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The familiar stone types that are used today are identified through four categories: Sedimentary, Metamorphic, Igneous and Man-made stone.

I. Sedimentary stone

They came from organic elements such as glaciers, rivers, wind, oceans, and plants. Tiny sedimentary pieces broke off form these elements and accumulated to from rock beds. They were bonded through millions of years of heat and pressure.


Limestone can be formed by the work of organisms. Mainly consists of calcite, is typically formed over many years at the bottom of oceans or lakes from the accumulation of shells, bones and other calcium rich goods. Many aquatic organisms draw calcium carbonate out of the water and use it to make their shells and bones. The oysters, clams, snails, corals, and sea urchins do this. When the animals die the shells and bones are broken up by waves into shell and coral sand and mud.

Limestone can be formed almost completely without the aid of organisms. This type of limestone is forced out of solution when the water evaporates.

Evaporation of water in limestone caverns forms another variety of limestone, called travertine, into stalactites and stalagmites.

Limestone does not show such graining or crystalline structure, has a smooth granular surface and varies in hardness. All limestones are formed when the calcium carbonate crystallizes out of solution. It leaves the solution in many ways, and each way produces a different kind of limestone.

If this limestone is subjected to intense heat or pressure and a few millenniums, crystallization will occur and the limestone will become a "true marble". Chemically they are both still Calcium Carbonate (TUMS), but the marble will have a crystalline structure and the limestone will have relatively flat appearance.

Some dense limestone can be polished. Limestones that will take a polish are considered marbles by most people, but technically, if there are still shells visible or the structure is not crystalline, it is still a limestone.

Limestone that have magnesium in them are called "dolomitic limestones" and are typically much harder and more resistant to weathering. A typical characteristic of dolomitic limestones are their capability of taking a flame finish.

Limestone makes an excellent building stone because it can be carved easily. Some factories use limestone to clean waste gases and water before releasing them into the environment. Limestone is also used to make lime and to smelt iron ore.

Common colors are black, grey, white, yellow or brown. It is more likely to stain than marble. Limestone is known to contain lime form sea water.

Limestones are typically used for flooring, wall cladding, vanity tops, furniture, and often time ornate stonework.


Sandstone is a type of rock composed mainly of a very durable formation of quartz grains (sand) that has been "bonded" together by pressure or by minerals. The sand commonly consists of grains of quartz, feldspar, and other minerals. It may also include organic matter or rock fragments. The minerals that cement the grains include quartz, pyrite, or calcite.

The colour of sandstone ranges from cream or grey to red, brown, or green, depending on the cements and impurities in the sand. It is categorized by the most popular sandstone bonding agents such as silica, calcium, clay, and iron oxide.

Brownstone, reddish-brown sandstone, was once widely used to build houses. Sandstone was a common building material for larger structures before reinforced concrete came into use in the middle to late 1800's.


Geologically, soapstone is a variety of the serpentine group of stones. A very soft stone made of a variety of talc, a "talc schist" or steatite with few impurities.

It is the result of the serpentinization process, which is the hydrothermal alteration of ferromagnesian silicate minerals. This process is diverse and affects different groups of rocks producing the serpentine mineral group the color of which is greenish (green stones) and similar physical characteristics.

It is a dense mineral that wears well and is often resistant to oxide. Soapstone is a unique and versatile stone. Being immune to virtually all acids and alkali substances, has made this stone an ideal choice for kitchen counters and bar tops.

It is important to find out the performance characteristics of different varieties of stones within a given classification and not assume that all their characteristics are the same


Considered a limestone that contains natural fossils such as sea- shells and plants.


Travertine is classified as a limestone and a marble that has been formed over a long period of time. It is formed through the accumulation of calcite from hot springs. Typically, hot water passes through limestone beds and takes the calcium, from the limestone into suspension and takes that solution to the surface where the water evaporates and leaves the calcium crystals in layers on the surface. It contains lots of holes that were formed from water flowing through the stone.

The holes and cavities may be filled with matching portland cement, coloured epoxy, or polyester resins. Or left unfilled for a more rustic appearance but requires lots of maintenance if the holds are not filled.

Travertine can be cut on either a "vein" cut, which is against the bedding which reveals the bedding planes, or a "crosscut”, which is

along the bedding plane and reveals a flowery, often circular pattern.

Travertine comes in several shades of creme/beige, brown, pink and gold, and is available in a number of different tile sizes and slab thicknesses. It is normally used for flooring, wall cladding, vanity tops, fireplace surrounds and furniture.

Some of the largest travertine deposits in North America are located in New Mexico.


Breccia is an Italian word for fragments of stone, and from old German, "break-fracture".

Breccias consist of angular stone fragments related to the rocks from which they were derived, Limestone or Marble, and cemented together in a very fine to medium-grained matrix. This cementing matrix is generally composed of silica, calcite, iron oxides and clay minerals.

