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Limestone

Limestone

Overview
Limestone is a sedimentary rock
Sedimentary rock
Sedimentary rock are types of rock that are formed by the deposition of material at the Earth's surface and within bodies of water. Sedimentation is the collective name for processes that cause mineral and/or organic particles to settle and accumulate or minerals to precipitate from a solution....

 composed largely of the minerals calcite
Calcite
Calcite is a carbonate mineral and the most stable polymorph of calcium carbonate . The other polymorphs are the minerals aragonite and vaterite. Aragonite will change to calcite at 380-470°C, and vaterite is even less stable.-Properties:...

 and aragonite
Aragonite
Aragonite is a carbonate mineral, one of the two common, naturally occurring, crystal forms of calcium carbonate, CaCO3...

, which are different crystal forms of calcium carbonate
Calcium carbonate
Calcium carbonate is a chemical compound with the formula CaCO3. It is a common substance found in rocks in all parts of the world, and is the main component of shells of marine organisms, snails, coal balls, pearls, and eggshells. Calcium carbonate is the active ingredient in agricultural lime,...

 (CaCO3). Many limestones are composed from skeletal fragments of marine organisms such as coral
Coral
Corals are marine animals in class Anthozoa of phylum Cnidaria typically living in compact colonies of many identical individual "polyps". The group includes the important reef builders that inhabit tropical oceans and secrete calcium carbonate to form a hard skeleton.A coral "head" is a colony of...

 or foraminifera
Foraminifera
The Foraminifera , or forams for short, are a large group of amoeboid protists which are among the commonest plankton species. They have reticulating pseudopods, fine strands of cytoplasm that branch and merge to form a dynamic net...

.

Limestone makes up about 10% of the total volume of all sedimentary rocks. The solubility
Solubility
Solubility is the property of a solid, liquid, or gaseous chemical substance called solute to dissolve in a solid, liquid, or gaseous solvent to form a homogeneous solution of the solute in the solvent. The solubility of a substance fundamentally depends on the used solvent as well as on...

 of limestone in water and weak acid solutions leads to karst
KARST
Kilometer-square Area Radio Synthesis Telescope is a Chinese telescope project to which FAST is a forerunner. KARST is a set of large spherical reflectors on karst landforms, which are bowlshaped limestone sinkholes named after the Kras region in Slovenia and Northern Italy. It will consist of...

 landscapes, in which water erodes the limestone over thousands to millions of years.
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Encyclopedia
Limestone is a sedimentary rock
Sedimentary rock
Sedimentary rock are types of rock that are formed by the deposition of material at the Earth's surface and within bodies of water. Sedimentation is the collective name for processes that cause mineral and/or organic particles to settle and accumulate or minerals to precipitate from a solution....

 composed largely of the minerals calcite
Calcite
Calcite is a carbonate mineral and the most stable polymorph of calcium carbonate . The other polymorphs are the minerals aragonite and vaterite. Aragonite will change to calcite at 380-470°C, and vaterite is even less stable.-Properties:...

 and aragonite
Aragonite
Aragonite is a carbonate mineral, one of the two common, naturally occurring, crystal forms of calcium carbonate, CaCO3...

, which are different crystal forms of calcium carbonate
Calcium carbonate
Calcium carbonate is a chemical compound with the formula CaCO3. It is a common substance found in rocks in all parts of the world, and is the main component of shells of marine organisms, snails, coal balls, pearls, and eggshells. Calcium carbonate is the active ingredient in agricultural lime,...

 (CaCO3). Many limestones are composed from skeletal fragments of marine organisms such as coral
Coral
Corals are marine animals in class Anthozoa of phylum Cnidaria typically living in compact colonies of many identical individual "polyps". The group includes the important reef builders that inhabit tropical oceans and secrete calcium carbonate to form a hard skeleton.A coral "head" is a colony of...

 or foraminifera
Foraminifera
The Foraminifera , or forams for short, are a large group of amoeboid protists which are among the commonest plankton species. They have reticulating pseudopods, fine strands of cytoplasm that branch and merge to form a dynamic net...

.

Limestone makes up about 10% of the total volume of all sedimentary rocks. The solubility
Solubility
Solubility is the property of a solid, liquid, or gaseous chemical substance called solute to dissolve in a solid, liquid, or gaseous solvent to form a homogeneous solution of the solute in the solvent. The solubility of a substance fundamentally depends on the used solvent as well as on...

 of limestone in water and weak acid solutions leads to karst
KARST
Kilometer-square Area Radio Synthesis Telescope is a Chinese telescope project to which FAST is a forerunner. KARST is a set of large spherical reflectors on karst landforms, which are bowlshaped limestone sinkholes named after the Kras region in Slovenia and Northern Italy. It will consist of...

 landscapes, in which water erodes the limestone over thousands to millions of years. Most cave
Cave
A cave or cavern is a natural underground space large enough for a human to enter. The term applies to natural cavities some part of which is in total darkness. The word cave also includes smaller spaces like rock shelters, sea caves, and grottos.Speleology is the science of exploration and study...

 systems are through limestone bedrock.

