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What is porphyry?

Porphyry is a hard, durable stone with a highly attractive mix of larger quartz crystals set in a matrix of finer composition. Often the crystals and the matrix contrast in color as well as texture.

Essentially Porphyry and Granite are made from the same chemicals, about 70% quartz crystals (SiO2) and have many of the same characteristics, such as high compression breaking point and high resistance to chemical agents. Granite is typically one solid mass, all formed at the same time and having relatively uniform crystals throughout. Porphyry was formed when rising magma forms large crystals deep in the earth with high heat and pressure and later finely grained material intrudes around the larger crystals closer to the surface with lower heat and pressure. Porphyry is cleft in 2 dimensions, vertical and horizontal.

Where does porphyry come from?

Porphyry occurs in many places around the world, but there are relatively few places where the quality and quantity of the porphyry justifies quarrying the stone. The classical quarry, with the distinctive red- purplish colored stone, is in the eastern desert of Egypt. Modern quarries exist in Italy, Greece, Norway, Russia, Iran, Argentina and Mexico.

The porphyry at each quarry is distinctive. The colors range from various shades of red to gray and somewhat green, depending on the presence of various minerals. Usually a quarry contains several shades of related colors.

How is porphyry used?

In addition to art objects created from distinctively patterned stone, porphyry is used as a building and landscaping material.

Porphyry is an excellent outdoor paving material because it is resists damage from cycles of freezing and thawing. The even texture created by the large crystals adds superior traction that is sought after for pool decks and inclined driveways.

Red Porphyry is an excellent substitute for brick pavers, where greater durability and traction are required, because porphyry does not wear smooth and become slippery. Red Porphyry also complements red brick structures as a foundation stone.

Porphyry pavers allow many patterns for large public spaces. The low maintenance requirements of porphyry allow its use on driveways as well as plazas.

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