What are the three most common cementing agents for sandstones?

Written by michael e carpenter
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What are the three most common cementing agents for sandstones?
Even small amounts of iron produce a red colour in sandstone. (Getty Thinkstock)

Sandstone is a sedimentary rock composed of mostly quartz compressed and cemented together. The cementing agents are the materials that hold the sandstone together. The composition of the stone and the cementing agent used will determine the strength, durability and weather-resistant properties of the sandstone.

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Silica cement, also called quartz cement, creates the strongest and most durable type of sandstone used for building. The cement is a result of the quartz grains overgrowing and expanding the crystallised forms until it runs into another quartz crystal. This type of sandstone typically forms in environments that have high-energy currents, such as beaches, marine bars and desert dunes.

Calcite cement

Calcite cement is the most common type of cement found in sandstone. The calcite cement typically forms in patches and does not fill all the gaps within the stone. This makes calcite cement sandstone very porous. Calcite is also soluble in wate, which can erode away the cement making the stone even more porous.

Iron oxides

Another common cementing agent in sandstone is iron oxide, also called hematite cement. The iron present in the cement will give the sandstone a distinctive red colour. According to the Stone Care Techniques website, iron oxide cemented sandstone weather well in dry climates and become harder and stronger, resisting weathering and deterioration.

Other cementing agents

Sandstone also has other cementing agents that occur in less common forms. These cementing agents include pyrite, baryte and gypsum. These cementing agents form crystals between the particles of the stone. These cements produce a much softer type of sandstone with the particles able to be rubbed off the stone with your hand.

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