Limestone has numerous uses, including as a building material, as aggregate to form the base of roads, as white pigment or filler in products such as toothpaste or paints, and as a chemical feedstock.

Description


Limestone is a sedimentary rock
Sedimentary rock
Sedimentary rock are types of rock that are formed by the deposition of material at the Earth's surface and within bodies of water. Sedimentation is the collective name for processes that cause mineral and/or organic particles to settle and accumulate or minerals to precipitate from a solution....

 composed largely of the minerals calcite
Calcite
Calcite is a carbonate mineral and the most stable polymorph of calcium carbonate . The other polymorphs are the minerals aragonite and vaterite. Aragonite will change to calcite at 380-470°C, and vaterite is even less stable.-Properties:...

 and aragonite
Aragonite
Aragonite is a carbonate mineral, one of the two common, naturally occurring, crystal forms of calcium carbonate, CaCO3...

, which are different crystal forms of calcium carbonate
Calcium carbonate
Calcium carbonate is a chemical compound with the formula CaCO3. It is a common substance found in rocks in all parts of the world, and is the main component of shells of marine organisms, snails, coal balls, pearls, and eggshells. Calcium carbonate is the active ingredient in agricultural lime,...

 (CaCO3). Like most other sedimentary rocks, limestone is composed of grains; however, most grains in limestone are skeletal fragments of marine organisms such as coral
Coral
Corals are marine animals in class Anthozoa of phylum Cnidaria typically living in compact colonies of many identical individual "polyps". The group includes the important reef builders that inhabit tropical oceans and secrete calcium carbonate to form a hard skeleton.A coral "head" is a colony of...

 or foraminifera
Foraminifera
The Foraminifera , or forams for short, are a large group of amoeboid protists which are among the commonest plankton species. They have reticulating pseudopods, fine strands of cytoplasm that branch and merge to form a dynamic net...

. Other carbonate grains comprising limestones are ooids, peloids
Peloids
Peloids are allochems that are composed of micrite, irrespective of size, shape, or origin. The two primary types of peloids are pellets and intraclasts. Another type of peloid is pseudo-oolith....

, intraclasts
Intraclasts
Intraclasts are irregularly-shaped grains that form by syndepositional erosion of partially lithified sediment.Gravel grade material is generally composed of whole disarticulated or broken skeletal fragments together with sand grade material of whole, disaggregated and broken skeletal debris...

, and extraclasts. These organisms secrete shells made of aragonite or calcite, and leave these shells behind after the organisms die.

Limestone often contains variable amounts of silica in the form of chert
Chert
Chert is a fine-grained silica-rich microcrystalline, cryptocrystalline or microfibrous sedimentary rock that may contain small fossils. It varies greatly in color , but most often manifests as gray, brown, grayish brown and light green to rusty red; its color is an expression of trace elements...

 (chalcedony
Chalcedony
Chalcedony is a cryptocrystalline form of silica, composed of very fine intergrowths of the minerals quartz and moganite. These are both silica minerals, but they differ in that quartz has a trigonal crystal structure, while moganite is monoclinic...

, flint
Flint
Flint is a hard, sedimentary cryptocrystalline form of the mineral quartz, categorized as a variety of chert. It occurs chiefly as nodules and masses in sedimentary rocks, such as chalks and limestones. Inside the nodule, flint is usually dark grey, black, green, white, or brown in colour, and...

, jasper
Jasper
Jasper, a form of chalcedony, is an opaque, impure variety of silica, usually red, yellow, brown or green in color; and rarely blue. This mineral breaks with a smooth surface, and is used for ornamentation or as a gemstone. It can be highly polished and is used for vases, seals, and at one time for...

, etc.) or siliceous skeletal fragment (sponge spicules, diatoms, radiolarians), and varying amounts of clay
Clay
Clay is a general term including many combinations of one or more clay minerals with traces of metal oxides and organic matter. Geologic clay deposits are mostly composed of phyllosilicate minerals containing variable amounts of water trapped in the mineral structure.- Formation :Clay minerals...

, silt
Silt
Silt is granular material of a size somewhere between sand and clay whose mineral origin is quartz and feldspar. Silt may occur as a soil or as suspended sediment in a surface water body...

 and sand
Sand
Sand is a naturally occurring granular material composed of finely divided rock and mineral particles.The composition of sand is highly variable, depending on the local rock sources and conditions, but the most common constituent of sand in inland continental settings and non-tropical coastal...

