Limestone is a sedimentary rock such as greater than 50% calcium carbonate ( calcite – CaCO3). There are many exceptional kinds of limestone formed thru a ramification of tactics. It may be precipitated from water ( non-clastic, chemical or inorganic limestone), secreted by using marine organisms including algae and coral (biochemical limestone), or can shape from the shells of lifeless sea creatures (bioclastic limestone). Some limestones form from the cementation of sand and / or mud by way of calcite ( clastic limestone), and these often have the appearance of sandstone or mudstone. As calcite is the precept mineral thing of limestone, it will fizz in dilute hydrochloric acid.

Colour: It can be yellow, white, or gray

Chemical Composition: Calcite

Texture – Clastic or Non-Clastic

Grain size – Variable, can consist of clasts of all sizes.

Hardness – Generally hard.

Clasts – if clastic / bioclastic then grains and / or broken or whole shell fragments visible; if non-clastic / chemical then crystalline and no clasts visible.

Major minerals: Calcite, dolomite

Geological formation and occurrence of limestone

Limestone is a sedimentary rock composed primarily of calcium carbonate (CaCO3) in the form of the mineral calcite. It forms from the accumulation of shells, coral, and other debris of marine organisms, as well as the precipitation of calcium carbonate from seawater. The process of limestone formation typically occurs in shallow, warm, marine environments where the accumulation and compaction of sedimentary materials takes place over long periods of time. Limestone can also form from the evaporation of water in caves and other confined spaces.

Limestone is found all over the world, with some of the largest and most extensive deposits located in the United States, China, and Europe. In the United States, limestone is found in the Midwest, Southeast, and Southwest regions, with significant deposits located in the states of Indiana, Illinois, Texas, and Kentucky. In China, large deposits of limestone can be found in the provinces of Guizhou, Sichuan, and Shandong. In Europe, important limestone deposits are located in France, Germany, and the United Kingdom.

Chemical composition and properties of limestone

Limestone is primarily composed of calcium carbonate (CaCO3) in the form of the mineral calcite. It may also contain other minerals such as dolomite (CaMg(CO3)2), clay minerals, and other impurities. The purity of limestone depends on the geological conditions under which it formed.

Limestone is a sedimentary rock that is typically white, gray, or tan in color, but it can also be found in various shades of blue, green, pink, or red. It is often composed of small fossils or shell fragments, indicating that it formed from the accumulation of calcium carbonate-rich marine organisms, such as coral, shellfish, and algae.

Limestone is a relatively soft rock with a Mohs hardness of 3, which means it can be easily scratched. It has a specific gravity of 2.7-2.9, which makes it less dense than most other rocks. It is typically soluble in acidic solutions, which is why limestone landscapes often feature caves, sinkholes, and other karst formations.

Type of Limestone

  • Bituminous limestone
  • Carboniferous Limestone
  • Coquina – A sedimentary rock that is composed mostly of fragments of shells
  • Coral rag
  • Chalk – A soft, white, porous sedimentary rock made of calcium carbonate
  • Fossiliferous limestone
  • Lithographic limestone
  • Oolite – Sedimentary rock formed from ooids
  • Rag-stone – Work done with stones that are quarried in thin pieces
  • Shelly limestone
  • Travertine – A form of limestone deposited by mineral springs
  • Tufa – Porous limestone rock formed when carbonate minerals precipitate out of ambient temperature water

Classification of Limestone

Two major classification schemes, the Folk and the Dunham, are used for identifying limestone and carbonate rocks.

