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- Soapstone (also known
as steatite or soaprock) is a metamorphic rock, a talc-schist. It is
largely composed of the mineral
talc and is rich in magnesium. It is produced by dynamothermal
metamorphism and metasomatism, which occurs at the areas where tectonic
plates are subducted, changing rocks by heat and pressure, with influx of
fluids, but without melting.
- It has been a medium
for carving for thousands of years. It is relatively soft, and may feel
soapy when touched, hence the
- Talc, which is a
soft, hydrous magnesium silicate , is used in a wide range of industries
including the manufacture of ceramics, paints, paper, and asphalt
- The end-uses for talc
are determined by variables such as chemical and mineralogical
composition, particle size and shape, specific gravity, hardness, and
color. There is no Source Classification Code (SCC) for the source
- Mining operations
usually consist of conventional drilling and blasting methods.
- Soapstone is used for
inlaid designs, sculpture, coasters, and kitchen countertops and sinks.
- Traditional Inuit
carvings often use soapstone, and some Native American groups made
bowls, cooking slabs, and other objects from soapstone, particularly
during the Late Archaic archaeological period.
- Soapstone is
sometimes used for fireplace surrounds and woodstoves because it can
absorb and evenly distribute heat while being easy to manufacture. This
is found in many upscale Alaskan homes.
- It is also used for
griddles and other cookware.
- An Island off the coast
from Los Angeles has extensive steatite outcrops and an aboriginal
industry that is over 4,000 years
- Steatite was widely
used for labrets, earspools, and pendants and to a lesser extent, bowls by
5,000 years ago.
- Steatite and
talc-carbonate rocks are a result of the partial or total transformation
of serpentinite by metamorphic
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