Obsidian

A volcanic glass, Obsidian occurs in volcanic areas such as the western United States.

We’re honored to welcome visitors to our Winding Pathways website seeking information on obsidian. Many have probably learned of this rock through video games.

Ironically Winding Pathways is located in Iowa, a state where natural deposits of obsidian aren’t found. However, the rock was so useful to Native Americans that an extensive trade network existed in North America and it was carried far and wide by prehistoric traders. All Iowa obsidian was carried here by Native Americans and has only been found as artifacts.

Obsidian is an amazing rock. It formed when lava cooled so quickly that the molten rock could not form a crystalline structure. Usually black, obsidian can be of many other colors.  It occurs naturally around the world where volcanism occurred relatively recently. Fairly common in western states it has also been found in Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Virginia. A well-known hillside in Yellowstone National Park is composed of this rock. It’s fun to see but collecting is not allowed in national parks.

Obsidian Points

The smaller piece is the back of a point. The larger piece is the broken tip of a point.

Because of its amorphous, or non-crystalline, structure obsidian breaks cleanly creating extremely sharp edges. It’s been used by people for at least 1.5 million years as the raw material that could be crafted into  knives, spear points and other sharp tools. Today obsidian is often made into jewelry, and there are reports of ultra-sharp shards of it being used for surgery.

An easy way to see obsidian and hundreds of other types of rocks and minerals is to visit a rock shop. They are common in tourist areas, and we’ve always found visiting them fun. Often the owner is so happy to see a customer that he’ll give a personal tour and share oodles of rock information, even if no money is exchanged.

Another great way to see obsidian……and buy a chunk……..is to visit a rock show. Held around the country they bring rock enthusiasts together to talk, barter, buy and sell. To locate a show near your home check RockNGem  and show-dates.

Eastern Iowa’s 2016 Cedar Valley Rock and Mineral Society’s big Gem, Mineral and Fossil Show will be April 16 and 17 at Hawkeye Downs in Cedar Rapids.  Programs, demonstrations, pebble pits for kids, gorgeous jewelry, equipment and raw materials all will be featured.

Wherever you live, take in a rock show and rub elbows with rock hounds and lapidists, and invest in some cool rocks and crystals.

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