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metamorphic rockrock,
aggregation of solid matter composed of one or more of the minerals forming the earth's crust. The scientific study of rocks is called petrology. Rocks are commonly divided, according to their origin, into three major classes—igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic.
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 composed wholly or in large part of calcitecalcite
, very widely distributed mineral, commonly white or colorless, but appearing in a great variety of colors owing to impurities. Chemically it is calcium carbonate, CaCO3, but it frequently contains manganese, iron, or magnesium in place of the calcium.
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 or dolomitedolomite
. 1 Mineral, calcium magnesium carbonate, CaMg (CO3)2. It is commonly crystalline and is white, gray, brown, or reddish in color with a vitreous to pearly luster. The magnesium is sometimes replaced in part by iron or manganese.
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 crystals, the crystalline texture being the result of metamorphismmetamorphism,
in geology, process of change in the structure, texture, or composition of rocks caused by agents of heat, deforming pressure, shearing stress, hot, chemically active fluids, or a combination of these, acting while the rock being changed remains essentially in the
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 of limestonelimestone,
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.
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 by heat and pressure. The term marble is loosely applied to any limestone or dolomite that takes a good polish and is otherwise suitable as a building stone or ornamental stone. Marbles range in color from snow-white to gray and black, many varieties being some shade of red, yellow, pink, green, or buff; the colors, which are caused by the presence of impurities, are frequently arranged in bands or patches and add to the beauty of the stone when it is cut and polished. Marble is used as a material in statuary and monuments, as a facing stone in buildings and residences, and for pillars, colonnades, paneling, wainscoting, and floor tiles. Like all limestones, it is corroded by water and acid fumes and is thus ultimately an uneconomical material for use in exposed places and in large cities. The presence of certain impurities decreases its durability. Marble was extensively used by the ancient Greeks; the Parthenon and other famous buildings were constructed of white Pentelic marble from Mt. Pentelicus in Attica, and the finest statues, e.g., the Venus de' Medici, from the remarkably lustrous Parian marble from Paros in the Cyclades. These same quarries were later used by the Romans. Among the famous marbles of Italy are the Carrara and Siena marbles of Tuscany, which were used by the Romans and the Italian sculptors of the Renaissance. Marbles are quarried in all parts of the world. The finest marbles in the United States come from Vermont, which produces large quantities. Other states important as marble producers are Massachusetts, Maryland, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Missouri, California, Colorado, and Arizona. See alabasteralabaster,
fine-grained, massive, translucent variety of gypsum, a hydrous calcium sulfate. It is pure white or streaked with reddish brown. Alabaster, like all other forms of gypsum, forms by the evaporation of bedded deposits that are precipitated mainly from evaporating
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Metamorphic rock made up largely of calcite or dolomite; capable of taking a high polish, and used especially in architecture and sculpture; numerous minerals account for its distinctive appearance.
See also: Stone



a crystalline rock formed as a result of the recrystallization of limestone or dolomite. The term “marble” is applied commercially to any metamorphic rock of medium hardness that can be polished; this category of rock includes marble, marmorized limestone, dense dolomite, ophicalcite, calcareous breccia, and calcareous conglomerates. Marble almost always contains impurities of other minerals (quartz, chalcedony, hematite, pyrite, limonite, chlorite), as well as organic compounds. The impurities have a varying effect on the quality of the marble, increasing or decreasing its decorativeness.

Marble has a specific gravity of 2.65–2.90 and a compressive strength ranging from 50 to 250 meganewtons per square meter (500–2, 500 kilograms-force per square meter). The abradability is from 0.40 to 3.20 g/cm2, and the water absorption is from 0.15 to 0.50 percent. Finely crystalline marble with dentate bounding of the grains is the most durable and takes the best polish. Structurally uniform marbles are frost resistant.

The color of the marble depends on the impurities. The majority of colored marbles have mottled coloration; the pattern is determined not only by the structure of the marble but also by the direction along which the rock is cut. The color and pattern of the marble appear after polishing. To determine the industrial value of marble deposits, the proximity of transport facilities and the thickness of the overlying stratum of weathered marble (the maximum is usually 5–8 m) are taken into consideration.

