Stone is a ‘naturally available building material’ which has been used from the early age of civilization. It is available in the form of rocks, which is cut to required size and shape and used as building block. It has been used to construct small residential buildings to large palaces and temples all over the world. Red Fort, Taj Mahal, Vidhan Sabha at Bangalore and several palaces of medieval age all over India are the famous stone buildings.
Type of Stones
Stones used for civil engineering works may be classified in the following three ways:
Based on their origin of formation stones are classified into three main groups—Igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks.
(i) Igneous Rocks: These rocks are formed by cooling and solidifying of the rock masses from their molten magmatic condition of the material of the earth. Generally igneous rocks are strong and durable. Granite, trap and basalt are the rocks belonging to this category, Granites are formed by slow cooling of the lava under thick cover on the top. Hence they have crystalline surface. The cooling of lava at the top surface of earth results into non-crystalline and glassy texture. Trap and basalt belong to this category.
(ii) Sedimentary Rocks: Due to weathering action of water, wind and frost existing rocks disintegrates. The disintegrated material is carried by wind and water; the water being most powerful medium. Flowing water deposits its suspended materials at some 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 the deposits. The rocks thus formed are more uniform, fine grained and compact in their nature. They represent a bedded or stratified structure in general. Sand stones, lime stones, mud stones etc. belong to this class of rock.
(iii) Metamorphic Rocks: Previously formed igneous and sedimentary rocks under go changes due to metamorphic action of pressure and internal heat. For example due to metamorphic action granite becomes greisses, trap and basalt change to schist and laterite, lime stone changes to marble, sand stone becomes quartzite and mud stone becomes slate.
Based on the structure, the rocks may be classified as:
• Stratified rocks
• Unstratified rocks
(i) Stratified Rocks: These rocks are having layered structure. They possess planes of stratification or cleavage. They can be easily split along these planes. Sand stones, lime stones, slate etc. are the examples of this class of stones.
(ii) Unstratified Rocks: These rocks are not stratified. They possess crystalline and compact grains. They cannot be split in to thin slab. Granite, trap, marble etc. are the examples of this type of rocks.
(iii) Foliated Rocks: These rocks have a tendency to split along a definite direction only. The direction need not be parallel to each other as in case of stratified rocks. This type of structure is very common in case of metamorphic rocks.
On the basis of their chemical composition engineers prefer to classify rocks as:
• Silicious rocks
• Argillaceous rocks and
• Calcareous rocks
(i) Silicious rocks: The main content of these rocks is silica. They are hard and durable. Examples of such rocks are granite, trap, sand stones etc.
(ii) Argillaceous rocks: The main constituent of these rocks is argil i.e., clay. These stones are hard and durable but they are brittle. They cannot withstand shock. Slates and laterites are examples of this type of rocks.
(iii) Calcareous rocks: The main constituent of these rocks is calcium carbonate. Limestone is a calcareous rock of sedimentary origin while marble is a calcareous rock of metamorphic origin.
Properties of Stones
The following properties of the stones should be looked into before selecting them for engineering works:
(i) Structure: The structure of the stone may be stratified (layered) or unstratified. Structured stones should be easily dressed and suitable for super structure. Unstratified stones are hard and difficult
to dress. They are preferred for the foundation works.
(ii) Texture: Fine grained stones with homogeneous distribution look attractive and hence they
are used for carving. Such stones are usually strong and durable.
(iii) Density: Denser stones are stronger. Light weight stones are weak. Hence stones with specific gravity less than 2.4 are considered unsuitable for buildings.
(iv) Appearance: A stone with uniform and attractive colour is durable, if grains are compact.
Marble and granite get very good appearance, when polished. Hence they are used for face works in buildings.
(v) Strength: Strength is an important property to be looked into before selecting stone as building block. Indian standard code recommends, a minimum crushing strength of 3.5 N/mm2 for any building block. Table 1.1 shows the crushing strength of various stones. Due to non-uniformity of the material, usually a factor of safety of 10 is used to find the permissible stress in a stone. Hence even laterite can be used safely for a single storey building, because in such structures expected load can hardly give a stress of 0.15 N/mm2. However in stone masonry buildings care should be taken to check the stresses when the beams (Concentrated Loads) are placed on laterite wall.