Where Can You Naturally Find Obsidian?

Obsidian is a volcanic glass that forms when lava from volcanoes cools rapidly. The rapid cooling prevents crystallization from occurring, resulting in the glassy texture of obsidian. This natural glass can be found in many locations across the globe near areas of significant volcanic activity, both past and present. Here are some of the top places worldwide to find obsidian occurring naturally:

Yellowstone National Park, United States

Yellowstone is a volcanic hotspot located over a mantle plume that fuels the volcanic activity in the park. There are several obsidian flows and outcrops that can be found here. Obsidian Cliff along the north entrance road is a famous spot composed of spectacular black obsidian formed 7,700 years ago. There are also obsidian deposits found at Mickey Hot Springs, Lava Creek, and the Pitchstone Plateau.

Craters of the Moon National Monument, United States

Craters of the Moon in Idaho has the largest concentration of obsidian in the United States. This national park has over 25 lava flows that contain obsidian deposits, some dating back 15,000 years. The most accessible location to find obsidian is along the 7-mile lava bed trail that has an abundance of black and rainbow-colored obsidian.

Easter Island, Chile

The famous moai statues of Easter Island were carved using obsidian tools by the Rapa Nui people. Obsidian can be found across the island, primarily occurring near the volcano Rano Kau. The most significant obsidian site is at a quarry location known as Puna Pau, an extinct cinder cone volcano where the Rapa Nui mined their obsidian.

Mount Edziza, Canada

In northwestern British Columbia, Canada, Mount Edziza is a large volcanic complex with an associated lava plateau that spans over 700 square km. Obsidian can be found on this volcanic plateau, much of it originating from an obsidian flow dated around 300 years old from the cinder cone volcano known as Eve Cone. A variety of obsidian colors are found here including black, brown, and rare blue.

Mount Hekla, Iceland

Mount Hekla is one of Iceland’s most active volcanoes, erupting over 20 times since the 9th century. These frequent eruptions produce obsidian ranging from black to gray. Hikers climbing Hekla can find obsidian stones covering the ground around the volcano. There are also obsidian quarries near the base of Hekla dating back to the Vikings who used Heklan obsidian for creating tools and early artifacts.

Mount Ararat, Turkey

Mount Ararat is a dormant volcanic mountain located in Turkey near its eastern border with Armenia and Iran. On the upper slopes and summit of Mount Ararat at elevations over 13,000 feet, pieces of obsidian can be found scattered across the rocky terrain. Obsidian has also been documented in the lava flows on the lower parts of the mountain.

Ethiopia

Several regions across Ethiopia have deposits of obsidian including the Rift Valley lakes area. Archaeological evidence has uncovered ancient obsidian tools and deposits around the Danakil Depression and Lake Ashenge near the border with Eritrea. Obsidian colors found here include black, dark brown, and an unusual very pale green. Ancient obsidian artifacts have also been found around Lake Abhe, representing an early human use of this volcanic glass.

In summary, obsidian can be found near volcano sites across the globe as the natural glass makes up lava flows and deposits on volcanically active landscapes from past eruptions and lava flows. For those lucky enough to visit these places, obsidian makes a wonderful souvenir collected first-hand from the fascinating environment of these volcanic regions.