Marble, formed from limestone with heat and pressure over years in the earth’s crust. These pressure or forces cause the limestone to change in texture and makeup. The process is called recrystallization. Fossilized materials in the limestone, along with its original carbonate minerals, recrystallize and form large, coarse grains of calcite.
Impurities present in the limestone during the recrystallization period affect the mineral composition of the marble which is formed. At relatively low temperatures, silica impurities in the carbonate minerals form masses of chert or crystals of quartz. At higher temperatures, the silica reacts with the carbonates to produce diopside and forsterite. At a very high temperature, rarer calcium minerals, such as larnite, monticellite, and rankinite, forms in the marble. If water is present, serpentine, talc, and certain other hydrous minerals may be produced. The presence of iron, alumina, and silica may result in the formation of hematite and magnetite.
The minerals that result from impurities give marble a wide variety of colors. The purest calcite marble is white in color. Marble containing hematite are reddish in color. Marble that has limonite is yellow, and marble with serpentine is green in color.
Uses of Marble
Marble has always been highly valued for its beauty, strength, and resistance to fire and erosion. The ancient Iranian & Greeks were good users of marble in their buildings and statues. The Italian artist Michelangelo used marble from Carrara, Italy, in a number of sculptures. Marble from Tennessee was used in parts of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. The Lincoln Memorial, also in Washington, was built of marble from Alabama, Colorado, and Georgia.
Very pure calcite marble is used for most statues. They are translucent. Large blocks of colored marble are used for columns, floors, and other parts of buildings. Smaller pieces of marble are crushed or finely ground and used as abrasives in soaps and other such products. Crushed or ground marble is also used in paving roads and in manufacturing roofing materials and soil treatment products.
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