Open main menu
This page needs to be proofread.

but are entirely massive and free from grain. The microstructure of pure marble is comparatively simple. In thin sections they are seen to be built up of somewhat rounded grains of calcite, fitting closely together in a mosaic; very rarely do any grains show traces of crystalline form. They are colourless and transparent, and are usually traversed by a lattice-work of sharply defined cleavage cracks, which correspond to the rhombohedral faces. In polarized light the colours are pinkish or greenish white, or in very thin sections iridescent because the mineral has a very strong double refraction. They may also be crossed by bars or stripes, each of which indicates a twin plate, for the crystals are usually polysynthetic. This twinning may be produced by pressure acting either during the crystallization of the rock or at a later period.

The purest marbles generally contain some accessory minerals, and in many of these rocks they form a considerable proportion of the whole mass. The commonest are quartz in small rounded grains, scales of colourless or pale yellow mica (muscovite and phlogopite), dark shining flakes of graphite and small crystals of pyrites or iron oxides. Even fine Carrara marble leaves a residue of this sort when dissolved in acid. Many marbles contain other minerals which are usually silicates of lime or magnesia. The list of these accessories is a very large one. Augite is very frequent and may be white (malacolite) or pale green (coccolite, sahlite, diopside); hornblende occurs as white bladed tremolite or pale green actinolite; feldspar's may be present also, such as orthoclase, or more frequently some plagioclase such as albite, labradorite and anorthite; scapolite (or wernerite); various kinds of garnet; vesuvianite, spinel, forsterite, periclase, brucite, talc, zoisite and epidote, chondrodite, biotite, datolite, sphene and apatite may be mentioned as typical accessory minerals. The presence of metalliferous minerals such as galena, grey or red silver ores, zinc blende, antimonite, chalcopyrite, molybdenite, cassiterite, usually indicates impregnation by ore-bearing solutions, especially if these substances occur in workable quantities. The rubies of Burma are found in crystalline limestones and are constantly accompanied by precious spinel (or balas-ruby).

These minerals represent impurities in the original limestone which crystallized at the time that the marble became crystalline. The silicates derive their silica mainly from sand or infiltrated siliceous deposits; the alumina represents an admixture of clay; the iron came from limonite or hematite in the original state of the rock. Where the silicates bulk largely because the original limestone was highly impure, all the carbonic acid may be driven out and replaced by silica during the process of recrystallization. The' rock is then a calc-silicate rock, hard, tough, flinty and no longer readily soluble in acids. They are sometimes fine-grained horn stones (known as calc-silicate hornfelses). Where white minerals predominate (wollastonite, tremolite, feldspar) these rocks may have a close resemblance to marbles, but often they are green from the abundance of green augites and amphiboles, or brown (when garnet and vesuvianite are present in quantity) or yellow (with epidote, chondrodite or sphene). Decomposition induces further changes in colour owing to the formation of green or yellow serpentine, pale green talc, red hematite, and brown limonite. Most of the coloured or variegated crystalline marbles have originated in this manner. Often bands of calc-silicate rock alternate with bands of marble, and they may be folded or bent; in other cases, nodules and patches of silicates occur in a matrix of pure marble. Earth movements may shatter the rocks, producing fissures afterwards filled with veins of calcite; in this way the beautiful brecciated or veined marbles are produced. Sometimes the broken fragments are rolled and rounded by the flow of the marble under pressure and pseudo-conglomerates or “ crush conglomerates ” result. In other cases the banding of the marble indicates the original bedding of the calcareous sediments. Crystalline limestones which contain much mica may be called cipollins; in them quartz, garnet and hornblende often also occur. The ophicalcites are marbles containing much serpentine, which has been formed by the decomposition of forsterite, olivine or augite. The much-discussed Eozoon, at one time supposed to be the earliest known fossil and found in Archaean limestones in Canada, is now known to be inorganic and to belong to the ophicalcites.

