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Welded tuff from Bandelier National Monument, New Mexico Bandelier-Pockmarked Cliff.jpg
Welded tuff from Bandelier National Monument, New Mexico
Etruscan tuff blocks from a tomb at Banditaccia Tufo Necropoli della Banditaccia.JPG
Etruscan tuff blocks from a tomb at Banditaccia
A tuff house in Germany Tuffstein Haus.jpg
A tuff house in Germany

Tuff is a type of rock made of volcanic ash ejected from a vent during a volcanic eruption. Following ejection and deposition, the ash is lithified into a solid rock. [1] [2] Rock that contains greater than 75% ash is considered tuff, while rock containing 25% to 75% ash is described as tuffaceous. [3]


Tuff is a relatively soft rock, so it has been used for construction since ancient times. [4] [5] Because it is common in Italy, the Romans used it often for construction. [6] The Rapa Nui people used it to make most of the moai statues on Easter Island. [7]

Tuff can be classified as either igneous or sedimentary rock. It is usually studied in the context of igneous petrology, although it is sometimes described using sedimentological terms.

Volcanic ash

The material that is expelled in a volcanic eruption can be classified into three types:

  1. Volcanic gases, a mixture made mostly of steam, carbon dioxide, and a sulfur compound (either sulfur dioxide, SO2, or hydrogen sulfide, H2S, depending on the temperature)
  2. Lava, the name of magma when it emerges and flows over the surface
  3. Tephra, particles of solid material of all shapes and sizes ejected and thrown through the air
Light-microscope image of tuff as seen in thin section (long dimension is several mm): The curved shapes of altered glass shards (ash fragments) are well preserved, although the glass is partly altered. The shapes were formed about bubbles of expanding, water-rich gas. Tuff shards.jpg
Light-microscope image of tuff as seen in thin section (long dimension is several mm): The curved shapes of altered glass shards (ash fragments) are well preserved, although the glass is partly altered. The shapes were formed about bubbles of expanding, water-rich gas.

Tephra is made when magma inside the volcano is blown apart by the rapid expansion of hot volcanic gases. Magma commonly explodes as the gas dissolved in it comes out of solution as the pressure decreases when it flows to the surface. These violent explosions produce particles of material that can then fly from the volcano. Solid particles smaller than 2 mm in diameter (sand-sized or smaller) are called volcanic ash. [8] [3]

Volcanic ash is further divided into fine ash, with particle sizes smaller than 0.0625 mm in diameter, and coarse ash, with particle sizes between 0.0625 mm and 2 mm in diameter. Tuff is correspondingly divided into coarse tuff (coarse ash tuff) and fine tuff (fine ash tuff or dust tuff). Consolidated tephra composed mostly of coarser particles is called lapillistone (particles 2 mm to 64 mm in diameter) or agglomerate or pyroclastic breccia (particles over 64 mm in diameter) rather than tuff. [3]

Volcanic ash can vary greatly in composition, and so tuffs are further classified by the composition of the ash from which they formed. Ash from high-silica volcanism, particularly in ash flows, consists mainly of shards of volcanic glass, [9] [10] and tuff formed predominantly from glass shards is described as vitric tuff. [11] The glass shards are typically either irregular in shape or are roughly triangular with convex sides. They are the shattered walls of countless small bubbles that formed in the magma as dissolved gases rapidly came out of solution. [10]

Tuffs formed from ash consisting predominantly of individual crystals are described as crystal tuffs, while those formed from ash consisting predominantly of pulverized rock fragments are described as lithic tuffs. [11]

The chemical composition of volcanic ash reflects the entire range of volcanic rock chemistry, from high-silica rhyolitic ash to low-silica basaltic ash, and tuffs are likewise described as rhyolitic, andesitic, basaltic, and so on. [12]