Marble is quarried and, less frequently, mined. To obtain monolithic blocks, stonecutting machines and cable saws are used, as are wedges in bored holes and percussive cutters.

Marble has been used since antiquity in architecture as a structural element and as facing owing to its plastic and decorative properties (hardness, fine grain). Marble’s fine grain makes the rock easy to work with and capable of being polished. Polishing reveals the tonal richness of marble and the beauty of its uniform, patchy, or laminated structure. Marble has been used for making mosaics (the incrustation style and Florentine mosaics), reliefs, and freestanding sculptures (primarily carved from marble of a single color—usually white). The relative transparency of the rock results in the delicate play of light and shadow on the surface of marble scupltures.

In the USSR there are as many as 60 known deposits of marble and marmorized limestone (in Karelia, the Ukraine, the Urals, Transcaucasia, Middle Asia, Siberia, and the Far East). The marble reserves in the USSR are virtually inexhaustible. The best grades of white marble from Soviet deposits are used for sculpturing. Marble deposits in Italy include those in Carrara, which yield the finest marble for sculpturing; this marble is white, brilliant, and easy to polish. The Paros quarry in Greece yields the yellowish marble that was used by ancient Greek sculptors. Other countries with marble deposits include Cuba, France, Norway, and the United States.


Metrofanov, G. K. , and I. A. Shpanov. Oblitsovochnye i podelochnye kamni SSSR. Moscow, 1970.
Herbeck, A. Der Marmor. Berlin, 1953.



Metamorphic rock composed of recrystallized calcite or dolomite.
Commercially, any limestone or dolomite taking polish.


A metamorphic rock composed largely of calcite or dolomite; often highly polished to enhance its appearance; available in different colors that result from differences in mineral content.


a. a hard crystalline metamorphic rock resulting from the recrystallization of a limestone: takes a high polish and is used for building and sculpture
b. (as modifier): a marble bust
2. a block or work of art of marble
3. a small round glass or stone ball used in playing marbles
4. white like some kinds of marble
References in classic literature ?
The high marble wall extended all around the place and shut out all the rest of the world.
These houses, solid marble palaces though they be, are in many cases of a dull pinkish color, outside, and from pavement to eaves are pictured with Genoese battle scenes, with monstrous Jupiters and Cupids, and with familiar illustrations from Grecian mythology.
while poor Margolotte stands watching me as a marble image."
Heavy winter rains held them prisoners for two weeks in the Marble House.
As they halted at the foot of the marble steps, the proud gaze of Tara of Helium rested upon the enthroned figure of the man above her.
Four of the bailiff of the palace's sergeants, perfunctory guardians of all the pleasures of the people, on days of festival as well as on days of execution, stood at the four corners of the marble table.
Slowly the marble flagging was sinking in all directions toward the centre.
Every little while they caught new glimpses of the marble palace, which looked more and more beautiful the nearer they approached it.
It was nevertheless greatly admired by ignorant travellers of all classes; partly on account of its imposing size, and partly on account of the number of variously-coloured marbles which the sculptor had contrived to introduce into his design.
Its gardens and ample grounds were surrounded by a separate wall, not so high or thick as the wall around the City, but more daintily designed and built all of green marble. The gates flew open as the chariot appeared before them, and the Cowardly Lion and Hungry Tiger trotted up a jeweled driveway to the front door of the palace and stopped short.
Two women-servants came out with pails and brooms and brushes, and gave the sidewalk a thorough scrubbing; meanwhile two others scrubbed the four marble steps which led up to the door; beyond these we could see some men-servants taking up the carpet of the grand staircase.
He saw, or thought he saw, a woman in white, yesterday evening, as he was passing the churchyard; and the figure, real or fancied, was standing by the marble cross, which he and every one else in Limmeridge knows to be the monument over Mrs.