Carrara Marble, a beautiful white marble, of fine granular texture, deriving its name from the city of Carrara. The Parian differs from it in being composed of the most delicate little plates or scales, confusedly united together. The magnificent chain of mountains in which the quarries of Carrara marble are situated forms a portion of the Apennines, and is included in the province of Massa-Carrara. These mountains are distant about 4 m. from the seashore, and present a very imposing appearance, towering to the skies, and broken into rugged and inaccessible peaks. The quarries, among which are those that furnished the material for the Pantheon at Rome, are about half way up the mountain; and although they have been worked for many centuries, and the annual export has long amounted to about 40,000 tons, yet the workmen are still employed upon the surface, so that the supply may be regarded as inexhaustible. The Carrara marbles are of four varieties. That used by sculptors, the white, granularly foliated limestone, is the most valuable. It is more easy to work than the compact limestone, its color is purer, and it is delicately transparent.
The other varieties are the veined marble, with colored lines, which render it unfit for statuary; the rava-cioni, or Sicilian, and the baidiglio, of a deep blue color. In working the quarries, large blocks of marble, some of more than 200 cubic feet, are loosened by blasting. When thoroughly detached, they are tumbled down or lowered to the base of the mountain, whence they are transported to Marino, the port of shipment. This marble range extends over many square leagues. The whole number of quarries is estimated at about 400, of which 40 or 50 are constantly worked, employing about 1,200 men. Those of the statuary marble do not exceed 12 in all, but are the most productive as well as the most valuable. They are the property of a few of the principal families of Carrara. The Carrara marble, which was formerly regarded as a primitive limestone, proved to be an altered limestone of the oolitic period. The causes by which the change of its structure was effected have also served to obliterate all traces of the fossils which are usually found in the rocks of this period.
An analysis of the best quality of this marble by Kappel gives:
Carbonate of lime.................
Carbonate of magnesia..
Oxides of iron and manganese, and alumina.....
Silica trace of phosphoric acid, and loss..