in southern Chile.


Rhyolite has been found on islands far from land, but such oceanic occurrences are rare. [1]

Rhyolite in the Kaldaklofsfjoll, Landmannalaugar, Iceland Kaldaklofsfjoll (6).jpg
Rhyolite in the Kaldaklofsfjöll, Landmannalaugar, Iceland
Rhyolite quarry, Lobejun, Saxony-Anhalt Lobejun1.JPG
Rhyolite quarry, Löbejün, Saxony-Anhalt



The Americas


Mount Tibrogargan, a rhyolite volcanic plug in Queensland, Australia Tibrogargan.jpg
Mount Tibrogargan, a rhyolite volcanic plug in Queensland, Australia




The name rhyolite was introduced into geology in 1860 by the German traveler and geologist Ferdinand von Richthofen [7] [8] [9] from the Greek word rhýax ("a stream of lava") [10] and the rock name suffix "-lite". [11]

Quarrying by Native Americans

In North American pre-historic times, rhyolite was quarried extensively in eastern Pennsylvania in the United States. Among the leading quarries was the Carbaugh Run Rhyolite Quarry Site in Adams County. Rhyolite was mined there starting 11,500 years ago. [12] Tons of rhyolite were traded across the Delmarva Peninsula, [12] because the rhyolite kept a sharp point when knapped and was used to make spear points and arrowheads. [13]



-Light in Color

-Small Crystalline Structure

-Cooled Quickly


-Continental Crust

-Less Dense

-High in Silica

See also

Related Research Articles

A caldera is a large cauldron-like hollow that forms shortly after the emptying of a magma chamber/reservoir in a volcanic eruption. When large volumes of magma are erupted over a short time, structural support for the rock above the magma chamber is lost. The ground surface then collapses downward into the emptied or partially emptied magma chamber, leaving a massive depression at the surface. Although sometimes described as a crater, the feature is actually a type of sinkhole, as it is formed through subsidence and collapse rather than an explosion or impact. Only seven caldera-forming collapses are known to have occurred since 1900, most recently at Bárðarbunga volcano, Iceland in 2014.

In geology, felsic is an adjective describing igneous rocks that are relatively rich in elements that form feldspar and quartz. It is contrasted with mafic rocks, which are relatively richer in magnesium and iron. Felsic refers to silicate minerals, magma, and rocks which are enriched in the lighter elements such as silicon, oxygen, aluminium, sodium, and potassium. Felsic magma or lava is higher in viscosity than mafic magma/lava.

Volcano rupture in the crust of a planetary-mass object that allows hot lava, volcanic ash, and gases to escape from a magma chamber below the surface

A volcano is a rupture in the crust of a planetary-mass object, such as Earth, that allows hot lava, volcanic ash, and gases to escape from a magma chamber below the surface.

Magma Mixture of molten or semi-molten rock, volatiles and solids that is found beneath the surface of the Earth

Magma is the molten or semi-molten natural material from which all igneous rocks are formed. Magma is found beneath the surface of the Earth, and evidence of magmatism has also been discovered on other terrestrial planets and some natural satellites. Besides molten rock, magma may also contain suspended crystals and gas bubbles. Magma is produced by melting of the mantle or the crust at various tectonic settings, including subduction zones, continental rift zones, mid-ocean ridges and hotspots. Mantle and crustal melts migrate upwards through the crust where they are thought to be stored in magma chambers or trans-crustal crystal-rich mush zones. During their storage in the crust, magma compositions may be modified by fractional crystallization, contamination with crustal melts, magma mixing, and degassing. Following their ascent through the crust, magmas may feed a volcano or solidify underground to form an intrusion. While the study of magma has historically relied on observing magma in the form of lava flows, magma has been encountered in situ three times during geothermal drilling projects—twice in Iceland, and once in Hawaii.

