I just started a survival world to test out a type of mining called quarry mining. For those of you that don't know what quarry mining is it is when you dig a big hole straight down and use lots of vines and ladders. My hole is in a snow biome, is 19 blocks deep, 8 blocks wide, and 8 blocks deep. Unfortunately I have only found 18 coal, 10 iron, and I haven't found a single cave. When I normally mine I use staircase mining which seems to help bring in much more resources and entrances to many more caves than quarry mining. So what I want to know is if I just got really unlucky and quarry mining is better or if staircase mining is better. Thanks for the help!
Staircase mining is more effective than quarry mining. Since mining a 2 wide staircase shaft, each block you mine reveals 3 new blocks, and on discovering a mineral you branch out to clear the vein. With quarry mining in most cases you just reveal 1 unseen block, the one below you, which makes it very inefficient.
More effective even than a staircase shaft would be branch mining: you mine long tunnels of 1x2 next to each other with 2 solid blocks in between them. You can stack them on top of each other too, again with 2 solid blocks in between. This reveals the most blocks in a solid mass (all of them) with the least of digging, so the chance of finding something is greater.
There are even more effective ways of mining if you use mods. I am currently playing FTB Unleashed, a mod pack. It includes some completely automated options that require a little or more work to set up first, but which save time in the end. Some of these options are:
Quarry mining is only efficient in a multi-player server, when it overrules strip mining, due to everyone being able to do something at the same time, while strip mining is more effective for the single person. If you are working on an SP world, I would say go for strip mining, as it is faster. As an elaboration on my first point, when many people are working on a single strip mine, it is harder to organize, and the amount of people in one space is limited, since overlap causes unproductive. When in a large quarry, everyone can be mining at one time, and less organisation is needed, therefore giving it a higher productivity. Strip mining will always be the "faster" choice, though.