Pumice

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Specimen of highly porous pumice from  volcano on , . Density of specimen approx 0.25 /. Scale is in .
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Specimen of highly porous pumice from Teide volcano on Tenerife, Canary Islands. Density of specimen approx 0.25 g/cm. Scale is in cm.

Pumice is a light, porous type of pyroclastic igneous rock. It is formed during explosive volcanic eruptions when liquid lava is ejected into the air as a froth containing masses of gas bubbles. As the lava solidifies, the bubbles are frozen into the rock. Any type of igneous rock — andesite, basalt, dacite or rhyolite — can form pumice given suitable eruptive conditions. When larger amounts of gas are present, the result is a finer-grained variety of pumice known as pumicite.

It is considered a glass because it has no crystal structure. Pumice varies in density according to the thickness of the solid material between the bubbles; many samples float in water. It is widely used to make lightweight concrete and as an abrasive, especially in polishes and cosmetic exfoliants.


When used as an additive for cement, a fine-grained version of pumice called pozzolan is mixed with lime to form a light-weight, smooth, plaster-like concrete. This form of concrete was used as far back as Roman times.

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