Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Greetings from Weardale.

Yesterday turned out to be one of those wonderful (and rare) days here in the North Pennines where the sun came out and stayed out for much of the day, and the breeze was just strong enough to keep the midges away without cooling things off too much. As if to keep nature in balance, this morning it is raining.

Despite the nice weather, everyone spent much of the day yesterday mucking about underground. With thought of trying to get at the remains of the Rat Tail pocket, I had Brian start mucking out the mess I created last week in my collecting frenzy. There’s a lot of crystals and bits in the muck, so he did manage to get a few hours of sunshine while screening the muck for them out on the landing.

The crushed zone up front is actually beginning to give us some fairly intact plates of nicely colored, lustrous fluorite, so much of the day’s efforts were spent up there. There are actually three alcoves along the west side of the tunnel that Byron has excavated since we encountered the zone last summer. Byron has been working in the latest one, closest to the face while Greg has been mucking and washing down the one just back from Byron. Close to the tunnel, almost all the fluorite from this zone has been crushed up by movements along a fracture zone that follows the main vein. As Byron has been digging westward away from the tunnel the degree of damage appears to be lessening, and we are now getting some fairly nice plates of dark, lustrous fluorite crystals. While most still show damage, many look as though we will be able to trim some nice pieces out of them. Frustratingly, we are still finding most of the larger crystals detached from the matrix and loose in the mud. Hopefully, this will change as we dig further away from the fracture zone. By the end of the day, we had several large fluorite plates out, along with a number of smaller pieces and at least a dozen large single gemmy twinned crystals. Today’s photo is of a few specimens basking in the afternoon sunlight.

If production from this zone keeps up, in a few days we will need to fire up the chainsaw and have a day of trimming. The saw sprays a good bit of water about when in operation, so it is always nice to do this on a warm day. The weather report is predicting sun and 18C on Thursday, so hopefully this will be the day for it.

Shanade and boyfriend Tom showed up late morning to do some specimen washing, and by day’s end had worked through much of the accumulated backlog of specimens. I guess this means that I now need to order a load of blue bins from our supplier and get to work packing the stuff for shipment home. Now that we are past the holiday weekend, contacting suppliers and placing orders for various necessary items has advanced to the top of the “to do” list.

Until next time,

Jesse & Byron

A few new bits seeing the first light of day.

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