Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Greetings from Weardale,

Yesterday was overcast and rather dark, with heavy clouds most of the day. Looked like it might pour down rain at any point but we got only a little at the mine. I understand things were different elsewhere in the dale and that Stanhope, just a couple kilometers away got a serious soaking. The clouds cleared away by sunset and this morning dawns clear and sunny. Another fine day to be underground!

Yesterday morning was spent helping Dave finish mucking and then timber the face. After spending a bit of time stabilizing the track on the landing there was, fortunately, no repeat of Monday’s “incident.” The rock at the face is about as highly altered as I have ever seen in the mine. Along with leading us to hope that we may be into another productive zone, the rock is very brecciated and difficult to drive tunnel in. Dave usually drills and shoots a 5to 6-foot round but the last blast appears to have actually pulled only 3 to 4. Despite this, we can now see what looks like a discrete alteration horizon wrapping all the way across the face. Fluorite continues to be present on the west side, and hopefully we are getting into another section of flats.

After bait (lunch) Cal, Ian and I were able to start digging and by end of day had recovered a few decent specimens and a bag of fragments and single crystals. Working back from the face, I managed to uncover a very nice plate of gemmy twinned crystals, perhaps 15 cm long. Unfortunately, it is on the bottom of a very large rock, which would be impossible for us to remove whole. I suspect that we will need to get the diamond chain saw in to remove it. Ian was digging at the west side of the face, where a couple thin seams of fluorite were showing after the last blast. Unfortunately, nothing of any real interest turned up, but perhaps we will need to dig a little further off the vein. Cal, working in between us had the best luck. The fluorite-bearing layer is up high on the west side of the tunnel requiring one to collect from a ladder. After following the seam upward for a couple hours, he had largely filled a plastic bag with numerous single crystals and fragments, as almost everything uncovered crumbled to bits when extracted. Toward the end of the day a fairly large plate emerged, which thankfully remained intact during extraction. Today’s photo is of it in place. As always, there is some damage to it but when trimmed I think we will have a nice piece. Hopefully there will be more at hand in the next few weeks we have to collect this season.

Time to get cleaned up and get out the door this morning so I can get covered in mud again.


Jesse & Crew

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