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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 18.djvu/676

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

of particles of coal, grains of quartz-sand, angular pieces of broken glass, fragments of red brick or tile, and organic fibers. This miscellaneous collection of town dust was held together by some amorphous cement which was not dissolved by hydrochloric acid. At my request my friend Mr. B. N. Peach tested it with soda on charcoal, and at once obtained a strong sulphur reaction. There can be little doubt that it is mainly sulphate of lime. The crust which forms upon our marble tombstones is thus a product of the reaction of the sulphuric acid of the town rain upon the carbonate of lime. A pellicle of amorphous gypsum is deposited upon the marble and incloses the particles of dust which give the characteristic sooty aspect to the stone. This pellicle, of course, when once formed, is comparatively little affected by the chemical activity of rain-water. Hence the conservation of the even surface of the marble. It is liable, however, to be cracked by an internal expansion of the stone to which I shall immediately refer, and also to rise in small blisters, and, as I have said, its rupture leads at once to the rapid disintegration of the monument.

The cause of this disintegration is the next point for consideration. Chemical examination revealed the presence of a slight amount of sulphate in the heart of the crumbling marble; but the quantity appeared to me to be too small seriously to affect the cohesion of the stone. I submitted to microscopic examination a portion of a crumbling urn of white marble in Canongate Churchyard. The tomb bears a perfectly fresh date of "1792" cut in sandstone over the top; but the marble portions are crumbling into sand, though the structure faces the east, and is protected from vertical rain by arching mason-work. A small portion of the marble retaining its crust was boiled in Canada balsam, and was then sliced at right angles to its original polished surface. By this means a section of the crumbled marble was obtained which could be compared with one of the perfectly fresh stone. From the dark outer amorphous crust with the carbonaceous and other miscellaneous particles, fine rifts could be seen passing down between the separated calcite granules, which in many cases were quite isolated. The black crust descends into these rifts, and likewise passes along the cleavage-planes of the granules. Toward the outer surface of the stone, immediately beneath the crust, the fissures are chiefly filled with a yellowish, structureless substance, which gave a feeble glimmering reaction with polarized light, and inclosed minute amorphous aggregates like portions of the crust. It probably consists chiefly of sulphate of lime. But the most remarkable feature in the slide was the way in which the calcite granules had been corroded. Seen with reflected light, they resembled those surfaces of spar which have been placed in weak hydrochloric acid to lay bare inclosed crystals and zeolites. The solution had taken place partly along the outer surfaces, so as to produce the fine passages or rifts, and partly along the cleavage. Deep cavities, defined by intersecting cleavage-planes, appeared