Glass Buttes Dragonglass AKA Obsidian

Dragonglass collage

Game of Thrones fans may know what dragonglass is but the rest of you may be going, “Huh?” The rock plays an important role in the story. ¬†Most people know it by the name obsidian. Like glass, obsidian fractures into pieces with sharp edges. It can be found in a wide variety of colors.

Obsidian from my yard
Obsidian from my yard

Obsidian forms when lava from a volcano cools rapidly with minimal crystal growth. Volcanic activity in Central Oregon is recent, in geological terms, so obsidian is fairly common in some areas. Lava flows covered hundreds of acres in this region. I have found obsidian in my yard between the sagebrush and bunchgrass. Isn’t this a cool piece?

Finding dragonglass at Glass Buttes

I’m lucky because I live about an hour away from a place with TONS of obsidian called Glass Buttes. When you drive along the dirt roads there, the streets are literally paved in “gold” in the form of obsidian. You are advised to have good tires on your car because that stuff can pop a tire fast.

Glass Buttes "gold"
Glass Buttes “gold”

Recent research has found obsidian is so sharp it cuts more cleanly than a metal scalpel blade. http://www.cnn.com/2015/04/02/health/surgery-scalpels-obsidian/

The varieties of obsidian at Glass Buttes can be found in shades of black, silver, gold, mahogany, green, and rainbows of color. The obsidian is solid, striped, spotted, and clear. It sparkles and shines when the smallest ray of sunlight hits it. As you wander in the sagebrush covered hills at Glass Buttes, it’s like being a kid in a candy store.

In my guest room I keep a dish full of obsidian where most people might place a bowlful of candy. Guests might be temporarily disappointed until they take a closer look. It is amazing!

Glass Butte candy
Glass Butte candy

People have been collecting obsidian and making arrowheads, spear points, knife blades, and scrapers with it since the Stone Age. Items made from obsidian have been found hundreds of miles away from the source.

Here is a site where you can learn more about obsidian.

http://geology.com/rocks/obsidian.shtml

This site has obsidian for sale but I like going to it to see pictures of the many different varieties. You can also purchase a detailed guide about rockhounding in Oregon here.

http://orerockon.com/ore_rock.htm

See Glass Buttes Obsidian Field Trip for more details on this site full of dragonglass.

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