Obsidian vs. Onyx

By Jaxson

Main Difference

The main difference between Obsidian and Onyx is that the Obsidian is a naturally occurring volcanic glass and Onyx is a banded variety of the mineral chalcedony

  • Obsidian

    Obsidian is a naturally occurring volcanic glass formed as an extrusive igneous rock.Obsidian is produced when felsic lava extruded from a volcano cools rapidly with minimal crystal growth. It is commonly found within the margins of rhyolitic lava flows known as obsidian flows, where the chemical composition (high silica content) causes a high viscosity, which, upon rapid cooling, results in a natural glass forming from the lava. The inhibition of atomic diffusion through this highly viscous lava explains the lack of crystal growth. Obsidian is hard, brittle, and amorphous; it therefore fractures with sharp edges. In the past, it was used to manufacture cutting and piercing tools, and it has been used experimentally as surgical scalpel blades.

  • Onyx

    Onyx primarily refers to the parallel banded variety of the silicate mineral chalcedony. Agate and onyx are both varieties of layered chalcedony that differ only in the form of the bands: agate has curved bands and onyx has parallel bands. The colors of its bands range from white to almost every color. Commonly, specimens of onyx contain bands of black and/or white. Onyx, as a descriptive term, has also been applied to parallel banded varieties of alabaster, marble, obsidian and opal, and misleadingly to materials with contorted banding, such as “Cave Onyx” and “Mexican Onyx”.

  • Obsidian (noun)

    A type of black glass produced by volcanoes.

  • Obsidian (adjective)


  • Onyx (noun)

    A banded variety of chalcedony, a cryptocrystalline form of quartz.

  • Onyx (noun)

    A jet-black color, named after the gemstone.

    “color panel|0F0F0F”

  • Onyx (adjective)


  • Onyx (noun)

    a semi-precious variety of agate with different colours in layers

    “an onyx ashtray”

Oxford Dictionary

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