Palagonite – What you get when you mix lava with water

On the surface it looks just like a fine sand but unlike sand there must be something about the micro-structure of this material that holds much more water than expected.


Pore space for water holding and cation exchange.

palagonitic dust, which contains hydrated and hydroxylated volcanic glass of basaltic composition, accommodates significantly more H2O under comparable humidity and temperature conditions than do the smectites nontronite and montmorillonite.

What’s in Palagonite?

Elements of Australian Fine Palagonite:

palagonite major_elements

How is it formed?


Does it make a good soil amendment?

Overview of Palagonite for Organic Farming

Personally, when used as a soil amendment, I’d prefer something with lower levels of Aluminium Oxide and Titanium Dioxide, Sodium Oxide is borderline too, but you can’t argue with the results when mixed with compost.

Composting with Palagonite:

Additional details:


The Anthropocene Minerals

Roughly 2.4 billion years ago a great deal of oxygen arose in our atmosphere, causing the number of minerals to skyrocket from around 2,000 to 5,000 with the addition of so many oxide versions. Hazen’s work now shows human events trump that so-called Great Oxidation Event, which was previously the largest known increase in minerals (taking the broad sense of the term). “There are so many things that we produce that are mineral-like that we have really changed the sedimentary horizon in which we are now living,” Hazen says.

Found: Thousands of Man-Made Minerals–Another Argument for the Anthropocene – Scientific American