A quarry rock splitter does exactly what it sounds like: split or separate blocks of rough stone from a quarry mass, using a jackhammer and wedges. It is a highly specialized job that is only done in stone quarries, which are a type of open-pit mine from which rock and minerals are extracted for use as building materials. For many people the idea of a rock quarry and someone breaking stone brings up visions of the cartoon character Fred Flintstone, who famously worked at Slate Construction. The cartoon made many references to the process of splitting quarry rock, often reflected through names such as Barney Rubble, Mr. Slate, movie star Rock Quarry, and the town of Bedrock itself.
The real-life job is not significantly different from the cartoon version, although equipment and technology is changing the way a Quarry Rock Splitter does the job. With the increasing popularity of stone kitchen countertops and stone flooring and the demand for aggregate, the job retains importance. Stones such as granite, limestone, marble, slate, and sandstone are extracted, and concrete and aggregate building materials are manufactured from the materials remaining after large pieces are removed. Construction quarries exist all over the world, and there are many historic quarry sites that have existed for centuries. Environmentalists have led the movement to reclaim exhausted quarries, and these are often restored. The beautiful Butchart Gardens in Victoria, B.C., Canada is an example of a quarry that has been transformed into a massive garden and tourist attraction.