Dark igneous rock that is low in silica content and comparatively rich in iron and magnesium. Some basalts are glassy (have no visible crystals), and many are very fine-grained and compact. Basaltic lavas may be spongy or pumice-like. Olivine and augite are the most common minerals in basalts; plagioclase is also present. Basalts may be broadly classified into two main groups. Calc-alkali basalts predominate among the lavas of mountain belts; the active volcanoes of Mauna Loa and Kilauea in Hawaii erupt calc-alkali lavas. Alkali basalts predominate among the lavas of the ocean basins and are also common in mountain belts.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
For the full entry on basalt, visit Britannica.com.
Seen & Heard
What made you look up basalt? Please tell us what you were reading, watching or discussing that led you here.