A quarry is a place where natural stone is extracted to create dimensional stone or building stone. It also contains rocks, sand and minerals which are extracted. A quarry is also a type of mine that is commonly known as an open pit mine due to it being open to the Earth’s surface.
Quarrying in Ancient Times
Quarrying in the UK for stone has been documented since the 14th century but probably dates back long before that.
Egyptians and Rome Quarries
The ancient Egyptians would have built the great pyramids from tons of stone and limestone from nearby quarries. Whilst in ancient Rome they would send slaves and criminals to extract and cut through the massive blocks of stone in the limestone quarries resulting in many deaths from the difficult labour and heat.
In ancient times extracting stone and minerals would take much longer than what it takes us nowadays. The earliest quarries would have been mined by home crafted tools such as chisels, hammers and picks made from metals and stone that they would have previously pulled from the quarry.
The stone was dragged out of the quarries manually by using rope and moveable sleds made out of wood. This system would have needed thousands of slaves, who would have been sentenced to their death by pulling all day every day until they collapsed and died.
Modern Day Quarrying
Workers in today’s quarries use mechanical tools to mine the quarries which takes away most of the hard work and gruelling conditions. Specialists drilling equipment has been provided as well as blasting tools and hauling equipment. Diamonds are used on tips of industrial drills to cut through the hard rocks. Miners will use blasting equipment to blast through most rocks to get to the minerals and rock that they need. Once all the rock is ready to be shipped away, trucks will come to pick it up. These trucks will be large and are able to take away up to 350 tons of minerals and stone.
Life After the Quarries
Many quarries are now abandoned but push out the chance for any life to thrive there due to not having enough soil to allow life to thrive. Some Quarries fill up with water which in time, creates beautiful artificial lakes, also known as reservoirs. The lakes can appear clear and deep allowing it to be a safe swimming area that pulls in lots of people as well as birds and other water life. However some quarries that have filled with water can be unsafe due to mining equipment left on the bottom that causes toxic materials to enter the water, as well as long weeds that swimmers can get easily tangled in.