Lithographic limestone in New Zealand

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van der Lingen, G.J.; Cleavin, B.V. 1983 Lithographic limestone in New Zealand. Lower Hutt: New Zealand Geological Survey. New Zealand Geological Survey report SL 6 14 p.

Abstract: Since the invention of lithography by Aloys Senefelder, at the end of the eighteenth century, lithographic limestone from Solnhofen (Bavaria, Germany) has been the most widely used printing stone in the world. It is still considered the best lithographic stone available. But limestones from other areas in the world have also been used. In New Zealand, limestone from the West Coast of the South Island, belonging to the Lower Eocene “lower Abbey limestone” member of the Abbey Formation was quarried and used as lithographic stone for a short period during last century. The commercial name of this limestone was “Pawa Rika Lithographic Stone”. Because of a revival of printing from stones by artists, and the high price of Solnhofen lithographic stones, there is a renewed interest in lithographic limestone from a local source. The authors therefore have started to analyse and test micritic limestones in New Zealand for their suitability as lithographic stone. They have also delved into the geological, technical and historical aspects of lithography and lithographic limestone. This report describes the first results of this on-going research. Printing tests were done from small blocks of Amuri Limestone (Eocene) from Seymour Stream, Marlborough, South Island. Although only a small number of prints were pulled, the results look promising. To compare their lithologic characteristics, samples from the Amuri Limestone, the lower Abbey limestone (called “Abbey Limestone” for this report) and the Solnhofen Limestone were analysed chemically, and their ultrastructure was studied with a scanning electron microscope. All three limestones show advanced recrystallization. In the Amuri Limestone samples, foraminifera and coccoliths are still abundantly recognizable. In the Abbey Limestone sample, identifiable remnants of foraminifera and coccoliths are present but rare, and the groundmass consists of a mosaic of neoformed calcite crystals. The Solnhofen Limestone consists of an even mosaic of calcite crystals without any recognizable organic morphology. All three limestones consist of calcite crystals of comparable grain-size (1 to 20 microns). Judged from the scanning electron photomicrographs, porosities are also similar, Calcium carbonate contents vary, the Solnhofen Limestone being the purest (98 percent. The Amuri samples have 80, and the Abbey Limestone sample 70 percent.