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Exploring the quarry

Exploring the quarry

On Monday, some of the TSIMS students were treated to a trip to Whatley Quarry, situated deep in the Mendip Hills. Here they experienced a fully working limestone quarry. The students were split into two groups; one group, the Boomstackers, remained at the Earth Science Centre, where they investigated the properties and uses of nine very different types of rock. The students were keen to discover the different qualities, such as permeability, hardness and if the rock could float. Meanwhile, the second group, The Crushers, headed down towards the village of Mells to see how close the village actually was to the quarry.

Most of the students were amazed at how well hidden the quarry was from the outside; they discovered how the screen bank does not just stop the visual aspect of the quarry but it also dampens the sound of it.

They then toured the actual quarry, visiting the crusher and control room. They observed how the rocks were broken up and then sorted into different stock piles for use all around the United Kingdom, including Heathrow terminal 5.
Additionally, we were fortunate to see one of the quarry trains leaving, showing how the rock is mainly transported around the country. We also heard the crusher in action and saw a dumper truck full of rocks being emptied.
The students were all made aware of how much Hanson does to try to lessen the damage done to nature, with the systems in place to reduce the noise, dust and pollution.

“It was cool that they are looking after everything around the quarry as well” – Alice Kirscher.

The students also learnt much about the history of the quarry. They were very surprised that the mine originally opened in 1880. Back then the limestone was mined by hand and pulled by horse and cart from the quarry. This is quite a contrast to the fully mechanised quarry of today.

“I wouldn’t have been able to move any of that rock” – Alexey Krivorotov.

Finally, we finished off the day with a look at how quarries are developed after being used a quarry. We learnt how Whatley quarry would, eventually be turned into a nature reserve, flooding the quarry hole and creating grassland around it.

The quarry trip was an excellent insight to how we all rely heavily on places like Whatley Quarry to provide roads, power stations, airports and even toothpaste.

Samuel Morris, TSIMS GRA