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What is Sandstone?

Mary McMahon
Updated Jun 04, 2024
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Sandstone is a type of sedimentary rock that forms from a compacted sand aggregate glued together with a mineral cement. It takes an extended period of time for this stone to form, and the appearance and texture of the rock can vary widely, depending on its composition and where it formed. There are also a variety of uses for sandstone; among other things, it is a notably popular building material, commonly used for things like tile and flagstones.

The formation of sandstone starts when a layer of sand or finely grained mineral particles forms, often by precipitating out of a river or stream. Over time, the sand becomes compacted by overlying deposits of sediments, resulting in considerable compression. At the same time that the sand is being compressed, water trickling through the higher deposits carries minerals down, and these minerals start to glue the sand together. Left undisturbed long enough, sandstone will form as the mineral cement hardens.

Young sandstone is very friable and crumbly, while mature rock can be extremely strong, in addition to being very weather-resistant. It may acquire a wide range of colors, with rich oranges and yellows being common in desert regions, but it can also be gray, bluish, tan, creamy white, or deeply mottled. Because sandstone is so resistant to weathering, it often forms distinctive geologic monuments.

Argillaceous sandstone is rock that contains a great deal of silt, resulting in a comparatively smooth texture. Arkose sandstone has a higher concentration of feldspar, and its composition can closely resemble granite. It is also possible to find quartzose sandstone, which contains a very high concentration of quartz. All types are very porous, and the stone often protects formidable aquifers that can be tapped for water.

In addition to being used as a building material, sandstone can also be carved into statues, used to make kitchenware, and employed in a variety of other tasks. Geologists are fond of this type of rock because it can be used to gather information about the geologic history of a region. Paleontologists often find things of interest in it as well, such as the fossils of animals and plants which happened to be compressed along with the sand.

All Things Nature is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a All Things Nature researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon294676 — On Oct 02, 2012

This article about sandstone is extremely helpful!

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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