Folk Classification

Robert L. Folk evolved a category gadget that places number one emphasis at the particular composition of grains and interstitial fabric in carbonate rocks. Based on composition, there are three most important additives: allochems (grains), matrix (often micrite), and cement (sparite). The Folk gadget uses -element names; the primary refers back to the grains and the second is the root. It is useful to have a petrographic microscope when using the Folk scheme, because it’s miles easier to determine the additives found in every pattern

Dunham Classification

The Dunham scheme specializes in depositional textures. Each call is based upon the feel of the grains that make up the limestone. Robert J. Dunham posted his system for limestone in 1962; it specializes in the depositional material of carbonate rocks. Dunham divides the rocks into 4 important corporations based on relative proportions of coarser clastic particles. Dunham names are essentially for rock families. His efforts cope with the question of whether or not or not the grains were at first in mutual contact, and therefore self-helping, or whether the rock is characterized by means of the presence of frame developers and algal mats. Unlike the Folk scheme, Dunham deals with the original porosity of the rock. The Dunham scheme is more beneficial for hand samples due to the fact it’s far primarily based on texture, now not the grains inside the sample

Limestone Formation

Calcite, dolomite and aragonite are limestone minerals so where did they came from

It is a sedimentary rock. It forms predominantly on the sea floor where material rich in calcium carbonate (‘calcareous’ material) accumulates. This calcareous material may be organic, chemical or detrital in origin.

The sediment that goes to make up it may have been derived from the dead remains of marine organisms such as:

  • bryozoa
  • corals
  • crinoids
  • microscopic algae
  • shells

These organisms remove calcium carbonate (CaCO3) from the sea water to construct shells or skeletons.

CaCo3 cement, which may be fine grained (called micrite) or coarse grained (called sparite), holds the fossils (such as coccoliths and foraminifera) together to form a limestone.

Sedimentary structures and textures in limestone

Limestone is a sedimentary rock that often exhibits sedimentary structures and textures that can give clues to its depositional environment and history. Some of these features include:

  1. Fossils: Limestone often contains fossils of marine organisms, such as shells, corals, and crinoids, that are preserved in the rock.
  2. Bedding: Limestone often has well-defined layers, or bedding, that can be horizontal or inclined.
  3. Ripple marks: These are small ridges on the surface of the limestone that form as a result of wave or current action in shallow marine environments.
  4. Mud cracks: These are polygonal cracks that form as mud dries out and shrinks, indicating that the limestone was deposited in an environment that alternated between wet and dry conditions.
  5. Oolites: These are small, rounded grains of calcium carbonate that are often found in limestone, indicating that the rock formed in a shallow marine environment with high carbonate precipitation rates.
  6. Grain size: Limestone can range from fine-grained to coarse-grained, depending on the depositional environment and the size of the original sediment particles.
  7. Color and texture: Limestone can vary in color from white to gray to brown, and can have a crystalline, clastic, or microcrystalline texture.

The sedimentary structures and textures found in limestone can provide important information about the environment in which the rock formed, and can aid in the interpretation of the geologic history of a region.

Fossil content of limestone

Limestone can contain various types of fossils, ranging from microfossils to macrofossils, depending on the depositional environment and age of the rock. Microfossils found in limestone can include foraminifera, coccoliths, and diatoms, while macrofossils can include shells of marine invertebrates such as mollusks, bryozoans, and corals. Fossils in limestone can provide important information about the depositional environment and the age of the rock, as well as give clues about the past climate, geography, and evolution of life on Earth.

Limestone in agriculture and soil stabilization

Limestone has a variety of agricultural and soil stabilization uses due to its chemical composition and physical properties. When applied to soil, limestone can neutralize soil acidity and supply plants with essential nutrients.

Limestone is a source of calcium and magnesium, which are necessary nutrients for plant growth. The calcium in limestone helps to neutralize soil acidity, which can be harmful to plants. The magnesium in limestone is also important for plant growth, as it is an essential component of chlorophyll, the pigment that gives plants their green color and helps them convert sunlight into energy through photosynthesis.

In addition to its nutrient content, limestone can also improve soil structure and drainage. When added to heavy clay soils, limestone can help to break up the soil particles, allowing for better water and air movement through the soil. This can improve soil drainage and reduce the risk of waterlogging, which can be harmful to plants.

Limestone can also be used for soil stabilization in construction projects. It is often mixed with soil to create a stable base for roads, buildings, and other structures. Limestone can improve the stability of the soil by reducing its plasticity, increasing its shear strength, and reducing the amount of settlement that occurs over time.

