Getting the stone out. How a travertine quarry operates.

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Ok folks, here is a blow by blow explanation as to how travertine is quarried. We begin with the quarry walls as you can see in these pictures. This particular quarry has 2 levels. The lower level is a beige travertine, while the upper level is a light travertine.

Upper level light

Inside quarry

Great, now we know what the inside of a travertine quarry looks like, but how do they actually get this out? Good question. Essentially, what they do is from the top of the quarry level a few meters back, they drill down to the bottom. From the front of the wall, at the bottom, they drill towards the back. The intention is that these two holes meet at the back bottom. From there, they insert a diamond cable and attach it to their saw.

Diamond cable cutter.

Close up diamond cable cutter

Notice below the lines in the stone. This is where the diamond cable has cut through. Once cut loose from the wall a backhoe will be used to fall the rock from the face of the quarry. The second photo below shows a freshly fallen block.

So from here, the fallen blocks are cut down with the diamond cable cutter again into sizes that can be managed by a tractor to haul them up to the storage area or the cutter. The storage area holds many blocks that are all catalogued by the expected color they will produce. Because, however, this is a natural stone, you don’t actually know what you are going to get until it is cut.

Block storage

For heavy machinery fans, the saws that cut the blocks down to size are pretty much awesome. Water splashing everywhere, super loud, and just generally fantastic. These things do some pretty heavy duty cutting throughout the days.

Block cutter

At the end, what you are left with are rough cut raw slabs. The size of the rough cut varies depending on the size of tile it may be suitable to manufacture from it. They come out in 3cm thickness which is then split in half creating 2 tiles from one rough slab. See the rough cut chunks below. More on the manufacturing process, including video of all the machines later from Rob.

Rough cut slabs.

Ok that is all the education from me today. After dinner, a post about travel and personal interest from today.

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Marc McPherson