Block of the Week: Andesite
Rock and roll
Need a block that looks kinda like gravel but won't fall down when you mine the block underneath it? Or perhaps a bit of subtle variation for your stone and cobblestone base? I've got just the solution for you - it's our Block of the Week today, Andesite!
Andesite is one of the three special stone variants that you'll find in Minecraft, alongside granite and diorite. All three were added at the same time in snapshot 14w02a back in 2014. They generate in place of stone underground below y-level 80, in veins of similar shape and size to gravel and dirt, but as well as looking underground, you'll occasionally find andesite exposed to the surface in extreme hills biomes. Igloo basements and woodland mansions have a few blocks too.
All three stone variants have the same blast resistance, mining time and other properties as regular stone, making them decent, creeper-resistant building materials. In Pocket Edition, you can use them to make stone slabs and redstone comparators and repeaters, but the Java version of the game limits their use to decoration only.
In real life, andesite is a blueish-grey igneous rock whose name comes from the Andes mountains in South America, where it's pretty common. It forms when a specific kind of magma flows out to the surface as lava and cools down. Diorite, incidentally, is made when exactly the same magma cools down inside the earth, before it can flow out to the surface, making them rock brothers.
As well as being the second most common volcanic rock on Earth, after basalt, andesite also makes up a big part of the surface of Mars. It's even been found in meteorites whizzing through space, suggesting that there may be some other way of making it that we don't know about.
Speaking of making andesite - mining isn't the only way to accumulate large quantities of the stuff in Minecraft. You can also make it by combining diorite with cobblestone in a crafting bench. And you can make diorite with cobblestone and nether quartz, so as long as you've got access to the Nether, you should nether run out.
And while we're sharing recipes, four andesite in a square in a crafting grid will combine to make polished andesite - a smoother, sleeker variant of the block that looks great as flooring.
So the next time you're building a modernist house and need a good flooring material, or something new to add to your cobblestone fortress, then definitely put andesite into consideration. It rocks.