Obsidian is a naturally occurring volcanic glass formed as an extrusive igneous rock. Obsidian is produced when felsic lava extruded from a volcano cools rapidly with minimal crystal growth. It is commonly found within the margins of rhyolitic lava flows known as obsidian flows, where the chemical composition (high silica content) causes a high viscosity which, upon rapid cooling, forms a natural glass from the lava. The inhibition of atomic diffusion through this highly viscous lava explains the lack of crystal growth. Obsidian is hard, brittle, and amorphous; it therefore fractures with very sharp edges. In the past it was used to manufacture cutting and piercing tools and it has been used experimentally as surgical scalpel blades.
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