Stratovolcano Tall, conical volcano built up by many layers of hardened lava and other ejecta

A stratovolcano, also known as a composite volcano, is a conical volcano built up by many layers (strata) of hardened lava, tephra, pumice and ash. Unlike shield volcanoes, stratovolcanoes are characterized by a steep profile with a summit crater and periodic intervals of explosive eruptions and effusive eruptions, although some have collapsed summit craters called calderas. The lava flowing from stratovolcanoes typically cools and hardens before spreading far, due to high viscosity. The magma forming this lava is often felsic, having high-to-intermediate levels of silica, with lesser amounts of less-viscous mafic magma. Extensive felsic lava flows are uncommon, but have travelled as far as 15 km (9.3 mi).

Andesite An intermediate volcanic rock

Andesite ( or ) is an extrusive igneous volcanic rock of intermediate composition, with aphanitic to porphyritic texture. In a general sense, it is the intermediate type between basalt and rhyolite, and ranges from 57 to 63% silicon dioxide (SiO2) as illustrated in TAS diagrams. The mineral assemblage is typically dominated by plagioclase plus pyroxene or hornblende. Magnetite, zircon, apatite, ilmenite, biotite, and garnet are common accessory minerals. Alkali feldspar may be present in minor amounts. The quartz-feldspar abundances in andesite and other volcanic rocks are illustrated in QAPF diagrams.

Extrusive rock

Extrusive rock refers to the mode of igneous volcanic rock formation in which hot magma from inside the Earth flows out (extrudes) onto the surface as lava or explodes violently into the atmosphere to fall back as pyroclastics or tuff. In contrast, intrusive rock refers to rocks formed by magma which cools below the surface.

Volcanic rock Volcanic rocks composing or associated with volcanoes, volcanic activity or volcanism

Volcanic rock is a rock formed from lava erupted from a volcano. In other words, it differs from other igneous rock by being of volcanic origin. Like all rock types, the concept of volcanic rock is artificial, and in nature volcanic rocks grade into hypabyssal and metamorphic rocks and constitute an important element of some sediments and sedimentary rocks. For these reasons, in geology, volcanics and shallow hypabyssal rocks are not always treated as distinct. In the context of Precambrian shield geology, the term "volcanic" is often applied to what are strictly metavolcanic rocks. Volcanic rocks and sediment that form from magma erupted into the air are called "volcaniclastics," and these are technically sedimentary rocks.

Medicine Lake Volcano mountain in United States of America

Medicine Lake Volcano is a large shield volcano in northeastern California about 30 miles (50 km) northeast of Mount Shasta. The volcano is located in a zone of east-west crustal extension east of the main axis of the Cascade Volcanic Arc and the Cascade Range. The 0.6-mile (1 km) thick shield is 22 miles (35 km) from east to west and 28 to 31 miles from north to south, and covers more than 770 square miles (2,000 km2). The underlying rock has downwarped by 0.3 miles (0.5 km) under the center of the volcano. The volcano is primarily composed of basalt and basaltic andesite lava flows, and has a 4.3-by-7.5-mile caldera at the center.

Intrusive rock intrusive volcanic rocks

Intrusive rock is formed when magma penetrates existing rock, crystallizes, and solidifies underground to form intrusions, for example plutons, batholiths, dikes, sills, laccoliths, and volcanic necks. Some geologists use the term plutonic rock synonymously with intrusive rock but other geologists subdivide intrusive rock, by crystal size, into coarse-grained plutonic rock and medium-grained subvolcanic or hypabyssal rock.

Tweed Volcano

Tweed Volcano is a partially eroded Early Miocene shield volcano located in northeastern New South Wales, which formed when this region of Australia passed over the East Australia hotspot around 23 million years ago. Mount Warning, Lamington Plateau and the Border Ranges between New South Wales and Queensland are among the remnants of this volcano that was originally over 100 kilometres (62 mi) in diameter and nearly twice the height of Mount Warning today, at 1,156 metres (3,793 ft). Despite its size, Tweed Volcano was not a supervolcano; other shield volcanoes - such as on Hawaii - are much larger. In the 23 million years since the volcano was active, erosion has been extensive, forming a large erosion caldera around the volcanic plug of Mount Warning. Its erosion caldera is the largest in the Southern Hemisphere.

