The 2003 Season at the Mt. Mica
---- September and October -----
12 cm quartz crystal with cookeite inclusions from pocket 11.
With the discovery of pocket 9 close on the heels of 8, Mary was beginning to feel a little left out of the proceedings as she continued to hold down the revenue generating side of the operation in Florida. Richard and I decided that it would be best to focus on the task of schist removal in the remaining 10 days before her next visit to Mt. Mica. To me, even the schist removal is an interesting chore. In fact, I believe this is a necessary attribute for successful pegmatite mining as it seems, at least in Maine, to be a substantial portion of the job. Pegmatites just seem to show a little ankle...the rest is modestly concealed by overburden. So for the next week or so we daily drilled holes up to 13' deep , blasted and hauled away the muck. By the time Mary arrived, we had removed almost all of the schist up to the western edge of the Plumbago workings. Click on the map for a more detailed view.
Once Mary was on the scene we began benching back the newly exposed pegmatite. As fate would have it this effort did not expose more than a few small vugs with some paltry quartz crystals. Mary spent quite a bit of time in pocket 9 making sure we had recovered every last grain of interest. Her digging produced about a dozen tabular quartz crystals that were ensconced behind some mica books in the rear of the pocket. Essentially though she left empty handed. However, she left us with instructions to mine behind and to either side of pocket 9 as a first priority. Sure enough, we found pocket 10 just to the left of 9 and slightly behind it. Perhaps a case could be made they were all one pocket.
Pocket 10, unlike 9, was to produce some more fluor-apatite crystals. In fact, 10 yielded an apatite that looked more like a coral than apatite. Richard immediately dubbed it 'dog bone' . The crystal is 15 cm long...fair size for an apatite. The crystal at one point had been attached to a mica book about midway along the 'prism' face of the crystal. Interestingly, the attachment points are more purple, like the typical Maine purple fluorapatite. Here Richard poses in front of Pocket 10. Pocket 9 is visible to the right.
Richard at pocket 10 September 23, 2003
Once 10 had been substantially cleaned out , we resummed benching along the eastern face of our workings and along the down dip southern face. The southern face below the plunge the pegmatite seems to be thinner at 5-6'. We have worked nearly 75' along this edge and we have yet to find anything larger than fists sized vugs in quartz. The pegmatite has all of the mineral constituents exhibited by the up dip side including abundant cleavelandite surrounding the small quartz pods but it fails to coalesce into a significant cavity. On the other hand, the central portion of the eastern face had been showing promise for the past several benches. It was gradually becoming more mineralized. The garnet line and cleavelandite were thickening and becoming surrounded by large mica books. Pendant schorls were radiating from the upper contact but the pegmatite had yet to produce a significant pocket. On Ocotober 2 this all changed when our blasting exposed numerous loose mica books. Following the mica trail back towards the working face we found an area of loose cleavelandite. Carefully washing through this material, we started to find large massses of cookeite. Imbedded in this cookeite were numerous very glassy and clear quartz crystals. Most were incrusted in cookeite and many incorporated this materiall within the prisms and terminations of the crystals. All of the loose cookeite was placed on a screen to be washed. I would dig it out by the handfuls and Richard would carefully examine it on the screen. In a small chamber we found 30 or more small completely encrusted crystals. These turned out to be fluorapatites with the carbano coating. The coating could be easily flaked off reveling green-blue apatite crystals beneath. We spent the better part of the daycombing through this loose material . Once we had cleaned in front of the face and retrieved as much as we could, we turned our attention to the face itself. We use a garden hose connected to our 2" gasoline pump and with it we are able to ' hydrauliclly ' mine as the jet from the hose exposes any soft areas in the rock. In such a manner we soon exposed two cavities in the face that then merged to form one large cavity.
From the roof of this cavity large quartz crystals hung termination down and almost touched the floor. This cavity, like the small chamber is front, was filled with cookeite and contained significant masses of kaolin as well. We would use our hose to washe out the kaloin and then pickup the loosened quartz crystals. While washing up into the roof of the chamber in an area we could not see, suddenly a mass of blue apatite fell from the roof and thudded audibly into the kaolin and mica below. Richard and I both were amazed. The group was slightly smaller than a 1/2 of a soda can and had landed terminations down. Looking carefully in the back of the pocket we could see more apatite groups lying amongst a profusion of loose mica.
Some of the crystals from pocket 11
Return to Home