What is Cantera

    The word Cantera comes from the Spanish word for quarry and refers to the stone workers industry in Mexico. Cantera is the generic word used for “quarry stone”. Although other stones tend to distinguish themselves by using their proper names such as Travertine, Marble and Limestone.  Cantera generally refers to the welded volcanic tuffs and breccia’s prevalent to the “trans-Mexico” volcanic belt in Central Mexico.
    Cantera Stone is a strong and versatile material and an ideal medium from which experienced stone carvers can create custom works of art. It is a natural volcanic quarried stone that is porous and lightweight. It has long been used as a building material because of its natural beauty, color, texture and workability. Many ancient buildings and monuments around the world were created using this stone and the techniques for carving it have not changed much over the years.
     Limestone is a sedimentary stone composed primarily of calcium carbonate ( CaCo3). It is formed through chemical precipitation in oceans and large lake environments over vast areas. Limestone is generally more consistent in color and lacks the layering and veining seen in travertine but can accumulate shells and fossils.
     Travertine is another sedimentary stone composed primarily of calcium carbonate but differs from limestone in that it is deposited by natural springs in a terrestrial environment. There are 2 types of travertines relevant to the stone carving industry, those deposited in hot water environments and those deposited in cold water environments. The ambient water travertine is a less dense, softer and very porous stone known as tufa. Organic organisms often colonize the surface of travertine while it is forming and the acidity from these decaying organisms is what gives travertine its distinctive porosity.
     Travertine deposited in environments that were so hot as to be devoid of microbes, formed stone that is characterized by low porosity and well developed lamination, often with perpendicular crystallization, this is known as calcareous cinter.
     Porphyry ( for our purposes ) is mainly used as an adoquin or paver for driveways and streets. It is characterized by its distinctive large crystals in a matrix of small almost invisible crystals formed in a two stage cooling process associated with magma rising to the surface. Known for its super hardness and distinctive reds and purples with gold and green hues this stone can last for thousands of years as attested to by the many roman streets still in use today. Typically these cobbles are guillotine split and have a rough irregular square shape. An experienced installer can sand set these in a myriad of different patterns and designs.


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