Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Greetings from Weardale,

The Northern summer continues. Yesterday morning we arrived at the quarry in the rain, as has become typical here this month. By mid day the clouds had broken and the wind was up, which helped to begin drying everything out. The wind is still up and the sun out this morning, so hopefully we will be able to park our cars in the quarry today without fear of them sinking into the mud.

Yesterday morning Dave, Joe and Andrew came in and got the tunnel mucked and some more timber installed in the recently blasted alcove on the pocket zone. Dave has a bike race in Belgium coming up next weekend and has developed a fairly serious case of tunnel vision on preparations, so after securing the blast area we sent him off to obsess over his bike while we obsess over the pocket.

After examining the results of the latest shot and doing a bit of poking around in the alcove we came to the conclusion that the fluorite seam is trending northward and is largely high up in the ceiling of the alcove. Above this is a layer of rock that appears to be held in place by large amounts of mud, creating difficult collecting conditions. Having water available for washing mud out of the pocket while collecting is crucial to getting specimens out with minimal damage, but applying water could also dangerously loosen the rocks in the ceiling. In light of this, it looks like we will need to shift collecting down the tunnel and begin a new cross cut into the pocket zone next season.

During the morning Cal entertained a couple visitors who stopped by to purchase some specimens and pick around on the mine dump. Ian was first up into the mine and started in at the new exposure we have found near the main face. So far, this spot had not given us any really good specimens but upon my arrival, I found a pretty nice bit that Ian had just recovered. Over the next few hours we were able to recover at least two excellent pieces and a number of others that when trimmed should yield some good pieces. The pocket is, as before, high up toward the ceiling of the tunnel and collecting, for the most part, must be done from a ladder. By mid-afternoon we had extended the excavation to the limits of anyone’s reach, so we decided to carry our take out and set up the saw. About this time a group from the Cumbria Mines Research Group led by Pete Blezard arrived for a look around. Pete has long been active in the local mining community and has been a good source of needed items such as light gauge rail and parts for our drills. Ian and I continued with the saw while Cal did the tour.

Cal had to leave early to return a rental car to the Newcastle airport, so Ian and I carried down out day’s take, set specimens to soak over night and closed up the mine. The sun was out so we were treated to a rare sunset here in the dale this summer.

Ship-out is scheduled for tomorrow so today will be spent washing and packing the last of the season’s specimens. If the weather holds maybe we’ll have a chance of them drying a bit before we need to pack them away. Don’t want moldy specimens when they arrive back home.

Today’s photo is of the good one we recovered on Saturday after a bit of a scrub.


Jesse & Crew

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