 (terrestrial
Earth
Earth is the third planet from the Sun, and the densest and fifth-largest of the eight planets in the Solar System. It is also the largest of the Solar System's four terrestrial planets...

 detritus
Detritus
Detritus is a biological term used to describe dead or waste organic material.Detritus may also refer to:* Detritus , a geological term used to describe the particles of rock produced by weathering...

) carried in by rivers.

Some limestones do not consist of grains at all, and are formed completely by the chemical precipitation
Precipitation (chemistry)
Precipitation is the formation of a solid in a solution or inside anothersolid during a chemical reaction or by diffusion in a solid. When the reaction occurs in a liquid, the solid formed is called the precipitate, or when compacted by a centrifuge, a pellet. The liquid remaining above the solid...

 of calcite
Calcite
Calcite is a carbonate mineral and the most stable polymorph of calcium carbonate . The other polymorphs are the minerals aragonite and vaterite. Aragonite will change to calcite at 380-470°C, and vaterite is even less stable.-Properties:...

 or aragonite
Aragonite
Aragonite is a carbonate mineral, one of the two common, naturally occurring, crystal forms of calcium carbonate, CaCO3...

, i.e. travertine
Travertine
Travertine is a form of limestone deposited by mineral springs, especially hot springs. Travertine often has a fibrous or concentric appearance and exists in white, tan, and cream-colored varieties. It is formed by a process of rapid precipitation of calcium carbonate, often at the mouth of a hot...

. Secondary calcite may be deposited by supersaturated
Supersaturation
The term supersaturation refers to a solution that contains more of the dissolved material than could be dissolved by the solvent under normal circumstances...

 meteoric
Meteorology
Meteorology is the interdisciplinary scientific study of the atmosphere. Studies in the field stretch back millennia, though significant progress in meteorology did not occur until the 18th century. The 19th century saw breakthroughs occur after observing networks developed across several countries...

 waters (groundwater
Groundwater
Groundwater is water located beneath the ground surface in soil pore spaces and in the fractures of rock formations. A unit of rock or an unconsolidated deposit is called an aquifer when it can yield a usable quantity of water. The depth at which soil pore spaces or fractures and voids in rock...

 that precipitates
Precipitation (chemistry)
Precipitation is the formation of a solid in a solution or inside anothersolid during a chemical reaction or by diffusion in a solid. When the reaction occurs in a liquid, the solid formed is called the precipitate, or when compacted by a centrifuge, a pellet. The liquid remaining above the solid...

 the material in caves). This produces speleothem
Speleothem
A speleothem , commonly known as a cave formation, is a secondary mineral deposit formed in a cave. Speleothems are typically formed in limestone or dolostone solutional caves.-Origin and composition:...

s, such as stalagmite
Stalagmite
A stalagmite is a type of speleothem that rises from the floor of a limestone cave due to the dripping of mineralized solutions and the deposition of calcium carbonate. This stalagmite formation occurs only under certain pH conditions within the underground cavern. The corresponding formation on...

s and stalactite
Stalactite
A stalactite , "to drip", and meaning "that which drips") is a type of speleothem that hangs from the ceiling of limestone caves. It is a type of dripstone...

s. Another form taken by calcite is oolitic limestone, which can be recognized by its granular (oolite) appearance.

The primary source of the calcite in limestone is most commonly marine organisms
Marine biology
Marine biology is the scientific study of organisms in the ocean or other marine or brackish bodies of water. Given that in biology many phyla, families and genera have some species that live in the sea and others that live on land, marine biology classifies species based on the environment rather...

. Some of these organisms can construct mounds of rock known as reefs, building upon past generations. Below about 3,000 meters, water pressure and temperature conditions cause the dissolution of calcite to increase nonlinearly, so limestone typically does not form in deeper waters (see lysocline
Lysocline
The lysocline is a term used in geology, geochemistry and marine biology to denote the depth in the ocean below which the rate of dissolution of calcite increases dramatically....

). Limestones may also form in both lacustrine
Lake
A lake is a body of relatively still fresh or salt water of considerable size, localized in a basin, that is surrounded by land. Lakes are inland and not part of the ocean and therefore are distinct from lagoons, and are larger and deeper than ponds. Lakes can be contrasted with rivers or streams,...

 and evaporite
Evaporite
Evaporite is a name for a water-soluble mineral sediment that result from concentration and crystallization by evaporation from an aqueous solution. There are two types of evaporate deposits, marine which can also be described as ocean deposits, and non-marine which are found in standing bodies of...

 depositional environments
Sedimentary depositional environment
In geology, sedimentary depositional environment describes the combination of physical, chemical and biological processes associated with the deposition of a particular type of sediment and, therefore, the rock types that will be formed after lithification, if the sediment is preserved in the rock...