Breccias are the result of various geological activates. Some have been formed within the earth due to movement along faults causing fracturing and shattering and over time these rock masses become reconsolidated. Deep in the earth marble formations are fractured during seismic activities and over time cemented together again by mineral solutions. They are also the result of the consolidation of landslides.

Commercially Breccias have been classified as a "Marble", because these stones can be polished.


Onyx, like travertine, is the result of water dissolving existing limestone and re-depositing it as a new kind of stone, sometimes called sinter. In limestone caves, onyx is formed by drip water, as stalagmites and stalactites.

It is a very soft stone, and somewhat brittle, and needs to be installed where it will not be subject to hard wear. This beautiful stone is characterized by its translucency, and can actually be backlit for striking, dramatic effects.

This dimensional stone that is used for decorative purposes is a variety of travertine, a limestone. Onyx develops as a precipitate from cool to warm water spring solutions.

This variety of travertine is not related to a true geological "quartz onyx". The only similarity is in their alternating bands of natural colors, from which this dimensional stone has received its name.

Commercially Onyx has been classified as a "Marble", because it can take a high reflective polish.


D olomites are considered a variety of limestone. They are composed primarily of the mineral dolomite, a calcium magnesium carbonate. On the basis of their dolomite content they are classified as:

1. Dolomitic Limestone which contains 10 - 50 % of dolomite.

2. Calcareous Dolomite composed of 50 - 90 % of dolomite.

3. Dolomite which is 90 - 100 % dolomite

Dolomites are associated and often interbeded with limestone's, they are very similar in appearance and can not be visually distinguished from each other, also weakly metamorphosed varieties resemble some true geologic marbles, these also can not be distinguished form each other. Dolomites are formed by a process called dolomitization. This takes place when magnesium rich solutions flow through the pores and other openings in limestone beds, converting through chemical reaction, the original calcium carbonate into a double calcium magnesium carbonate. This alteration process can take place in varying degrees, from compete transformation to just a partial replacement of the limestone mass.

Dolomites that can be polished are commercially classified as a "Marble" and sold as such. There are also true geologic Dolomite Marbles.

II. Metamorphic stone originates from a natural from one type of stone to another type through the mixture of heat, pressure, and minerals. The

change may be a development of a crystalline formation, a texture change, or a color change.

Serpentine: Identified by its marks, which look like the skin of a serpent. Most popular colors are green and brown. Hardness rates from 2.5 to 4 on the MOH scale. Contains serpentine minerals has lots of magnesium, and has an igneous origin. Does not always react well to recrystallization or diamond polishing.


Quartzite is distinguished by its natural high quality sparkling appearance and its shifting aesthetics as the light reflects from the variety of its mineral patterned surface. Quartzite is a metamorphic stone. It was at one time a sandstone that has been structurally altered by recrystallization.

It is important to find out the performance characteristics of different varieties of stones within a given classification and not assume that all their characteristics are the same.


Marble is formed from limestone by heat and pressure in the earth's crust. These forces cause the limestone to change in texture and makeup. This process is called recrystallization. Fossilized materials in the limestone, along with its original carbonate minerals, recrystallise and form large, coarse grains of calcite.

The main consistency is calcium and dolomite. Ranges in many colors and is usually heavily veined and shows lots of grains. Hardness rates from 2.5 to 5 on the MOH Scale.

Marble is classified into three categories:

1. Dolomite: If it has more than 40% magnesium carbonates.

2. Magnesium: If it has between 5% and 40% magnesium.

3. Calcite: If it has less than 5% magnesium carbonates.

Impurities present in the limestone during recrystallization affect the mineral composition of the marble that forms. The minerals that result from impurities give marble wide variety of colours. The purest calcite marble is white. Marble containing hematite has a reddish colour. Marble that has limonite is yellow, and marble with serpentine is green.

Marble does not split easily into sheets of equal size and must be mined carefully. The rock may shatter if explosives are used. Blocks of marble are mined with channeling machines, which cut grooves and holes in the rock, Marble is found in many countries, including Belgium, France, Great Britain, Greece, India, Italy, and Spain.

Marble is a rock widely used in buildings, monuments, and sculptures. Has long been highly valued for its beauty, strength, and resistance to fire and erosion.

The ancient Greeks used marble in many buildings and statues. The Italian artist Michaelangelo used marble from Carrara, Italy, in a number of sculptures. Extremely pure calcite marble is used for most statues. Large blocks of coloured marble are, used for columns, floors, and other parts of buildings. Smaller pieces of such marble are crushed or finely ground and used as abrasives in soaps and other products. Crushed or ground marble is also used in paving roads and in manufacturing roofing materials and soil treatment products.

Marbles have similar characteristics to limestones and are typically used on the same applications, though, marbles are almost always more aesthetically valuable and available in much wider range of colors.