Transport and lithification

The most straightforward way for volcanic ash to move away from the vent is as ash clouds that are part of an eruption column. These fall to the surface as fallout deposits that are characteristically well-sorted and tend to form a blanket of uniform thickness across terrain. Column collapse results in a more spectacular and destructive form of transport, which takes the form of pyroclastic flows and surges that characteristically are poorly sorted and pool in low terrain. Surge deposits sometimes show sedimentary structures typical of high-velocity flow, such as dunes and antidunes. [13] Volcanic ash already deposited on the surface can be transported as mud flows (lahars) when mingled with water from rainfall or through eruption into a body of water or ice. [14]

Particles of volcanic ash that are sufficiently hot will weld together after settling to the surface, producing a welded tuff. Welding requires temperatures in excess of 600 °C (1,100 °F). If the rock contains scattered, pea-sized fragments or fiamme in it, it is called a welded lapilli-tuff. Welded tuffs (and welded lapilli-tuffs) can be of fallout origin, or deposited from ash flows, as in the case of ignimbrites. [15] During welding, the glass shards and pumice fragments adhere together (necking at point contacts), deform, and compact together, resulting in a eutaxitic fabric. [16] Welded tuff is commonly rhyolitic in composition, but examples of all compositions are known. [17] [18]

A sequence of ash flows may consist of multiple cooling units. These can be distinguished by the degree of welding. The base of a cooling unit is typically unwelded due to chilling from the underlying cold surface, and the degree of welding and of secondary reactions from fluids in the flow increases upwards towards the center of the flow. Welding decreases towards the top of the cooling unit, where the unit cools more rapidly. The intensity of welding may also decrease towards areas in which the deposit is thinner, and with distance from source. [19]

Cooler pyroclastic flows are unwelded and the ash sheets deposited by them are relatively unconsolidated. [16] However, cooled volcanic ash can quickly become lithified because it usually has a high content of volcanic glass. This is a thermodynamically unstable material that reacts rapidly with ground water or sea water, which leaches alkali metals and calcium from the glass. New minerals, such as zeolites, clays, and calcite, crystallize from the dissolved substances and cement the tuff. [2]

Tuffs are further classified by their depositional environment, such as lacustrine tuff, subaerial tuff, or submarine tuff, or by the mechanism by which the ash was transported, such as fallout tuff or ash flow tuff. Reworked tuffs, formed by erosion and redeposition of ash deposits, are usually described by the transport agent, such as aeolian tuff or fluvial tuff. [1]


Tuffs have the potential to be deposited wherever explosive volcanism takes place, and so have a wide distribution in location and age. [20]

High-silica volcanism

Rhyolite tuffs contain pumiceous, glassy fragments and small scoriae with quartz, alkali feldspar, biotite, etc. Iceland, [21] Lipari, [22] Hungary, [23] the Basin and Range of the American southwest, and New Zealand [13] are among the areas where such tuffs are prominent. In the ancient rocks of Wales, [24] Charnwood, [25] etc., similar tuffs are known, but in all cases, they are greatly changed by silicification (which has filled them with opal, chalcedony, and quartz) and by devitrification. [26] The frequent presence of rounded corroded quartz crystals, such as occur in rhyolitic lavas, helps to demonstrate their real nature. [8]

Welded ignimbrites can be highly voluminous, such as the Lava Creek Tuff erupted from Yellowstone Caldera in Wyoming 631,000 years ago. This tuff had an original volume of at least 1,000 cubic kilometers (240 cu mi). [27] Lava Creek tuff is known to be at least 1000 times as large as the deposits of the May 18, 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens, and it had a Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) of 8, greater than any eruption known in the last 10,000 years. [28] Ash flow tuffs cover 7,000 square kilometers (2,700 sq mi) of the North Island of New Zealand and about 100,000 square kilometers (39,000 sq mi) of Nevada. Ash flow tuffs are the only volcanic product with volumes rivaling those of flood basalts. [13]

The Tioga Bentonite of the northeastern United States varies in composition from crystal tuff to tuffaceous shale. It was deposited as ash carried by wind that fell out over the sea and settled to the bottom. It is Devonian in age and likely came from a vent in central Virginia, where the tuff reaches its maximum thickness of about 40 meters (130 ft). [29]

