What is a sandstone used for?


Author: Torsten Purle (steine-und-minerale.de) | Last update: 17.03.2021

Sandstone - properties, formation and use

english: sandstone | French: grès

A stone made of sand

Sandstone: the name says it all. The decisive factor for the term sandstone is the material of which sandstones are made: sand. In the geological sense, sand is a loose material that has arisen through weathering (physical and / or chemical rock destruction / crushing or dissolution) and the grain size of which is between 0.063 and 0.2 mm.

Table of contents sandstone

Rock type Sedimentary rock
  • yellow, yellow-brown (cause: limonite admixture)
  • red (iron oxides, e.g. hematite, goethite)
  • green (glauconite)
  • black (bitumen, carbon compounds)
Main issues Quartz sand
Side effects
  • mica
  • Calcite
  • Glauconite
  • Hematite
  • Goethite
Fossils partly available
Grain sizefine-grained; 0.06 to 2 mm
structure massive, good sorting to flow structure
density 2.6 to 2.72 g / cm³

Properties of sandstone

Definition: In geology, the term sandstone is a Sedimentary rock denotes that predominantly marine origin, i.e. originated in the sea and consists of sand.

Depending on various mineral and non-mineral admixtures, sandstone can be used different colors exhibit.
The color of sandstone ranges from yellow to brown, reddish, greenish and blue-black.
Brown sandstone can be traced back to limonite content, glauconite turns green and red as a result of iron oxides and carbon and bitumen color the rock blue-black.

The mineral composition of sandstone is mainly described by grains of sand, which are usually made of quartz.
In addition, mica minerals, calcite or ore-containing minerals can be represented in the rock.
Clay, lime, pebble or calcite ensure that the individual mineral components of sandstone are held together. Sometimes there is a reference to the binding agent in the more precise description of the respective sandstone; for example there are quartz sandstone, clay sandstone, lime sandstone or iron sandstone.

They are to be distinguished from this Grauwacken and Arkosen as varieties of sandstone.
While Grauwacken is characterized by visible proportions of larger rock fragments, relatively high contents of feldspar minerals are characteristic of arkoses (more than 25% of the composition).

Lots of sandstones contain fossils in the form of parts of plants, vertebrates and vertebrates, which, however, are strongly frayed due to sedimentation (detritic).

The rock has a grain size of the aggregate parts of 0.06 to 2 mm fine-grained; the rock-building components often draw one good sorting out. Often a direction of flow can be seen in the sandstone. The structure can be soft and loose, but also massive and firm. The density of sandstone is 2.6 to 2.72 g / cm3, the pore volume can be up to 25%.

Formation and distribution of sandstone

The starting material for the formation of sandstone is sand; i.e. minerals and rocks crushed and deposited by physical or chemical weathering, above all the quartz mentioned.

Pressure solidifies the material (so-called diagenesis), whereby the clastic components are stored compactly, excess water is pressed out and the cementing substances are precipitated from solutions circulating in the sand (cementation).

Sandstones often form mighty, layered banks. The cemented or solidified deposits are particularly found on rivers, lakes and beaches, but also occur in deserts, but are then predominantly of Aeolian (= transported by the wind) origin.

The stratification of sandstone can result in defined, clearly delimited sandstone blocks within a sandstone body as a result of weathering. The resulting fissures in the rock run perpendicular to the layered surfaces.

Sandstones are spread all over the world.
In Germany, the sedimentary rock can be found in the Mansfelder Land, Elbe Sandstone Mountains, Harz, Eifel, Taunus, Spessart, Black Forest, Sauerland, Hunsrück and Taunus, Swabian Alb, Fichtel Mountains, on the Upper Rhine and in the foothills of the Alps.
Sandstones in Scandinavia are global; Lower Austria, Tyrol, Vorarlberg / Austria; Valais, Graubünden / Switzerland; Czech Republic; Slovakia; Liège / Belgium; Tuscany, Emilia-Romagna / Italy; Japan; Nova Scotia / Canada; Pakistan; Kazakhstan; Argentina; New South Wales, Queensland, Tasmania / Australia; Bolivia; China; Sporades / Greece as well as California, Arkansas, Colorado / USA represented.

Black sandstone

The original color changes over the years from sandstone and turns dark gray to black.

For one, there are iron and manganese containing minerals like goethite, hematite or pyrite, the oxidize and give the light rock a dark color.

Next to it sits down Nitrogen and sulfur compounds and soot on the surface of the rock resulting from the burning of fossil fuels such as coal and petroleum.

Use and importance of sandstone

One of the most extensive uses of sandstone is in Nürnber.
As early as the early Middle Ages, the subsoil of the Bavarian city was hollowed out so that beer kegs could be stored cool in the extensive rocky passages and cellars of Nuremberg.

Sandstone is also used in the construction industry, especially as natural stone such as the Brandenburg Gate (see also: Built in, on and out of stone - Brandenburg Gate), in interior areas or as a floor tile. Sandstone is used as gravel or split in road construction. And bituminous sandstones are important for oil production.

Also interesting:
⇒ plastiglomerate
⇒ The formation of sedimentary rocks
⇒ cycle of rocks

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