.

Calcite can be either dissolved
Solvation
Solvation, also sometimes called dissolution, is the process of attraction and association of molecules of a solvent with molecules or ions of a solute...

 or precipitated by groundwater, depending on several factors, including the water temperature, pH, and dissolved ion
Ion
An ion is an atom or molecule in which the total number of electrons is not equal to the total number of protons, giving it a net positive or negative electrical charge. The name was given by physicist Michael Faraday for the substances that allow a current to pass between electrodes in a...

 concentrations. Calcite exhibits an unusual characteristic called retrograde solubility, in which it becomes less soluble in water as the temperature increases.

Because of impurities, such as clay
Clay
Clay is a general term including many combinations of one or more clay minerals with traces of metal oxides and organic matter. Geologic clay deposits are mostly composed of phyllosilicate minerals containing variable amounts of water trapped in the mineral structure.- Formation :Clay minerals...

, sand, organic remains, iron oxide
Iron oxide
Iron oxides are chemical compounds composed of iron and oxygen. All together, there are sixteen known iron oxides and oxyhydroxides.Iron oxides and oxide-hydroxides are widespread in nature, play an important role in many geological and biological processes, and are widely utilized by humans, e.g.,...

 and other materials, many limestones exhibit different colors, especially on weathered
Weathering
Weathering is the breaking down of rocks, soils and minerals as well as artificial materials through contact with the Earth's atmosphere, biota and waters...

 surfaces.

Limestone may be crystalline, clastic, granular, or massive, depending on the method of formation. Crystals of calcite, quartz
Quartz
Quartz is the second-most-abundant mineral in the Earth's continental crust, after feldspar. It is made up of a continuous framework of SiO4 silicon–oxygen tetrahedra, with each oxygen being shared between two tetrahedra, giving an overall formula SiO2. There are many different varieties of quartz,...

, dolomite
Dolomite
Dolomite is a carbonate mineral composed of calcium magnesium carbonate CaMg2. The term is also used to describe the sedimentary carbonate rock dolostone....

 or barite
Barite
Baryte, or barite, is a mineral consisting of barium sulfate. The baryte group consists of baryte, celestine, anglesite and anhydrite. Baryte itself is generally white or colorless, and is the main source of barium...

 may line small cavities in the rock. When conditions are right for precipitation, calcite forms mineral coatings that cement the existing rock grains together, or it can fill fractures.

Travertine
Travertine
Travertine is a form of limestone deposited by mineral springs, especially hot springs. Travertine often has a fibrous or concentric appearance and exists in white, tan, and cream-colored varieties. It is formed by a process of rapid precipitation of calcium carbonate, often at the mouth of a hot...

 is a banded, compact variety of limestone formed along streams, particularly where there are waterfalls, and around hot or cold springs. Calcium carbonate is deposited where evaporation of the water leaves a solution supersaturated with the chemical constituents of calcite. Tufa
Tufa
Tufa is a variety of limestone, formed by the precipitation of carbonate minerals from ambient temperature water bodies. Geothermally heated hot-springs sometimes produce similar carbonate deposits known as travertine...

, a porous or cellular variety of travertine, is found near waterfalls. Coquina
Coquina
Coquina is a sedimentary rock that is composed either wholly or almost entirely of the transported, abraded, and mechanically sorted fragments of the shells of either molluscs, trilobites, brachiopods, or other invertebrates. For a sediment to be considered to be a coquina, the average size of the...

 is a poorly consolidated limestone composed of pieces of coral
Coral
Corals are marine animals in class Anthozoa of phylum Cnidaria typically living in compact colonies of many identical individual "polyps". The group includes the important reef builders that inhabit tropical oceans and secrete calcium carbonate to form a hard skeleton.A coral "head" is a colony of...

 or shells.

During regional metamorphism
Metamorphism
Metamorphism is the solid-state recrystallization of pre-existing rocks due to changes in physical and chemical conditions, primarily heat, pressure, and the introduction of chemically active fluids. Mineralogical, chemical and crystallographic changes can occur during this process...

 that occurs during the mountain building process (orogeny
Orogeny
Orogeny refers to forces and events leading to a severe structural deformation of the Earth's crust due to the engagement of tectonic plates. Response to such engagement results in the formation of long tracts of highly deformed rock called orogens or orogenic belts...

), limestone recrystallizes into marble
Marble
Marble is a metamorphic rock composed of recrystallized carbonate minerals, most commonly calcite or dolomite.Geologists use the term "marble" to refer to metamorphosed limestone; however stonemasons use the term more broadly to encompass unmetamorphosed limestone.Marble is commonly used for...

.

Limestone is a parent material
Parent material
In soil science, parent material is the underlying geological material in which soil horizons form...

 of Mollisol soil group.

