Archive for the ‘science’ Category

Papua New Guinea 375-001, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

I recently conducted an interview with Anne Gordon, a well known Canadian travel writer. Anne had just recently returned from Papua New Guinea and in particular, a trip up the Sepik River where she visited local tribes and learned something of the Malagan culture).

See the Papua New Guinea documentary interview with Anne Gordon here

As a travel writer Anne speaks about the benefits of belonging to NATJA and other travel organizations, the benefits such as sponsored trips and the professional development opportunities that are open for travel writing.

As Anne said, “New Guinea is undoubtedly the most exotic and fascinating place she has ever been, there are over 900 tribes scattered throughout the island and an an ecosystem that spreads both above and beneath the surface”. Many of New Guinea’s tribes maintain customs and cultures that hold a special fascination for us in the west. Head hunting and cannibalism still exist in isolated pockets and have been practised quite commonly within the last 100 years.

Anne Gordon’s interview centres around the Sepik River and the carver’s of the Malagan culture, in particular the master carvers of New Ireland, she shows many incredible pictures of the tribes in that area and the tribal culture of New Guinea.

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I am by no means a professional rockhound. My education is as both a gemologist and a geographer, but I believe both rockhounding (collecting minerals) and my other great interest – caving have been in my heart since childhood. And where better to rockhound than Bancroft, but a word of caution, as both rockhounding and caving appear on my site. Both activities are related to rock, but neither should ever meet. Cave mineral deposits must stay in the caves and a caver who shares both interests (and there are many) should never let their inner rockhound loose beneath the surface.

Wearing my rockhound persona this past Saturday afternoon I headed out to the Bancroft Chamber of comerce to get a vibe on the local collecting possibilities. For a place that styles itself as the mineral capital of Canada, they do very little to encourage that reputation. Remembering back to my childhood, rockhounding was everything in Bancroft – now it is just faded memories and hanging onto loose and fragile threads. Fortunately mother nature takes care of basics and continues giving back. I left the Chamber of commerce disillusioned – not by the staff, not their fault, just the general malaise of the people who call the shots. No effort to justify the reputation.

Anyway I picked up an ice Cap from Tim Hortons and headed off on a kind of aimless ramble, and within about half an hour I’d come upon a spectacular crystal vug (cavity) from which I spent the next few hours scooping crystals.

The cavity is shown in my video – Click here for Crystal cavity in Bancroft video

It was a calcite seam within a road cutting that had been opened by someone else and then abandoned as they obviously did not know what they had found and if they had looked within the cavity when they hammered it open it would be they not me who was posting the pictures.

My point is, you just need to know what to look for. Bancroft is famous for its calcite intrusions, a mineral that solidifies last from molten rock and so it acts as a medium for other minerals to grow in. The vug that I extracted crystals from was predominantly filled with amphibole and feldspar crystals and lying loose in the bottom of the part of the cavity that I dug into were a few doubly terminated crystals – having grown in the medium as opposed to being attached to the cavity wall. In retrospect, looking at the video it becomes obvious that the seam runs on an angle and there is likely to be a lot more to be extracted if rockhounds just follow up and down along the incline of the seam. As this rock cut is in a public place I will just leave its exact location for you to figure out, but there is enough in what I have said and shown on the video for you to quickly pin-point the general vicinity of the deposit.

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Caving in Ontario – Exploration of Buried Karst – JC following up a cave tunnel

“The newly published book, “Caving in Ontario; Exploration of Buried Karst”, is now available for purchase from Lulu at this link – “Caving in Ontario” – buy the book. On the Lulu web page you will be able to preview several pages and in paying on their site you can choose shipping options that range from single day to 1 week delivery time.

“Caving in Ontario” has been a joy to write, it records the underground caving explorations that I and those that I know have taken over the last 2 decades in Ontario. There have been some extremely hazardous, world class adventures beneath the rock of this province and I felt the need to document those as well as saying something of the culture of those who are involved in extreme sports such as this.

If you are in any way interested in what lies beneath your feet, the rock and tunnels of Ontario – this book is for you. I am personally attracted by the beauty of the underground and the mystery of what lies beyond. In “Caving in Ontario” I write of many of the known caves and some that are known only to me and my closest caving friends.  I summarize two decades of exploration and tell prospective cavers how to find their own caves. Finding caves involves understanding local geology and the clues of surface geographical features.

Buy the book “Caving in Ontario”. I look forward to hearing of your own discoveries, there’s plenty more to find.

