Basalt is a rather intriguing stone: it is formed in an unusual way, it has a lot of strength and decorative peculiarities, that allows using it in many fields including industry, and there is no common name interpretation of the stone. Traditionally, the name “basalt” is considered to be derived from Ethiopian word “basal” meaning the following: “iron-containing stone”, “dark” or “black”, and also “boiled”. Approximate Greek word “basanos” means “touchstone”. In our opinion, the most appropriate would be the definition “boiled” because basalt is a rock resulted from volcanic eruptions, from volcanic lava. The best known basalt deposits are volcanoes in Kamchatka, the Kuril Islands, as well as Etna and Vesuvius. We note one more interesting fact: some sources assume that there is basalt even on Venus, Mars and the Moon, as well as on the asteroid Vesta.
Traditionally, basalt is formed as columns, or so-called “columnar joints”. This is because the lava cools unevenly. Columns may have from 3 to 7 sides, but traditionally they have 5-6. There is even Columnar Cape (Stolbchatiy) on the Kuril Islands (Kunashir Island). From a scientific point of view, it is a unique formation: it is a solid stone ledge situated near the sea just like high sheer wall. This wall consists entirely of these columnar joints. Basalt may also overlie on the ocean floor, though not in the form of columns, but in the form of “pillows”.
Basalt and its characteristics
Let’s start with the fact that basalt is characterized by dense structure, which often surpasses granite in its hardness. In particular, compared with basalt, granite will be easier to split. This volcanic rock includes volcanic glass, and if we are talking about porphyritic basalt structure, it will comprise olivine crystals resulting in yellow mossy shade of the stone. There is also amygdaloidal basalt. Its distinctive feature is bubbles, in which the deposits of the following minerals can appear: prehnite, copper, calcium and zeolite, and maybe other. Basalt construction breakstone is obtained from the waste products of such basalt.
Basalt has a number of excellent properties. This stone is very strong and durable, and therefore it is very popular in construction. Besides, it is used in different forms: basalt powder, liquid basalt and its chippings, as well as a stone in its purest form are in demand. Basalt is resistant to many external factors: abrasion, alkalis and acids, mechanical damage and weathering, as well as high and low temperatures. Considering that during its processing basalt is melted at a temperature of about +1280C, this stone is fire-resistant in service. Basalt is environmentally friendly – It does not accumulate radiation and has a high dielectric constant. If the stone is used in interior decoration, it takes cleaning very well. It is also very easy to work with this stone, because it is kind for filing, carving and polishing. In support of its strength and durability, experts claim that basalt is 5 times stronger than cast iron, and its wear rate is 20 times higher than that of steel. For example, if you use basalt veneer, it can withstand a load of 100 tons. Perhaps these statements are somewhat exaggerated, but durability and strength are the “calling card” of basalt.
Features of basalt
The color and types of basalt can probably be referred to as its special features. Basalt mostly occurs in black, smoky, dark gray, and dark colors with greenish and yellowish hues. But at the same time, if you, for example, use basalt for external or internal decoration, each stone will have its unique texture. However, this is one of the advantages of using any natural stone in design. If the prevailing tone is dark, the surface of this basalt is somewhat special: it looks as if the bitmap with various splashes of gray and black shades was applied on it.
Basalt can be classified not only by color, but also by structure. This classification is rather arbitrary, but in practice it helps to speak about different types of basalt using “the same language”. For example, there is so called Asian basalt. This stone has dark gray color, and – if compared with Moorish basalt or basaltina – attractive price. Moorish basalt is an exquisite type – this stone has a rich dark green hue with various patches of other colors. The most durable and resistant to low temperatures is Chinese basalt. This stone is of smoky-gray or black colors. There is one more type of basalt – so-called basaltina. This type is believed to be of Italian origin – it is mined near Rome. The most common field of application of this stone is architecture. It is as strong as granite, and its decorative features were highly appreciated by many designers of the world. Note that this stone keeps its original richness and beauty of color for a long time.
The use of basalt in the design
As we noted at the beginning, basalt is used in construction and design, for interior and exterior facing and finishing works, in industry, and it is not the entire list. One thing at a time, though. In order to make special products of basalt – such as slabs for facing – it is melted at a temperature of + 1280C (or +1280C) and then poured into special molds, in which it is cooled. You can get the products of any shape, and they will be very durable and beautiful, because the stone has a unique color and texture. Thus, interior and exterior designers are fond of working with this stone, because it is possible to realize the most complicated projects, including columns, stairs and stairways, outdoor sculptures, bridges and fountains, garden paths and facades. Note also that basalt of dark shades is originally combined with natural stone of light colors. In general, basalt can be combined with the artistic ironwork, glass and ceramics, metal and other modern materials. So, the stone is perfect for implementing any style of design. But when it comes to the floor covering or interior walls, the rarest and most expensive material would be basalt tiles.
The use of basalt in construction and industry
In construction apart from exterior trim, basalt is also used as filler for concrete or in stone casting process. Basalt is suitable for buildings of any complexity, plus it is often used in the construction of the basement or ground floor. Insulations or mineral wool are also basalt-based. Basalt powder is a raw material for the production of special anticorrosive coatings that are resistant to aggressive environments (including chemical substances). Acid-proof powders are also produced of basalt powder. Liquid basalt (melted) is of great demand in the production of ceramic tiles and pipes, which are used for laboratory equipment.
Today basalt fiber and a variety of materials obtained from it are also very popular. Basalt fiber is excellent roof insulation, and it is part of the sandwich panels. As insulation, this material is also suitable for industrial equipment and pipelines. Note that the pipelines used to transport abrasives (e.g. sand, gravel, salt, etc.) are also manufactured of basalt. Basalt fiber is also used to manufacture durable parts, reinforcing mechanisms and materials. For example, it can be special reinforcing nets which are necessary for the construction of roads or ports, or reinforcing materials, which are used for the construction of dams, offshore platforms and other complex structures. Nowadays in modern construction and industry there is a great demand for flame-retardant composite materials, the majority of which are basalt fiber based.