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Carrara quarry in Tuscany, Italy Carrara-panorama delle cave4.jpg
Carrara quarry in Tuscany, Italy
Portland stone quarry on the Isle of Portland, England PortlandQuarry.jpg
Portland stone quarry on the Isle of Portland, England
An abandoned construction aggregate quarry near Adelaide, South Australia Stone quarry adelaide.JPG
An abandoned construction aggregate quarry near Adelaide, South Australia
An abandoned stone quarry in Kerala, India Stone Quarry Kerala.JPG
An abandoned stone quarry in Kerala, India
Stone quarry in Soignies, Hainaut (province), Belgium 0 Carrieres du Hainaut a Soignies (2).JPG
Stone quarry in Soignies, Hainaut (province), Belgium
Matera quarry in Basilicata, Italy Cava Matera Inerti.png
Matera quarry in Basilicata, Italy
Steinbruch quarry, nr Hagen, Germany Hagen, Steinbruch Donnerkuhle (3).jpg
Steinbruch quarry, nr Hagen, Germany
Prospect quarry gap in Sydney, Australia Prospect Quarry.jpg
Prospect quarry gap in Sydney, Australia

A quarry is a type of open-pit mine in which dimension stone, rock, construction aggregate, riprap, sand, gravel, or slate is excavated from the ground. The operation of quarries is regulated in some jurisdictions to reduce their environmental impact. [1] [2]


The word quarry can also include the underground quarrying for stone, such as Bath stone.

Types of rock

Types of rock extracted from quarries include:

Stone quarry

Dimension Stone QuarryUSGOV.jpg
Marmo z08.JPG

Stone quarry is an outdated term for mining construction rocks (limestone, marble, granite, sandstone, etc.). There are open types (called quarries, or open-pit mines) and closed types (mines and caves).

For thousands of years, only hand tools have been used in quarries. In the 18th century, the use of drilling and blasting operations was mastered. [3]

Methods of quarrying

The method of removal of stones from their natural bed by using different operations is called quarrying. Methods of quarrying include:

Following steps are used in the blasting process;


Many quarry stones. such as marble, granite, limestone, and sandstone. are cut into larger slabs and removed from the quarry. The surfaces are polished and finished with varying degrees of sheen or luster. Polished slabs are often cut into tiles or countertops and installed in many kinds of residential and commercial properties. Natural stone quarried from the earth is often considered a luxury and tends to be a highly durable surface, thus highly desirable.


Extraction work in a marble quarry in Carrara, Italy Carrara 12.JPG
Extraction work in a marble quarry in Carrara, Italy

Quarries in level areas with shallow groundwater or which are located close to surface water often have engineering problems with drainage. Generally the water is removed by pumping while the quarry is operational, but for high inflows more complex approaches may be required. For example, the Coquina quarry is excavated to more than 60 feet (18 m) below sea level.

To reduce surface leakage, a moat lined with clay was constructed around the entire quarry. Groundwater entering the pit is pumped up into the moat. As a quarry becomes deeper, water inflows generally increase and it also becomes more expensive to lift the water higher during removal; this can become the limiting factor in quarry depth. Some water-filled quarries are worked from beneath the water, by dredging.

Many people and municipalities consider quarries to be eyesores and require various abatement methods to address problems with noise, dust, and appearance. One of the more effective and famous examples of successful quarry restoration is Butchart Gardens in Victoria, BC, Canada. [4]

A further problem is pollution of roads from trucks leaving the quarries. To control and restrain the pollution of public roads, wheel washing systems are becoming more common.

Quarry lakes

Many quarries naturally fill with water after abandonment and become lakes. Others are made into landfills.

Water-filled quarries can be very deep, often 50 ft (15 m) or more, and surprisingly cold, so swimming in quarry lakes is generally not recommended. Unexpectedly cold water can cause a swimmer's muscles to suddenly weaken; it can also cause shock and even hypothermia. [5] Though quarry water is often very clear, submerged quarry stones and abandoned equipment make diving into these quarries extremely dangerous. Several people drown in quarries each year. [6] [7] However, many inactive quarries are converted into safe swimming sites. [8] [9]

Such lakes, even lakes within active quarries, can provide important habitat for animals. [10]

Rummu karjaar1.jpg
An abandoned limestone quarry in Rummu, Estonia.

See also

Related Research Articles

Underground mining (hard rock)

Underground hard rock mining refers to various underground mining techniques used to excavate hard minerals, usually those containing metals such as ore containing gold, silver, iron, copper, zinc, nickel, tin and lead, but also involves using the same techniques for excavating ores of gems such as diamonds or rubies. Soft rock mining refers to excavation of softer minerals such as salt, coal, or oil sands.