Many marbles, probably all of them, are metamorphosed limestones. The passage of limestones rich in fossils into true marbles as they approach great crystalline intrusions of granite is a phenomenon seen in many parts of the world; occasionally the recrystallization of the rock has not completely obliterated the organic structures (e.g. at Carrara and at Bergen in Norway). The agencies which have induced the metamorphism are heat and pressure, the heat arising from the granite and the pressure from overlying masses of rock, for these changes took place before the granite cooled and while it was still deeply buried beneath the surface. In 1806 Sir James Hall described a series of experiments proving this. He enclosed chalk in a gun-barrel securely plugged and heated it to a high temperature in a furnace. Carbonic acid was given off by the chalk and produced a great pressure in the interior of the tube. After slow cooling the mass was found to have become converted into granular crystalline marble; As rocks which have undergone changes of this kind are commonest in the oldest and deepest layers of the earth's crust, most marbles are Palaeozoic or pre-Cambrian. They occur very often with mica schists, phyllites, &c., which were beds of clay alternating with the original limestone. Formerly it was supposed that some of these marbles were crystalline sediments or even igneous rocks, but the tendency of modern geology is to assume that they were ordinary limestones, many of which may have been fossiliferous. In regions where the sedimentary rocks have been converted into schists, gneisses and granulates, the limestones are represented by calc schists, cipollins and marbles. Often no granite or other intrusive rock is present which may be regarded as the cause of the metamorphism. The marbles are often banded or schistose, and under the microscope show crushing and deformation of the component crystals, such as would have been produced by the earth pressures which accompany rock-folding. These crush structures have been obtained experimentally in marbles subjected to great pressures in steel cylinders. In the recrystallization of these limestones the direct heating action of igneous intrusions may have played no part, but the rise of temperature and increase of pressure due to the folding of great rock masses have probably been the operating causes. This type of metamorphism has been distinguished by the name marmarosis (Sir A. Geikie, Text Book of Geology, 1882).

For descriptions of ancient marbles see F. Corsi, Delle pietre antiche (Rome, 1845); M. W. Porter, What Rome was built with (Oxford, 1907), and for marbles in general consult E. Hull, Building and Ornamental Stones (1872); G. P. Merrill, Stones for Building and Decoration (3rd ed., 1905, New York).  (J. S. F.) 

MARBLEHEAD, a township of Essex county, Massachusetts, U.S.A., occupying a. rocky promontory on Massachusetts Bay, about 16 m. N. of Boston. Pop. (1890), 8202; (1990), 7582; (1905), 7209; (1910), 7338. Area, about 4 sq. m. Marblehead is served by the Boston & Maine railroad, and by electric railways connecting with Salem, Lynn and Boston. It is a quaint old town, with a number of houses dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries. Among the older buildings are the Lee mansion (1768), St Michael's church (P. E., 1714), and the old town-hall (1727), sometimes called Marblehead's “Cradle of Liberty.” Abbot Hall (1877), the municipal building, also contains the public library and several noteworthy paintings, including “The Spirit of '76 ” or “Yankee Doodle ” by Archibald M. Willard. The post office and custom-house was completed in 1904. There are several parks (Crocker, Fort Sewall, Seaside, and Fountain), and an old burying-ground, in which many of the early settlers and a number of soldiers of the War of Independence (including General John Glover) are buried; and a granite monument near the railway station commemorates the taking of the British supply and powder ship “Hope” off Marblehead in 1776 by Captain James Mugford, who was killed during the fight. The commodious harbour, nearly landlocked, is formed by a rocky peninsula known as Marblehead Neck. On this are the club-houses of the Eastern and Corinthian Yacht clubs; and Marblehead is a popular yachting centre. The manufacture of children's shoes is the principal industry. Shipbuilding, once important, has been superseded by yacht and launch construction.

Marblehead, originally a part of Salem, known as Marble Harbor, was settled about 1629 by English emigrants (probably mostly from Lincolnshire and Devonshire); later (after about 1700) many emigrants from the Channel Islands settled here, and to them the dialectical peculiarities of Marblehead have often (perhaps mistakenly) been attributed. Marblehead was separately incorporated as a, town in 1649. In the colonial period Marblehead was an important commercial port, and at one time was one of the most populous places in Massachusetts. After the passage of the Boston Port Bill (1774) it was made the port of entry instead of Boston, but its merchants refused to take advantage of this opportunity and patriotically invited the Boston merchants to use their wharves 'and warehouses. During the War of Independence many “state cruisers” (chartered at the Continental expense) set out from this port, the most famous being the “ Lee, ” commanded by John Manley[1] (1733-93); in November 1775 this cruiser captured the “ Nancy ” with military stores valued at £20, 541, which were taken to the American army at Cambridge. The “ Lee ” was manned by fifty men of the “ amphibious regiment, ” which under General John Glover (1732-1797) rendered invaluable services to

  1. See Robert E. Peabody, “Naval Career of Captain John Manley of Marblehead," in Essex Institute Historical Collections (Salem, Mass.) for January 1909.