Alkaline volcanism

Trachyte tuffs contain little or no quartz, but much sanidine or anorthoclase and sometimes oligoclase feldspar, with occasional biotite, augite, and hornblende. In weathering, they often change to soft red or yellow claystones, rich in kaolin with secondary quartz. [8] Recent trachyte tuffs are found on the Rhine (at Siebengebirge), [30] in Ischia [31] and near Naples. [32] Trachyte-carbonatite tuffs have been identified in the East African Rift. [33] Alkaline crystal tuffs have been reported from Rio de Janeiro. [34]

Intermediate volcanism

Andesitic tuffs are exceedingly common. They occur along the whole chain of the Cordilleras [35] [36] and Andes, [37] in the West Indies, New Zealand, [38] Japan, [39] etc. In the Lake District, [40] North Wales, Lorne, the Pentland Hills, the Cheviots, and many other districts of Great Britain, ancient rocks of exactly similar nature are abundant. In color, they are red or brown; their scoriae fragments are of all sizes from huge blocks down to minute granular dust. The cavities are filled with many secondary minerals, such as calcite, chlorite, quartz, epidote, or chalcedony; in microscopic sections, though, the nature of the original lava can nearly always be made out from the shapes and properties of the little crystals which occur in the decomposed glassy base. Even in the smallest details, these ancient tuffs have a complete resemblance to the modern ash beds of Cotopaxi, Krakatoa, and Mont Pelé. [8]

Mafic volcanism

Diamond Head, a tuff cone Diamond Head Hawaii From Round Top Rd.JPG
Diamond Head, a tuff cone
Most of the moais in Easter Island are carved out of tholeiite basalt tuff. Moai Rano raraku.jpg
Most of the moais in Easter Island are carved out of tholeiite basalt tuff.

Mafic volcanism typically takes the form of Hawaiian eruptions that are nonexplosive and produce little ash. [41] However, interaction between basaltic magma and groundwater or sea water results in hydromagmatic explosions that produce abundant ash. These deposit ash cones that subsequently can become cemented into tuff cones. Diamond Head, Hawaii, is an example of a tuff cone, as is the island of Ka'ula. The glassy basaltic ash produced in such eruptions rapidly alters to palagonite as part of the process of lithification. [42]

Although conventional mafic volcanism produce little ash, such ash as is formed may accumulate locally as significant deposits. An example is the Pahala ash of Hawaii island, which locally is as thick as 15 meters (49 ft). These deposits also rapidly alter to palagonite, and eventually weather to laterite. [43]

Basaltic tuffs are also found in Skye, Mull, Antrim, and other places, where Paleogene volcanic rocks are found; in Scotland, Derbyshire, and Ireland among the Carboniferous strata, and among the still older rocks of the Lake District, the southern uplands of Scotland, and Wales. They are black, dark green, or red in colour; vary greatly in coarseness, some being full of round spongy bombs a foot or more in diameter; and being often submarine, may contain shale, sandstone, grit, and other sedimentary material, and are occasionally fossiliferous. Recent basaltic tuffs are found in Iceland, the Faroe Islands, Jan Mayen, Sicily, the Hawaiian Islands, Samoa, etc. When weathered, they are filled with calcite, chlorite, serpentine, and especially where the lavas contain nepheline or leucite, are often rich in zeolites, such as analcite, prehnite, natrolite, scolecite, chabazite, heulandite, etc. [8]

Ultramafic volcanism

Ultramafic tuffs are extremely rare; their characteristic is the abundance of olivine or serpentine and the scarcity or absence of feldspar and quartz.


Occurrences of ultramafic tuff include surface deposits of kimberlite at maars in the diamond-fields of southern Africa and other regions. The principal variety of kimberlite is a dark bluish-green, serpentine-rich breccia (blue-ground) which, when thoroughly oxidized and weathered, becomes a friable brown or yellow mass (the "yellow-ground"). [8] These breccias were emplaced as gas–solid mixtures and are typically preserved and mined in diatremes that form intrusive pipe-like structures. At depth, some kimberlite breccias grade into root zones of dikes made of unfragmented rock. At the surface, ultramafic tuffs may occur in maar deposits. Because kimberlites are the most common igneous source of diamonds, the transitions from maar to diatreme to root-zone dikes have been studied in detail. Diatreme-facies kimberlite is more properly called an ultramafic breccia rather than a tuff.