Gravel Mix of crumbled stones: grain size range between 2 – 63 mm according to ISO 14688

Gravel is a loose aggregation of rock fragments. Gravel is classified by particle size range and includes size classes from granule- to boulder-sized fragments. In the Udden-Wentworth scale gravel is categorized into granular gravel and pebble gravel. ISO 14688 grades gravels as fine, medium, and coarse with ranges 2 mm to 6.3 mm to 20 mm to 63 mm. One cubic metre of gravel typically weighs about 1,800 kg.

Open-pit mining

Open-pit mining, also known as open-cast or open cut mining, is a surface mining technique of extracting rock or minerals from the earth by their removal from an open-air pit, sometimes known as a borrow.

Portland stone Limestone quarried on the Isle of Portland, Dorset, England

Portland Stone or Portland Stone Formation is a limestone formation from the Tithonian stage of the Jurassic period quarried on the Isle of Portland, Dorset, England. The quarries are cut in beds of white-grey limestone separated by chert beds. It has been used extensively as a building stone throughout the British Isles, notably in major public buildings in London such as St Paul's Cathedral and Buckingham Palace. Portland Stone is also exported to many countries—being used for example in the United Nations headquarters building in New York City.

Gravel pit

A gravel pit is an open-pit mine for the extraction of gravel. Gravel pits often lie in river valleys where the water table is high, so they may naturally fill with water to form ponds or lakes. Old, abandoned gravel pits are normally used either as nature reserves, or as amenity areas for water sports, landfills and walking. In addition, many gravel pits in the United Kingdom have been stocked with freshwater fish such as the common carp to create coarse fishing locations. Gravel and sand are mined for concrete, construction aggregate and other industrial mineral uses.

Surface mining

Surface mining, including strip mining, open-pit mining and mountaintop removal mining, is a broad category of mining in which soil and rock overlying the mineral deposit are removed, in contrast to underground mining, in which the overlying rock is left in place, and the mineral is removed through shafts or tunnels.

Dimension stone Natural stone that has been finished to specific sizes and shapes

Dimension stone is natural stone or rock that has been selected and finished to specific sizes or shapes. Color, texture and pattern, and surface finish of the stone are also normal requirements. Another important selection criterion is durability: the time measure of the ability of dimension stone to endure and to maintain its essential and distinctive characteristics of strength, resistance to decay, and appearance.

Drilling and blasting

Drilling and blasting is the controlled use of explosives and other methods such as gas pressure blasting pyrotechnics, to break rock for excavation. It is practiced most often in mining, quarrying and civil engineering such as dam, tunnel or road construction. The result of rock blasting is often known as a rock cut.

Stones of India

India possesses a wide spectrum of dimensional stones that include granite, marble, sandstone, limestone, slate, and quartzite, in various parts of the country.

Construction aggregate Coarse to fine grain rock materials used in concrete

Construction aggregate, or simply aggregate, is a broad category of coarse- to medium-grained particulate material used in construction, including sand, gravel, crushed stone, slag, recycled concrete and geosynthetic aggregates. Aggregates are the most mined materials in the world. Aggregates are a component of composite materials such as concrete and asphalt concrete; the aggregate serves as reinforcement to add strength to the overall composite material. Due to the relatively high hydraulic conductivity value as compared to most soils, aggregates are widely used in drainage applications such as foundation and French drains, septic drain fields, retaining wall drains, and roadside edge drains. Aggregates are also used as base material under foundations, roads, and railroads. In other words, aggregates are used as a stable foundation or road/rail base with predictable, uniform properties, or as a low-cost extender that binds with more expensive cement or asphalt to form concrete.

Geology of Gloucestershire

Gloucestershire is one of the most geologically and scenically diverse counties in England, with rocks from the Precambrian through to the Jurassic represented. These varying rock-types are responsible for the three major areas of the county, each with its own distinctive scenery and land-use - the Forest of Dean in the west, bordering Wales, the Cotswolds in the east, and in between, the Severn Vale.

Crushed stone

Crushed stone or angular rock is a form of construction aggregate, typically produced by mining a suitable rock deposit and breaking the removed rock down to the desired size using crushers. It is distinct from gravel which is produced by natural processes of weathering and erosion, and typically has a more rounded shape.

Outline of mining Overview of and topical guide to mining

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to mining:

Digging Excavation of soil etc.

Digging, also referred to as excavation, is the process of using some implement such as claws, hands, manual tools or heavy equipment, to remove material from a solid surface, usually soil or sand on the surface of the Earth. Digging is actually the combination of two processes, the first being the breaking or cutting of the surface, and the second being the removal and relocation of the material found there. In a simple digging situation, this may be accomplished in a single motion, with the digging implement being used to break the surface and immediately fling the material away from the hole or other structure being dug.