Classification


Two major classification schemes, the Folk and the Dunham, are used for identifying limestone and carbonate rocks.

Folk classification



Robert L. Folk developed a classification system that places primary emphasis on the detailed composition of grains and interstitial material in carbonate rocks. Based on composition, there are three main components: allochems (grains), matrix (mostly micrite), and cement (sparite). The Folk system uses two-part names; the first refers to the grains and the second is the root. It is helpful to have a petrographic microscope when using the Folk scheme, because it is easier to determine the components present in each sample.

Dunham classification



The Dunham scheme focuses on depositional textures. Each name is based upon the texture of the grains that make up the limestone. Robert J. Dunham published his system for limestone in 1962; it focuses on the depositional fabric of carbonate rocks. Dunham divides the rocks into four main groups based on relative proportions of coarser clastic particles. Dunham names are essentially for rock families. His efforts deal with the question of whether or not the grains were originally in mutual contact, and therefore self-supporting, or whether the rock is characterized by the presence of frame builders and algal mats. Unlike the Folk scheme, Dunham deals with the original porosity of the rock. The Dunham scheme is more useful for hand samples because it is based on texture, not the grains in the sample.

Types


There are many types of limestone the most common ones: Chalk, crystalline, fossilferous, oolitic and travertine. For more see link below.

Limestone landscape


Limestone makes up about 10% of the total volume of all sedimentary rocks.

Limestone is partially soluble, especially in acid, and therefore forms many erosional landforms. These include limestone pavement
Limestone pavement
A limestone pavement is a natural karst landform consisting of a flat, incised surface of exposed limestone that resembles an artificial pavement. The term is mainly used in the UK where many of these landforms have developed distinctive surface patterning resembling block of paving...

s, pot holes, cenote
Cenote
A cenote is a deep natural pit, or sinkhole, characteristic of Mexico and Central America, resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater underneath...

s, caves and gorges. Such erosion landscapes are known as karsts. Limestone is less resistant than most igneous rocks, but more resistant than most other sedimentary rocks. It is therefore usually associated with hills and downland
Downland
A downland is an area of open chalk hills. This term is especially used to describe the chalk countryside in southern England. Areas of downland are often referred to as Downs....

, and occurs in regions with other sedimentary rocks, typically clays.

Karst topography
Topography
Topography is the study of Earth's surface shape and features or those ofplanets, moons, and asteroids...

 and caves develop in limestone rocks due to their solubility
Solubility
Solubility is the property of a solid, liquid, or gaseous chemical substance called solute to dissolve in a solid, liquid, or gaseous solvent to form a homogeneous solution of the solute in the solvent. The solubility of a substance fundamentally depends on the used solvent as well as on...

 in dilute acid
Acid
An acid is a substance which reacts with a base. Commonly, acids can be identified as tasting sour, reacting with metals such as calcium, and bases like sodium carbonate. Aqueous acids have a pH of less than 7, where an acid of lower pH is typically stronger, and turn blue litmus paper red...

ic groundwater
Groundwater
Groundwater is water located beneath the ground surface in soil pore spaces and in the fractures of rock formations. A unit of rock or an unconsolidated deposit is called an aquifer when it can yield a usable quantity of water. The depth at which soil pore spaces or fractures and voids in rock...

. The solubility
Solubility
Solubility is the property of a solid, liquid, or gaseous chemical substance called solute to dissolve in a solid, liquid, or gaseous solvent to form a homogeneous solution of the solute in the solvent. The solubility of a substance fundamentally depends on the used solvent as well as on...

 of limestone in water and weak acid solutions leads to karst
KARST
Kilometer-square Area Radio Synthesis Telescope is a Chinese telescope project to which FAST is a forerunner. KARST is a set of large spherical reflectors on karst landforms, which are bowlshaped limestone sinkholes named after the Kras region in Slovenia and Northern Italy. It will consist of...

 landscapes. Regions overlying limestone bedrock tend to have fewer visible above-ground sources (ponds and streams), as surface water easily drains downward through joints in the limestone. While draining, water and organic acid from the soil slowly (over thousands or millions of years) enlarges these cracks, dissolving the calcium carbonate and carrying it away in solution
Solution
In chemistry, a solution is a homogeneous mixture composed of only one phase. In such a mixture, a solute is dissolved in another substance, known as a solvent. The solvent does the dissolving.- Types of solutions :...

. Most cave
Cave
A cave or cavern is a natural underground space large enough for a human to enter. The term applies to natural cavities some part of which is in total darkness. The word cave also includes smaller spaces like rock shelters, sea caves, and grottos.Speleology is the science of exploration and study...

 systems are through limestone bedrock. Cooling groundwater or mixing of different groundwaters will also create conditions suitable for cave formation.

