Also see the BGS vocabulary of named rock units for the Carboniferous Limestone. The Carboniferous limestone aquifer can be found in a variety of locations throughout England and Wales, sometimes at significant depth. It forms part of the national groundwater network.
The Carboniferous Limestone Aquifer consists of a large volume of porous rock that stores water underground. Where there are no natural springs or surface streams, this water is taken up into the rock by capillary action and becomes part of the regional groundwater system.
In some parts of southern England, particularly around Bath and Salisbury, the limestone is rich in fossils and has been used for many years as an important source of information about past climates and environmental conditions from the Permian Period (about 250 million years ago) to the beginning of the Ice Age (about 200,000 years ago).
Limestone is a sedimentary rock composed mainly of calcium carbonate (calcite and aragonite). Fossils inside the rock allow scientists to date it with great accuracy: the Carboniferous period ended about 300 million years ago and was followed by the Jurassic period, which began about 200 million years ago.
These fossils come from plants and animals that lived during those periods. They provide evidence of huge changes in climate and environment during those times.
Limestone pavements may be found all over the world in formerly glaciated limestone areas. Notable examples may be seen in Northern England's Yorkshire Dales and Cumbria, such as those above Malham Cove, on the slope of Ingleborough, and above Grange-over-Sands. In addition, there are many smaller limestone pavement sites scattered around these counties.
What makes them valuable? Limestone is a very porous material that can easily absorb various chemicals from the soil. As it does so, the color of the stone changes. Over time, this absorption causes pale yellow to white colors on the surface of the pavement. The reasons for removing the skin of the rock when constructing roads or parking lots is twofold: first, it provides better traction for vehicles which reduces crash involvement; second, it allows any absorbed chemicals from the soil to evaporate away.
How old are limestone pavements? Limestone pavement formation occurs in three main stages: initial, transgressive, and regressive. Initial stage pavement dates back about 250 million years, transgressive stage about 55 to 65 million years, and regressive stage about 15 to 20 million years. This means that most limestone pavement around today was formed within the last few million years!
Are there any fossils inside a limestone pavement? Yes, if you look closely you will often find fossilized bones inside the rock.
Quarrying: Limestone is mined in the Yorkshire Dales and is vital to the local economy. Limestone is utilized in the building, cement, and fertilizer industries. Limestone is also utilized in the steel industry, as seen by the Castle Bolton quarry in Wensleydale, North Yorkshire. This quarry supplies material for use at Castle Bolton steelworks.
The majority of the limestone in Britain is located in South Wales where it is used to produce cement. The other major source is the Yorkshire Dales where the stone is used in building.
Limestone is a sedimentary rock that consists mainly of calcium carbonate (CaCO3). It is the most abundant mineral on earth after water. Limestone forms when the remains of marine organisms, such as shells or scales, are buried under mud or soil and then exposed to heat and pressure from deep within the earth's crust. Over time, the organic matter decomposes and the remaining minerals are dissolved by rain or snowmelt water and then absorbed into the ground. Oceans cover 70% of the world's surface, but only about 2% of that volume is made up of limestone rocks. The other 98% is made up of silica (silicon dioxide), aluminum oxide, magnesium oxide, potassium oxide, and phosphorus pentoxide.
Limestone is used in many products that we use every day. Cement products such as concrete buildings, mortar, and paint contain large amounts of limestone.