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10 things you never knew about stone

1. Scientists believe the oldest rock specimen on earth is a zircon crystal found near Perth, Australia, which has been dated to 4.4billion years ago. Earth itself is thought to be hundreds of millions of years older, during which period its surface was covered by a sea of molten magma.

2. Marble and slate are both metamorphic types of stone which have been changed by varying degrees of pressure and temperature, resulting in their different characteristics including hardness and sheen.

3.‘The Map that changed the World’ is the story of William Smith, the English Geologist who first realized that the UK’s rocks ‘outcrop’ in different parts of the country because of the way they were laid down and folded.

4. A popular pastime amongst the Victorians saw picnic parties travel to locations such as the Peak District, Dartmoor and even the Highlands to push large rocks down steep slopes. They referred to it as “Trundling”.

5. The United States’ Apollo missions brought a total of 380 kg of Moon rocks back to Earth, enabling scientists to study their origins and realise we already had samples which had fallen as meteorites.

6. While granite appears extremely hard it remains porous, which is why kitchen worktops can be stained or bleached by cleaning chemicals, and coloured sealants can ‘leach’ into cladding panels.

7. On the island of Yap in the Pacific Ocean the natives used very large carved stone discs as a form of currency. Because they were so heavy, ownership would often be exchanged in payment, without the stones being physically moved.

8.Dartmoor’s granite railway, which passes close by Plastic Surgeon’s headquarters in Bovey Tracey, was built to move stones that were shipped out for the construction of the original London Bridge and other landmark structures.

9. The term quoin stone – alternatively spelt ‘coign’ – comes from the Latin word cuneus, meaning wedge.

10. While much of the masonry used to build modern properties is “reconstituted’ from a mix of cement, aggregate and pigments, conglomerate is a naturally occurring mix of course and fine rock fragments, frequently mistaken for concrete.

 

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