A single mineral can make a stone


This article covers stone as a material, more meanings under stone (disambiguation).
The Bastei bridge from Ferdinandstein, Saxon Switzerland: The formations are rock, the bridge is out stone.

A stone is a compact object made of a mineral or rock with certain physical properties.

Stone and rock

In contrast to rock, stones no longer have a firm contact with the rock unit to which they originally belonged, regardless of whether they are still in their original location (in situ, natural rock, pending) or not (dislocated).

Colloquially, "stone" is used for a material related to a rock, i.e. for a solid mineral mass that has arisen in the course of the earth's history. Stones are also called "rocks" or "boulders". Ancient, can still be found in place and field names as well as in Alemannic dialects stone mostly for exposed, visible rock, i.e. rock formations.

earth sciences

Geology and petrology (the study of rocks) use precise terms:

  • According to DIN 4022, "stones" are only objects over 63 mm (see grain size classification) - rubble and rubble are exposed stones as broken stones or round pieces, gravel is larger than 2 mm, stone in the real sense according to DIN between 6.3 and 20 cm, but a blockif larger than 20 cm (see e.g. block dump, rock glacier)
  • Sand are pieces of rock under 2 mm
  • Silt or silt: the finest stones (grain size) below 0.02 mm

Special forms of stones are:

  • Reading stone, these are the stones of the ground (the pedosphere)
  • Talus, the scree or scree slope
  • Block dump, reading stones exposed by erosion as a landscape form
  • Debris, stones in the stream bed of the water, also in fossil, no longer moved sections, for example as a rock unit in a sediment sequence of a moraine
  • Moraine for the bed load as well as the deposits of a glacier
  • Boulders are stones carried by glaciers, regardless of whether they are exposed or in the depths
  • Inclusion, stones that are baked into other rock, such as conglomerate (round pieces) and breccia (angular), and xenolites
  • Gemstone (gemstone), special stones, mostly more or less pure minerals, rarely rock: The term stone generally refers to a piece of a mineral, a single crystal or a crystal agglomeration.
  • Geode, a stone that forms in the rock in cavities (and often still has cavities with crystals inside, the druse)
  • Oolite (pea stone or roe stone), a stone that is created by the formation of waves
  • Concretion, a stone created by precipitation (sintering), such as lawn iron stone or cave pearls
  • Boulder, a large stone in nature, with a diameter of up to a few meters

Rocks are not only found on earth, but also on the moon, the three terrestrial planets and most asteroids. Stones have already been brought to earth from the moon (Moon rocks). Other non-terrestrial stones are found as meteorites. In the solar system they also form the particles of the planetary rings. In the broadest sense, all celestial bodies that have no tectonics of their own are stones, including the moon, but not the earth with its hot, highly active core or the gas planets.

  • Stone in the sense of geology
  • Pebbles on the beach - surf rubble

  • Devil’s Marbles, Australia - In situ weathering

  • Block dump, Heiligkreuzgebirge - weathering and rock fall

  • Boulder, Rügen - translocation through a glacier


A basic distinction is made in construction:

  • Round stone, round piece, if it has already been repelled in the bed load of the rivers, or mechanically by rolling
  • Quarry stone that has broken out of the rock, whether natural or in the quarry
  • Broken minerals are artificially crushed stones

According to the size (grading curve) a distinction is made between:

  • Rock powder, stones under 0.063 mm
  • Sand less than 2 mm, as broken sand or round sand
  • Gravel (round stone) and chippings (quarry stone) with grain sizes from 2 to 32 mm
  • Gravel, scree deposits or broken minerals with a grain size between 32 and 63 mm, round material of this size is called coarse gravel
  • Schroppen, material over 63 mm, rock decomposition up to the maximum transportable size

A distinction is made according to use:

  • Natural stone: these are stones of any format of natural origin, as brick, paving stone, stone slab, etc.
  • Ashlar:
    • hewn, split or pinched natural stones
    • Artificially produced building material by solidifying (drying, burning) loose material (loam, clay mineral, gypsum, cement), such as brick, earthenware or concrete paving stones
  • House stone: These are the rough stones worked by hand by the stonemason or stone sculptor

Aggregate is the aggregate for concrete or asphalt with various grain sizes, chippings are for subsequent rolling into asphalt.

There are also a number of specialist names for special formats for various purposes.

  • Stone in the sense of construction
  • Megalithic tomb, Abercastle, Wales, Neolithic

  • Roman stone paving, Herculaneum, 1st century BC Chr.

  • Stone stele in front of stone masonry, Tikal, around 500 AD

  • Vinh Moc tunnel, Vietnam, 20th century

Some known stones

Hoodoos: Love Valley in Cappadocia near Goreme, Turkey - rock tower with capstone
  • Mount Augustus in Australia is the largest exposed rock on earth, not Ayers Rock.
  • Blockheide in the Waldviertel
  • Externsteine ​​in the Teutoburg Forest, rock needles with stones on top
  • Golden Rock, a gilded Buddhist sanctuary in Burma
  • Schwanenstein, a boulder on the Baltic coast
  • Georgenstein, a boulder in the Isar
  • Wandering rocks in Death Valley
  • Boots, a rock with a stone on it

See also

  • Boulder
  • Rocking stone
  • Wool sack weathering (special weathering form only of granites)
  • Earth pyramid, hoodoo, the weathering pillars with capstone
  • Stone setting, megaliths, dolmens, megalithic grave, menhir, stone works of early humans

See also

  • Concrement: gallstone, bladder stone, rhinolite (nose stone) - stone formations in medicine
  • Sinter: Scale, urine scale, tartar, Biorock technology - chemical precipitates
  • Lithops, living stone


  • DIN 4022 Geotechnical calculations for civil engineering purposes
  • DIN 18196 Earthworks and foundation engineering - soil classification for civil engineering purposes


  • Wolfhard Wimmenauer: Petrography of igneous rocks and metamorphic rocks. Stuttgart (Enke) 1985, ISBN 3-432-94671-6
  • Roland Vinx: Rock determination in the field. Munich (Elsevier) 2005, ISBN 3-8274-1513-6
  • Hans Murawski / Wilhelm Meyer: Geological dictionary. 11th edition, Munich (Spektrum-Akademischer Verlag) 2004, ISBN 3-827-41445-8

Web links

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 Wiktionary: stone - Explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations