Difference Between Sandstone and Shale (With Table) 

Sedimentary rocks include sandstone, shale, and other types of sandstone. Sedimentary rocks are rocks that form as a result of the accumulation of sediment. Sandstone and shale are two forms of sedimentary rocks that are found all over the world.  

Sandstone has a rough and grainy texture, similar to that of sandpaper. It is also one of the most frequent sedimentary rock kinds on the planet. It’s widely distributed in sedimentary basins around the world.  

Sandstone classification is based on texture and mineralogical features, though there is some controversy about which properties to prioritize. Arenite and wacke are the two main types of sandstone.   

Sandstone is created by cementing sand (yellow, white, or black) together and hardening it to the point that it may be called a rock. Sandstone can be readily broken apart, scraped, and is permeable; nevertheless, sandstone is not easily corroded by rainfall (unless it is made from white sand, which is made mainly of coral). Sandstone can be found on beaches, rivers, and lakes, as well as in deserts.  

Sandstone is a rock made up of mineral or other organic material grains that are the size of sand. It may also include a matrix of silt- or clay-size particles to fill in the gaps between the sand grains and also a cementing agent to hold the sand grains together.   

If the sandstone is strong enough, it could be crushed and used in construction projects. It could be crushed and utilized as a source of silica for glass manufacture if it has a high quartz percentage.   

What is Shale?  

Shales often contain a minimum of 30% clay minerals as well as a considerable amount of quartz. Minor amounts of carbonates, iron oxides, fossils, and organic compounds can also be discovered. Some organic-rich shales contain enough kerogen to produce oil when heated to high temperatures.   

Any of a collection of fine-grained, laminated sedimentary rocks made composed of silt- and clay-sized particles known as shale. Shale is the most common sedimentary rock, accounting for nearly 70% of all sedimentary rocks in the Earth’s crust.  

The makeup of shale determines its hue. Red, brown, or purple shale is formed when ferric iron compounds are present. Black, blue, and green shale are produced by ferrous iron. Calcite-rich shale is typically pale grey or yellow in color.   

Shales are economically significant, with numerous applications in the ceramics industry. They are an important supply of alumina for Portland cement and are a key raw material for tile, brick, and pottery.  

Mud, sand, and silt are heaped on top of each other and compacted to form shale. Shale is not highly permeable; when saturated with water, it easily gives way, and rainwater does not erode it.  

Clay with microparticles of calcite, quartz, pyrite, mica, other minerals, and organic components in compacted mud produces a fine-grained clastic sedimentary rock. Wherever there is or was previously water, shale can be found.   

Main Differences Between Sandstone and Shale  

  1. Sandstone is composed of quartz, feldspar, slit, and clay, whereas shale is composed of mud, quartz, calcite, and clay.  
  2. In sandstone, silt is layered together tightly to make the solid rock, and in shale, there are very thin layers.  
  3. Sandstone has coarse particles which can be seen with the naked eye alone, and shale has very fine grains which can’t be seen with the naked eye.  
  4. Sandstone is categorized as a coarse-grained rock, and shale is categorized as a fine-grained rock.  
  5. The texture of sandstone is granular, and shale is clastic.  
  6. Sandstone is available in the colors of beige, brown, black, pink, red, yellow, etc. Shale is available in the colors black, yellow, grey, green, etc.  
  7. Sandstone has a rough appearance, whereas shale has a muddy appearance.  
  8. Sandstone can be used in oil and gas reservoirs, aquariums, etc. Shale can be used to create artwork like pottery.  


Classic sedimentary rocks include sandstone and shale. Furthermore, both of these sorts of rocks can be found all over the planet. Shale is by far the most abundant sedimentary rock. Sandstone is a clastic sedimentary rock made up primarily of silicate granules that are the size of sand (0.0625 to 2 mm). Sandstones make up roughly 20%–25% of all sedimentary rocks.  


  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1365160910001164  
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0264817201000253