Coastal limestones are often eroded by organisms which bore into the rock by various means. This process is known as bioerosion
Bioerosion
Bioerosion describes the erosion of hard ocean substrates – and less often terrestrial substrates – by living organisms. Marine bioerosion can be caused by mollusks, polychaete worms, phoronids, sponges, crustaceans, echinoids, and fish; it can occur on coastlines, on coral reefs, and...

. It is most common in the tropics, and it is known throughout the fossil record (see Taylor and Wilson, 2003).

Bands of limestone emerge from the Earth's surface in often spectacular rocky outcrops and islands. Examples include the Burren
The Burren
The Burren is a karst-landscape region or alvar in northwest County Clare, in Ireland. It is one of the largest karst landscapes in Europe. The region measures approximately 250 square kilometres and is enclosed roughly within the circle made by the villages Ballyvaughan, Kinvara, Tubber, Corofin,...

 in Co. Clare, Ireland; the Verdon Gorge
Verdon Gorge
The Verdon Gorge , in south-eastern France , is a river canyon that is often considered to be one of Europe's most beautiful. It is about 25 kilometres long and up to 700 metres deep...

 in France; Malham Cove
Malham Cove
Malham Cove is a natural limestone formation 1 km north of the village of Malham, North Yorkshire, England. A well-known beauty spot, it is a large, curved limestone cliff at the head of a valley, with a fine area of limestone pavement at the top....

 in North Yorkshire
North Yorkshire
North Yorkshire is a non-metropolitan or shire county located in the Yorkshire and the Humber region of England, and a ceremonial county primarily in that region but partly in North East England. Created in 1974 by the Local Government Act 1972 it covers an area of , making it the largest...

 and the Isle of Wight
Isle of Wight
The Isle of Wight is a county and the largest island of England, located in the English Channel, on average about 2–4 miles off the south coast of the county of Hampshire, separated from the mainland by a strait called the Solent...

, England; on Fårö
Fårö
Fårö is a small Baltic Sea island north of the island of Gotland, off Sweden's southeastern coast. It is the second-largest island in the province. It has a population of fewer than 600 and has become a popular summer resort. The island has no banks, post offices, medical services or police...

 near the Swedish island of Gotland
Gotland
Gotland is a county, province, municipality and diocese of Sweden; it is Sweden's largest island and the largest island in the Baltic Sea. At 3,140 square kilometers in area, the region makes up less than one percent of Sweden's total land area...

, the Niagara Escarpment
Niagara Escarpment
The Niagara Escarpment is a long escarpment, or cuesta, in the United States and Canada that runs westward from New York State, through Ontario, Michigan, Wisconsin and Illinois...

 in Canada/United States, Notch Peak
Notch Peak
Notch Peak is a distinctive summit located on Sawtooth Mountain in the House Range, west of Delta, Utah. The peak and the surrounding area are part of the Notch Peak Wilderness Study Area...

 in Utah, the Ha Long Bay National Park in Vietnam and the hills around the Lijiang River
Lijiang River
The Li River or Lijiang River is a river in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China.-Background:The Li River originates in the Mao'er Mountains in Xing'an County and flows in the general southern direction through Guilin, Yangshuo and Pingle....

 and Guilin
Guilin
Guilin is a prefecture-level city in the northeast of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region of far southern China, sitting on the west bank of the Li River. Its name means "forest of Sweet Osmanthus", owing to the large number of fragrant Sweet Osmanthus trees located in the city...

 city in China.

The Florida Keys
Florida Keys
The Florida Keys are a coral archipelago in southeast United States. They begin at the southeastern tip of the Florida peninsula, about south of Miami, and extend in a gentle arc south-southwest and then westward to Key West, the westernmost of the inhabited islands, and on to the uninhabited Dry...

, islands off the south coast of Florida
Florida
Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

, are composed mainly of oolitic
Oolite
Oolite is a sedimentary rock formed from ooids, spherical grains composed of concentric layers. The name derives from the Hellenic word òoion for egg. Strictly, oolites consist of ooids of diameter 0.25–2 mm; rocks composed of ooids larger than 2 mm are called pisolites...

 limestone (the Lower Keys) and the carbonate skeletons of coral
Coral
Corals are marine animals in class Anthozoa of phylum Cnidaria typically living in compact colonies of many identical individual "polyps". The group includes the important reef builders that inhabit tropical oceans and secrete calcium carbonate to form a hard skeleton.A coral "head" is a colony of...

 reefs (the Upper Keys), which thrived in the area during interglacial periods when sea level was higher than at present.

