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