Type of Stones Used for Civil Engineering Works

Stone is a naturally available building material’ which has been used from the early age of civilization. It is available in the form of rocks, which is cut to required size and shape and used as building block. It has been used to construct small residential buildings to large palaces and temples all over the world. Red Fort, Taj Mahal, Vidhan Sabha at Bangalore and several palaces of medieval age all over India are the famous stone buildings.

Type of Stones

Stones used for civil engineering works may be classified in the following three ways:

  • Geological
  • Physical
  • Chemical
Geological Classification

Based on their origin of formation stones are classified into three main groups.

  1. Igneous rocks.
  2. Sedimentary rocks.
  3. Metamorphic rocks.
Igneous Rocks:

These rocks are formed by cooling and solidifying of the rock masses from their molten magmatic condition of the material of the earth. Generally igneous rocks are strong and durable. Granite, trap and basalt are the rocks belonging to this category, Granites are formed by slow cooling of the lava under thick cover on the top. Hence they have crystalline surface. The cooling of lava at the top surface of earth results into non-crystalline and glassy texture. Trap and basalt belong to this category.

Sedimentary Rocks:

Due to weathering action of water, wind and frost existing rocks disintegrates. The disintegrated material is carried by wind and water; the water being most powerful medium. Flowing water deposits its suspended materials at some points of obstacles to its flow. These deposited layers of materials get consolidated under pressure and by heat. Chemical agents also contribute to the cementing of the deposits. The rocks thus formed are more uniform, fine grained and compact in their nature. They represent a bedded or stratified structure in general. Sand stones, lime stones, mud stones etc. belong to this class of rock.

Metamorphic Rocks:

Previously formed igneous and sedimentary rocks undergo changes due to metamorphic action of pressure and internal heat. For example due to metamorphic action granite becomes greisses, trap and basalt change to schist and laterite, lime stone changes to marble, sand stone becomes quartzite and mud stone becomes slate.

Physical Classification

Based on the structure the rocks may be classified as:

  • Stratified rocks
  • Unstratified rocks
Stratified Rocks:

These rocks are having layered structure. They possess planes of stratification or cleavage. They can be easily split along these planes. Sand stones, lime stones, slate etc. are the examples of this class of stones.

Unstratified Rocks:

These rocks are not stratified. They possess crystalline and compact grains. They cannot be split in to thin slab. Granite, trap, marble etc. are the examples of this type of rocks.

Foliated Rocks:

These rocks have a tendency to split along a definite direction only. The direction need not be parallel to each other as in case of stratified rocks. This type of structure is very common in case of metamorphic rocks.

Chemical Classification

On the basis of their chemical composition engineers prefer to classify rocks as:

  • Silicious rocks
  • Argillaceous rocks and
  • Calcareous rocks
Silicious rocks:

The main content of these rocks is silica. They are hard and durable. Examples of such rocks are granite, trap, sand stones etc.

Argillaceous rocks:

The main constituent of these rocks is argil i.e., clay. These stones are hard and durable but they are brittle. They cannot withstand shock. Slates and laterites are examples of this type of rocks.

Calcareous rocks:

The main constituent of these rocks is calcium carbonate. Limestone is a calcareous rock of sedimentary origin while marble is a calcareous rock of metamorphic origin.


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