The 2001 Season at the Orchard Mine
Large Beryl in Matrix, Orchard Pit Headwall August 13,2001
The apatite pocket was definitely the high point of August. The pocket was found on the footwall just below and in front of a section of schist that claimed yet another 8' drill steel. While drilling holes to 10' to remove more of the schist zenolith above the lower course of pegmatite, we drilled into a mud seam. This material was like no other mud we have struggled with before. The first time we hit this stuff ,with much effort and invective, we were able to extract our steel and continue the hole after flushing with large quantities of water. Stepping over to drive another hole we again struck this stuff at about 7.5'. The mud was able to penetrate the hollow central core of the steel all the way into the air hammer the moment the air supply was cutoff. With the aide of a home-grown collaring tool and a car jack we were able to jack out the drill steel the first time we were stuck. The 2nd time however the mud won. After the shot we were able to see this stuff. Hanging from the exposed face was jet black mud of the consistency of Jell-O. I pulled out a couple of handfuls squeezing it through my fingers. I could feel nothing in but I was amazed to see how it stained my hands coal black. Although I was aware of the association of manganese mud and apatites, I dismissed it. The Orchard has produced a few apatites in the past but never in any quantity. In the photo the manganese mud area can be seen in the center.
The next day was devoted to R&R and a little Oxford County pegmatite history. Duddy Groves, the operator with his wife Mary, of Poland Mining Camps, called me and invited me to visit his mines. Duddy has been a feature of the Maine mining scene for a lot of years. Having mined for Plumbago Mining (Newry, Mt Mica and Sweden fame) and the operator of several historic localities, Duddy is an irreplaceable repository of Oxford County mining history and a delightful commentator on the Maine mining scene. Basically Duddy is a 'I calls 'em as I sees 'em fellow'. Our first stop, on what was to be a day long tour, was Duddy's mines, the Pulsifer, Keith, Wade and the 'Hole in theGround'. Each of these mines is a chapter in Maine mining history with the royal purple apatites from the Pulsifer being perhaps the highlight. Standing in the Wade (or maybe the Keith), Duddy pointed to a corner of the ledge. Over there Frank Perham and I operated the 'Destitute Mining Company', the 80+ year old Duddy laughed. In seems Frank's dad,Stanley, felt the area looked promising and bankrolled the young Duddy and younger Frank to the tune of $100. Stanley's judgement proved correct as they hit a pocket of blue tourmalines. Although I was in awe to stand in the very places that many famous mineral specimens had been found, Duddy's little aside was the high point for me of the trip to his mines.
Next, Duddy and I visited the Orchard. Following that we visited the GE mines. Duddy had never seen the GE mines. He was most impressed by the least worked of the (3) 80 year old cuts, the central pit. While at the Orchard, I described our bout with the black mud. 'OH, you are going to find apatites there', he said. That sounded okay to me.
The other major feature of this latest round of activity was the frequency of encountering large beryls. The mining by this group from '98-2000 found few large beryls. However, large blue and green beryls were a hallmark of the Orchard during the early years of mining. The large beryls seem to be on the bottom of the coarser zone in the pegmatite. As we wrapped up work on the 18th, it seemed as if the quartz pods were becoming larger and somewhat more smoky. In addition to the beryl, these pods contained small well formed schorl crystals and walnut sized columbites in smoky quartz.
Fluorapatites on albites and quartz crystals 10cm
Note 1: For a proper description of this alternate pegmatite forming theory see 'The Application of Experimental Petrology to the Genesis and Crystallization of Granitic Pegmatites' by David London in 'The Canadian Mineralogist' Volume 30 1992.
Go To Sept-Oct ; More apatites
and some golden beryl
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