What is Marble? Where it Comes From and How Its made

Marble has been a sought after stone for centuries. From ancient Rome to modern courthouses and homes, marble has always been used to add luxury to the room it is in. As common as it is though, you might be wondering what marble really is. Where does it come from and how is marble made?

Here’s a quick guide from our marble restoration company on everything you should know about marble.

What is Marble and Where it Comes From

Marble is a rock. A metamorphic rock, in fact, that has been transformed both physically and chemically over time. It forms deep inside the earth where there is lots of heat and pressure, but it starts out as a simple limestone.

Just like all other metamorphic rocks, marble is changed drastically through the crystallization process. Everything from color to texture will be changed and crystallized until the marble resembles the marble that we think of today.

Where Marble Can be Found

Marble can be found in several places around the world. Vermont, Macedonia, Greece, and Italy are some of the more well known places, but large marble deposits can be found along any convergent tectonic plate boundary. This includes along the western Americas, the Ring of Fire, Indonesia, and Southern Europe are among the hottest marble locations.

In Greece and Italy, the marble is most pure. It won’t have color streaks as often as other places where marble is found. That being said, some people seek out marble that has unique “veining” colors and patterns.

Veining is what happens when mineral deposits get trapped in the limestone and settle into layers. This is what gives marble different colors or smoke-like lines across the marble. 

Although a dark grey is probably the most memorable and what you might think of when you think of marble, veining can also be blue, red, pink, green, purple, or yellow. It all depends on the trapped mineral.

How Marble is Made

As mentioned above, marble starts out as limestone. Over time, the limestone will face impressive pressure and heat from magma and tectonic plates. After so much pressure and heat, it begins to crystallize and turn into what we picture marble being.

The purest marble consists of no color aside from the smooth white, but even color streaks are natural and made during the crystallization process. These colors are created when minerals such as quartz, mica, hematite, or others get trapped between the limestone layers and pressed down into the marble.

Technically, the way that these colors and lines form in marble is the result of an impurity. The mineral shouldn’t be there, but it is and it will affect how the marble forms and grows. 

Fortunately, many people look for these unique patterns so impure marble is not considered worthless.

How Marble is Extracted

Although marble is strong, the process of mining it is very delicate and detailed. Unlike most mining projects, explosives can’t be used or the marble will be destroyed. Unfortunately, marble isn’t easy to split apart which means pulling it out in sheets is difficult and can’t be done.

So how is marble extracted?

Marble miners use large machines known as channeling machines to cut grooves in the marble rock very carefully. Each marble block is traced with grooves and holes and once it has been carefully outlined, wedges are driven between the blocks to cut out the marble.

It takes time and care to saw the marble out in the desired shape but once it’s done, the marble is transported out to be turned into countertops, flooring, or even sculptures!

Conclusion

Marble adds a certain luxury to a room that no other stone can. It’s been used by emperors and homeowners alike, but it never loses its luster or attraction. Although it takes a while to form and needs careful extraction, marble is appreciated worldwide and it’s easy to see why.

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