You probably don’t have a great deal of attention that you can devote to learning about sand and gravel. However, a quick study of sand and gravel can reveal a lot about the subject.
Sand and gravel deposits come from river channels, river flood plains, and glacial deposits. All fifty states in the United States produce sand and gravel, where more than a billion tons are produced every year. The US has extensive, quality deposits of sand and gravel, along with the technology that allows it to process the material into nearly any quality for nearly any application.
As one of the most accessible natural resources, sand and gravel has been used since the earliest days of civilization mostly as a construction material. At the beginning of the 20th century, the U.S. production of construction sand and gravel was relatively small and its uses limited. Today, annual sand and gravel production tonnage ranks second in the non-fuel minerals industry after crushed stone.
The Shelly Company, one of Ohio’s leading sand and gravel producers, predominantly sells material to the construction industry. Construction sand and gravel is used to make concrete, for road construction, for mixing with asphalt, as construction fill, and in the production of construction materials like concrete blocks, bricks, and pipes. Sand and gravel can also used to make roofing shingles; on icy roads in the winter for enhanced traction; as landscape material; on driveways or parking lots; and also for water filtration.
Sand itself comes in various sizes of grain. It is used for everyday purposes and comes from many sources. Sand from the beach comes in very fine grains and is used in playgrounds, volleyball courts, golf course bunkers and sandboxes. It can also be used in sandbags or to line the floors of arenas and other surfaces. Sand is mostly quartz, formed by weathering of igneous rocks like granite. Quartz is ground down, but it doesn’t break down chemically. After a while, all that’s left are the tiny grains that are deposited in riverbeds and beaches.
The United States is, in general, self-sufficient in sand and gravel, producing enough to meet all domestic needs. While the United States exports sand and gravel all over the world, it also receives imports from Canada, the Bahamas, Mexico, and other nations. Worldwide, the leading nations in the sand and gravel processing industry include the US, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, India, Spain, Sweden, and South Africa.