The term "Snowflake" obsidian comes from the combination of cristobalite nodules in obsidian. The cristobalite spots are called spherulites.
"Snowflake" obsidian is a shiny black, glass-like stone with gray and white markings. These lighter colored splotches appear like beautiful patterns of snowflakes against a striking black background.
The name "obsidian" comes from an ancient encyclopedia called Naturalis Historia (Latin for "Natural History"), published circa AD 77-79 by Pliny the Elder. He thought the mineral resembled an Ethiopian stone called Obsius so he named it Obsidianus, which is now referred to as obsidian.
Other Names for Snowflake Obsidian
Regular Obsidian is a shiny, usually black mineral called volcanic glass which naturally forms above ground in quick cooling lava flows. Usually this rapid cooling occurs when super heated lava flows into cool lake or ocean waters.
It is this rapid cooling process that prevents crystal growth and gives obsidian its glassy texture.
Like manufactured glass, obsidian is composed of mostly silicon dioxide. Iron and magnesium content in the mineral can color the obsidian dark green to black although it is not uncommon to find colorful sheens of gold or green, yellow, blue and purple.
Obsidian is widely distributed around the world in fields of recent and ancient volcanic flows primarily in Italy, Mexico, Scotland, Arizona, Colorado, Texas, Utah and Idaho (United States).