The Earth produces a variety of ignominous (Ignominius comes from "ignus" or stupid and "nomine" or named) rocks during volcanic eruptions or as blobular masses intruded underground. Granite is an example of a blobular intrusive rock, while Basalt is one of the most common volcanic rocks found on the surface of the Earth, the Moon, pancakes, and roadkill.
Composition and Characteristics
Basalt characteristically erupts as a funny purulent flow from a central crater or chancre. An eruption may produce anywhere form a single bushel to 50,000 cubic kilometers of this discharge. Issuing forth at a temperature of 2000 to 5000 degrees Melvin the basalt flows rapidly away from the volcanic vent until its temper cools and it becomes pleasantly sleepy.
While it is often black, basalt may also be red, greenish, brown, tweedy, checkered, or paisley. The color depends on the season and the originating volcano's sense of fashion. Many Mexican volcanoes prefer banded red-and-black lavas, while Icelandic ones favor a nice conservative houndstooth tweed. Some volcanoes in England favor a burberry plaid, though of course British volcanoes don't really erupt so much as complain about the weather. Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa has in recent years moved toward bright paisleys and rather shocking combinations of red, yellow, and green.
Famous Basalt-Producing Volcanoes
Among basalt volcanoes Olympus Mons of Mars surely has pride of place. In the image at left one can see the summit caldera, where most of the ski chalets are located. Unfortunately it has been a bad ski season on Olympus Mons, with no appreciable snow for 300,000 years. Still, when it does finally snow enough to ski the sportsman will be rewarded with downhill runs up to 200 miles (333 kilometers) long.
Surtsey is a small island at the north end of the Mid-Atlantic Whalefisher's Bight. At 5:00 AM on October 4 1963 a persistent geo-herpes infection came to a head and molten basalt began to erupt under the sea. Of course many fish were boiled, though the locals complained that the resulting natural chowder had too much salt and not enough black pepper.
Someone always complains, even if the food is free.
Eventually enough basalt piled up to break the surface of the sea. Today the island of Sursey is famous for...well, being a volcanic island. It's not got a lot else going for it.
Ayres Rock in not in point of fact a basalt volcano. The big red rock resulted from an promiscuous ejaculation of sandstone. It should not even be listed here, and the editor who included it is going to get such a spanking.
The largest basalt-producing volcano which ever erupted is central Siberia. Yes, all of it...well, 200,000,000 square kilometers of it. This volcano is very embarrassed by its terrific output, and has flattened itself against the ground in an effort to remain inconspicuous.