Friday, August 7, 2009

Greetings from Weardale,

Yesterday was yet another near-perfect day, weather-wise, here in Weardale. Rain was forecast for overnight but does not appear to have reached into the upper dale. This morning dawned with heavy overcast, but this appears to be breaking and some blue sky can currently be seen. There is absolutely no breeze, however, meaning that the midges are massing for an assault.

Yesterday at the mine Dave and Joe spent the day cleaning up at the face and installing another timber set. After finishing the timbering, Dave spent the afternoon raising and leveling a section of track at the face. While doing this sort of work, Dave needs the floor of the tunnel relatively free of ponded water so Byron was exiled from collecting in the pocket nearby.

During the morning, Jurgen, Robert and I got into manual labor mode and mucked out the Northwest Cross Cut. The Vein Pocket, which takes of from this tunnel appears pretty much done as far as collecting, so hopefully we can get one more round of drilling and blasting done hear before we shut down for the summer. Hope is that there may be more flats out to the west of the vein, but we won’t know for sure until we get there.

After lunch, we tried to find a place for Jurgen and Robert to do some collecting, and settled on our old playground the Black Sheep Pocket. Though there is some good fluorite showing in the back of the Rat Hole, the roof of the zone still looks rather dangerous so everyone opted to leave it be until we can stabilize it some more. There still remains a good bit of material in the Black Sheep, but the host rock is so hard and silicified that it requires the diamond chain saw to remove anything of any size. Regardless, Jurgen and Robert, hammers and chisels at hand, wanted to have a go at trying to collect some of the remaining fluorite. After some thumping and swearing, I think it became obvious to them just why we had not yet collected the entire pocket. To their credit, however, they persevered and by the end of the day they had recovered a few good specimens along with a thorough coating of mud. Today’s photo is of Jurgen showing off one of his finds as well a bit of our famous mud.

Cal spent the afternoon wrapping and binning specimens, and we are now up to three full pallets of our blue bins. Though we still have a couple weeks here before closing for the season, it is highly doubtful that we will come close to last year’s volume, which was five full pallets. A bit disappointing, but it only goes to show just how remarkable the Jewel Box and Blue Bell pockets were, both in terms of quality and quantity of specimens produced. We can only hope we find more like them.

Today Dave will drill and blast the main face again. The layer of alteration at the face increased in size after the last blast and is now showing some fluorite so we are hopeful that more will soon be at hand. Shanade will be in to wash up the week’s accumulation of specimens so we will have a start on pallet number four. Hopefully the breeze will pick up a bit and blow the midges away.

Until next time,

Jesse & Crew

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