15 April 2016

Colonnata: a large collapse in a Carrara marble quarry in Italy

Posted by dr-dave

Colonnata: a large collapse in a Carrara marble quarry in Italy

Yesterday a substantial collapse and rockfall occurred in a Carrara marble at Colonnata, Tuscany in Italy, killing two workers and injuring another.  The ANSA news agency has a brief report:

Firefighters were searching for two quarry workers missing on Thursday after a wall of rock at a quarry in the Apuan Alps collapsed. A third quarryman who was reportedly left hanging by a rope in the quarry in Tuscany’s Colonnata basin was rescued and taken to hospital. Another worker was taken to the quarry’s own first aid centre after feeling ill due to shock.

In this age of global news, the Shanghai Daily has the most detailed report that I can find in English.

The accident happened in a large quarry in the Apuan Alps, a mountain range in Tuscany region which contains immense deposits of marble, named “marble of Carrara” after the name of a nearby city, and considered as one of the most precious marbles in the world.  According to first reconstructions, the three men were on top of a mountain to check the marble cutting when a wall of rock, almost 2,000 tons of marble, suddenly crumbled, and two of them who were not wearing a harness fell down for about 30 meters along with their cutting machine.  The two quarrymen, aged 55 and 46, were reportedly buried by marble slabs and other debris.

The Corriere Fiorentino site has a gallery of images of the rockfall at Colonnata, including this overview of the deposit:

Colonnata

The rockfall deposit at Colonnata via Corriere Fiorentino

.

Colonnata

A close up of the rockfall at Colonnata, via Corriere Fiorentino

.

Paolo Forlin, who leads the amazing ArMedEa project, pointed out this tragic accident to me.  He also highlighted an extraordinary short film about the abseilers who enable the quarrying operations for Carrara marble.  The film is in Italian but there are English subtitles.  With a bit of luck you should be able to view this below (apologies for the advert – I cannot avoid this):

.

Carrara marble is a prized stone worldwide.  Michalangelo carved his famous sculpture of David in Carrara marble, and buildings constructed from it include the Pantheon in Rome, the Marble Arch in London, the Harvard Medical School buildings and Oslo Opera House.  I suspect that few people realise the human cost of this most beautiful rock.