Apache Tears

June 04, 2019


Photographer: Thomas McGuire 
Summary Author: Thomas McGuire 

Folklore and geology come together in volcanic glass nodules of obsidian known as Apache tears, shown above. The name originates from the legend of a group of about 75 Apache warriors under attack by the U.S. Cavalry near the modern town of Superior, Arizona. Rather than being captured, they rode off a mountain to their deaths. Their families cried when they heard of the fate of their brave warriors, and their tears turned to stone upon hitting the ground.

Geologists have quite a different explanation. Quartz-rich volcanic ash can absorb water and other substances to become the mineral perlite, which has a very low density and is relatively stable. However, small cores within the perlite may not absorb water. Rather, they form imperfect little spheres of volcanic glass; Apache tears. Perlite is quarried and used in a variety of building materials. It's also used for gardening

Photo Details: Camera: Canon PowerShot SX50 HS; Software: Adobe Photoshop Elements 16.0 (Macintosh); Exposure Time: 0.010s (1/100); Aperture: ƒ/8.0; ISO equivalent: 320; Focal Length: 12.8mm