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Cut slab of sandstone showing Liesegang banding
|Typically quartz and feldspar; lithic fragments are also common. Other minerals may be found in particularly mature sandstone.|
Sandstone is a clastic sedimentary rock composed mainly of sand-sized (0.0625 to 2 mm) mineral particles or rock fragments.
Most sandstone is composed of quartz or feldspar (both silicates) because they are the most resistant minerals to weathering processes at the Earth's surface, as seen in the Goldich dissolution series. Like uncemented sand, sandstone may be any color due to impurities within the minerals, but the most common colors are tan, brown, yellow, red, grey, pink, white, and black. Since sandstone beds often form highly visible cliffs and other topographic features, certain colors of sandstone have been strongly identified with certain regions.
Rock formations that are primarily composed of sandstone usually allow the percolation of water and other fluids and are porous enough to store large quantities, making them valuable aquifers and petroleum reservoirs. Fine-grained aquifers, such as sandstones, are better able to filter out pollutants from the surface than are rocks with cracks and crevices, such as limestone or other rocks fractured by seismic activity.
Quartz-bearing sandstone can be changed into quartzite through metamorphism, usually related to tectonic compression within orogenic belts.
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Sandstones are clastic in origin (as opposed to either organic, like chalk and coal, or chemical, like gypsum and jasper). mm to 2 mm (0.0025–0.08 inches). Clays and sediments with smaller grain sizes not visible with the naked eye, including siltstones and shales, are typically called argillaceous sediments; rocks with larger grain sizes, including breccias and conglomerates, are termed rudaceous sediments.They are formed from cemented grains that may either be fragments of a pre-existing rock or be mono-minerallic crystals. The cements binding these grains together are typically calcite, clays, and silica. Grain sizes in sands are defined (in geology) within the range of 0.0625
The formation of sandstone involves two principal stages. First, a layer or layers of sand accumulates as the result of sedimentation, either from water (as in a stream, lake, or sea) or from air (as in a desert). Typically, sedimentation occurs by the sand settling out from suspension; i.e., ceasing to be rolled or bounced along the bottom of a body of water or ground surface (e.g., in a desert or erg). Finally, once it has accumulated, the sand becomes sandstone when it is compacted by the pressure of overlying deposits and cemented by the precipitation of minerals within the pore spaces between sand grains.
The most common cementing materials are silica and calcium carbonate, which are often derived either from dissolution or from alteration of the sand after it was buried. Colors will usually be tan or yellow (from a blend of the clear quartz with the dark amber feldspar content of the sand). A predominant additional colourant in the southwestern United States is iron oxide, which imparts reddish tints ranging from pink to dark red (terracotta), with additional manganese imparting a purplish hue. Red sandstones, both Old Red Sandstone and New Red Sandstone, are also seen in the Southwest and West of Britain, as well as central Europe and Mongolia. The regularity of the latter favours use as a source for masonry, either as a primary building material or as a facing stone, over other forms of construction.
The environment where it is deposited is crucial in determining the characteristics of the resulting sandstone, which, in finer detail, include its grain size, sorting, and composition and, in more general detail, include the rock geometry and sedimentary structures. Principal environments of deposition may be split between terrestrial and marine, as illustrated by the following broad groupings:
Framework grains are sand-sized (0.0625-to-2-millimetre (0.00246 to 0.07874 in) diameter) detrital fragments that make up the bulk of a sandstone. These grains can be classified into several different categories based on their mineral composition:
Matrix is very fine material, which is present within interstitial pore space between the framework grains.The nature of the matrix within the interstitial pore space results in a twofold classification:
Cement is what binds the siliciclastic framework grains together. Cement is a secondary mineral that forms after deposition and during burial of the sandstone.These cementing materials may be either silicate minerals or non-silicate minerals, such as calcite.
Pore space includes the open spaces within a rock or a soil.The pore space in a rock has a direct relationship to the porosity and permeability of the rock. The porosity and permeability are directly influenced by the way the sand grains are packed together.
All sandstones are composed of the same general minerals. These minerals make up the framework components of the sandstones. Such components are quartz, feldspars,and lithic fragments. Matrix may also be present in the interstitial spaces between the framework grains. Below is a list of several major groups of sandstones. These groups are divided based on mineralogy and texture. Even though sandstones have very simple compositions which are based on framework grains, geologists have not been able to agree on a specific, right way, to classify sandstones. Sandstone classifications are typically done by point-counting a thin section using a method like the Gazzi-Dickinson Method. The composition of a sandstone can have important information regarding the genesis of the sediment when used with a triangular Quartz, Feldspar, Lithic fragment (QFL diagrams). Many geologists, however, do not agree on how to separate the triangle parts into the single components so that the framework grains can be plotted. Therefore, there have been many published ways to classify sandstones, all of which are similar in their general format.
