We had another visit from DMME geologists to our old "gold mine." This time the focus of the visit was mine safety and reclamation. We got confirmation that the dug up ground was indeed an gold mining site. Keenan showed them around and then posted a paper on our Opinions and Ideas board about the posibility of covering the dug up area for safety reasons. Read on to see the complete text of the paper.
14 August 2012
Sealing the Gold Mine
Today Allen Bishop from Virginia’s Abandoned Mined land Reclamation Section came and looked at the mounds of dirt in the woods close to Emerald City. (Along with his helper, Aaron and the geologist Amy Gilmer). They looked around and said that, yep, that was a gold mine alright. Or—had been. They said that from the minimal piles of dirt around the holes that there probably isn’t a deep mine shaft, but they did say that the area could well be dangerous and that the leaves might cover a long straight drop into a pool of water or any number of other hazards. That is, people could die if they climb around in those holes.
The focus of Virginia’s Abandoned Mined land Reclamation Section is mine safety; their department seals up about 30 abandoned mines in Virginia a year. This involves bringing in digging equipment, digging out the mine, sealing it with a concrete lid and then placing an attractive marker on it that in this here spot there once was a gold mine.
Allen said that the heyday of mining in this part of Virginia was 1890-1900. Mining companies knew exactly what sort of geologic formations to look for and they followed them along a fairly straight and narrow path. So predictable is the presence of gold, Allen said, that typically it is possible to walk from one abandoned mine site to another. Apparently, back in the day, farmers and everyone else were thrilled to sell their mineral rights, get free money, and then have the prospect of getting rich if a big gold vein was discovered on their property. Allen, Aaron, and Amy were surprised that Twin Oaks’ gold mine wasn’t on any charts of abandoned gold mines. Our gold mine is in the right general area of other gold mines, but not exactly in a line with all of the other, known, gold mines. So, miners might have been looking in the wrong place when they were digging here (which would account for the lack of a deep mine as evidenced by larger piles of dirt). Or, there might be a break in the continuity of the geology of this area and this is actually an area with gold in it. Amy, the geologist, suggests that the rocks at Twin Oaks indicate that this shift in geologic continuity is a possibility.
To be clear: any gold that there might be is probably A) gone or B) at least fifty feet below the surface and so not worth us considering starting to dig up our property. The gold we have is tofu, or seeds, or hammocks—and each other. What we really need to do is to spend time digging each other—dig people, not gold!
But the question we need to ask ourselves is, do we want a concrete lid on our gold mine? They say that the state can put a removable cover (person-hole lid) in the concrete seal. Since they will have excavated the mine shaft first, that would make a very convenient, government-provided, post-apocalypse survival shelter. And, unfortunately, now that we know that there is a mine shaft there, people are going to be walking up and around there and crawling around in the holes. So, now that we know it’s there, it’s probably a safety hazard. (Similar to the way that if one is entirely ignorant of Catholicism, one won’t go to hell; but once exposed to the idea of Catholicism, then your immortal soul is in peril.)
The government is in no particular rush. They won’t even meet to discuss putting Twin Oaks on their mine-sealing list until June of 2013. So, do we want them to even consider sealing our mine? Do we want to do anything with our old gold mine in the meantime? Should we start panning for gold in the creeks?