Unique habitats are found on alvar
Alvar
An alvar is a biological environment based on a limestone plain with thin or no soil and, as a result, sparse vegetation. It is also known as a pavement barren although this term is also used for similar landforms based on sandstone. In the United Kingdom the exposed landform is called a limestone...

s, extremely level expanses of limestone with thin soil mantles. The largest such expanse in Europe is the Stora Alvaret
Stora Alvaret
The Stora Alvaret is a limestone barren plain on the island of Öland, Sweden. Because of the thin soil mantle and high pH levels, a great assortment of vegetation is found including numerous rare species. Stora Alvaret has been designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO due to its...

 on the island of Öland
Öland
' is the second largest Swedish island and the smallest of the traditional provinces of Sweden. Öland has an area of 1,342 km² and is located in the Baltic Sea just off the coast of Småland. The island has 25,000 inhabitants, but during Swedish Midsummer it is visited by up to 500,000 people...

, Sweden. Another area with large quantities of limestone is the island of Gotland, Sweden. Huge quarries in northwestern Europe, such as those of Mount Saint Peter (Belgium/Netherlands), extend for more than a hundred kilometers.

The world's largest limestone quarry is at Michigan Limestone and Chemical Company
Michigan Limestone and Chemical Company
Michigan Limestone and Chemical Company operates the world's largest limestone quarry located near Rogers City, Michigan. It was founded in 1910, however production didn't begin until 1912...

 in Rogers City, Michigan
Rogers City, Michigan
-Commercial airports:The nearest commercial airports are Alpena County Regional Airport an Cherry Capital Airport -US Highway Business Loops:* BUS US 23-Intercounty Highways:* F-21-Demographics:...

.

Uses


Limestone is very common in architecture, especially in Europe and North America. Many landmarks across the world, including the Great Pyramid
Great Pyramid of Giza
The Great Pyramid of Giza is the oldest and largest of the three pyramids in the Giza Necropolis bordering what is now El Giza, Egypt. It is the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and the only one to remain largely intact...

 and its associated complex
Giza pyramid complex
The Giza Necropolis is an archaeological site on the Giza Plateau, on the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt. This complex of ancient monuments includes the three pyramid complexes known as the Great Pyramids, the massive sculpture known as the Great Sphinx, several cemeteries, a workers' village and an...

 in Giza, Egypt, are made of limestone. So many buildings in Kingston, Canada
Kingston, Ontario
Kingston, Ontario is a Canadian city located in Eastern Ontario where the St. Lawrence River flows out of Lake Ontario. Originally a First Nations settlement called "Katarowki," , growing European exploration in the 17th Century made it an important trading post...

 were constructed from it that it is nicknamed the 'Limestone City'. On the island of Malta
Malta
Malta , officially known as the Republic of Malta , is a Southern European country consisting of an archipelago situated in the centre of the Mediterranean, south of Sicily, east of Tunisia and north of Libya, with Gibraltar to the west and Alexandria to the east.Malta covers just over in...

, a variety of limestone called Globigerina limestone was, for a long time, the only building material available, and is still very frequently used on all types of buildings and sculptures. Limestone is readily available and relatively easy to cut into blocks or more elaborate carving. It is also long-lasting and stands up well to exposure. However, it is a very heavy material, making it impractical for tall buildings, and relatively expensive as a building material.



Limestone was most popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Train stations, banks and other structures from that era are normally made of limestone. It is used as a facade on some skyscrapers, but only in thin plates for covering, rather than solid blocks. In the United States, Indiana, most notably the Bloomington area, has long been a source of high quality quarried limestone, called Indiana limestone
Indiana Limestone
Indiana Limestone, also known as Bedford Limestone is a common regional term for Salem limestone, a geological formation primarily quarried in south central Indiana between Bloomington and Bedford....

. Many famous buildings in London are built from Portland limestone.

Limestone was also a very popular building block in the Middle Ages in the areas where it occurred, since it is hard, durable, and commonly occurs in easily accessible surface exposures. Many medieval churches and castles in Europe are made of limestone. Beer stone was a popular kind of limestone for medieval buildings in southern England.

Limestone and (to a lesser extent) marble are reactive to acid solutions, making acid rain
Acid rain
Acid rain is a rain or any other form of precipitation that is unusually acidic, meaning that it possesses elevated levels of hydrogen ions . It can have harmful effects on plants, aquatic animals, and infrastructure. Acid rain is caused by emissions of carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen...

 a significant problem to the preservation of artifacts made from this stone. Many limestone statues and building surfaces have suffered severe damage due to acid rain. Acid-based cleaning chemicals can also etch limestone, which should only be cleaned with a neutral or mild alkaline-based cleaner.

