Minerals (Category B)

Pumice

Pumice is a type of extrusive volcanic rock, produced when lava with a very high content of water and gases (together these are called volatiles) is extruded (or thrown out of) a volcano. As the gas bubbles escape from the lava, it becomes frothy. When this lava cools and hardens, the result is a very light rock material filled with tiny bubbles of gas. Pumice is the only rock that floats on water, although it will eventually become waterlogged and sink. It is usually light-colored, indicating that it is a volcanic rock high in silica content and low in iron and magnesium, a type usually classed as rhyolite. If the lava hardens quickly with few volatiles, the resulting rock is volcanic glass, or obsidian. Pumice and obsidian are often found together.

In commerce, pumice is the term applied to larger pumice stones, while pumicite consists of fine grains or ash. Pozzolan is a fine-grained pumicious material (both natural and man-made), which combines with lime to make a smooth, plaster-like cement.

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