Basalt

Basalt (UK: /ˈbæsɔːlt, -əlt/;[1] US: /bəˈsɔːlt, ˈbsɔːlt/)[2] is an aphanitic (fine-grained) extrusive igneous rock formed from the rapid cooling of low-viscosity lava rich in magnesium and iron (mafic lava) exposed at or very near the surface of a rocky planet or 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.

Basalt
Igneous rock
Composition
PrimaryMafic: plagioclase, amphibole, and pyroxene
SecondarySometimes feldspathoids or olivine

Molten basalt lava has a low viscosity due to its relatively low silica content (between 45% and 52%), resulting in rapidly moving lava flows that can spread over great areas before cooling and solidifying. Flood basalts are thick sequences of many such flows that can cover hundreds of thousands of square kilometres and constitute the most voluminous of all volcanic formations.

Basaltic magmas within Earth are thought to originate from the upper mantle. The chemistry of basalts thus provides clues to conditions deep in Earth's interior.


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