Common limestone formations around the world

Limestone is a common rock that occurs in many parts of the world. Some of the well-known limestone formations include:

  1. White Cliffs of Dover, England
  2. Burren, Ireland
  3. Jura Mountains, France and Switzerland
  4. Verdon Gorge, France
  5. Pamukkale, Turkey
  6. Ha Long Bay, Vietnam
  7. Great Barrier Reef, Australia
  8. Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico
  9. Grand Canyon, USA
  10. Limestone Pavement, Yorkshire Dales National Park, England.

Where is it found?

The development of the limestone market has been relatively fast in the Asia Pacific over the past decade, mainly due to the presence of developing countries in the region such as China, which holds maximum market share globally. Several countries in the Asia Pacific have witnessed rapid urbanization over the past few years, which has provided ample room for the expansion of the limestone market.

Europe also showed substantial growth. This region has a strong presence in the global steelmaking industry. Steel making requires large amounts of limestone as raw material, which is projected to drive the limestone market in the region during the forecast period. This rock market in North America is mainly driven by the need for it in agriculture and water treatment.

The market in Latin America is driven by demand for minerals in the agricultural industry, while building & building materials are the main applications of limestone in the Middle East & Africa. The increase in the incorporation of limestone in these two sectors is expected to drive markets in Latin America and the Middle East & Africa during the forecast period and in the future.

Limestone Characteristics and Properties

  • Stalactites and stalagmites in caves are leftover limestone that remains after water evaporates.
  • You will rarely find limestone in its pure white nature because it almost always has some impurities.
  • It can be found in just about any color depending upon which elements are combined with the calcium carbonate in the rock.
  • It is often used in construction such as being added to paint as a thickening agent.
  • When roofing styles have texture, it is normally because of crushed limestone being added to the roofing tar.
  • Animals can largely benefit from having limestone in their diet so it is often added to their feed.
  • It can most abundantly be found in the shallow ends of marine water.
  • Chalk is a type of limestone that contains mostly shells from marine animals.
  • During the 1700s, limestone was used for lithography which is when pictures are drawn on stones and then copied to other stones.
  • Because limestone contains the remains of dead organisms, it is considered an organic sedimentary rock.
  • There are rare chemical sedimentary rocks that form from the precipitation of calcium carbonate from ocean water.
  • Lithographic limestone is a type of limestone that contains fossils.
  • Powered limestone is used in coal mines as a safety precaution because it absorbs pollutants.
  • It can also be used on roofs to prevent or reduce weather or heat related roof damage.
  • Its turns into the metamorphic rock marble when subjected to high amounts of pressure and heat.

Limestone Uses

  • It is the raw material for the manufacture of quicklime (calcium oxide), slaked lime (calcium hydroxide), cement and mortar.
  • Pulverized limestone is used as a soil conditioner to neutralize acidic soils (agricultural lime).
  • Is overwhelmed to be used as aggregate—the strong base for many roads as well as in asphalt concrete.
  • Geological formations of limestone are most of the great petroleum reservoirs;
  • As a reagent in flue-gasoline desulfurization, it reacts with sulfur dioxide for air pollution manipulate.
  • Glass making, in some occasions, makes use of limestone.
  • It is added to toothpaste, paper, plastics, paint, tiles, and other substances as each white pigment and a reasonably-priced filler.
  • It can suppress methane explosions in underground coal mines.
  • Purified, it is delivered to bread and cereals as a supply of calcium.
  • Calcium levels in cattle feed are supplemented with it, together with for chicken (when ground up).
  • It may be used for remineralizing and increasing the alkalinity of purified water to prevent pipe corrosion and to repair important nutrient tiers.
  • Used in blast furnaces, limestone binds with silica and different impurities to remove them from the iron.
  • It is often located in medicines and cosmetics.
  • It is utilized in sculptures because of its suitability for carving.


  • Bonewitz, R. (2012). Rocks and minerals. 2nd ed. London: DK Publishing.
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