Explore 26 Types of Stones: Your Ultimate Guide with Expert Insights

Overview of Types of Stones

Stones are an important material in civil engineering. They are formed from rocks and given a desired shape as per requirement. Rock is nothing but a mixture of minerals in the Earth’s crust. Humans have been using stones for construction for a really long time. We cut them into different shapes and sizes to fit what we need. There are four main types of stones which are Sedimentary, Metamorphic, Igneous, and Man-made. We use these stones for all sorts of things, like making strong foundations, walls, columns, arches, dams, and even lighthouses and bridges. They are not just about structure; stones also make buildings look good with their fancy designs.

Types of Stones Pictures

Types of Stones

Different Types of Stones

Igneous Stones

  • Basalt
  • Pumice
  • Obsidian
  • Diorite
  • Gabbro 

Rare Stones

  • Soapstone
  • Serpentine
  • Alabaster
  • Jade
  • Labradorite
  • Peridot

Sedimentary Stones

  • Chert
  • Shale
  • Conglomerate
  • Quartzite
  • Gypsum

Building Stones

  • Sandstone
  • Limestone
  • Slate
  • Granite
  • Marble
  • Travertine

Metamorphic Stones

  • Schist
  • Gneiss
  • Anthracite

Decorative Stones

  • Onyx
  • Jasper
  • Agate

Types of Stones

Basalt

Basalt, an extrusive igneous/volcanic rock, exhibits low silica levels, presenting a dark hue and high concentrations of iron and magnesium. In comprising pyroxene, olivine, and plagioclase primarily, basalt is the most prevalent rock on Earth’s crust.

Its coarsely porous texture results from gas bubble evacuation, yielding fine-grained, glassy, and compact specimens. Mainly including ocean floors, basalt, when emitted by underwater volcanoes, enables the genesis of volcanic islands.

Moreover, it has contributed significantly to the formation of expansive land plateaus. Beyond geological roles, basalt serves various practical purposes, such as crushed stone, decorative stone, dimension stone, and insulation material.

Pumice

Pumice, an extrusive volcanic rock, originates from the effusion of high water and gas-laden lava during volcanic eruptions. The following bubbly texture results from the release of gas bubbles during cooling and solidification.

Typically light-hued, indicative of elevated silica levels and reduced iron and magnesium, pumice aligns with the rhyolite classification. This extremely lightweight rock, overflowing with little gas-filled voids, finds application in diverse sectors.

Predominantly, pumice contributes to the production of lightweight construction materials, such as concrete blocks.

Additionally, it serves as a vital component in the formulation of abrasives, fulfilling roles in personal care products, industrial cleaners, rubber erasers, and the stone-washing process for denim. Moreover, it is employed in architectural contexts, providing insulation, roofing solutions, and landscaping materials.

Obsidian

Obsidian is a naturally forming volcanic glass. Its formation takes place from the fast cooling of felsic lava. It has much in silicon, oxygen, aluminum, sodium, and potassium. This igneous rock is commonly situated along the edges of rhyolitic lava flows, specifically referred to as obsidian flows.

Characterized by its hardness, brittleness, and amorphous structure, obsidian shows fractures with remarkably sharp edges.

Historically, obsidian served as a crucial material for crafting cutting and piercing tools, with modern applications extending to experimental usage as surgical scalpel blades.

Presently, it finds itself used for ornamental purposes, yet ongoing research explores its potential for surgical scalpels in the medical sector. This investigation is driven by obsidian’s unique qualities, making it a compelling subject for technological advancement and innovation.

Diorite

Diorite, an intrusive igneous rock, originates from the gradual solidification of subterranean magma characterized by a mild silica content and relatively lowered alkali metal levels. It is positioned between the low-silica gabbro and high-silica granite in terms of composition.

Diorite manifests in mountain-forming regions, known as orogens, situated along continental boundaries. It shares compositional similarities with the fine-grained volcanic rock andesite, a prevalent counterpart in orogenic settings.

Diorite has served as a favored decorative stone, with applications dating back to prehistoric eras. Its utilization continues in modern times, finding application in masonry, stonework, and as a durable building material.

Gabbro

Gabbro is an igneous rock formed deep within the Earth, resulting in a coarse-grained texture known as phaneritic. This mafic rock has lower silica content and is rich in iron, magnesium, and calcium. Its origin in subsurface regions, under high pressure, contributes to its coarse-grained structure.

The gradual cooling of molten material in these depths allows for the development of large crystals in the igneous formations.

Beyond its geological significance, gabbro is widely used in construction materials. It is commonly employed as crushed stone and plays a crucial role in concrete aggregate, road base materials, and railroad ballast.

When carefully processed, gabbro can take on the appearance of black granite, making it suitable for various dimension stone applications.

Types of Sedimentary Stones

Chert

Chert is a sturdy rock made of finely grained quartz, or silicon dioxide (SiO2). It forms from the solidification of siliceous ooze found on deep ocean floors, which contains the remains of diatoms, silicoflagellates, and radiolarians. Precambrian cherts often have fossilized cyanobacteria.

