Sunday, June 21, 2015

Greetings from Weardale.

The weather continues much as it has been here in Weardale – cool and heavy clouds, but only a little rain. The strong winds of a few days ago have died down a bit and yesterday it was still and quite humid for much of the day. Fortunately, the clouds cleared late afternoon and gave us one of those long, lingering northern evenings. This morning we are back to the usual overcast and cool breeze. Happy Summer Solstice!

The past two days have been largely spent collecting and processing specimens. The section of flats we opened up earlier in the week has been remarkably productive, and we have recovered a good amount of material. As always, mostly wholesale, but the roof layer in the cavity has given up a few real mice pieces, as well. In order to prevent a logjam of specimens, we have been splitting our time between collecting, washing, and packing our finds, and now have enough binned up to assemble our first pallet for shipment home.

Yesterday we had a group of visitors from the British Gemological Association, who made the trip up from London the evening before. All seemed quite keen to get suited up and have at getting wet and muddy in the mine. With extra hands available, Cal scooped up a couple buckets of pocket debris and took it outside to be washed and screened for small crystals, and by mid afternoon we had a fair sized bag of them. Cal, along with a couple of our visitors spent several hours working at the pocket, while I packed another shipping bin with specimens. With the tables in our storage container cleared of specimens, I then had at scrubbing the material that had been left soaking over night, and filled the tables again. Today’s photo is of the day’s batch of specimens, scrubbed and sitting outside to dry. Given the humidity and lack of breeze, I think drying was something that really wasn’t in the cards that day.

Finished with the specimen washing, I went up to the face with Cal mid afternoon to have a look at a rather large rock that was in the roof of the cavity zone. After some washing we came to the conclusion that the underside had enough fluorite on it to merit salvaging, and after a bit of effort with some long bars, it came out and dropped onto some padding we had placed below it. The remaining roof was starting to show some serious cracks by this time, so we decided to get the large bit out of the way and call it a day, least we have a bunch of large rocks come down on us. The fluorite-coated rock likely weighs over 100 kilos, so getting it out of the mine will wait until we can drive it out with the loco.

Friday afternoon we picked up the new battery of the loco, and got it installed yesterday morning. I put the loco on the charger for much of the day, and gave it a bit of a spin around the mine just before locking up for the day. The thing seems much more peppy now, so hopefully we have solved the problem without having to spend a huge amount to replace the whole battery set. I guess we’ll know for sure the next time I need to haul out a full tub of rock and mud. With the roof of the pocket zone becoming dangerously unstable, I suspect this will happen soon.

After washing off some of the day’s mud, we all headed to the Black Bull in Frosterley for supper, and then treated our visitors to a Saturday evening pub crawl in the thriving metropolis of St John’s Chapel.


Cheers, Jesse, Ian, Cal & Kerith

The day's finds washed and drying.

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