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8.6.3: Metamorphosed Limestones and Dolostones (Marbles)

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    18624
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    8.52.jpg
    Figure 8.52: Marble from near Tate, Georgia, 7.6 cm across

    Geologists generally call metamorphosed carbonate rocks marbles, although this term is used in different ways by building contractors and others. The metamorphism of limestone or dolostone composed only of carbonate minerals produces few mineralogical changes. A general increase in grain size may take place – similar to what happens when sandstone turns into quartzite, but no diagnostic minerals can form because of the limited chemical composition and the high stabilities of both calcite and dolomite. The photo in Figure 8.52 shows a marble that contains only course crystals of white calcite. Figure 8.36, earlier in this chapter, showed a marble consisting only of blue calcite.

    However, most limestones contain some quartz and other minerals besides carbonates. In these rocks, a series of interesting Ca-silicates, Ca-Mg-silicates, and Ca-Al-silicates form as metamorphism progresses. The table below lists the most important of these minerals, roughly in order of their appearance in response to increasing metamorphic grade.

    Minerals Common in Metacarbonates
    low grade high grade
    calcite
    CaCO3
    talc
    Mg3Si4O10(OH)2
    grossular (garnet)
    Ca3Al2Si3O12
    dolomite
    CaMg(CO3)2
    tremolite
    Ca2Mg5Si8O22(OH)2
    periclase
    MgO
    quartz
    SiO2
    forsterite
    (Mg,Fe)2SiO4
    wollastonite
    CaSiO3
    phlogopite (Mg-rich biotite)
    K(Mg,Fe)3(AlSi3O10)(OH)2
    diopside
    CaMgSi2O6
    monticellite
    CaMgSiO4

    If quartz is present, the metamorphic reactions in marbles are often decarbonation reactions that involve the breakdown of carbonates to release CO2. If a pluton intrudes a limestone or dolostone, contact metamorphism may cause CO2 to flow out of the carbonate and combine with H2O that comes from the pluton. The CO2-H2O fluid can have profound effects on the carbonate nearby, and fluid composition controls the formation of many minerals. Fluids may also cause significant metasomatism and a significant change in rock chemistry.

    8.53.png
    Figure 8.53: Phlogopite in marble from Orange County, New York
    8.54.png
    Figure 8.54: Tremolite and graphite in marble from Franklin, New Jersey
    8.55.png
    Figure 8.55: Forsterite marble
    8.56.png
    Figure 8.56: Diopside marble from the Adirondack Mountains, New York

    Phlogopite is typically one of the first minerals to form during carbonate metamorphism. The first photo in the block above (Figure 8.53) shows large, somewhat hexagonal, flakes of phlogopite with calcite behind. The second photo (Figure 8.54) shows gray blades of tremolite in a marble that also contains small (hard to see) specs of graphite. The bottom left photo (Figure 8.55) show a marble that contains green forsterite (olivine). The last photo (Figure 8.56) shows a marble that contains green diopside. These four photos are in order of increasing metamorphic grade. The diopside marble is the highest grade of the four.


    This page titled 8.6.3: Metamorphosed Limestones and Dolostones (Marbles) is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Dexter Perkins via source content that was edited to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.