Cochise College             Student Papers in Geology     
Geology Home Page                     physical geology  historical geology  planetary  gems
Roger Weller, geology instructor       

Granite Quarries
Shayna Redwine
Physical Geology
Spring 2006

Granite Quarries

          Granite quarry is a pit or some open excavation from which granite is obtained. To get granite from a quarry a digging, cutting or blasting process is used. This process of removing the stone is called quarrying. Once quarrying is done, the processing of granite starts. There are four steps to granite processing which include dressing, cutting, surface sanding, and edge cutting. Once the processing is over, the granite is ready for further use.

          These uses include countertops, flooring, furniture, monuments and steps. Because granite is both pretty and durable it is a popular choice in construction. Although not easy to obtain itís worth the work that goes into it because of the popularity of the stone. 

          There are very few quarries that have have mining machinery, such as compressors and drilling machines for drilling and blasting, cranes for lifting big blocks, and dampers and trucks for transport. Hence the mining and processing of the granite is done manually. Even the drilling and channeling are done by hand chisels and hammers. Thatís the current scoop on granite quarries, now lets take a look at the past.

Side shot of a granite quarry in India

A top shot of a granite quarry in Barre, VT


          The first granite quarries on record started in the Urr Valley. During the last ice age the Valley was widened and over-deepened by glaciers, leaving a series of cliffs exposed. This left large granite blocks of excellent quality exposed and open for the taking. Before granite quarrying, Field stone was used to construct buildings but in the late 1700ís granite started taking over for more than just farming uses. Field stone is very hard and difficult to work with but for some reason the people who farmed the Urr Valley never wanted to use the granite. Many historians and archaeologists have searched and researched and questioned why that is, and after much dedication and time I have discovered the answer. The natives of the valley felt that the granite cliffs were a gift from the heavens and in order to use them they had to properly thank the gods for them. They couldnít just start chopping the rocks all up without paying proper respects, so they waited and tithed and sacrificed animals and virgins and offered up many prayers before they actually started mining the rocks. The name Quarry actually comes from one of the Urr Valley gods and the mines are called that in honor of his presence on so many of the granite mining expeditions.


Quarry, the god of granite, honored in stone


          Granite has come a long way since its humble beginnings of being materials for farms. Itís now in every suburb house and in ever cemetery worth its beans. The stone that started in a valley is now truly used in ways that honor the powers that gave it to the human race. Like fire, granite is a gift from the gods.