Xiao Ping, Lauren, and Anthony investigate a small
molybdenum deposit mined by locals many years ago.
Xiao bóshì (Dr. Xiao) - our hosting
professor at the China University of Geosciences. He and I don't
work together anymore because we have very different goals in the field
- he's primarily focused on basic grass-roots exploration and
consulting, whereas I'm only focused in trying to carefully document
the geology of ore deposits and deduce the processes that form them so
we can better explore for new deposits - but he's still a good guy.
Waste rock pile at one of the mines we visited with
Molybdenum country in Hénán Province
Low-temperature magnesian skarn veins in dolomitic marble
Onlookers observing Americans - probably the first
they've ever seen in their entire lives.
A small headframe for a shaft into one of the
One of the larger mines that we visited.
Molybdenum mining in Hénán is done on a different scale
than I'm used to here in the U.S., but they get the job done!
Another observing onlooker.
Old, abandoned barracks at one of the mines.
Decent porphyry! I was worried we wouldn't find any
as we were whisked from place to place, but I found this in outcrop
along one of our marches. The holes are where
hydrothermally-altered feldspars have been weathered out. The
gray blobs are quartz phenocrysts. That's Lauren's finger for
One finds cute dogs all over the world and
Hénán was no exception!
Miarolitic cavity in one of the granites we
visited. Miarolitic cavities are holes that form during the very
last stages of crystallization of a magma. As minerals
crystallize from a magma, there is excess water and CO2
collectively called "volatiles" - that become concentrated in the
residual liquid magma. Those volatiles can form pockets of liquid
within the main body of crystals plus magma. After the igneous
rock is completely hardened, the pockets of volatiles remain as little
caves that can be exposed by weathering or mining.
Underground at one of the small molybdenum mines.
It was strange wearing shorts underground, but going underground wasn't
in the original plan that day. When working in China, one must be
extremely flexible because the plan rarely coincides with what one will
actually get to do.
Lauren and Anthony underground at one of the molybdenum
Ore carts in the mine were pushed by hand - just like
mining in the old days!
After blasting, molybdenite ore was loaded by hand into
the ore carts using a scoop like this one. Loading a few hundred
scoops of rock every day would sure build muscle!
Chinese miners wisely "barring down."
Barring down is a procedure practiced by miners everywhere in the
world. Miners poke at the rock with the long pole and listen to
the sound. Tight "tinking" sounds indicate solid, secure
rock. Hollower "thock" sounds indicate a fracture in the rock
that could potentially result in a rock fall. Barring down is the
practice of testing the rock, then prying down any loose, fracture rock
so it does not fall on you while you're working.
Lauren and Anthony working underground
At the portal to one of the mines - Anthony, Lauren,
Xiao Ping, and another Chinese student
Another cute puppy at one of the mines.
These sticks have nothing to do with mining, but we
encountered them while visiting one of the sites. The sticks have
been drilled out with rows of holes in which ear fungus is cultivated