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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 18.djvu/677

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ROCK-WEATHERING IN CHURCHYARDS.

to descend into the heart of some of the granules. In no case did I observe any white pellicle such as might indicate a redeposit of lime from the dissolved carbonate. Except for the veining of probable sulphate just referred to, the lime when once dissolved had apparently been wholly removed in solution. There was further to be observed a certain dirtiness, so to speak, which at the first glance distinguished the section of crumbled marble from the fresh stone. This was due partly to corrosion, but chiefly to the introduction of particles of soot and dust, which could be traced among the interstices and cleavage lamellæ of the crystalline granules, for some distance back from the crust.

It may be inferred, therefore, that the disintegration of the marble is mainly due to the action of carbonic acid in the permeating rainwater, whereby the component crystalline granules of the stone are partially dissolved and their mutual adhesion is destroyed. This process goes on in all exposures, and with every variety in the thickness of the outer crust. It is distinctly traceable in tombstones that have not been erected for more than twenty years. In those which have been standing for a century it is, save in exceptionally sheltered positions, so far advanced that a very slight pressure suffices to crumble the stone into powder. But with this internal disintegration we have to take into consideration the third phase of weathering to which I have alluded. In the upright marble slabs it is the union of the two kinds of decay which leads to so rapid an effacement of the monuments.

3. Curvature and Fracture.—This most remarkable phase of rock weathering is only to be observed in the slabs of marble which have been firmly inserted into a solid framework of sandstone and placed in an erect or horizontal position. It consists in the bulging out of the marble, accompanied with a series of fractures. The change can not be explained as mere sagging by gravitation, for it usually appears as a swelling up of the center of the slab, which continues until the large, blister-like expansion is disrupted. Nor is it by any means exceptional; it occurs as a rule on all the older upright marble tablets, and is only found to be wanting in those cases where the marble has evidently not been fitted tightly into its sandstone frame. Wherever there has been little or no room for expansion, protuberance of the marble may be observed. Successive stages may be seen, from the first gentle uprise to an unsightly swelling of the whole stone. This change is accompanied by fracture of the marble. The rents in some cases proceed from the margin inward, more particularly from the upper and under edges of the stone, pointing unmistakably to an increase in volume as the cause of fracture. In other cases the rents appear in the central part of the swelling, where the tension from curvature has been greatest.

Some exceedingly interesting examples of this singular process of