Sunday, August 15, 2010
The weather here for the past few days has been cold and rainy. Friday was a particularly miserable day with almost constant downpour. Yesterday evening the skies cleared up for the first sunset weíve seen in a while, and this morning I can see patches of blue sky out the cottage window.
After clearing the debris from the last blast at the main face late last week, a good degree of mineralization was still showing, but still no signs of any green fluorite-producing flats. We had Dave begin another cross-cut heading east at the face, but after one shot it was obvious that we were headed for nothing more than unaltered limestone. As a result, weíve decided to use our remaining powder for one final round at the main face during the coming week.
Cal spent a good bit of time collecting a small pocket he found in the West Cross Cut on Thursday and Friday. The pocket is located near the beginning of the old Rat Hole pocket, which we dug in 2007. Collecting was rather difficult as this new pocket dives into the floor between two large columns of rock, and much of the collecting had to be done through a pool of accumulated water and mud. Despite all, Cal along with Ianís help managed to recover a number of decent quality specimens. I spent much of Friday attempting to get caught up on washing specimens prior to packing. This being done in almost continual rain.
On Wednesday we had the idea to rent a portable electric hammer-drill from a local tool hire company and see if we could effectively use it to drill smaller diameter holes in our rock, allowing us to use lighter charges for more delicate blasting (if such a thing is possible). On Thursday Ian and I had a go at a frozen pocket of purple fluorites that was exposed along the main tunnel a few years ago. The drill did a good job and was able to give us relatively decent holes within a couple minutes each. Actually shooting the rock without destroying the pocket was a bit more problematic. We managed to extract part of it in a relatively intact condition, but a large part was incased deeply in the solid wall rock, and had we tried to break the rock with explosives, we likely would have destroyed it.
After a group conference on the subject, we decided that sawing out the remaining pocket was the only real option. This would involve bring the diesel-powered hydraulic unit underground, so it was decided to do it on Saturday when Dave was off. Fortunately, we were able to park the unit near the junction of the east and west tunnels toward the mine entrance where air circulation is fairly good. Aside from the smelly diesel fumes, using the saw in the confines of a small tunnel is very messy as the user is subjected to a constant back-spray of muddy water. The saw is also rather heavy, and holding it in place, often at an odd angle, and pushing into the rock while being showered by cold muddy water is an almost indescribable experience. Regardless, after about four hours of mutual effort, we had the remains of the pocket removed relatively intact. Todayís photo is of Cal and Ian posing with some of the results.
The clock is ticking for our closedown and shipping out late next week, so we will likely go in to the mine for a few hours today to continue with wrapping and packing specimens. This afternoon we are having an informal gathering of friends next door at the Blue Bell to have a pint in Byronís memory. Scott has laid in a supply of Allendale Wolf, which was Byronís favorite local beer, so hopefully we will see most of our local friends.
Until next time,
Jesse and crew
Cal and Ian show off some finds.