The Adelaide Emails, John Cornish in Australia – 1 of 5

The Adelaide Emails, John Cornish in Australia – 1 of 5

Orange crocoite is extremely delicate and fragile

John Cornish in the Adelaide mine. Photo courtesy of J. Cornish.

We’re excited to have access to a special series of blog posts coming up written by by John Cornish, Speaker at the 2017 Dallas Mineral Collecting Symposium, while on-site working the Adelaide mine extracting crocoites.

 

4/27/2014

I’m still down here in Tasmania, upside down and in the future. I’ve been here 3- weeks now (with another 3 to go), this is my 3rd year (!!!) working the Red River [crocoite] pocket for Adam and the boys. When I arrived, we were hot on the chase and collected (honestly) from 10 to 20 flats of specimens a day. Among the many treasures recovered during this time were 2 truly exceptional museum-sized and caliber plates, both about 14 x 20 inches and each coated with lustrous spiky forests of brilliant orange 3- inch crystals. Zero damage, pristine perfection, the mine and I at our best!

The Adelaide mine has exceptional crocoite crystal specimens

Spectacular pockets need special care to avoid damage. Photo courtesy of J. Cornish.

Since those fun, glory days, we’ve left crystal collecting behind. Four or 5 days ago everything turned a corner. The pocket completely changed its character. Where we had a very defined near-vertical feature heavily mineralized with crocoite, much of it in-place (there were several areas where the foot wall had collapsed that we’ve worked through coming to this point), now the structure is widening and the hanging wall, unable to support itself, is presenting areas of massive collapse. One block, from up high, partially peeled away and hanging, was dropped in a controlled fall several days ago. It’d be easy to estimate that the block weighed well over a thousand pounds. When it fell, it revealed another peeling block approx twice as large behind it and another about half the size above it. Before us, an even larger peeling block, 4 x 6 feet awaits. All are accidents waiting to happen and an immediate redefinition of our activities has resulted.

Currently, we are driving a raise behind the collapsed structures to come in behind them, allowing us the opportunity to remove these dangerous elements as safely as possible.

As ever, my collecting partner Bruce Stark continues to be the penultimate example of competency and insight and together, we are making solid careful progress. As we’ve driven the raise, like little bonuses, we encountered several black-oxide coated, crocoite crystal pockets in the hard Tasmanian mother-rock. From these, several flats of specimens have been collected. The crystals here are quite typical one pocket to another and are extremely needle-thin and up to two inches in length. Where exposed, as hoped for and expected, they are fiery-orange colored and lustrous. Currently, another of these style pockets is exposed. It is directly overhead and appears to be about three feet long, though its true dimensions are as yet unrealized. I had hoped that we’d be into the main structure by now, but with the black coating before me, always associated with periphery halo pocketing around the main structure, it appears we’ve a bit further yet to dig. Once this pocket is defined and collected, we’ll be back to the dirty business of driving our raise.

Ah, the sweet romance of mining!

We’ll be updating more of John’s adventures in crocoite mining. Love what you read? Join us later this summer for the Dallas Mineral Collecting Symposium to hear John tell his stories in person, and catch Part 2 of 5 of his e-mails in our next blog entry!

 

Mine shafts can be dangerous, but those in the pursuit of crystals delight in the thrill of the hunt.

Underground shot in the Adelaide mine, Tasmania, Australia. Photo courtesy of J. Cornish.