Visual aids are diagrams that allow geologists to interpret different characteristics about a sandstone. The following QFL chart and the sandstone provenance model correspond with each other therefore, when the QFL chart is plotted those points can then be plotted on the sandstone provenance model. The stage of textural maturity chart illustrates the different stages that a sandstone goes through.
Dott's (1964) sandstone classification scheme is one of many such schemes used by geologists for classifying sandstones. Dott's scheme is a modification of Gilbert's classification of silicate sandstones, and it incorporates R.L. Folk's dual textural and compositional maturity concepts into one classification system.The philosophy behind combining Gilbert's and R. L. Folk's schemes is that it is better able to "portray the continuous nature of textural variation from mudstone to arenite and from stable to unstable grain composition". Dott's classification scheme is based on the mineralogy of framework grains, and on the type of matrix present in between the framework grains.
In this specific classification scheme, Dott has set the boundary between arenite and wackes at 15% matrix. In addition, Dott also breaks up the different types of framework grains that can be present in a sandstone into three major categories: quartz, feldspar, and lithic grains.
Sandstone has been used for domestic construction and housewares since prehistoric times, and continues to be used.
Sandstone was a popular building material from ancient times. It is relatively soft, making it easy to carve. It has been widely used around the world in constructing temples, homes, and other buildings.It has also been used for artistic purposes to create ornamental fountains and statues.
Some sandstones are resistant to weathering, yet are easy to work. This makes sandstone a common building and paving material including in asphalt concrete. However, some that have been used in the past, such as the Collyhurst sandstone used in North West England, have been found less resistant, necessitating repair and replacement in older buildings.Because of the hardness of individual grains, uniformity of grain size and friability of their structure, some types of sandstone are excellent materials from which to make grindstones, for sharpening blades and other implements. Non-friable sandstone can be used to make grindstones for grinding grain, e.g., gritstone.
A type of pure quartz sandstone, orthoquartzite, with more of 90–95 percent of quartz,has been proposed for nomination to the Global Heritage Stone Resource. In some regions of Argentina, the orthoquartzite-stoned facade is one of the main features of the Mar del Plata style bungalows.
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Schist is a medium-grade metamorphic rock formed from mudstone or shale. Schist has medium to large, flat, sheet-like grains in a preferred orientation. It is defined by having more than 50% platy and elongated minerals, often finely interleaved with quartz and feldspar. These lamellar minerals include micas, chlorite, talc, hornblende, graphite, and others. Quartz often occurs in drawn-out grains to such an extent that a particular form called quartz schist is produced. Schist is often garnetiferous. Schist forms at a higher temperature and has larger grains than phyllite. Geological foliation with medium to large grained flakes in a preferred sheetlike orientation is called schistosity.
Sedimentary rocks are types of rock that are formed by the accumulation or deposition of small particles and subsequent cementation of mineral or organic particles on the floor of oceans or other bodies of water at the Earth's surface. Sedimentation is the collective name for processes that cause these particles to settle in place. The particles that form a sedimentary rock are called sediment, and may be composed of geological detritus (minerals) or biological detritus. Before being deposited, the geological detritus was formed by weathering and erosion from the source area, and then transported to the place of deposition by water, wind, ice, mass movement or glaciers, which are called agents of denudation. Biological detritus was formed by bodies and parts of dead aquatic organisms, as well as their fecal mass, suspended in water and slowly piling up on the floor of water bodies. Sedimentation may also occur as dissolved minerals precipitate from water solution.
Metamorphic rocks arise from the transformation of existing rock types, in a process called metamorphism, which means "change in form". The original rock (protolith) is subjected to heat and pressure, causing profound physical or chemical change. The protolith may be a sedimentary, igneous, or existing metamorphic rock.
The lithology of a rock unit is a description of its physical characteristics visible at outcrop, in hand or core samples, or with low magnification microscopy. Physical characteristics include colour, texture, grain size, and composition. Lithology may refer to either a detailed description of these characteristics, or a summary of the gross physical character of a rock. Lithology is the basis of subdividing rock sequences into individual lithostratigraphic units for the purposes of mapping and correlation between areas. In certain applications, such as site investigations, lithology is described using a standard terminology such as in the European geotechnical standard Eurocode 7.
