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Geology/Mining Question

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by SnowCal, Jan 29, 2014.

  1. SnowCal

    SnowCal

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    This is Off Topic, amirite?

    I'm gonna gloss over some personal details and not explain what I was doing here (my business was legit) but I recently discovered a small mining operation that I'm unsure about. Access to the mine was very primitive. You follow a very marginal and steep trail. To get to the trail in the first place you have to scramble up a very nasty cliff. A rope would help but I think they didn't have one there for security purposes. There were ropes elsewhere on the trail to help with cliff climbing. You eventually get to the mine and it's about 8 guys working there. You climb down a shaft and then it kinda goes horizontal.

    The people there told me they were mining quartz (like I said, I had legit reason to be at their mine). They even gave me a little hunk of quartz. So quartz is definitely present. But I'm not dumb enough to believe that they're going to all this effort for quartz. Quartz is cheap.

    I'd love to know what they were actually digging for. The location was on the wall of a west coast glacial valley. The area has no history of precious metals that I'm aware of but there was a lot of coal nearby (at lower elevations). I can't figure out what these guys were digging for. Can TalkBass?
  2. elgecko

    elgecko

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    Unless it was a gem quality quartz like amethyst, they were probably mining for gold, which is often associated with quartz intrusions.
  3. SnowCal

    SnowCal

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    I've heard quartz and gold often go together, but like I said this area has no history of gold finds.
  4. NWB

    NWB

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    It's very hard to see how that operation could be economically viable. Moving metal ore out of such a remote location would be extremely difficult without some sort of tram system. It would likely be something that could be mined directly rather than an ore that would need processing.

    Some form of valuable gem is about all I can come up with. Really big quartz crystals can fetch decent prices.

    Was this in Washington?
  5. elgecko

    elgecko

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    That just means gold hasn't been found YET! ;)

    They could have been looking for "pretty" quartz. Here are some examples:

    [​IMG]
    plain old quartz

    [​IMG]
    rutilated quartz

    [​IMG]
    smokey quartz

    [​IMG]
    citrine

    [​IMG]
    rose quartz
  6. NWB

    NWB

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    I very much doubt gold. Hard rock mining of gold means loads of ore that needs to be mined and moved in significant quantities to a processing plant.

    "Free" gold is typically found in placer deposits of lower-lying areas.
  7. SnowCal

    SnowCal

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    How'd you guess?
  8. iamlowsound

    iamlowsound

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    Could legitimately be quartz, it is used in a lot electronics.

    lowsound
  9. NWB

    NWB

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    I'm a geologist in Washington. West coast glacial valley and foothills coal mining sort of gave it away.

    If the coal mines are currently operating, then you'd have been in the Central Cascades to the east of Centralia. The glacial valley would likely be carved out of older Cascade volcanic rocks. Likely andesite. That andesite may be intruded by various smaller stocks, dikes, and sills of granodiorite, diorite, or similar rocks.
  10. NWB

    NWB

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    For electronics use, it would be far cheaper to just either excavate quartz-rich sand or mine some quartzite on a larger scale.
  11. SnowCal

    SnowCal

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    Shoot. You're close but I threw you off with coal mining. This was actually in east King County.

    Now I feel dumb of course. They probably were mining quartz, like they said they were. Now I know that some quartz can actually be valuable.
  12. NWB

    NWB

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    They were likely working in the Snoqualmie Batholith or its host rocks. I have a very hard time coming up with anything economically valuable enough to support an eight-man mining operation in a remote location of that district.

    The lowland coal mining in the county mostly ended a long time ago, although some limited mining has occurred around Black Diamond recently.
  13. MJ5150

    MJ5150 Terrific Twister Supporting Member

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    I think they are looking for this:

    [​IMG]

    -Mike
  14. NWB

    NWB

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    No need to feel dumb. It was a very legitimate question.

    I think we usually associate mining with known valuable minerals like gold, silver, and diamonds. Big quartz crytals can be valuable to collectors, though it's not viewed as being so valuable by the general non-collecting public.
  15. elgecko

    elgecko

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  16. SnowCal

    SnowCal

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    Are you on fire or what? North Bend area.

    FWIW, both my grandpa and great-grandpa were coal miners. My grandpa for just a few years. That's obviously a big piece of PNW history.
  17. SnowCal

    SnowCal

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    I'm not sure what that is, but whatever it is it's the best for metal.
  18. NWB

    NWB

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    I hate driving that road up the Middle Fork. About a gazillion potholes. Some nice country up that way, but that road is just too much for me.

    My grandpa mined gold up in BC during the Fraser River gold rush.
  19. MJ5150

    MJ5150 Terrific Twister Supporting Member

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    It's the Matrix of Leadership, from the Transformers.

    -Mike
  20. SnowCal

    SnowCal

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    I thought metal bands were anarcho-syndicalists and didn't have leaders?

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