Forest Lawn’s mausoleum was designed by Sidney Lowell in 1919. Lowell (1867-1938) was a renowned designer of mausoleums including Rosehill in Chicago. To build the one here, he decided to use a high quality marble. Marble is relatively easy to cut, yet it is durable standing up to weathering for thousands of years making it perfect for buildings.
This mausoleum is made from Alabama marble, also known as Sylacauga marble. This belt of marble runs through Talladega Co., AL including the town of Sylacauga for which the marble gets its alternate name. The marble was discovered in 1814, and first quarried in 1836, and has been mined for over 160 and should last many years. The marble occurs in a 32 mile path that is half a mile wide and 600 feet deep. Thanks to this quarry, Alabama marble was made the state rock of Alabama in 1969. Marble from the same quarry was also used for the Washington Monument, the ceiling of the Lincoln Memorial and the majority of the exterior of the US Supreme Court building just to mention a few.
Alabama marble started millions of years ago as marine shellfish. Over time, the remains turned into limestone. The collision that produced the Appalachian Mountains produced enough pressure to cook the limestone and turn it into marble. Part of what makes a difference between limestone and marble is the presence of calcite crystals. Newly formed marble has very fine sand like crystals. The longer the marble remains under pressure, the larger the crystals become measurable in milimeters.
The marble is composed mainly of calcite (CaCO3). It may also contain traces of clay, micas, quartz, pyrite, iron oxides, and graphite. The purer the marble, the whiter it is. Alabama marble has been called the “whitest marble in the world,” and can have a translucent appearance. Other veins in the quarry have the more characteristic “marbled” look with grey veins which indicate a higher presence of materials other than marine life often layers of mud. Some sections have colored veins or overall tint. Green coloration results from high magnesium content. Red marble is a result of hematite. An excess of limestone gives the rock a yellow cast.
For further information about marble you can look at:
“What is marble?” http://geology.com/rocks/marble.shtml
“Facts about Marble Rocks.” http://www.sciences360.com/index.php/facts-about-marble-rocks-2676/
“Alabama marble called whitest in world.” http://archive.decaturdaily.com/decaturdaily/news/050206/marble.shtml
If you are in Washington, DC, you can learn more about Alabama Marble (and other building materials) in the Lincoln Memorial by completing: DC M&M Trail -- Lincoln Memorial GC49C0C.
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If you are on the main stairs entering the mausoleum, look to your left at the sides.Based on the crystals size, would you say this was young marble or was it under pressure for a long time? About what size would you say the crystals are?
Look at the floor inside the mausoleum. It is from a different part of the quarry. (There are tiles that are slightly different and make a pattern. These are the tiles in question, not the majority of the floor.) Based on the color, what was in abundance in that section of the quarry?
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