Other uses include:
  • It is the raw material for the manufacture of quicklime (calcium oxide), slaked lime (calcium hydroxide), cement
    Cement
    In the most general sense of the word, a cement is a binder, a substance that sets and hardens independently, and can bind other materials together. The word "cement" traces to the Romans, who used the term opus caementicium to describe masonry resembling modern concrete that was made from crushed...

     and mortar
    Mortar (masonry)
    Mortar is a workable paste used to bind construction blocks together and fill the gaps between them. The blocks may be stone, brick, cinder blocks, etc. Mortar becomes hard when it sets, resulting in a rigid aggregate structure. Modern mortars are typically made from a mixture of sand, a binder...

    .
  • Pulverized limestone is used as a soil conditioner to neutralize acidic soils.
  • It is crushed for use as aggregate
    Construction Aggregate
    Construction aggregate, or simply "aggregate", is a broad category of coarse particulate material used in construction, including sand, gravel, crushed stone, slag, recycled concrete and geosynthetic aggregates. Aggregates are the most mined material in the world...

    —the solid base for many roads.
  • Geological formations of limestone are among the best petroleum reservoirs;
  • As a reagent
    Reagent
    A reagent is a "substance or compound that is added to a system in order to bring about a chemical reaction, or added to see if a reaction occurs." Although the terms reactant and reagent are often used interchangeably, a reactant is less specifically a "substance that is consumed in the course of...

     in flue gas desulfurization
    Flue gas desulfurization
    Sulfur dioxide is one of the elements forming acid rain. Tall flue-gas stacks disperse emissions by diluting the pollutants in ambient air and transporting them to other regions....

    , it reacts with sulfur dioxide
    Sulfur dioxide
    Sulfur dioxide is the chemical compound with the formula . It is released by volcanoes and in various industrial processes. Since coal and petroleum often contain sulfur compounds, their combustion generates sulfur dioxide unless the sulfur compounds are removed before burning the fuel...

     for air pollution control.
  • Glass making, in some circumstances, uses limestone.
  • It is added to toothpaste, paper, plastics, paint, tiles, and other materials as both white pigment and a cheap filler.
  • It can suppress methane explosions in underground coal mines.
  • Purified, it is added to bread and cereals as a source of calcium.
  • Calcium levels in livestock feed are supplemented with it, such as for poultry (when ground up).
  • It can be used for remineralizing and increasing the alkalinity of purified water to prevent pipe corrosion and to restore essential nutrient levels.
  • Used in blast furnace
    Blast furnace
    A blast furnace is a type of metallurgical furnace used for smelting to produce industrial metals, generally iron.In a blast furnace, fuel and ore and flux are continuously supplied through the top of the furnace, while air is blown into the bottom of the chamber, so that the chemical reactions...

    s, limestone extracts iron
    Iron
    Iron is a chemical element with the symbol Fe and atomic number 26. It is a metal in the first transition series. It is the most common element forming the planet Earth as a whole, forming much of Earth's outer and inner core. It is the fourth most common element in the Earth's crust...

     from its ore.
  • It is often found in medicines and cosmetics.
  • It is used in sculptures because of its suitability for carving.

See also


  • Calcium carbonate
    Calcium carbonate
    Calcium carbonate is a chemical compound with the formula CaCO3. It is a common substance found in rocks in all parts of the world, and is the main component of shells of marine organisms, snails, coal balls, pearls, and eggshells. Calcium carbonate is the active ingredient in agricultural lime,...

  • Chalk
    Chalk
    Chalk is a soft, white, porous sedimentary rock, a form of limestone composed of the mineral calcite. Calcite is calcium carbonate or CaCO3. It forms under reasonably deep marine conditions from the gradual accumulation of minute calcite plates shed from micro-organisms called coccolithophores....

  • Coral sand
    Coral sand
    Coral sand is sand of particles originating in tropical and sub-tropical marine environments from bioerosion of limestone skeletal material of marine organisms. One example of this process is that of parrot fishes which bite off pieces of coral, digest the living tissue, and excrete the inorganic...

  • In Praise of Limestone
    In Praise of Limestone
    "In Praise of Limestone" is a poem written by W. H. Auden in Italy in May 1948. Central to his canon and one of Auden's finest poems, it has been the subject of diverse scholarly interpretations. Auden's limestone landscape has been interpreted as an allegory of Mediterranean civilization and of...


Further reading

  • Taylor, P.D. and Wilson, M.A., 2003. Palaeoecology and evolution of marine hard substrate communities. Earth-Science Reviews 62: 1–103.http://www3.wooster.edu/geology/Taylor%26Wilson2003.pdf
  • Folk RL, (1974) Petrology of Sedimentary Rocks, Hemphill Publishing, Austin, Texas
  • Dunham, R.J., 1962, Classification of carbonate rocks according to depositional textures, in Ham W.E. (ed.), Classification of carbonate rocks: Am. Assoc. Petroleum Geologists Mem. 1,p. 108-121