|Mining Operations at Mount Mica & Orchard Pit Mines, Oxford County, Maine.|
Coromoto Minerals Mining
Operations at Mount Mica,
July, August, September 2007 ,Page 2
Mary stands inside pocket 6 of 2007
As described on the prior page, we had finally opened the pocket (MMP6-07) we had been chasing for some time and it appeared to be a significant one. Our first examination revealed a clevealandite hash filled with rusty pieces of quartz, lepidolite and a few small tourmalines scatted here and there. I stuck in a chisel just to probe texture and depth. There was no resistance. This portended lots of digging ahead. We next used a garden hose to wash away some of the loose debris to see if we could not produce a 'Kodak moment'...or actually a 'Sony moment'. (Times change.) We hold in high regard the first emergence of some pocket treasure, big or small, that had been hidden from view since its creation more than 300 million years ago. Getting a record of its 'coming out' with a minimum of disturbance is important to us. As we washed, more quartz crystal faces began to emerge. With them some large tourmalines were also surfacing. It seems we had penetrated the pocket from the side and near the bottom. Our first careful digging and washing was revealing a layer of pocket material over a meter thick. The layer was so tall and looming that we were beginning to be concerned about a sudden collapse of the contents. We were not under the material, but, as we had a relatively confined access to the pocket, we might have issues getting out of the way. Unlike some other pockets, this one's contents were not held together by pocket clays. 6-07 pocket was different from others we had opened in another way. The roof of the pocket consisted of an arched dome of loose mica books. Occasionally we would open a pocket that had a few mica books protruding into the pocket but still firmly embedded in the roof. In this case the mica was completely loose...like cards. Nothing appeared to be supporting the mica other than the interlocking arch they formed. The arrangement reminded me of the Pantheon in Rome. Only the opening to the sky was missing. No further excavation of the pocket could be safely considered without removing them. Using a hoe, I tapped carefully on the central books. Suddenly, with a rush, all of the mica dropped from the ceiling and flowed through the access hole we had made.
Once we had tidied up after the mica event, we started exploring the pocket in earnest. Our main digging tool was a gentle jet from the garden hose. Working this jet across the exposed material produced a cascade of small gemmy green tourmalines that ended in a dune at the bottom of the pocket. All of this material was scooped up and taken to the screening table. We could see that the crystals , though small, were unusually gemmy. So too was the quartz. Apparently our ill considered blast had picked up the entire contents of the pocket an rattled it. Some of the resultant broken quartz appeared to be made of ice it was so clear. Perhaps the conditions that favored the purity of the quartz were also responsible for the gemminess of the tourmalines. At this point in the proceedings, respect for harmony required us to lay down our tools and wait 24 hours for Mary to arrive. After all she had sent us off in this direction in the first place. It was tough to look but not touch.
The look on Mary's face when she first saw the pocket was worth the wait and 24 hours of clamped legs . We she first laid eyes it she the 'Christmas morning' look lit up all over here face. However, before she was allowed to commence her own exploration, she was required to stand for the photo opportunities. Here she poses inside the pocket.
Over the next several days a continuous flow of material came out of the pocket generating nearly 4 Kg of small gem tourmalines. There were a few larger ones but these failed to achieve much translucency much less gemminess. Nevertheless, the amount of 'revenue rock' was considerable.
As shown in this photo taken just before we opened pocket 6, the trend of the mineralization is clearing evident descending from upper right to lower left. Expanding the working face to the left we encountered more 'soft spots' as we drilled. It is rare that one can find a tiny space or crack that is seemingly insignificant but will yield with hand tools to expose a significant pocket. After the first careful blast of the expansion, a tiny vug revealed itself. This is not unusual. The vast majority of these vugs end with one or two chisel strokes. This one, on the other hand, continued to develop with each careful hit. Eventually it was large enough to peer inside...like looking through a keyhole. What treasures might lay in wait? Was the space small or just the beginning of some yawning cavern?
As it developed this space was neither the cavern or the walnut but a decent sized space of perhaps .5 cubic meters ( 5 gallons +). When we reached around to the right we could feel a decent sized crystal. We have learned to detect a good tourmaline just by the Braille method. If the striations are detectable by touch and the crystal feels slippery, the odds are very good it is a worthy piece. The piece we could touch fit the requirements. So after urging Richard to cross his fingers and say a brief prayer to the Rock Gods, I prepared to bring the crystal to the 'light of day' (Hamlin's words) or at least to the electric light. One never really knows whether such a piece will be an also ran or less or the crystal that makes the season. In this case it proved to be neither. The 8cm crystal is depicted to the left. This pocket produced several nice smaller crystals and the 2nd occurrence we have made of a color combination as depicted in Hamlin's 1895 book 'The History of Mount Mica'. This is an abrupt change from red to green oriented along the C axis. This is different from 'watermelon' wherein the orientation is radial about the C axis and grades from green to white and finally red progressing towards the center of the crystal. As it turns out our previous find of this combination was just down dip from this pocket on the other side of the pillar we were leaving.
With this latest find we were convinced that the direction in which we were mining, that is, just down dip and parallel to the upper water filled pit, was a good choice. The abundance of feldspar with the characterisitc 'zebra' striped texture hinted at more finds to come.