Choosing the rock to break is detective work. Prospecting is a translation of two-dimensional form into three dimensions. It begins well before one stands in the topography rock in hand.
Learning where to go, studying where to look, it is deciphering the experience of those who have been before. It is looking at the abstract form: maps in which the land is made planar, colored, contoured, divided into a grid of latitude and longitude, concentrating upon a single point, a GPS destination. It is words and lines on paper or screen…the abstract forms suggest direction. Still, these forms can never prepare the prospector fully for the reality of looking at the rock.
Some of the library within the limited space of the ‘exploration vehicle’ are rock and mineral identification books, the Roadside Geology and Biology of Baja California by John, Edwin and Jason Minch, Ore Deposits, Tectonics and Metallurgy in the Canadian Cordillera published by the Province of BC, Petrology and Alteration for Prospectors by Dr. Tom Richards, a GPS owner’s manual, a Baja Topographic Atlas and 1:250,000 geology maps. Aside from the rock ID books, the most read paperwork along for the journey is an article by R.G. Gastil on the Economic Geology of Baja California. A hand-drawn map is included with the photocopy of the article and it is this map, which shows the location of old mines, that is the most useful guide to where to look the next day. Embedded in the article is a quotation lifted from the 17th century journals of Spanish explorer-naturalist, Longinos Martinez, which, although erroneous in identifying the exact nature of the rock, is inspiring and tantalizing in terms of description of the terrain.
The night before, with reference to these abstract two-dimensional guides, an area is selected for exploration the next day. Both logic and intuition inform the choice.
She picks up rocks because they are ‘pretty’; something aesthetically pleasing attracts her to them. He picks up rocks because they are suggestive; they create a question of identity, of source, of content. The prospector is in the act of looking and searching, in the act of moving. The rocks at his feet guide the route taken.
He prepares with a discipline that impresses its intensity upon her. His focus is absorbing, self-absorbing. There is the anticipation of waiting and the expectation of excitement. This energy focuses into concentration…it is the hunter again. The books and maps are the mental preparation, the prayer, the creative visualization comprising what is known, what is surmised, what to expect, what to look out for…a construction of the focus, a concentration of the intent…
NEXT WEEK: The Art of Prospecting: A Long Walk Over Uneven Ground…Hardness