Evironmental Effects of Rock Quarries

Written by michaelyn erickson
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Evironmental Effects of Rock Quarries
Though quarries are temporary, they can have great impact upon the immediate environment. (Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Today, scientists and miners must work together to develop a low impact way of rock quarrying. A quarry is a pit mine from which large chunks of stone are broken, crushed and hauled away. Usually, a quarry is used for a temporary amount of time after which the pit is allowed to fill with groundwater and the area is restored to provide wildlife habitat and natural recreation.

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Rock quarrying has a significant effect on many landscapes. According to Good Quarry, the effects of mining are assessed before a quarry site is decided upon. The removal of some landscape items such as trees, slopes and vegetation can have a cascading effect on the surrounding landscape. If too much is removed without restoration, the surrounding soil and bedrock will erode. Erosion can lead to depressions in the earth called sinkholes, typical of limestone quarries.

Ecological and Biological Effect

The main negative ecological and biological effect of rock quarrying is the loss of habitat and the species that inhabited it. Not only through direct removal are habitats affected but they can be altered or destroyed by excess dust, water runoff, soil erosion and noise caused by quarries. Proper assessment of quarry sites reduce or eliminate the effect on habitat. Appropriate restoration of the quarry site after the mining is complete can actually help to restore or create habitat.

Geologic Effect

Sometimes the geologic effect of quarrying can be quite informative. Usually humans can only see layers of geologic history in areas that have been naturally eroded by water or wind. At a quarry where stone is cut from the ground, geologists are able to study layers exposed by the mining. If miners work in conjunction with scientists and communities, the geologic effects of quarrying can be useful. When restoring these sights, the geologic information procured is kept in mind so it may benefit generations in the future.

Air and Noise

Second to the visual effect rock quarrying has on the environment however temporary; the most complained about consequence is noise according to Good Quarry. Blasting is a common technique used by miners to loosen stone for quarrying. Blasting involves the use of heavy explosives and has drastic impacts on the immediate environment. The noise and vibration is annoying to human residents in the area and can be detrimental to wildlife. Blasting also releases a lot of dust and fumes into the air, which adds to air pollution and settles on the surrounding area.

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