Hazel-Atlas Mine Visit

The Black Diamond mining district of California (near Antioch) was all about coal and silica.  Hazel-Atlas was a silica mine, bringing out silica-sand for glass-making.  If you want to see this place for yourself, please check this website from the East Bay Regional Parks District, a very impressive organization in terms of its capabilities and the size and complexity of its projects. http://www.ebparks.org/parks/black.htm

Why the praise for a regional parks district?  They did underground work to prepare, and now maintain, the Hazel-Atlas mine as a mining museum, improving ventilation and safety features in the mine for tours.  Also, they did and still do scientifically meaningful and interesting geological interpretive work.  In addition, they host mine-rescue training exercises and several underground research projects.  Hundreds of graduate students from many locations have come to this mine to map its sandstone, shale and coal layers and interpret them.  One of the currently hosted projects is a scientific study being conducted by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, involving an experiment on how water flows through very porous, slightly fractured rock mostly around, a little through, a mined opening.  It was by invitation from that laboratory to one of my co-workers, who then invited me, that I was able to come and see this very impressive and interesting place. 

The starting point for the day's journey was Berkeley, across the bay from San Francisco (just couldn't resist stopping for this view).

Next stop was just outside Antioch on Somersville Road, in some (green in this season) hills with oaks.

The wooden fence keeps the hillslope off the parking area, which is where the silica was dumped into waiting trucks:

Several pictures have been skipped since I do not want to place recognizable personal photos on this public site, so the next two photos are of the mining museum underground (please note that the date stamp was wrong, I had my camera-time set on PM rather than AM and the date changed after noon, it was already the 20th):

Note the dust on the lens which always makes circular messes when underground.  I had not yet realized how dusty my lend was until I came home and had to throw away some of my most impressive photo-views with depth and distance in them because of the dust, like these two:  the first one looks down from one drift (mined opening, like a one-way tunnel) onto a lower one, the second one tries to look down a drift.

And in the two photos shown above, at least you can still see something.  

Some of the tour-improvements made in the mine are quite impressive, like this bridge and three-level stairs complex:

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