The geology of Maine is part of the broader geology of New England and eastern North America.

The geology of Virginia began to form 1.8 billion years ago and potentially even earlier. The oldest rocks in the state were metamorphosed during the Grenville orogeny, a mountain building event beginning 1.2 billion years ago in the Proterozoic, which obscured older rocks. Throughout the Proterozoic and Paleozoic, Virginia experienced igneous intrusions, carbonate and sandstone deposition, and a series of other mountain building events which defined the terrain of the inland parts of the state. The closing of the Iapetus Ocean, to form the supercontinent Pangaea added additional small landmasses, some of which are now hidden beneath thick Atlantic Coastal Plain sediments. The region subsequently experienced the rifting open of the Atlantic Ocean in the Mesozoic, the development of the Coastal Plain, isolated volcanism and a series of marine transgressions that flooded much of the area. Virginia has extensive coal, deposits of oil and natural gas, as well as deposits of other minerals and metals, including vermiculite, kyanite and uranium.

The geology of South Dakota began to form more than 2.5 billion years ago in the Archean eon of the Precambrian. Igneous crystalline basement rock continued to emplace through the Proterozoic, interspersed with sediments and volcanic materials. Large limestone and shale deposits formed during the Paleozoic, during prevalent shallow marine conditions, followed by red beds during terrestrial conditions in the Triassic. The Western Interior Seaway flooded the region, creating vast shale, chalk and coal beds in the Cretaceous as the Laramide orogeny began to form the Rocky Mountains. The Black Hills were uplifted in the early Cenozoic, followed by long-running periods of erosion, sediment deposition and volcanic ash fall, forming the Badlands and storing marine and mammal fossils. Much of the state's landscape was reworked during several phases of glaciation in the Pleistocene. South Dakota has extensive mineral resources in the Black Hills and some oil and gas extraction in the Williston Basin. The Homestake Mine, active until 2002, was a major gold mine that reached up to 8000 feet underground and is now used for dark matter and neutrino research.

The geology of Kentucky formed beginning more than one billion years ago, in the Proterozoic eon of the Precambrian. The oldest igneous and metamorphic crystalline basement rock is part of the Grenville Province, a small continent that collided with the early North American continent. The beginning of the Paleozoic is poorly attested and the oldest rocks in Kentucky, outcropping at the surface, are from the Ordovician. Throughout the Paleozoic, shallow seas covered the area, depositing marine sedimentary rocks such as limestone, dolomite and shale, as well as large numbers of fossils. By the Mississippian and the Pennsylvanian, massive coal swamps formed and generated the two large coal fields and the oil and gas which have played an important role in the state's economy. With interludes of terrestrial conditions, shallow marine conditions persisted throughout the Mesozoic and well into the Cenozoic. Unlike neighboring states, Kentucky was not significantly impacted by the Pleistocene glaciations. The state has extensive natural resources, including coal, oil and gas, sand, clay, fluorspar, limestone, dolomite and gravel. Kentucky is unique as the first state to be fully geologically mapped.


  1. "Law Document English View". Ontario.ca. 2014-07-24. Retrieved 2020-06-30.
  2. US EPA, OW (2014-03-10). "Mineral Mining and Processing Effluent Guidelines". US EPA. Retrieved 2020-06-30.
  3. Raymond Perrier: Les roches ornementales. Ternay (Edition Pro Roc) 2004, ISBN   2-9508992-6-9, p. 443–447.
  4. "BCMEMPR, BCMTH, and NRC. (1995). Reclamation and Environmental Protection Handbook for Sand, Gravel and Quarry Operations in British Columbia. British Columbia Ministry of Energy Mines and Petroleum Resources Ministry of Transportation and Highways Natural Resources Canada" (PDF).
  5. "American Canoe Association explanation of cold shock". Enter.net. Archived from the original on 2012-06-16. Retrieved 2012-05-14.
  6. "US Dept. of Labor list of mine related fatalities". Msha.gov. Archived from the original on 2012-03-09. Retrieved 2012-05-14.
  7. "on quarry drownings". Geology.com. 2007-11-03. Retrieved 2012-05-14.
  8. "Centennial Beach - History". www.centennialbeach.org. Retrieved 8 April 2020.
  9. "City of Coral Gables - Venetian Pool". www.coralgables.com. Retrieved 8 April 2020.
  10. Sievers, Michael (19 May 2017). "Sand quarry wetlands provide high-quality habitat for native amphibians". Web Ecology. 17 (1): 19–27. doi: 10.5194/we-17-19-2017 .

S.K Duggal "Building Materials" (2003) 3rd revised edition https://www.atlasobscura.com/categories/quarries