Stone is a naturally available building material that has been used in the early age of civilization. It’s available in the form of rocks, which can be cut into the required size and shape and used as a building block.
It has been used to construct small residential buildings into large temples and palaces all over the world.
Red Fort, Taj Mahal, Vidhan Sabha in Bangalore, and several palaces of medieval age all over India would be the famous stone buildings.
Type of Stones
Stones used for civil engineering works may be classified in the following three ways:
1. Geological Classification
Based on their origin of formation stones are classified into three main groups
- Igneous Rocks.
- Sedimentary Rocks.
- Metamorphic Rocks.
1.1 Igneous Rocks.
These rocks are formed by cooling and solidifying these rock masses in their molten magmatic condition of the material of the earth.
Normally, igneous rocks are strong and durable. Granite, trap, and basalt are the rocks belonging to this category, and Granites are formed by slow cooling of the lava under thick cover on the top.
Hence they have crystalline surfaces. The cooling of lava in the top surface of the earth results in non-crystalline and glassy texture. Trap and basalt belong to this category.
1.2. Sedimentary Rocks.
Because of weathering action of water, wind and frost existing rocks disintegrate. The disintegrated material is carried by water and wind; the water being the most powerful medium.
Flowing water deposits its suspended materials in a few points of obstacles to its flow. These deposited layers of materials get consolidated under pressure and by heat.
Chemical agents also contribute to the cementing of these deposits. The rocks so formed are more uniform, fine-grained, and compact within their nature.
They represent a bedded or stratified structure in general. Sandstones, limestones, mud-stones, etc. belong to this class of rock.
1.3. Metamorphic Rocks.
Previously formed igneous and sedimentary rocks under go changes because of metamorphic action of pressure and internal heat.
For example, because of metamorphic action granite becomes grasses, trap and basalt change to schist and laterite, limestone changes to marble, sandstone becomes quartzite, and mud-stone becomes slate.
2. Physical Classification.
Based on the structure, the rocks may be classified as:
- Stratified Rocks.
- Unstratified Rocks.
- Foliated Rocks.
2.1. Stratified Rocks.
These rocks have a layered structure. They possess planes of stratification or cleavage. They may be easily split along these planes. Sandstones, lime-stones, slate, etc. are examples of this class of stones.
2.2. Unstratified Rocks.
These rocks aren’t stratified. They possess compact and comprehensible grains. They can’t be split into a thin slab. Granite, trap, marble, etc. are examples of this type of rock.
2.3. Foliated Rocks.
These rocks have a tendency to split along a definite direction only. The direction is parallel to each other, as in the case of stratified rocks. This type of structure is very common in the case of metamorphic rocks.
3. Chemical Classification
On the basis of their chemical composition engineers prefer to classify rocks as:
- Silicious Rocks
- Argillaceous Rocks
- Calcareous Rocks
3.1 Silicious Rocks
The main content of these rocks is silica. They are hard and durable. Examples of such rocks are granite, trap, sandstones, etc.
3.2 Argillaceous Rocks
The main constituent of the rocks is argil, i.e., clay. These stones are tough and durable, but they are brittle. They can’t withstand shock. Slates and laterites are examples of this type of rock.
3.3. Calcareous Rocks
The main constituent of the rocks is calcium carbonate. Limestone is a calcareous rock of sedimentary origin, while marble is a calcareous rock of metamorphic origin.
Uses of Stones
Stones are used in the following civil engineering constructions:
- Stone masonry is used for the construction of walls, foundations, arches, and columns.
- Stones are used for flooring.
- Stone slabs are used as damp proof courses, lintels, as well as roofing materials.
- Stones with good appearance are used for the face works of buildings. Polished marbles and granite are generally used for face works.
- Stones are used for paving of roads, footpaths and open spaces across the buildings.
- Stones can also be used in the construction of piers and abutments of bridges, dams, and retaining walls.
- Crushed stones together with graved are used to provide a base course for roads. When mixed with tar, they form finishing coat.
- Crushed stones are used in the following works also:
- As a basic inert material in concrete.
- For making artificial stones and building blocks.
- As railway ballast.