We will be taking you briefly through a Travertine Quarry near Rome Italy.
One of the most attractive qualities of stone is that it is not manufactured like a tile, it is cut and finished only as nature has already created it, the limits to the manufacturer are based upon their techniques used to cut and finish, the color, veining and other attributes are already in the stone through millions of years development.
As an extreme over-simplification:
The process of bringing marble slabs and tiles to your home is to locate a mountain which has rock in it that meets certain criteria for color and density, bring in cutting drilling and carting equipment.
Remove large blocks form the mountain and send to a fabricator to have sliced into thin slabs, finish the surface (Polish, Hone, Chisel or another method) then cut into the finished size, box and ship.
This photo shows a view inside a quarry.
The cutting equipment in this quarry works by drilling holes into the mountain which intersect, running a cutting cable through the holes and feeding the cable like a bicycle chain into the equipment, which will pull the cable until it has worn away all the stone and comes free leaving a standing block.
This photo shows after the cutting process is done a block about ten stories high is purposely sent crashing down to allow fractures in the stone to break it up into smaller moveable pieces.
The operation of taking the smaller blocks away for shipment to the fabricating facility.
The block storage area at the fabrication facility. Out of one quarry comes many color ranges and qualities of stone, each are graded and marked awaiting their turn to be fabricated based upon current demand for the stone.
The operation of cutting the blocks into slabs at this quarry is much like slicing a loaf of bread, the block is placed on a steady platform and multiple cutting heads are slowly worked into the block with plenty of water cooling and lubricating the process until the cutting heads have come all the way through the stone.
Slabs after cutting are honed as their finished surface.
Slabs awaiting shipment to the customer.
Many more processes can take place based on the stone and the final customers requirements.
On a large project it would also not be unusual for a building owner, contractor or architect to go to the quarry and select blocks and colors for their project.
In some cases the building might require a matched application, meaning they want "sequential placement of the stones" to match up the veins or colors as they are naturally occurring to be placed next to one another or on top of one another. This requires careful supervision and marking of each slab as they are fabricated so when they arrive to the job they are ready for the final fabrication process.