Lava rock comes in a variety of colors, ranging from shiny jet black to gray to yellow-brown. The cooling time of the rock determines its color. Rocks that cool quickly, especially the outer layers of a flow, are primarily composed of glass particles and tiny minerals. This is why the outer surface of a flow is black. The interior of a flow cools slower, giving it a greyer color. As older rock oxidizes, it turns a reddish rust color. Red lava rock is common in landscaping and outdoor design.
The cooling time of a rock has nothing whatever to do with its color. Color in solid rocks depends largely in the iron content. There are low-iron rocks that cool quickly and are fine grained and white. “Lava rock” used in landscaping is reddish because of its iron content, not because of its cooling history.
Lava is correctly used only for molten material, and its red (or orange or whatever) color is indeed due mostly to its temperature – it is hot enough to be incandescent, similar to the filament in an incandescent light bulb.
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