basalt ejecta - hand/display specimen of maroon pyroclastic basalt from Red Hill, a cinder cone in Inyo County, California
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Cinder cone volcanos are made of loose blocks and fragments of basalt that have been ejected from the vent. These form a steep-sided symmetrical cone of pyroclastic ejecta. The ejected lava cools as it flies through the air, and is frequently streamlined to form ribbons and almond-shaped bombs. These, along with pieces of scoria and ejecta of practically any imaginable shape, are commonly termed “cinder.” The cinder that forms the cone is loose and is a challenge to climb, with two steps up and sliding one step back. Once, while climbing the steep slope of this cone and using both hands and feet, I came nose to nose with a snake, who was as surprised as I was. It turned out to be an unusual subspecies of gopher snake and was fairly mellow, allowing a close examination in hand.
This maroon basalt looks like frozen lava to a student. The maroon color is surface oxidation of the iron-rich basalt, mostly occurring before the lava fragments cooled. Good teaching specimen.
This lava form was collected from Red Hill, a cinder cone in Inyo County, California. Cinders from that cone are being mined, screened, and sold as decorative rock. Just think of Mc Donald’s flower bed rock. The field photo (click on it twice) shows Red Hill and the associated lava flows on the right.
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