Level Mountain Mountain in Canada

Level Mountain is a massive complex volcano in the Northern Interior of British Columbia, Canada. It is located 50 km (31 mi) north-northwest of Telegraph Creek and 60 km (37 mi) west of Dease Lake on the Nahlin Plateau. With a maximum elevation of 2,166 m (7,106 ft), it is the third highest of five large complexes in an extensive north-south trending volcanic zone. Much of the mountain is gently-sloping; when measured from its base, Level Mountain is about 1,100 m (3,600 ft) tall, slightly taller than its neighbour to the northwest, Heart Peaks. The lower broader half of Level Mountain consists of a shield-like edifice while its upper half has a more steep, jagged profile. Its large summit is dominated by the Level Mountain Range, a small mountain range with prominent peaks cut by deep valleys. These valleys serve as a radial drainage for several small streams that flow from the volcano. Meszah Peak is the only named peak in the Level Mountain Range.

Igneous textures include the rock textures occurring in igneous rocks. Igneous textures are used by geologists in determining the mode of origin igneous rocks and are used in rock classification. There are six main types of textures; phaneritic, aphanitic, porphyritic, glassy, pyroclastic and pegmatitic.

Mount Pleasant Caldera mountain in Canada

The Mount Pleasant Caldera is a large eroded Late Devonian volcanic caldera complex, located in the northern Appalachian Mountains of southwestern New Brunswick, Canada. It is one of few noticeable pre-Cenozoic calderas, and its formation is associated to a period of crustal thinning that followed the Acadian orogeny in the northern Appalachian Mountains. It sits relatively near to the coastline.

Silverthrone Caldera Stratovolcano in Canada

The Silverthrone Caldera is a potentially active caldera complex in southwestern British Columbia, Canada, located over 350 kilometres (220 mi) northwest of the city of Vancouver and about 50 kilometres (31 mi) west of Mount Waddington in the Pacific Ranges of the Coast Mountains. The caldera is one of the largest of the few calderas in western Canada, measuring about 30 kilometres (19 mi) long (north-south) and 20 kilometres (12 mi) wide (east-west). Mount Silverthrone, an eroded lava dome on the caldera's northern flank that is 2,864 metres (9,396 ft) high, may be the highest volcano in Canada.

Lava Molten rock expelled by a volcano during an eruption

Lava is molten rock generated by geothermal energy and expelled through fractures in planetary crust or in an eruption, usually at temperatures from 700 to 1,200 °C. The structures resulting from subsequent solidification and cooling are also sometimes described as lava. The molten rock is formed in the interior of some planets, including Earth, and some of their satellites, though such material located below the crust is referred to by other terms.

Igneous rock Rock formed through the cooling and solidification of magma or lava

Igneous rock, or magmatic rock, is one of the three main rock types, the others being sedimentary and metamorphic. Igneous rock is formed through the cooling and solidification of magma or lava. The magma can be derived from partial melts of existing rocks in either a planet's mantle or crust. Typically, the melting is caused by one or more of three processes: an increase in temperature, a decrease in pressure, or a change in composition. Solidification into rock occurs either below the surface as intrusive rocks or on the surface as extrusive rocks. Igneous rock may form with crystallization to form granular, crystalline rocks, or without crystallization to form natural glasses. Igneous rocks occur in a wide range of geological settings: shields, platforms, orogens, basins, large igneous provinces, extended crust and oceanic crust.

Archean felsic volcanic rocks

Archean felsic volcanic rocks are felsic volcanic rocks that were formed in the Archean Eon. The term "felsic" means that the rocks have silica content of 62–78%. Given that the Earth formed at ~4.5 billion year ago, Archean felsic volcanic rocks provide clues on the Earth's first volcanic activities on the Earth's surface started 500 million years after the Earth's formation.


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