Thursday, June 20, 2013

Greetings from Weardale.

The weather yesterday was about as good as it gets here in the North Pennines, sunny, light breeze and temperatures up to 20C/68F. This morning begins much the same, but according to the BBC forecast, rain is headed our way by tomorrow. Nothing lasts forever. The week of warm weather has encouraged our wild orchids in the quarry to finally come up, albeit about a month later than normal. Today’s photo is of one of the new arrivals.

Tuesday morning Dave was finally able to secure some replacement seals for one of the jack legs, and after a bit of tinkering had it ready for action once again. Before drilling the face in the new crosscut for another blast, Dave and Joe needed to do a bit more mucking, mostly to clean up the mess Cal, Ian and I had made while collecting there. That accomplished, Dave got to drilling in the afternoon, and quickly discovered that the ground heading east in our new crosscut is getting “rather shitty” to use his words. Having discovered a brecciated, mud-filled zone during our attempt to drive an eastward crosscut last summer, this was not a total surprise. It did mean, however, that the 4-foot drill holes we were planning on wouldn’t hold and Dave was forced to drill shorter ones. Despite these problems, he had the face drilled by the end of the day and the shot was fired. We are so far from the mine entrance now that one must listen carefully to hear it, anymore.

Since discovering the current productive zone of flats a couple years back we have found ourselves driving tunnel directly through the flats rather than along the vein, as we normally try to do. Around the point we discovered the new section of flats, we also passed through a section of wet, broken ground, which to me suggests that we may have crossed a small fault. Offset of the ground along a fault could explain why we suddenly find ourselves no longer tunneling on the vein, and by driving a crosscut to the east we are hoping to find the vein again. When we started an eastward crosscut last summer, this was what we were planning to do. Unfortunately, we did not timber the crosscut and over winter the mud and rock from the shitty zone collapsed and flowed out into the main drift, effectively sealing up our new tunnel. We normally drill crosscuts narrow enough that we don’t need to timber them, but once into the mucky zone we will likely need to do so in order to avoid having it come down on us again.

Back at the mine yesterday morning, Dave quickly had the muck from the blast cleared out, and the three of us spent the afternoon trying to collect. The fluorite seam is still present high up on the face of the crosscut, but perhaps because of the increasingly broken up ground we are heading into, everything is broken into small bits. After about five hours of moving rock and washing out mud, we had accumulated only one tub of small specimens and crystals – not much to show for the day’s work. And most of then were pretty dinged up. It sure was pleasant walking out of the mine to a warm sunny afternoon after getting totally muddy and wet, however!

The third section of the large fluorite-covered rock we discovered on the south wall of the crosscut last week remains in place. Despite spending some time looking for the back edge of it yesterday, it remains firmly attached to the surrounding rock. The quality of the fluorite on it is not nearly what we had when we found The Giant last summer, so no one is advocating trying to get it out in one piece. Today we are planning to have Dave drill some holes in the rock behind the fluorite so we can break it out with feather and wedge sets. That’s the plan, at any rate.

Stay tuned for more…

Cheers, Jesse, Ian, Cal and Kerith

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Hello All,

Today was the warmest day of the year, so far, just absolutely brilliant with the odd cloud in our blue skies and temperatures topping out near 70 with the lightest of breezes.

Tuesday's blast went off without a hitch so Dave and Joe set to hand mucking the new cross-cut which we hope to turn into a place to park another tub and put in a set of points there before we continue going forward on the face. The blast did not damage or even budge the big fluorite covered block but pulled about 3 feet below the zone. While it was being mucked out Jesse, Ian and myself set to with the Bosch drill putting in five holes in a block of rock with a 5 inch patch on fluorite on a 200 pound block of limestone. This worked to our satisfaction but it is obvious that we need a set of feathers and wedges between these small ones and the big guys we have. Once the crosscut was finished mucking Jesse and Ian set to working the zone while I cleaned up our drill, which somehow had contracted a large layer of mud all over it. I joined them about 12:30 and got in and started working some of the rock when our waterline sprung a leak, at which point we decided to break for lunch and repair the line later.

After lunch Jesse fixed the waterline and the three of us set to working the zone. A very slow and frustrating zone. 5 hours of work and we had filled just one tub with specimens of indeterminate quality. Dave and Joe did maintenance on the Eimco and finished a new set of timber topping for the bogey wagon.

That's all from the North. Cal & Kerith, Jesse & Ian

Wild orchid blooming in the quarry, about a month late this year.

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