Komatiite tuffs are found, for example, in the greenstone belts of Canada and South Africa. [44] [45]

Folding and metamorphism

Remains of the ancient Servian Walls in Rome, made of tuff blocks Servian Wall-Termini Station.jpg
Remains of the ancient Servian Walls in Rome, made of tuff blocks

In course of time, changes other than weathering may overtake tuff deposits. Sometimes, they are involved in folding and become sheared and cleaved. Many of the green slates of the English Lake District are finely cleaved ashes. In Charnwood Forest also, the tuffs are slaty and cleaved. The green color is due to the large development of chlorite. Among the crystalline schists of many regions, green beds or green schists occur, which consist of quartz, hornblende, chlorite or biotite, iron oxides, feldspar, etc., and are probably recrystallized or metamorphosed tuffs. They often accompany masses of epidiorite and hornblende – schists which are the corresponding lavas and sills. Some chlorite-schists also are probably altered beds of volcanic tuff. The "Schalsteins" of Devon and Germany include many cleaved and partly recrystallized ash-beds, some of which still retain their fragmental structure, though their lapilli are flattened and drawn out. Their steam cavities are usually filled with calcite, but sometimes with quartz. The more completely altered forms of these rocks are platy, green chloritic schists; in these, however, structures indicating their original volcanic nature only sparingly occur. These are intermediate stages between cleaved tuffs and crystalline schists. [8]


The primary economic value of tuff is as a building material. In the ancient world, tuff's relative softness meant that it was commonly used for construction where it was available. [4] [5] Tuff is common in Italy, and the Romans used it for many buildings and bridges. [6] For example, the whole port of the island of Ventotene (still in use), was carved from tuff. The Servian Wall, built to defend the city of Rome in the fourth century BC, is also built almost entirely from tuff. [46] The Romans also cut tuff into small, rectangular stones that they used to create walls in a pattern known as opus reticulatum . [47]

The peperino, much used at Rome and Naples as a building stone, is a trachyte tuff. Pozzolana also is a decomposed tuff, but of basic character, originally obtained near Naples and used as a cement, but this name is now applied to a number of substances not always of identical character. In the Eifel region of Germany, a trachytic, pumiceous tuff called trass has been extensively worked as a hydraulic mortar. [8]

Tuff of the Eifel region of Germany has been widely used for construction of railroad stations and other buildings in Frankfurt, Hamburg, and other large cities. [48] Construction using the Rochlitz Porphyr, can be seen in the Mannerist-style sculpted portal outside the chapel entrance in Colditz Castle. [49] The trade name Rochlitz Porphyr is the traditional designation for a dimension stone of Saxony with an architectural history over 1,000 years in Germany. The quarries are located near Rochlitz. [50]

Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository, a U.S. Department of Energy terminal storage facility for spent nuclear reactor and other radioactive waste, is in tuff and ignimbrite in the Basin and Range Province in Nevada. [51] In Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley, California, areas made of tuff are routinely excavated for storage of wine barrels. [52]

Tuff from Rano Raraku was used by the Rapa Nui people of Easter Island to make the vast majority of their famous moai statues. [7]

In Armenia

Tuff is used extensively in Armenia and Armenian architecture. [53] It is the dominant type of stone used in construction in Armenia's capital Yerevan, [54] [55] Gyumri, Armenia's second largest city, and Ani, the country's medieval capital, now in Turkey. [56] A small village in Armenia was renamed Tufashen (literally "built of tuff") in 1946. [57]


Pilar Formation outcrop showing metatuff beds used for radiometric dating Pilar Formation outcrop.jpg
Pilar Formation outcrop showing metatuff beds used for radiometric dating

