SANDSTONE

( Fr- grès; Ger- Sandstein; Nor- sandstein; Rus-   )

SANDSTONE

A & C. Sandstone. Eagle fetish (width ~ 6 cm) with turquoise eyes by Jeffrey Tsalabutie.   (© photo by Light Language Photo Studio, courtesy www.zunifetishesdirect.com)

B.  Sandstone. Scenic sandstone marketed as Kanab Wonderstone (height - 24.2 cm) from Kanab, Utah.   R.V. Dietrich collection. (© photo by Dick Dietrich)

DESCRIPTION: Sandstone is sand that has been lithified (i.e., turned to rock).  Most sand grains of most sandstones are quartz, the properties of which are given in the GRANITE entry;  the cement, which so-to-speak holds the grains together, may be such minerals as calcite or quartz.
    Colors - commonly white, off-white, gray, reddish, mauve, tan to rust-brown,  commonly  mottled,  laminated,  etc.
    H. (effective) 7
    S.G. 2.0-2.65
    Light transmission - opaque with thin pieces of some specimens translucent  
    Luster - dull to subvitreous
    Breakage -
irregular to subconchoidal.

OTHER NAMES: Sandstone units are referred to in geologic literature and on geologic maps by formal stratigraphic unit names (see Appendix B, Glossary). -- Two well known examples are the Potsdam Sandstone of northern New York, Vermont and nearby Ontario, Canada; and the Coconino Sandstone of Arizona, Utah and Nevada.

USES: The most common uses of sandstones as decorative stones is placing those like the one illustrated  by Figure  B in frames for wall hangings.  Similar sandstones have been shaped to use as bookends, candle holders, clocks, paperweights, coasters (and for this use frequently have been impregnated);  some of these sandstones have had "artwork" etched into, painted on, or otherwise added to their surfaces -- see, for example, Spendlove (1979).  Pieces of flagstone with bland surfical characteristics have been engraved with diverse "artwork" and/or words for marketing, particularly as so-to-speak inspirational pieces.  A few sandstones have been carved into such things as fetishes (see Figs. A & C), and a  "huge, old bust of Buddha ... [sculpted from] slightly calcareous sandstone" has been recorded by Liddicoat (1963-64, p.118).  More recently,  some small interesting "'Sandstone Arches 'carved' from natural sandstone with wind and water to imitate the famous red rock arches found in Utah." have been advertized and illustrated on the internet.(www.saltlaketogo.com) 

OCCURRENCES: Typically in lithified sedimentary sequences consisting wholly or in part of near-shore deposits of clastic fragments.

NOTEWORTHY LOCALITIES: In addition to localities mentioned under the OTHER NAMES subheading, the Potsdam Sandstone of northwestern New York and southern Ontario is one of the flagstones that has been engraved as noted under the USES subheading.   Also, an opal-cemented quartz sand, with sporadic pyrite grains, from near Lafayette, Louisiana  has been cut and polished as cabochons.

REMARKS:  The name sandstone is, of course, based on the fact that this rock is made up largely of sand grains. 

Certain uses of sandstones that are less than firmly cemented virtually require that they be impregnated before or after they are fashioned.   Although I know of no proved examples of decorative items having been fashioned from dyed sandstone or of items made from sandstone having been dyed after they were fashioned, I strongly suspect that some have undergone such treatment.  Several sandstones could ceratinly be dyed relatively easily.  Along this line, a teapot made of an ornamental sandstone, apparently from the vicinity of Hualien, Taiwan, is recorded as having had its color enhanced by boiling tea in it (Koivula, Kammerling and Fritsch, 1992, p.209-210).


Some silica(i.e., quartz)-cemented sandstones, when broken, exhibit roughly conchoidal fractures that extend indiscriminately through their sand grains and cement.  These sandstones are commonly called quartzite, or more properly orthoquartzites to distinquish them from metaquartzites (i.e., quartzites formed by metamorphism of sandstones).  See QUARTZITE entry. 

A photograph of an orange-brown, roughly oval-shaped (greater diameter ~ 8 cm) sandstone petroglyph from southern Nevada is in an article by Hall (2005).    Its caption suggests that it "could be up to 5,000 years old."

"Shaman Stones" -- also called "Moqui marbles" and "Thunderballs" -- from southern Utah have been used as talismans and toys for untold centuries and more recently also sold as souvenirs. Though chiefly sandstone, these spheroidal masses, most of which range between 1 and 8 centimeters in diameter, seem best described as concretions with sandstone centers and hematite-rich shells.  Discoveries in archaeological excavations indicate that shamans (shamen?) used these "stones" well before Leif Eriksson landed in North America;  and, today, some people continue to attribute diverse healing and metaphysical properties to these stones. The Moquis, by the way, are generally considered to be ancestors of the Hopis. 

Potsdam Sandstone flagstones served as the sidewalks in
Hammond, Saint Lawrence County, New York (my hometown) until most of them were replaced by concrete during the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s.  We "kids" especially enjoyed roller skating on the slabs, with ripple mark surfaces -- they emitted rat-ta-tat, machine gun-like, sounds as we skated over them. 

Sandstone (though not as a gemrock per se) is the state rock of Nevada.

SIMULANTS:

*** "Cast in sandstone" is a description given replicas of two sculptures  -- one of the Indian Maiden (Nakoma) and girl holding bowls, the other of an Indian warrior (Nakomis) and boy holding arrows  and girl holdof Frank Lloyd Wright's -- advertized in a recent specialty house catalogue.  - [I suspect that the binding material for this apparently predominantly sand material is either a resin or cement, either of which would be relatively determined not to be natural cementing material;  in addition, the cast (versus sculpted) characteristic should be easily recognized.]

***CoasterStone (a trademark) - a resin cemented-sand that is marketed with several different designs, including some that closely resemble scenic sandstones - [may require non-macroscopic means]. 

***Porcelain called Sandstone - bowls, for example, of this porcelain are marketed.  My impression, however, is that the name is not meant to  indicate their composition or to suggest that they are made of sandstone.  Instead, it appears to be meant  to indicate their color. - [Visual inspection should suffice and porcelain has an inferior hardness.].

REFERENCES: No general reference.

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Last update:  19 June 2007
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