VHP Photo Glossary: Basalt

Close view of basalt lava, Kilauea Volcano, Hawai`i

Basalt lava (glowing rock) oozes over basalt lava flow

Basalt

Basalt is a hard, black volcanic rock with less than about 52 weight percent silica (SiO2). Because of basalt's low silica content, it has a low viscosity (resistance to flow). Therefore, basaltic lava can flow quickly and easily move >20 km from a vent. The low viscosity typically allows volcanic gases to escape without generating enormous eruption columns. Basaltic lava fountains and fissure eruptions, however, still form explosive fountains hundreds of meters tall. Common minerals in basalt include olivine, pyroxene, and plagioclase. Basalt is erupted at temperatures between 1100 to 1250° C.

More about volcanic and plutonic rocks.


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