Tuffs are deposited geologically instantaneously and often over a large region. This makes them highly useful as time-stratigraphic markers. The use of tuffs and other tephra deposits in this manner is known as tephrochronology and is particularly useful for Quaternary chronostratigraphy. Individual tuff beds can be "fingerprinted" by their chemical composition and phenocryst assemblages. [58] Absolute ages for tuff beds can be determined by K-Ar, Ar-Ar, or carbon-14 dating. [59] Zircon grains found in many tuffs are highly durable and can survive even metamorphism of the host tuff to schist, allowing absolute ages to be assigned to ancient metamorphic rocks. For example, dating of zircons in a metamorphosed tuff bed in the Pilar Formation provided some of the first evidence for the Picuris orogeny. [60]


The word tuff is derived from the Italian tufo. [61]

See also

Related Research Articles

Volcano Rupture in the crust of a planet that allows lava, ash, and gases to escape from 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.

Basalt A magnesium- and iron-rich extrusive igneous rock

Basalt is a fine-grained extrusive igneous rock formed from the rapid cooling of low-viscosity lava rich in magnesium and iron exposed at or very near the surface of a rocky planet or a moon. More than 90% of all volcanic rock on Earth is basalt. Rapid-cooling, fine-grained basalt is chemically equivalent to slow-cooling, coarse-grained gabbro. The eruption of basalt lava is observed by geologists at about 20 volcanoes per year. Basalt is also an important rock type on other planetary bodies in the Solar System; for example, the bulk of the plains of Venus, which cover ∼80% of the surface, are basaltic, the lunar maria are plains of flood basaltic lava flows, and basalt is a common rock on the surface of Mars.

Rhyolite An igneous, volcanic rock, of felsic (silica-rich) composition

Rhyolite is the most silica-rich of volcanic rocks. It is generally glassy or fine-grained (aphanitic) in texture, but may be porphyritic, containing larger mineral crystals (phenocrysts) in an otherwise fine-grained rock. The mineral assemblage is predominantly quartz, sanidine and plagioclase. It is the extrusive equivalent to granite.

Stratovolcano Type of conical volcano composed of layers of lava and tephra

A stratovolcano, also known as a composite volcano, is a conical volcano built up by many layers (strata) of hardened lava and tephra. 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).

Volcanic cone Landform of ejecta from a volcanic vent piled up in a conical shape

Volcanic cones are among the simplest volcanic landforms. They are built by ejecta from a volcanic vent, piling up around the vent in the shape of a cone with a central crater. Volcanic cones are of different types, depending upon the nature and size of the fragments ejected during the eruption. Types of volcanic cones include stratocones, spatter cones, tuff cones, and cinder cones.

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 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.

Pyroclastic rock Clastic rocks composed solely or primarily of volcanic materials

Pyroclastic rocks are clastic rocks composed of rock fragments produced and ejected by explosive volcanic eruptions. The individual rock fragments are known as pyroclasts. Pyroclastic rocks are a type of volcaniclastic deposit, which are deposits made predominantly of volcanic particles. 'Phreatic' pyroclastic deposits are a variety of pyroclastic rock that forms from volcanic steam explosions and they are entirely made of accidental clasts. 'Phreatomagmatic' pyroclastic deposits are formed from explosive interaction of magma with groundwater.

Lapilli Small pyroclast debris thrown in the air by a volcanic eruption

Lapilli is a size classification of tephra, which is material that falls out of the air during a volcanic eruption or during some meteorite impacts. Lapilli is Latin for "little stones".

Ignimbrite A variety of hardened tuff

Ignimbrite is a variety of hardened tuff. Ignimbrites are igneous rocks made up of crystal and rock fragments in a glass-shard groundmass, albeit the original texture of the groundmass might be obliterated due to high degrees of welding. The term ignimbrite is not recommended by the IUGS Subcommission on the Systematics of Igneous Rocks.

