Thursday, July 12, 2012

Greetings from Weardale.

Well, surprise, surprise – I see some sun out there this morning, and a few patches of blue sky. Certainly haven’t seen much of that since returning to Weardale. There’s even a breeze, so maybe we will get a bit of drying out today. The past few days have been heavily overcast, with occasional rain, but fortunately, none of the torrential downpours that have turned the quarry into a swamp. The water level has slowly been receding and as of yesterday it was again below the level of our road to the mine. Our waterfalls, however, are still flowing with run-off from the moors above the quarry.

The biggest news of the past two days is that, after clearing the muck out of our new cross-cut from last Friday’s blast, we discovered one of our infamous mud-filled and fluorite lined seams heading to the north. Ian and I spent much of Tuesday washing and scraping mud out of the seam, and trying to dislodge some surrounding rock to get better access to it. The mud has a leather-like consistency and is almost impervious to spraying water, so must be carefully scraped out, while washing in order to see when crystals may emerge. Needless to say, no matter how many layers of gloves and water-proof jackets one wears, after several hours of this we were both thoroughly soaked and covered with mud. The result, however (the subject of today’s photo) was the beginnings of a sizeable fluorite lined cavity with crystals up to an estimated 3 inches/7.5 cm. As an added attraction, the cavity appears not to have collapsed leaving the fluorite relative free of damage. The down side to this is that the large plate that we can now see is firmly attached to a larger and very solid rock in the roof of the cavity. We still have no idea just how large the cavity may actually be, and will need to do some serious excavation around it in order to get better access.

Cal had joined us in the cross-cut during the afternoon and set to work in the south side in an area that had previously yielded some nice things. Though fluorite is showing there, nothing of any note turned up, and we will likely need to do another small blast there to open it up some more. Thrilled with our discovery, we decided to call it quits for the day around 1800, before hypothermia set in.

Yesterday, we returned with the thought of lowering the alcove floor in front of our newly discovered cavity, which would give us better access to the pocket. There is a thin alteration zone below the pocket, but this quickly gives way to hard dark limestone. Though somewhat fractured, it quickly became obvious that moving much of this stuff by hand would be a slow and difficult, if not impossible job. Dave was finishing the next round of drill holes at the main face in preparation for another blast, so we decided to put a few holes into the floor below the pocket zone in the cross-cut and shoot it as well.

The main face was fired before bait, and with the help of our newly upgraded ventilation system, we were able to get back in after about an hour. The shot went as planned leaving a pile of broken rock in the tunnel but all timbering intact. A quick inspection of the exposed portion of the face gave no sign that we have yet exposed any new pockets, and the pocket high up in the left corner appears to be pinching out. More will be known after the place is mucked out and timbered, allowing us a closer inspection.

Late afternoon I packed the exposed cavity full of newspaper and carpet scraps for protection against any flying rock. The holes in the floor were then loaded and shot. Doing something like this around a good pocket is always a nerve-wracking experience, but Dave thinks he can do it safely, and he’s the expert at this. We will find out this morning when we go back.

Stay tuned for more…


Jesse, Ian, Cal & Kerith

The new pocket in situ.

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