Saturday, July 19, 2014

Good Morning from Weardale.

Yesterday the skies clouded over, and though rain appeared to be on the way, little actually came our way. This morning the sky is similarly dark, but the ground outside is dry, suggesting that we received little or no rain overnight, either.

Thursday at the mine turned out to be one of the best collecting days we have had in quite a while here this summer. At the end of day on Wednesday we made a small blast in the floor at the head of last yearís Bluebirds Pocket to improve access to the area. Amazingly, it did exactly what we wanted and broke away a good bit of rock below the fluorite-coated wall at the head of the tunnel without actually damaging any of the fluorite. Though the working space was still fairly tight, Ian and Scott managed to get out several good pieces by lunchtime. Examining the area afterward, I think it is pretty much finished, now.

Cal and I started in on the patch of alteration showing on the left (north) side of the main face. First order of business was to install a temporary support under a large rock hanging in the ceiling directly behind the area of interest. After applying our admittedly limited carpentry skills to the task, we took turns at the exposure. It appears to be a developing section of flats, about 3-4 meters north of the end of the Bluebirds Pocket, and contains copious amounts of mud. Mixed in with the mud was the occasional fluorite specimen, which kept Cal digging away in the mud.

Around 1330 Ian and Scott decided to call it quits in the Bluebirds Pocket and lunch break was called. As I had not yet had a turn in the pocket, I stuck around for a bit, and after a bit of washing and scraping of mud, specimens started to flow out. By the time the rest of the crew returned from their break I had managed to find two fairly large fluorite-covered plates and a fair number of smaller specimens (along with the numerous and ever-present single crystals and bits). Loaded down with my take, I went down for my lunch and let the others have a turn at it. By the end of the day we had enough new material to fill all 18 of our soaking tubs. I sure hope we have a few more days like this before we close up!

So far, the fluorite crystals from this new pocket have been fairly small, but they are very gemmy and lustrous, and make pretty specimens. Todayís photo is of several of the dayís specimens after their demudding. The specimen on the left was collected from the Bluebirds Pocket while the rest are from the new pocket.

Scott left for London that evening, so yesterday it was just the three of us at the mine. Thursdayís digging had created an incipient tunnel, which was already becoming restricted, so first order of business was another small blast to open up the area. I made a trip to our store while Cal and Ian got out the chain saw and cut up the larger bits that have been accumulating over the past few days. The shot went off as planned and, thanks to having recently extended the ventilation ducting to near the face, the air was cleared well enough to allow us access after lunch.

The blast had taken out the timber support that Cal and I had installed the previous day, but otherwise had done what we hoped for. Fortunately, the dodgy roof rock had not moved and the timber support was quickly reinstalled. After mucking away the debris from the shot, we found ourselves faced with a truly huge mass of mud filling the pocket zone. Rather than try to wash it all out, which would have created a real muddy mess, I decided to try and dig it out, into a plastic tub, and then dump it to the side. Much of my afternoon was spent hacking at the mud and then shoveling it into the tub. Ian took a turn at it as well, and we managed to get a good bit of it out. When it came to Calís turn, he insisted on using water as he was much more interested in hunting for specimens than just digging mud. Canít blame him, really, as itís much more fun. By the end of the day he had recovered another couple tubs of specimens to ad to out take from the new pocket.

Today is Kerithís birthday so Cal is taking her to Corbridge to visit some fairly nice antique shops. Ian and I will be back at the pocket to try our luck once more. Weíll all rendezvous this evening for dinner at the Black Bull in Frosterley, where Iíll find out if we need to get Roger to fashion a custom-made shipping box for any new furniture that may have been acquired.

Stay tuned for more.

Cheers, Jesse, Ian, Cal & Kerith

Some bits from the new pocket.

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