30 January…Up the canyon we branch off, find a dirty limestone outcrop. Layers harden up. Eventually the rock rings like iron when we hammer at it. Effervesces when acid is dropped on it even when somewhat silicified. J… says it has good potential for deposits by hydrothermal fluids because it’s so permeable.
On the slope it is warm, almost perfect, with a sea breeze chilly moving up the canyon. Later, I regret wearing shorts and a short-sleeved top under my fleece vest. Stick to sunny spots on the canyon floor, but the spur canyons are in shadow and I suffer for my ignorance. J… notes our last position with the GPS and reads its time because his watch has stopped.
Metamorphic rocks tower around us like a forest, almost vertical, covered by thick layers of debris eroded from the tops. The canyon floor is either rounded black masses of limestone or conglomerate formed of large chunks of metamorphic rock. There is lots of shine in this arroyo. Flakes of mica gather under every rock and once I find schist with gilding like a molten surface. J… says it’s the effect of micas aligning.
In the light, under the hand lens, everything looks gold, like sulfides…
J… reading books and maps at night always refreshing himself about possibilities, the way things are formed, what a visual finding of one thing can indicate or suggest.
In the afternoon in new areas, new rocks, I saturate with information, can’t take in any more, aware of myself standing, eyes moving nervously, trying to see something that adds to the picture.
At night, I bathe my feet rubbing them with talcum powder. Every night I pick sticky plant particles off my socks and pants.
31 January…Arroyo Vulcan y Zambros…Each day different. Starts with promise. Disappointment grows if little of interest appears. J… acknowledges that months can go by and a large crew of prospectors and geologists may discover nothing.
How do you maintain morale? I ask. If you keep an interest in the rocks, he replies, then morale is not a problem.
Like a suction dredge, the wind extracts physical energy. Concentration is difficult to maintain.
At night, we discuss the rocks that we encountered, the terrain that we covered during the day, what potential there might be, seeking answers to questions that rise like heat waves from the rocks.
Water is reserved for coffee and drinking. Hair, body, clothes feel dirtier and dirtier. Nights are long and silent. The hammers hold up, the land echoes their ring against the rocks….
NEXT WEEK: The Art of Prospecting: A Long Walk Over Uneven Ground…Choosing the Rock to Break
Does change occur without force? Without pressure does anything or anyone alter, react, change direction, form or substance? Without force all might be static, staid, in stasis.
Time is a force. Time moves. Counted, it passes. It takes time to form.
Force is a feeling. “The force…” is within you. In the realm of emotion, love and anger are forces. Emotion becomes motion. Motion is energy. The energy of passion is a force that creates actions. There is no action without energy and so without force.
Force is generated by need or desire, by intent. How much force is necessary to satisfy the cells?
Water flowing knows not its destination; its destiny is the crack, the easiest way.
NEXT WEEK: The Art of Prospecting: A Long Walk over Uneven Ground...Vignette V
Fractures cracks crevasses shear cuts movement along a line in one direction. Altering the body. One part goes this way, the other another. Breakdown begins or continues. A weakness is a way through. Into these cracks fluids seep from a source under the surface. All under pressure. Under the surface, on the surface, high temperatures force the flow, too.
Along the fault line change occurs. The parent rock is altered. At the surface, change is artificial. Exposed to atmosphere and sunlight the skin develops wrinkles. Sometimes change comes from within: the desiccation of drinking too much gin.
How long does change last? Interminably. Permanently. The slow insidious seep of time. Nothing stays perfect forever.
The most interesting rocks appear at the fault lines. Gold, precious metals. Crystals form in pockets, vugs, cavities. New material obscures the country rock, replaces it, saturates it. Changes it inevitably and irreversibly.
A fault is a scar, a blemish with a memory: the pain of the fall, of the fracture. Inherent is the recognition that after nothing will be the same.
Where does the other concept of fault, that of “finding fault” or “It’s your fault that…”, of “fault-free”, of “Whose fault is this?” come from? Associations with responsibility, error, inducing guilt. Why think of it in these terms? To make someone responsible, feel pain that the action is wrong, that nothing will be the same?
Finding fault instead is finding the flow, the place where gems and crystals form, minerals deposit, the desirable forms and materials reside. Perfection that without fault arises from fault. The most interesting rocks are associated with faulting. The great pressures and temperatures associated with faults create the desirable. In faults lie the secrets. In faults is the movement. Within faults new encounters occur. Without fault, without faults, without faulting, nothing changes.
Perfection is not necessary. The anomaly, the disparity, the unexpected outcome, the shaking up and repositioning, these all generate the new possibilities. Faults allow new substances to mingle with old. Faults allow the present to encounter the past.
NEXT WEEK: The Art of Prospecting: A Long Walk Over Uneven Ground…Force
26 January… Itchy scalp, long fingernails…Only two weeks into the trip but already she protests internally, longing for cleanliness. Sea water very cold…went prospecting instead. She follows at a safe distance out of range of flying rock shards, always keeping J… in sight.
Heading back she lugs in a heavy plastic grocery bag in which she intended to carry firewood a heavy black nodule with bubbly surface. Is it magnetite? Romaneschite? Pyrolusite? Uraninite? Arsenic? In each there seems to be some merit, some property relevant to the botryoidal specimen in the bag. Eventually, after careful study of both rock ID books and making a sooty brown-black streak on the porcelain streak plate, J…concludes that it’s manganese. His memory of experience is as authoritative a tool of mineral identification as any source.
What do you want to see more than anything, she asks. An epithermal deposit in mudstone, he says. She wants to find ropy silver…
28 January…They sit atop a cliff that borders the northern sea of Cortez watching as a pod of porpoises pass undulating into and out of sight. J… records rock samples: one rock with flagging tag number into the bag, a corresponding notation in the field notebook with a brief description of the rock beside its number. A witness rock from the same sample is marked using a felt pen and tossed into another rice bag. The lab will destroy the sample in the process of analysis; the witness rock becomes a document supporting the lab results.
Under the Lens…Manganese Nodule
In your center it is said there is a shark’s tooth around which you formed a deposit ringing it with silica.
You are so heavy I can hardly lift you to the lens.
Your surface is the blackest black, but within you created a circle of opaque opaline silica. Embedded in the blackness are rubies. Your center is an aureole, a swirling vortex, a whirlpool that glows after dark.
Looking at you, I imagine space, galaxies, nebulae. Deep beneath the surface of an ocean you mimicked the night sky when you formed in the saline water. Later, when Sam from the Philippines, a landscape of thousands of volcanic islands saw you, he called you a ‘salty rock’.
You encapsulate all that there is…are the epitomes of existence…darkness and light, movement and stillness…You are the birth of the universe….
NEXT WEEK: The Art of Prospecting: A Long Walk Over Uneven Ground…Faulting