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obsidian

obsidian (ŏbsĭdˈēən) [key], a volcanic glass, homogeneous in texture and having a low water content, with a vitreous luster and a conchoidal fracture. The color is commonly black, but may be some shade of red or brown, and cut sections sometimes appear to be green. Like other volcanic glasses, obsidian is a lava that has cooled too quickly for the contained minerals to crystallize. In chemical composition it is rich in silica and similar to granite. It is favored by primitive peoples for knives, arrowheads, spearheads, and other weapons and tools.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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