Limestone is a sedimentary rock composed largely of the minerals calcite and aragonite, which are different crystal forms of calcium carbonate (CaCO3). Most limestone is composed of skeletal fragments of marine organisms such as coral or foraminifera.


A piece of weathered limestone highlights a geological process. image: R.Conan-Davies

Limestone makes up about 10% of the total volume of all sedimentary rocks. The solubility of limestone in water and weak acid solutions leads to karst landscapes, in which water erodes the limestone over thousands to millions of years. Most cave systems are through limestone bedrock.

Limestone has numerous uses: 

  • as a building material, 
  • as aggregate for the base of roads, 
  • as white pigment or filler in products such as toothpaste or paints, and as a chemical feedstock.

The first geologist to distinguish limestone from dolomite was Belsazar Hacquet in 1778.