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Colorado Yule Marble; building stone of the Lincoln Memorial

Bulletin 2162

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Abstract

The Colorado Yule marble, quarried in Marble, Colo., is a very pure white marble, and it has been widely acclaimed for its quality and purity. This marble has been used for many prominent buildings; one of the most notable is the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., built nearly 80 years ago. Although most of the marble in the memorial appears to be in very good condition, some of the stones have developed pronounced surficial roughness and show a significant loss of carved details and rounded edges compared with adjacent stones. Because adjacent blocks of marble receive nearly identical exposure to weathering agents that cause deterioration of the marble, it seems very likely that this pronounced difference in durability of adjacent stones arises from some inherent characteristic of the marble. The Colorado Yule marble is a nearly pure calcite marble with minor inclusions of mica, quartz, and feldspar. Compositions of the calcite and the inclusion phases in the marble are typical for those phases. The calcite grains that compose the marble are irregularly shaped and range from 100 to 600 micrometers in diameter. The texture of the marble is even, with a slight preferred directional elongation that is visible when the marble is cut in certain directions. Physical tests of the marble show that its strength is comparable to that of other marbles typically used in buildings. Variations in the durability of the marble, like those seen at the Lincoln Memorial, are not related to variations in calcite composition or to the presence of inclusions in the marble. Most likely, the variations arise from differences in the calcite grain boundaries and the degree to which the grains interlock with one another. Weak grain boundaries that permit water or solutions to penetrate into the marble and dissolve the calcite grains at their edges cause the marble to disaggregate or ?sugar.? Subtle differences in texture that occur in the marble from various parts of the quarry probably cause some stones to be more susceptible to this form of deterioration. These differences may not be readily visible when the stone is freshly quarried.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
Colorado Yule Marble; building stone of the Lincoln Memorial
Series title:
Bulletin
Series number:
2162
Edition:
version 1.0
Year Published:
1999
Language:
ENGLISH
Publisher:
U.S. Dept. of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey ; Information Services [distributor],
Description:
vi, 43 p. ill. ;28 cm.