Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Good Morning from Weardale.

The weather here in Weardale has been rather changeable the past few days – I think the local weather-speak for this is “unsettled.” Sometimes sun, sometimes clouds, sometimes wind, sometimes rain. Fortunately, the rain has been overnight for the most part, and the high temperatures of last week have not returned.

Things at the mine have been rather changeable so far, as well. After taking the first day off from the mine in around two weeks on Sunday, we were back at it on Monday – except for Ian who, along with Di had gone to Newcastle to visit a former work colleague. During the morning I helped Cal with sawing up a number of large bits that had accumulated at the mine portal, and then got to helping Dave and Joe finish mucking out the final debris from the Friday’s blast at the pocket zone. That finished, Dave then installed some temporary timbering to secure the ceiling over the cavity, while Cal and I looked on, collecting tools and water at the ready.

The timbering was complete around 1600, which gave us a little bit of time to shift rock and mud in search of anything new that may have been exposed. While sifting through the muck after the blast, Cal had turned up several nice fluorite plates that had survived the explosives, and it looked as if they were coming from a mudded zone at the right of the cavity. After a bit of washing and digging it became apparent that there was, indeed, an extension of the pocket in this direction. By quitting time we had exposed a small zone with three discrete layers of fluorite, and had recovered some nice specimens. The fluorite crystals from the zone tend to be small, but they are very lustrous and transparent, with almost no cloudy patches. Today’s photo is of the pocket zone as it appeared about the time we headed out.

Yesterday morning, first thing on the agenda was to assemble a pallet of binned fluorite for shipping home. We normally do this in a storage shed at the timber yard, next door in the quarry. Each summer they close for a two-week holiday around this time, so we made arrangements with the owner to get this done before everyone is away. That done, Cal and I headed for the newly exposed pocket to have at it again. Ian arrived back at the mine early afternoon, and got a turn at collecting, but it quickly became obvious that the pocket was a small one. By the end of the day it had pinched down and we were scratching at the back for the last bits. All together, I think we got about 10 tubs of specimens out of the zone. Most should be quite pretty when cleaned and trimmed, but unless we find another pocket in the few remaining weeks, the summer’s take will be fairly meager this year.

With that in mind, first order of business today will be to have Dave drill and shoot the pocket zone once again. There is still a lot of alteration showing at the north end of it, but the few specimens we managed to get from it in the past few days have been rather aesthetically challenged, so time to move forward. We do have a fair backlog of specimens now that need to be washed, dried, and packed for shipping, and that will likely occupy a good bit of our time today, while Dave gets ready for the next blast.

Stay tuned for more.

Cheers, Jesse, Ian, Cal & Kerith

A small but nice pocket.

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