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Travertine, a natural stone, is a white concretionary
form of calcium carbonate that is usually hard and semicrystalline.
It is deposited from the water of mineral springs (especially
hot springs) or streams holding lime in solution. When carbon
dioxide-rich water percolates through earth and rocks in limestone
areas, the water dissolves the limestone and becomes saturated
with it. When the water resurfaces later, the sudden drop
in pressure and the change in temperature cause the water
to release the carbon dioxide gas, much like fizzy drinks.
The limestone then recrystallizes, often over minute underwater
plants. With time, the mineral deposits harden and become
Extensive deposits exist at Tivoli, Italy,
near Rome. In fact, travertine derives its name from this
town. Tivoli was known as Tibur in ancient Roman times. The
ancient name for the stone was lapis tiburtinus meaning tibur
stone, which has been corrupted to travertine.
The largest building in the world constructed
largely of travertine is the Colosseum in Rome. Another notable
building using travertine extensively is the Getty Center
in Los Angeles, California. The travertine used in the construction
was imported from Tivoli. The website of the Getty Center
contains more information about the use of travertine in its
construction, including some videos of travertine being quarried
and cut for use. The stone is most widely used in Italy, Greece
Travertine is one of several natural stones
that are used for paving patios and garden paths. It is sometimes
known as travertine limestone, sometimes as travertine marble;
these are the same stone, even though it is neither limestone
nor marble. The stone is characterised by pitted holes and
troughs in its surface. Although these troughs occur naturally,
they suggest to some eyes that considerable wear and tear
has occurred over many years. Some installers use a grout
to fill these holes, whereas others leave them open —
travertine can even be purchased "filled" or "unfilled."
It can be effectively polished to a smooth, shiny finish and
comes in a variety of colors from grey to coral-red. Travertine
is most commonly available in tile sizes for floor installations.