Petrography is a branch of petrology that focuses on detailed descriptions of rocks. Someone who studies petrography is called a petrographer. The mineral content and the textural relationships within the rock are described in detail. The classification of rocks is based on the information acquired during the petrographic analysis. Petrographic descriptions start with the field notes at the outcrop and include macroscopic description of hand specimens. However, the most important tool for the petrographer is the petrographic microscope. The detailed analysis of minerals by optical mineralogy in thin section and the micro-texture and structure are critical to understanding the origin of the rock. Electron microprobe analysis of individual grains as well as whole rock chemical analysis by atomic absorption, X-ray fluorescence, and laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy are used in a modern petrographic lab. Individual mineral grains from a rock sample may also be analyzed by X-ray diffraction when optical means are insufficient. Analysis of microscopic fluid inclusions within mineral grains with a heating stage on a petrographic microscope provides clues to the temperature and pressure conditions existent during the mineral formation.
Greywacke or graywacke is a variety of sandstone generally characterized by its hardness, dark color, and poorly sorted angular grains of quartz, feldspar, and small rock fragments or lithic fragments set in a compact, clay-fine matrix. It is a texturally immature sedimentary rock generally found in Paleozoic strata. The larger grains can be sand- to gravel-sized, and matrix materials generally constitute more than 15% of the rock by volume. The term "greywacke" can be confusing, since it can refer to either the immature aspect of the rock or its fine-grained (clay) component.
Hornfels is the group name for a set of contact metamorphic rocks that have been baked and hardened by the heat of intrusive igneous masses and have been rendered massive, hard, splintery, and in some cases exceedingly tough and durable. These properties are due to fine grained non-aligned crystals with platy or prismatic habits. The term is derived from the German word Hornfels, meaning "hornstone", because of its exceptional toughness and texture both reminiscent of animal horns. These rocks were referred to by miners in northern England as whetstones.
Arkose is a detrital sedimentary rock, specifically a type of sandstone containing at least 25% feldspar. Arkosic sand is sand that is similarly rich in feldspar, and thus the potential precursor of arkose.
A quartz arenite or quartzarenite is a sandstone composed of greater than 90% detrital quartz, with limited amounts of other framework grains and matrix. It can have higher-than-average amounts of resistant grains, like chert and minerals in the ZTR index.
Arenite is a sedimentary clastic rock with sand grain size between 0.0625 mm (0.00246 in) and 2 mm (0.08 in) and contain less than 15% matrix. The related adjective is arenaceous. The equivalent Greek-derived term is psammite, though this is more commonly used for metamorphosed sediments.
Rock microstructure includes the texture of a rock and the small scale rock structures. The words "texture" and "microstructure" are interchangeable, with the latter preferred in modern geological literature. However, texture is still acceptable because it is a useful means of identifying the origin of rocks, how they formed, and their appearance.
The Folk classification is a technical descriptive classification of sedimentary rocks devised by Robert L. Folk, an influential sedimentary petrologist and Professor Emeritus at the University of Texas.
Clastic rocks are composed of fragments, or clasts, of pre-existing minerals and rock. A clast is a fragment of geological detritus, chunks and smaller grains of rock broken off other rocks by physical weathering. Geologists use the term clastic with reference to sedimentary rocks as well as to particles in sediment transport whether in suspension or as bed load, and in sediment deposits.
This glossary of geology is a list of definitions of terms and concepts relevant to geology, its sub-disciplines, and related fields. For other terms related to the Earth sciences, see Glossary of geography terms.
Cementation involves ions carried in groundwater chemically precipitating to form new crystalline material between sedimentary grains. The new pore-filling minerals forms "bridges" between original sediment grains, thereby binding them together. In this way sand becomes "sandstone", and gravel becomes "conglomerate" or "breccia". Cementation occurs as part of the diagenesis or lithification of sediments. Cementation occurs primarily below the water table regardless of sedimentary grain sizes present. Large volumes of pore water must pass through sediment pores for new mineral cements to crystallize and so millions of years are generally required to complete the cementation process. Common mineral cements include calcite, quartz or silica phases like cristobalite, iron oxides, and clay minerals, but other mineral cements also occur.
The Gazzi-Dickinson method is a point-counting technique used in geology to statistically measure the components of a sedimentary rock, chiefly sandstone. The main focus part of the technique is counting all sand-sized components as separate grains, regardless of what they are connected to. Gazzi-Dickinson point counting is used in the creation of ternary diagrams, such as QFL diagrams.
Lithic sandstones, or lithic arenites, or litharenites, are sandstones with a significant (>5%) component of lithic fragments, though quartz and feldspar are usually present as well, along with some clayey matrix. Lithic sandstones can have a speckled or gray color, and are usually associated with one specific type of lithic fragment.
Monte Muambe is volcanic caldera located south-east of Moatize in Tete Province of Mozambique
The Jordan Formation is a siliciclastic sedimentary rock unit identified in Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa. Named for distinctive outcrops in the Minnesota River Valley near the town of Jordan, it extends throughout the Iowa Shelf and eastward over the Wisconsin Arch and Lincoln anticline into the Michigan Basin.