Agglomerate Coarse accumulation of large blocks of volcanic material that contains at least 75% bombs

Agglomerate is a coarse accumulation of large blocks of volcanic material that contains at least 75% bombs. Volcanic bombs differ from volcanic blocks in that their shape records fluidal surfaces: they may, for example, have ropy, cauliform, scoriaceous, folded, spindle, spatter, ribbon, ragged, or amoeboid shapes. Globular masses of lava may have been shot from the crater at a time when partly molten lava was exposed, and was frequently shattered by sudden outbursts of steam. These bombs were viscous at the moment of ejection and by rotation in the air acquired their shape. They are commonly 1 to 2 feet in diameter, but specimens as large as 12 feet (3.7 m) have been observed. There is less variety in their composition at any one volcanic centre than in the case of the lithic blocks, and their composition indicates the type of magma being erupted.

La Garita Caldera Large supervolcanic caldera in the state of Colorado, U.S.

La Garita Caldera is a large supervolcanic caldera in the San Juan volcanic field in the San Juan Mountains near the town of Creede in southwestern Colorado, United States. It is west of La Garita, Colorado. The eruption that created the La Garita Caldera is among the largest known volcanic eruptions in Earth's history, as well as being one of the most powerful known supervolcanic events.

Types of volcanic eruptions mechanisms of eruption

Several types of volcanic eruptions—during which lava, tephra, and assorted gases are expelled from a volcanic vent or fissure—have been distinguished by volcanologists. These are often named after famous volcanoes where that type of behavior has been observed. Some volcanoes may exhibit only one characteristic type of eruption during a period of activity, while others may display an entire sequence of types all in one eruptive series.

Phreatomagmatic eruption Volcanic eruption involving both steam and magma

Phreatomagmatic eruptions are volcanic eruptions resulting from interaction between magma and water. They differ from exclusively magmatic eruptions and phreatic eruptions. Unlike phreatic eruptions, the products of phreatomagmatic eruptions contain juvenile (magmatic) clasts. It is common for a large explosive eruption to have magmatic and phreatomagmatic components.

Lava Molten rock expelled by a volcano during an eruption

Lava is molten rock (magma) that has been expelled from the interior of a terrestrial planet or a moon. Magma is generated by the internal heat of the planet or moon and it is erupted as lava at volcanoes or through fractures in the crust, usually at temperatures from 800 to 1,200 °C. The volcanic rock resulting from subsequent cooling is also often described as lava.

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.

Canadian Cascade Arc Canadian segment of the North American Cascade Volcanic Arc

The Canadian Cascade Arc, also called the Canadian Cascades, is the Canadian segment of the North American Cascade Volcanic Arc. Located entirely within the Canadian province of British Columbia, it extends from the Cascade Mountains in the south to the Coast Mountains in the north. Specifically, the southern end of the Canadian Cascades begin at the Canada–United States border. However, the specific boundaries of the northern end are not precisely known and the geology in this part of the volcanic arc is poorly understood. It is widely accepted by geologists that the Canadian Cascade Arc extends through the Pacific Ranges of the Coast Mountains. However, others have expressed concern that the volcanic arc possibly extends further north into the Kitimat Ranges, another subdivision of the Coast Mountains, and even as far north as Haida Gwaii.

Calabozos Mountain in Chile

Calabozos is a Holocene caldera in central Chile's Maule Region. Part of the Chilean Andes' volcanic segment, it is considered a member of the Southern Volcanic Zone (SVZ), one of the three distinct volcanic belts of South America. This most active section of the Andes runs along central Chile's western edge, and includes more than 70 of Chile's stratovolcanoes and volcanic fields. Calabozos lies in an extremely remote area of poorly glaciated mountains.

Archean felsic volcanic rocks Felsic volcanic rocks formed in the Archean Eon

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.


Volcaniclastics are geologic materials composed of broken fragments (clasts) of volcanic rock. These encompass all clastic volcanic materials, regardless of what process fragmented the rock, how it was subsequently transported, what environment it was deposited in, or whether nonvolcanic material is mingled with the volcanic clasts. The United States Geological Survey defines volcaniclastics somewhat more narrowly, to include only rock composed of volcanic rock fragments that have been transported some distance from their place of origin.


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