Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Acronyms, Wikipedia.


limestone, sedimentary rock wholly or in large part composed of calcium carbonate. It is ordinarily white but may be colored by impurities, iron oxide making it brown, yellow, or red and carbon making it blue, black, or gray. The texture varies from coarse to fine. Most limestones are formed by the deposition and consolidation of the skeletons of marine invertebrates; a few originate in chemical precipitation from solution. Limestone deposits are frequently of great thickness. The action of organic acids on underground deposits causes such formations as the Luray Caverns, the Carlsbad Caverns, and Mammoth Cave. Limestone is used as a flux in the extraction of iron, as an ingredient in Portland cement, as a source of lime (see calcium oxide), as a building stone, and for ornamentation. Among the important varieties of limestone are marl, chalk, oolite, travertine, dolomite, and marble.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2022, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.


Rock of sedimentary origin composed principally of calcite, dolomite, or both; used as a building stone or crushed-stone aggregate, or burnt to produce lime. See also: Stone
Illustrated Dictionary of Architecture Copyright © 2012, 2002, 1998 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a sedimentary rock consisting primarily of calcite CaC03 (more rarely of aragonite). The most frequent impurities in limestone are dolomite, quartz, clay minerals, and the oxides and hydroxides of iron and manganese, as well as pyrite, marcasite, phosphates, gypsum, and organic matter.

The chemical composition of pure limestone approaches the theoretical composition of calcite (56 percent CaCO and 44 percent CaCO2). Limestones in which the content of MgO is between 4 and 17 percent are called dolomitic limestones. As the magnesium content increases, limestones pass through a series of intermediate varieties into the dolomites. Limestones containing between 25 and 50 percent clay particles are called marls. There are also transitional formations between limestones and sandstones. Natural chalk is also a limestone, consisting of 96–99 percent CaCO3. The metamorphism of limestone leads to the formation of marble. Transitional varieties are called marmorate limestones. The nature and degree of granularity in limestones differ; sometimes limestones show well-expressed stratification. Structurally, the rocks are divided into crystalline, organogenic, and fragmented limestones and those with mixed structure. Pure limestones are white or light gray in color. Admixtures of organic substances color limestones black and dark gray, while iron oxides color them yellow, brown, and red.

A distinction is made by origin into organogenic limestones, which are formed through the accumulation of organic remains (coquinas, slag and reef limestone); chemogenic limestones, which occur as a result of calcite precipitating out of solutions;

Table 1. Characteristics of main lime fertilizers
 Moisture (percent)Content
(percent of dry substance
Characteristics of use
  CaO . MgOImpurities 
Crushed limestone (limestone meal, class A, standard)to 842–560–15; clay, sandMain limestone fertilizer for various crops
Crushed limestone (limestone meal, class A, dust)to 142–560–15; clay, sandSame as above, for pneumatic application
Crushed dolomiteto 839–540–15; clay, sandOn strongly podzolized soils, for legpotatoes, flax, and root crops
Marl14–4225–75; clay, sandFor all crops, particularly on light soils
Unslaked limeto 100Slight; clay, sandFast-acting fertilizer, particularly for heavy soils
Slaked lime (calcium hydroxide)to 75Slight; clay, sandSame as above
Tufato 5042–545–25; clay, sand 0.5–1 .O P2O5For all crops (dried in piles before application)
Lake limeto 5048–560–20; clay, sandSame as above
Dolomite mealto 16to 521.5–4.0; clay, sandOn strongly podzolized soils for legumes, potatoes, flax, and root crops
Peat ash8–1530 SiO2; 1.2 K2O;
1.1 P2O5; and others
Comparatively ineffective; used on fields near the areas of peat extraction
Shale ash40–45To 31 SiO2; 1–2 K2O;
0.5–1.5 P2O5; and others
For all crops
Cement dust0–246–5815 5 SiO2 and othersSame as above
Belite meal10–1540–5030 SiO2; to 2.0 K2O;
1.2 MnO2; and others
For all crops
By-products from paper and pulp combinesto 40to 56ClaySame as above

and fragmented limestones, which form through the accumulation of fragments, the products of the destruction of more ancient limestones. Most limestones formed in shallow marine basins by accumulation of organic remains with the simultaneous chemical precipitation of calcite; they formed less often in inland bodies of water. They occur in the form of beds measuring several hundred and sometimes even thousands of meters thick. Limestone beds are encountered among the deposits of all the geological systems, from the Precambrian to the Anthropogenic.

Limestones are used in many sectors of the national economy: as a flux in ferrous metallurgy; for the production of portland cement in the cement industry; for the production of soda, calcium carbide, mineral fertilizers, and other products in the chemical industry; for the purification of sugar beet juice in the sugar production industry; and in the glass industry for giving glass heat resistance, mechanical strength, and resistance to the effect of chemical agents and weathering. In addition, limestone is used in the printing industry and in housing, road, and industrial construction (quarry stone, gravel, stone for laying walls, facing and decorative stone, and so on).


Shvetsov, M.S. Petrografiia osadochnykh porod, 3rd ed. Moscow, 1958.
Trebovaniia promyshlennosti k kachestvu mineral ‘nogo syr’ia, 2nd ed., fasc. 10: S.S. Vinogradov, Izvestniaki. Moscow-Leningrad, 1961.
Kurs mestorozhdenii nemetallicheskikh poleznykh iskopaemykh. Moscow, 1969.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


A sedimentary rock composed dominantly (more than 95) of calcium carbonate, principally in the form of calcite; examples include chalk and travertine.
Any rock containing 80% or more of calcium carbonate or magnesium carbonate.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


Rock of sedimentary origin composed principally of calcite or dolomite or both; used as building stone or crushed-stone aggregate or burnt to produce lime.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Architecture and Construction. Copyright © 2003 by McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


a sedimentary rock consisting mainly of calcium carbonate, deposited as the calcareous remains of marine animals or chemically precipitated from the sea: used as a building stone and in the manufacture of cement, lime, etc.
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
The transaction is comprised of $135 million of Bermuda Stock Exchange listed 2019-2 Notes issued by Limestone Re Ltd., a Bermuda domiciled segregated account company, with the remainder of the capacity provided via private placements.
The transaction comprises $58 million of Bermuda Stock Exchange listed 2019-1 Notes issued by Limestone Re Ltd., a segregated account company, with the remainder of the capacity provided via individual private placements, said the company.
(ALQC), are selling their limestone at a market price of P45 per metric ton (MT) or around P0.045 per kilogram (kg).
"Kelly Limestone will expand our strategic footprint within the Midwest and provide complimentary products to serve our growing agriculture and turf customers.
Limestone with particle size fractions above> 0.3 mm presents a residual effect on the soil (Quaggio, 2000).
The limestone was hewn from cliffs overlooking the nearby River Gryffe with the coal being excavated from deposits at Coalbog Farm.
Indiana Limestone has a track record of less deterioration and therefore lower maintenance cost over the span of a building's existence."
Many studies in experimental or theoretical aspects have been done about early-age properties and durability of limestone blended concrete.
Albany, NY, November 19, 2016 --( The discussions on the global limestone market can be found in a recently added research report on the Market Research Hub (MRH) archive of databases, titled "Global Limestone Market Research Report 2016." This report focuses on the Limestone business & sales on an international level, majorly covering areas such as North America, Europe, China, Japan, Southeast Asia and India.
Earlier, on February 18 successful auction of mining lease was granted for Karhi Chandi limestone block in Baloda Bazaar and on February 19 Kesla limestone block in Raipur district.
They are limestone posts crafted by innovative homesteaders more than a century ago.