AskDefine | Define marl

Dictionary Definition

marl n : a loose and crumbling earthy deposit consisting mainly of calcite or dolomite; used as a fertilizer for soils deficient in lime

User Contributed Dictionary



  • (UK) , /mɑːl/, /mA:l/
  • (US) , /mɑrl/, /mArl/
    Rhymes: -ɑː(r)l


  1. A mixed earthy substance, consisting of carbonate of lime, clay, and possibly sand, in very variable proportions, and accordingly designated as calcareous, clayey, or sandy.


  • 2004: Those loved unhappy shades whom Dante turned / To sticks and marl — Peter Porter, 'Why Did Dante Pick on Suicides', from Afterburner, 2004.

See also


  1. To cover, as part of a rope, with marline, marking a peculiar hitch at each turn to prevent unwinding.

Extensive Definition

Marl or Marlstone is a calcium carbonate or lime-rich mud or mudstone which contains variable amounts of clays and aragonite. Marl is originally an old term loosely applied to a variety of materials, most of which occur as loose, earthy deposits consisting chiefly of an intimate mixture of clay and calcium carbonate, formed under freshwater conditions; specifically an earthy substance containing 35-65% clay and 65-35% carbonate. The term is today often used to describe indurated marine deposits and lacustrine (lake) sediments which more accurately should be named marlstones. Marlstone is an indurated rock of about the same composition as marl, more correctly called an earthy or impure argillaceous limestone. It has a blocky subconchoidal fracture, and is less fissile than shale. The term marl is widely used in English-language geology, while the terms Mergel and Seekreide (German for "sea chalk") are used in European references.
The lower stratigraphic units of the chalk cliffs of Dover consist of a sequence of glauconitic marls followed by rhythmically-banded limestone and marl layers. Similar upper Cretaceous cyclic sequences in Germany have been correlated with Milankovitch orbital forcing.
Marl as lacustrine sediment is common in post-glacial lake bed sediments, often found underlying peat bogs. It has been utilized as a soil conditioner and acid soil neutralizing agent. It is a soft, loose, earthy, material that consists of varying amounts of calcium carbonate, clay, and silt size material and is formed primarily in freshwater conditions (Hubbard and Herman, 1990).


See also

marl in Aragonese: Salagón
marl in Catalan: Marga
marl in Czech: Slín
marl in Danish: Mergel
marl in German: Mergel
marl in Estonian: Mergel
marl in Spanish: Marga
marl in Esperanto: Marno
marl in Basque: Tupa
marl in French: Marne (roche)
marl in Ido: Marno
marl in Italian: Marna (roccia)
marl in Hebrew: חוואר
marl in Lithuanian: Mergelis
marl in Limburgan: Mergel
marl in Hungarian: Márga
marl in Dutch: Mergel
marl in Polish: Margiel
marl in Portuguese: Marga
marl in Russian: Мергель
marl in Slovak: Slieň
marl in Turkish: Marn
marl in Ukrainian: Мергель
marl in Walloon: Måle (tere)
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