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A New Discovery In Idaho

Scott’s Hole

Scott had a spot where he had done some hand digging. Here, he had found some good sized nodules, along with some very interesting brecciated lens formations.  It was not too far from the Black Pit and was near a small, dry creek bed. I began digging with Gene, with Brian spotting. At this point, I have done most of the digging.  I can see Gene itching to get in the driver’s seat. So, I hand over the reins to him. He walks up to the machine and gets in. Standing down next to the tracks, I look up to him in the cab. I point out, approximately, the direction I am thinking we should dig.  Gene agrees. I start to walk away, looking down on the ground. Suddenly, I spot something blue that the excavator tracks had dug up. I pick up the broken nodule, wipe away the dusty dirt and see a good sized nodule with blue opal in the center.  Of course, I give it a lick. I then climb up the excavator to show Gene.  With a big smile, I hand over the thunder egg to Gene and say with a laugh, “Just keeps getting better!” Gene inspects the rock and says, “Blue Opal?” He then shakes his head and says, “Gees, I don’t believe it. Anymore?” I point down to the tracks and say, “I think its float, since the tracks pushed it out from the surface. It’s hard to say from where.”  We are already in place, having spent time digging out the side of the hill in two spots, creating “Pads” for the excavator to sit on, in order to dig at the right angles. This is done to be able to pull at a different direction on the exposer, if necessary. We will keep an eye out for more blue opal, but in the meantime, we press forward on the new pit that I call, “Scott’s Hole.” This time it is Brian and I spotting and Gene in the machine. We stand near the bucket as it pulls, and keep a sharp eye out for any color variances or bulges in the rhyolite, which would indicate possible nodules. Soon, Brian puts his hand up and shouts “Ho!” That is our one command to stop digging. The main reason is for safety. Everyone in the active hole and the digger knows, “Ho!” means stop. Not to be confused with, “Wait a minute” or waving your hands as if saying, “I think I might see something” or one of the many other indications for stop.  Well, it didn’t take long to start pulling up the nodules here at Scott’s Hole. Brian then begins to clear out some dirt from around two rounded bulges, which reveal two baseball sized nodules side by side. These, being near the surface, are a little easier to get out. I motion for Gene to come down and see them. Brian makes a few taps with his hammer and one of the nodules rolls out. He holds it up in the air triumphantly. We all have big smiles on our faces. He then taps the second nodule and it rolls out the same way. Having some of the rhyolite matrix still stuck on the nodules, he begins to gently nap it off and then places it in the bucket, along with the other, “keepers.”  
First Exposure of Scott's Hole
Scott's Hole Nodule
Scott's Hole Nodule
Cleaning Off the Nodules

 The nodules at Scott’s Hole are a little different from the Black Pit. They are larger and have different variations of colors; green, red, black and even some with the traditional Bruneau cinnamon. In addition to nodules, we pull up large blobs of beautiful brecciate. Not really a nodule or a vein, they are more like an intersection in the rhyolite.   As time passes, the pit is getting wider and deeper. Most times the excavator is sitting idle, as we prospect and hand dig the outer edges of the pit. The excavator’s main function is not necessarily digging the nodules or veins out. Its main function is moving the muck. One quick, big scoop of waste dirt or tailings is worth a half a day of hand digging it out, let alone the wear and tear on one’s body.

It’s getting late and I decide to take a break. Sitting on my ATV, I eat lunch and watch as Gene and Brian continue to dig. Sitting somewhat away from them, I see Brian call Gene over to where he’s digging. They are now kneeling down, with their backs to me, looking into a small hole along the pits’ edge that Brian had dug. Brian takes out his chisel and hits it a few times. He stands up and looks over at me with the rock hiding behind his back leg and, as he smiles. I say with a plain voice, “Find something over there?”, as I stuff another potato chip in my mouth.  Gene looks over his shoulder and chuckles.  Brian walks across the pit to me, with the rock hidden.  He stops in front of me, saying nothing, smiles and waits. “Well, are you going to show me what the hell you found or what?”, I say laughing.  He pulls it out from behind his back and hands it to me. It is a large grapefruit- sized nodule, 6” across, and nearly perfectly round.  I reach out to take it and he quickly pulls it back and says, “No way…this one’s mine!”  I say, “What the hell!” Already in my mind, I see he’s awfully proud of what he has found and I’ve already decided to let him have it.  I can’t help but have fun with him saying, “I own the mine, you keep the big one and I get the small one?  What the hell kind of logic is that?” We banter back and forth some more. Finally I say, “At least, let me hold the damn thing!” He reluctantly hands it to me. Man, is it heavy. It must be solid jasper inside. One side has already been chipped off showing big orbs.  Turning it around in my hand and looking at it, I can’t help myself, but to have one more dig at Brian. I place it in the wired basket on my ATV, right on top of the other smaller nodules. “No way in Hell!” he says, grabbing it from the basket.  Laughing hard, I give in and say, “Ok, you can have this one, but I want the next one.” Brian chuckles stating, “Gene already has that one.”  Shocked I get off the ATV and walk over to where Gene is digging.  Sure enough, there’s another one about the same size.  I have Gene hold it up, as I take a great picture of the smiling, proud, new owner.

Gene's Keeper

Brian's Keeper

Blue Opal

It’s been over a week now and the two pits have been fairly productive for the claim’s first dig. Fortunately, I don’t have to dig very big holes to find good rock and in that respect, the closing of the pits shouldn’t take too long. The nodules come in various sizes, ranging from marble to soccer ball. The biggest ones tend, for now, to be fractured in halves or thirds. I think, because of them being closer to the surface, water and temperate variances of expansion and contraction have occurred. Even so, the jasper in the nodules is still high quality, dense, and has no spidery fractures. I think the rhyolite covering protects them, in this respect.  The rhyolite is fairly “sticky”, stubbornly adhering to the nodules, making it more difficult to clean. In some cases, when I plan on slabbing the nodule, I let most of the rhyolite stay on. In this way, rather than trying to clamp onto a round rock, it’s easier for the slab saw to clamp and hang onto something.  The other type of formation that I found a great deal of here is a vein/blob formation which was always brecciated.  The most beautiful of the ones I dug out were the ones with a black background and had colorful brecciate of green, red and yellow.  This type is more of a slabbing/cabbing material for cabochons than of specimens.

Nodules with Brecciate

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