Chert comes in different colors like white, black, gray, brown, green, and rusty red. Despite its technical complexity, it beautifully displays a range of colors while preserving the ancient history of cyanobacterial life.

Shale

Shale is a sedimentary rock that is soft and brittle. When mineral-rich silt or mud settles in water, it forms. This silt becomes buried behind further layers throughout time and experiences processes such as compression and cementation, transforming it into a hard rock. When shale is eroded, it frequently appears in thin layers that resemble plates.

Although shale is normally gray, impurities such as iron oxide and particular minerals can cause it to appear white, black, red, yellow, and green. These imperfections not only enhance its visual beauty but also provide practical applications for shale.

It is extensively utilized in the production of bricks, tiles, and pottery. Furthermore, when coupled with limestone, shale plays an important role in cement manufacture.

Conglomerate

Conglomerate is a sedimentary rock formed from rounded pebbles and sand, typically bound together by silica, calcite, or iron oxide cementation. It is different from sandstone; conglomerates contain coarse-grained particles, mostly rounded or angular gravel.

It is formed in riverbeds, available with variable hardness, and often bears a similarity to concrete in appearance. Its composition may include diverse minerals, but quartz-based minerals are commonly a good choice.

Conglomerate forms in thick, crudely stratified layers and is frequently encountered in subsurface formations, serving as reservoirs for underground water and petroleum. Notably, these beds hold significance in the construction industry, finding application as a decorative stone.

Quartzite

Quartzite, a metamorphic rock originating from sandstone, is discernible from its source material due to distinct fracture patterns. While sandstone fractures along grain boundaries, quartzite, owing to robust induration, fractures across constituent grains.

The formidable heat and pressure of metamorphic processes compel quartz grains to undergo compaction and tight intergrowth, yielding an exceptionally hard and dense quartzite.

This rock’s propensity to break into flat surfaces makes it a coveted choice as a dimension stone in the construction sector, employed for both functional and decorative purposes.

Furthermore, quartzite serves as a valuable aggregate in certain applications within the construction industry. This unique rock, characterized by its technical attributes, finds versatile utility in the realm of building and infrastructure development.

Gypsum

The mineral gypsum is a soft sulfate that may be recognized by its chemical formula, CaSO4·2H2O. For its many uses, it is extracted extensively.

It is a widely utilized essential ingredient in the creation of cement, plaster of Paris, and wallboard. Additionally, gypsum is a major ingredient in many types of drywall, plaster, and sidewalk or chalkboard paint.

Beyond this, gypsum is essential to agriculture as a soil conditioner and fertilizer. Because of its special qualities, certain gypsum variations, such as “satin spar” and “alabaster,” are used for decorative reasons. These kinds have reduced hardness due to their aesthetic appeal, which restricts their total endurance.

Types of Building Stones

Sandstone

Sandstone, a sedimentary rock predominantly comprising quartz sand, exhibits varied mineral compositions. Notably, it incorporates feldspar and is sporadically enriched with silt and clay.

Common classifications include quartzose sandstone (with a quartz content exceeding 90%), arkose or arkosic sandstone (with more than 25% feldspar), and argillaceous sandstone (containing significant clay or silt).

The color spectrum is contingent upon composition; argillaceous sandstones display gray to blue hues, while those rich in light-colored minerals impart a distinct light tan tint to typical sandstone. Diverse elemental constituents contribute to the nuanced hues observed in sandstone.

Slate

Slate is a special kind of rock that starts as shale, a sedimentary rock made of clay or volcanic ash. Through a process called low-grade regional metamorphism, it transforms into a fine-grained, even-textured rock with a unique foliated structure.

This foliation does not necessarily align with the original layers but forms perpendicular to the pressure during metamorphism.

Slate can be turned into roofing slates – these are like tiles or shingles for roofs. Skilled workers, called slaters, handle the installation. Slate has two ways it can break – cleavage and grain – making it easy to split into thin sheets.

When the slate breaks, it keeps its natural look and stays pretty flat, making it easy to stack. This mix of features makes slate a popular choice for roofs, as it is not only durable but also adds a distinctive touch to buildings.

Granite

Granite, a type of stone formed beneath the Earth’s surface, is a key component of the continental crust. Created from cooling molten lava, this rock develops its distinctive characteristics through a gradual solidification process in the underground environment.

Featuring a coarse texture and visible minerals, even without magnification, granite owes its appearance to the extended period of sub-surface cooling that allows crystals to grow extensively. The soft color and graininess of granite are direct results of this gradual cooling process.

With about 25% quartz, along with feldspar and mica, granite is widely used in architectural facades, construction materials, decorative stones, and monuments. Impressively, it accounts for over 40% of all quarried dimension stones.

Beyond its visual appeal, crushed granite serves as a sturdy construction material in asphalt and concrete, supporting the development of highways and infrastructure projects.

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