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Marble, Granite, Travertine and other Natural Stones

by Guest Post on Feb 4, 2010

Stones such as marble and granite are abundant in nature, but not every stone can be used for architectural purposes due to unfavorable physical and chemical characteristics. It takes geologists many years to discover one usable stone quarry. In general, natural stones fall into three categories, sedimentary, which were formed through deposition in the oceans or rivers; igneous, which is associated with lava activities, and metamorphic rocks formed when high temperature and pressure altered the mineral structures of sedimentary or igneous rocks.

Granite is a typical igneous rock formed when lava cooled down deep under the ground. Such a process contributed to the hardness and toughness of granite we see today, making granite the best candidate for applications requiring weathering proof. Limestone and sandstone are common sedimentary rocks; they will be altered to marble and slate respectively after metamorphism. In commercial applications, stones are often categorized by cut stone and carving stone. Certain marble and granite suitable for stone slab fabrications may not be used for carvings.

Travertine is a type of natural stone formed through massive calcium carbonate, CaCO3, and resulting from deposition by springs or inland rivers. Travertine is very porous but consists of very fine grains, often carries beautiful banded colors as the result of the presence of an iron compound or other impurities such as organics. Travertine stone, sometimes being called "travertine marble", "travertine limestone" or even travertine granite, is also known as calc-sinter and calcareous tufa; when used for decorative purposes, it's often referred as onyx marble and Mexican onyx. Another nickname for travertine is "Egyptian Oriental alabaster".

Travertine color has significant variations within the same slab even the same tile, but in general, it can be categorized into beige cream or yellow, gold and yellow Turkish, walnut, light white or ivory, and red travertine Turkish. Travertine can be used for building applications such as fabricating floor tiles, wall tiles, and countertops. Certain types are available for carving sinks, tables, fireplace mantel surrounds, columns, gazebos, fountains, statues, etc.

The word "Marble" in the construction and building industry has deviated from its original geological definition. Many crystallized calcite rich stones nicknamed alabasters have been categorized as "building marbles". Guizhou Cream marble stone quarried in Southern China is just an example.

In some areas, terminology of “marble”, "marble granite" or "marble stone" has been adopted to refer to "construction stone" in general. Therefore, when you are in the market for "marble" products, you may want to make sure whether you need real marbles in the geological term or you are looking for other types of natural stones in a broader sense. Marbles can be used for many architectural applications. However, we do suggest to avoid using it in certain areas. For example, as it is not very resistant to the heat, so using a kitchen marble countertop may not be an ideal choice.

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