There are several types of marbles, including calcites (from calciferous limestones), dolomites (from dolomitic limestone), serpentines (typically green marbles) and travertines (sedimentary limestone). Each of these is similar in their composition, that being predominantly calcium carbonate, and their capability to take a polish. The stone that is quarried west of Belen in central New Mexico is a travertine marble.

Many years ago there was a cataclysmic shift in the earth's crust and the Rio Grande Valley appeared. The Sandia mountains were pushed up on the east side bringing granite to the surface and leaving limestone on the top or backside of the mountain. This limestone was once the floor of a vast ocean that covered the entire southwest U.S. If you drive along south 14 you can see the layers of limestone along along the roadside. This same limestone is used to make cement at the plant in Tijeras, New Mexico. When the valley was formed, there were openings made in the earth's crust which allowed volcanoes to form and many hot springs to appear. These hot spring were present west of Belen, and as they came











The calcium carbonate in the limestone went into suspension in the water and once it got to the surface the water evaporated and it become travertine.

One characteristic of all Travertines is the presence of small voids that were caused by air bubbles in the hot water. At times when the springs went cold, onyx was formed. It is not uncommon to find bands of onyx among travertine beds.

Marbles are suitable for both interior and exterior applications but it should be noted that with today's environment containing so many pollutants, if a polish finish is specified on marble, it will not last.

III. Igneous stones are mainly formed through volcanic material such as magma. Underneath the Earth's surface, liquid magma cooled and solidified. Mineral gases and liquids penetrated into the stone and created new crystalline formations with various colors.


Granite is a hard, coarse-grained rock that makes up a large part of every continent. Granite contains three main minerals - quartz, alkali feldspar, and plagioclase feldspar. These minerals make granite white, pink, or light grey. Granite also contains small amounts of dark brown, dark-green, or black minerals, such as hornblende and biotite mica. The grains of the minerals in granite are large enough that they can easily be distinguished.

The minerals in granite are interlocked like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. Consequently, granite is a strong and durable which makes it useful for construction.

Geologists classify granite as an igneous rock. The slow cooling and crystallization of molten material called magma forms most granite. Magma has the same chemical composition as granite. It forms from rocks that melt 16 to 25 miles (25 to 40 kilometers') below the surface of the continents. These rocks melt at temperatures between 1200' and 1650' F. (650' and 900' C). As the magma rises, it cools. Most granite magma cools slowly enough to form coarse crystals and it solidifies below the earth's surface.

Sometimes granitic magma erupts from volcanoes and cools too quickly to form large crystals. The resulting rock, called rhyolite, has the same mineral composition as granite but is fine grained.

Granite is one of the oldest, most durable and most respected of building materials. Traditionally, it is the material chosen by both architects and engineers when permanence, enduring color and texture, and complete freedom from deterioration and maintenance are prime requirements.

And granite is ageless -- always contemporary. Today's leading architects, knowing its unique qualities, are using it more extensively than ever before. Many of our most impressive buildings, commercial as well as institutional and monumental, are being faced with granite, and it's still unequaled as a material for steps, terraces, and the paving of plazas and public spaces.

The granite industry is keeping pace with architectural progress and changing demands. Technological developments have revolutionized quarrying and fabrication methods, reducing costs and leading to new applications. Attractive new finishes, new construction techniques and new jointing methods have been introduced.

Granite develops in all parts of the world, with some of the major granite bed occurring in North America, Brazil and India.

Granite is the most popular material for bench top:

· Design: Granite comes in some amazing colors, and is considered to be one of the most beautiful stones in the world.

· Durability:

chipping or scratching, and is impervious to heat. The color and polished surface of granite do not fade over time.

Granite lasts the lifetime of a person's home without

· Economics: With the new technology available to the miners and

fabricators of granite, the cost of granite has dropped dramatically in the last few decades. Stone prices are now competitive with

man-made options, and granite lasts longer than any other surface!

· Ecology:

products are far worse in several ways. Man-made products create potentially deadly by-products which go straight to our crowded

Although mining is rough on the environment, other

landfills. Due to granite's durability and timeless beauty it does not need to be replaced or upgraded, whereas man-made counters are replaced several times over the life of a building, further adding waste (both environmentally and financially).

Granite are also suitable for flooring or paving, wall cladding, all other types of bench tops and furniture. Granite is suitable for either exterior or interior applications.

IV. Man Made Stones are derived of unnatural mixtures such resin or cement with the additive of stone chips.

Terrazzo: Terrazzo is generally marble and in some cases granite aggregate in a cementous or resinous matrix that is usually cast in place and ground smooth. There are also resinous terrazzo tiles available.

Agglomerate or conglomerate: Marble chips embedded in a colored resin composition.

Cultured or Faux Marble: Cultured marble is a mixture of resins with pigments and cast in molds. Some manufactures also add marble power for durability. Cultured marble is not considered a stone product.