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Behave Yourself! – Rockwatching Blogging Protocal


scan0001, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

Well, Rockwatching has been up and running for a number of years now (5 to be exact) and I believe it has contributed significantly to the interest of people like myself who like caving, rocks, the outdoors, gems and minerals in Ontario.

We are just a few short days from 2011 and I believe it’s high time we made some resolutions -all of us  (you my loyal fellow bloggers as well).

So in the interests of all involved a few ground rules to follow on Rockwatching from now on

1) Lets not carry a personal vendetta onto this site which is meant to be a forum where like minded enthusiasts can interact in a positive way.
2) Lets respect each other and try not to get personal when we are frustrated.
3) Lets respect the basics of conservation and eco-minded thought.
4) Lets not assume stuff we don’t know for sure (hence the survey at the bottom of the post).
5) Lets keep in mind that this is all about enjoyment.
6) Lets keep in mind that just because the topic is on the table, every single aspect that pertains to it is not an open book.
7) Lets respect people who are not on the site, private property, reputations etc. Just because there is discussion of a site or feature does not mean permission has been granted to go there.

8) Lets not get petty, self righteous or important. Stop correcting my grammar, spelling or use of terms. I am a writer at heart and so I believe I can use the language as I please (providing it’s in good taste, or if I choose, not in good taste).

9) Lets not waste my time by having to re-direct you to one of the above rules.

Happy and prosperous 2011 – Mick

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way out – Broken Boat cave, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

This tunnel has a nice rounded pheratic shape that leads inward from the wave cut exterior of a low cliff face – in to the more spacious area that JC and I explored. As mentioned there is still exploration to be done and by the air blowing down one of the tubes we are optimistic that there is still some space beyond.

The thing about this cave that is really intriguing is that it exhibits features of multiple cave forms. As we discussed in a recent e-mail …

“In light of the placement of the lake, I wonder if this was the drainage conduit?

I envision a scenario where the lake was high, the joints in the rock were beneath the water table and the pheratic/rounded tunnel formed. As the lake level dropped, the lake behind continued draining along this passage, cutting a groove in the base of the tunnel. No doubt wave action would have played a part in the wave notch up front, but primarily this would have been a solution cave – following along crevices etc formed by the pull of glacial weight (like Mt. Nemo – but I guess Mt. Nemo does not show such obvious signs of pheratic development – it’s all crevice there) Difference is, there was no lake at Mt. Nemo to continue the wear process and alter pheratic passages (pheratic passages that may have formed along joints that had already pulled quite wide open) into vadose passages.

What do you think? Does this suggest other likely scenarios in every such lake placement? I see a cave here with wave cut features, solution features and crevice cave features – a cave that exhibits 3 distinct cave forms.

Then again I could be well off track;  we should scour the shores of the Broken Rowboat Lake and see if there are other possible tunnel entrances.

Are you up for next weekend? The leg is better.”

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Olmstead, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

This is kinda odd. There was a huge round, polished glacial erratic that plugged this hole until we removed it. Beneath there was a shaft that led down about 15-20 feet in depth. Its sides were texturally striated which made it easier to climb.

Cavers called the shaft “The birth Canal”.

In digging at the bottom of the canal in the mud and numerous tiny medicine bottles I broke through one morning into a section of passage that connected on to the main tunnels of the Olmstead cave – explored by Nina Mueller, Kirk, Marcus Buck and others.

You will see that tripod above that was used to bring buckets to the surface.

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Gypsum conglomerate

Over the past two years I have become increasingly aware of the presence of a karst area between Lake Erie and Hamilton.

This area has been mentioned in a few past manuscripts -generally alluding to this possibility or that, or possibly a small cave or karst feature.The ‘North Erie Karst’ is marked by bare rock along the Lake Erie shoreline and gypsum conglomerate further toward Hamilton and Cambridge.

The most promising cave area in the North Erie Karst is on private property at the edge of which Jeff C. had an interview with the OPP as to why he was loitering there.

The gypsum seems to stretch most obviously around Cayuga and Paris. Mines produced the substance from which casts were molded – “plaster of Paris” they called it.

There are many abandoned mines – thus far by our observation they are small and mainly collapsed at the entrance. We would expect to find caves in rock which is so easily eroded.

Thus far we have not been overly successful in either mine or cave location, but there have been a couple of diverse discoveries, most notably, Dead Mouse Cave, Bed of Glass Cave (both in limestone), a crevice cave at the edge of a waterfall in thinly bedded limestone above fractured shale, and a cave in conglomerate of which I’m sure there is more to see.

I will explain this thus far unmentioned discovery in a post that I should get to some time in the next two weeks. Look for “Devil’s Cave”.

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