Marble is a metamorphic rock used in the most beautiful and famous sculptures and structures in the world. Sedimentary carbonate rocks, most commonly limestone and dolomite, become marble through the process of metamorphism. Metamorphism is the process of heat and pressure changing one type of rock into another rock over a period of millions of years. The limestone, or parent rock, undergoes chemical changes during metamorphism called recrystalization and makes marble. Being slightly porous, light can penetrate the marble and make it sparkle. This gives statues a life-like appearance.
Marble is composed of interlocking calcite grains. Marble is non-foliated which means it does not have layers or banding of minerals in layers. This makes marble a very strong building material. Marble is very durable in Mediterranean countries because of the dry climate. It is, however, vulnerable to acid rain.
The color of marble can range from the purest white to black. Marble colors include rose, yellow, green, red, blue-grey, purple, brown, pink, and semi-translucent. The colors are due to mineral impurities such as clay, silt, iron oxides, and chert, which were present in the limestone. These minerals also cause the swirls and veins in many colored marbles. The purity of the marble depends on the purity of the limestone, the parent rock.
Marble can be found in mountainous regions all over the world. In particular, it is found in China, Romania, the United States, Italy, Ireland, Greece, Turkey, Spain, and Pakistan. A very rare pink marble is found in Pickens County, Georgia. This rare pink marble was used to make the statue of Abraham Lincoln in the Lincoln Memorial. The United States Military also has tombstones made from this pink marble.
Marble is mined in mountain areas by quarrying, which is a form of surface mining, when the rock is close to the surface of the land. In ancient Greece, stunning buildings and beautiful statues were made of marble. To quarry marble the Greek quarrymen would drill holes in the marble in a straight line. Then they would pound wooden wedges into the holes. The wooden wedges were then watered to make them expand and the marble would break into straight lines. The pieces of marble would then be chiseled into the approximate shape for easier transportation by mules.
The Acropolis, the Taj Mahal, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Arch of Constantine, the Colosseum, The Great Pyramid of Cheops, and Wat Benja in Bangkok are a few of the most beautiful structures in the world constructed of marble. The statue of David, the Venus De Milo, Nike, The Pieta, The Kiss, are but a few of the most famous marble statues in the world.
Marble is used today in construction of new buildings. Floors, stairs, bathrooms, fireplaces, countertops, pillars, fountains, statues are a few of the home uses of marble.
In conclusion, marble is a metamorphic rock of great beauty, strength, and durability. Recrystalization of limestone, the parent rock, makes marble through the process of metamorphism. Mineral impurities in limestone produce marble of many colors from pure white, to black, to semi-translucent. Marble buildings and statues, constructed and sculpted thousands of years ago, are still standing, such as the Great Pyramid of Cheops. Marble can be found in mountainous regions worldwide and is quarried for the many uses of marble today.