The 2000 Season at the Orchard Mine
June 2000 Pockets
I tried to stay focused on my day job, developing medical instrumentation, but the Jovian pull of the yet to be discovered beryl pockets tugged hard on me. On June 3 we got back to work at the Orchard Mine. Doug had spent the two prior days pumping the pit and when I arrived that Saturday afternoon only 2 more hours of pumping were required. The pit had been left fairly empty of debris after the work in May so we were able to get right to the task at hand that afternoon. A minor amount of chipping on a smoky quartz plate opened up yet another pocket. As is the frequent pattern, a large parallel growth smoky quartz crystal plate was sentry into the vug. This one was of unusual size and gemminess for the Orchard Mine. Great care was expended in its extraction but these brittle forms resist removal intact.
Once the smoky was removed we could see that the entire top of the pocket
was covered in a quartz crystal druse. A large green beryl had become so encrusted
upon one side that it resembled a porcupine. This crystal came out whole
complete with its bristling quartzes. The bottom of this pocket was covered
with a albite/quartz cyrstal plate. Lifting this piece revealed a large
bi-color beryl with a gemmy complex termination. After washing the pocket,
we were able to photograph this piece in its original position. Unfortunately
this chamber of the pocket yielded little else in the way of gem or specimen.
Work continued in this area of the pit. Another small slice was taken off the pocket zone. This opened a pocket about 3’ off of the floor. Our neighbors mining the Bennett mine were invited down into the pit to have a go at removing a pocket beryl. Missy and Dennis Holden both joined us. Dennis was reluctant to remove anything from the pocket but Missy boldly plunged her hand into the opening. Instantly she removed a complex terminated golden beryl on a microcline crystal accented with protruding quartzes. The microcline was of an unusual glassy luster without the normal etching.
|While we were all admiring her find, Doug stuck his 'pickers' in. Loosening
an albite plate, he removed what is arguably
the best specimen to come from the Orchard so far. Two bi-color beryls
with gem terminations were perched proudly on an albite plate. The small
crowd in the pit was for a brief moment dumb struck. Next came a torrent
of admiring expletives. Maybe this was not the 'kaleidosope', but
we would take it.
At this point we had sectioned off about as much as we could without
going to the top of the 40’ headwall and benching down again. This was
a 4 day process to drill, blast and clean up.
Finally our efforts eventually yielded about another 4’ of workable zone at the bottom. Whereas before the pocket zone was tucked under an overhanging schist block, now the zone and it’s productive seam were emerging into the main body of the pegmatite. It was becoming decidedly more stingy as well. We did find a few pockets but their productivity both in crystals and gems was declining. As time ran out in this episode we were down to scratching at walnut sized vugs.
What next? I worry that with the disappearance of the schist features
within the body of the pegmatite that the frequency of pockets will decline.
We have 150’ of virgin territory ahead up strike. This part of the pegmatite
needs only time, money and sweat to expose. I
wonder though about the large pocket zone in the floor of the pit behind
us. These pockets were etched yielding only beryl casts with a few crumbs
and bertrandites. Yet I can’t help but wonder whether deeper down within
their course or trapped under the hanging wall side there might indeed
be some untapped treasure. The Orchard has shown its potential to the surprise
of everyone. Before going ahead yet one more time we will attempt to go
Go to diagrams of the pocket zone
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