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Any glassy rock formed from lava or magma that has a chemical composition close to that of granite. Such molten material may reach very low temperatures without crystallizing, but its viscosity may become very high. Because high viscosity inhibits crystallization, the combination of sudden cooling and loss of volatiles, as when lava extrudes from a volcanic vent, tends to chill the material to a glass rather than crystallize it.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on volcanic glass, visit Britannica.com.