The Great Mine

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cuzzinjack
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The Great Mine

Post by cuzzinjack »

My greatest challenge during my search has been coming to grips with just how big the mining operations actually were. The cart ruts told of countless loads of ore going to First Water Canyon, but it didn’t completely “sink in”.

Over the past month, I’ve been poring over Cerro Negra, trying to gain more understanding of the orebody and the mining that took place there. Dozens of rocks were gathered, cut, stared at with a loupe, outcrops were photographed, etc., and finally, while looking at Cerro Negra with Google earth, I realized the magnificence of what had taken place, and it took my breath away.

The “Great Mine” north of the Superstitions was described in the Phoenix Herald and Republican in 1893, and a portion of the article is in the opening post of the thread “Ancient Goldfield Mines” thread started by Dr. Glover. Joe Ribaudo discovered the article in the book “Arizona, the Last Frontier”, by Joseph Miller. Here is the excerpt (again):

“Over on the north side of this wonderful mountain so peculiar in shape, standing like the ruins of some great walled city with its tall spires and huge monuments, there has been discovered an ancient mining camp. Whether this mining was done by the Indians and Mexicans of the last century, or whether the operations date to years when de Vaca and Black Stephen started from the coast of Florida to find the gold fields toward the setting sun, may never be known. It is certain, however, that there are shafts and tunnels and drifts and stopes and the clearly-defined walls of a great mine. On the dumps are found tons of rock which without doubt came out of these workings.”

The description is of an underground mine, but how can you see the walls of an underground mine? It is surmised that the only thing it could be referring to is “subsidence” or the “cave zone”. The article said the prospectors found the mine in 1888, and they went on to find ore much richer in the Goldfield area. If this large cave zone was seen it 1888, it is certainly still able to be seen today, even if erosion has taken place.
It was described in a previous post that the only mining method available in the mid-1800’s and earlier for mining bulk ore was the top-slicing method. This was the precursor to block-caving and was used at Inspiration and Morenci, Arizona.

Well, let’s get to the good stuff. First, this is diagram of a typical VMS deposit. The Cerro Negra orebody is a little different in that it was formed under a layer of basalt, about 100 feet thick, but there is still abundant jasper, and jasperoid that vented through the basalt to the surface.

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This is looking north towards the Cerro Negra ore body. Much of the center of the uppermost portion of of the deposit has been removed forming a deep trench; I’m guessing a thickness between 10 to 40 feet was mined. It appears that they focused on the richest supergene ore beneath the drainages. The orebody lies right up against the rhyolite.

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This is looking south towards Cerro Negra, it is a straight shot out to haul ore to First Water Canyon.

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This is what the rhyolite looks like. It resembles the “Imperial porphyry” of Rome:

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There is definite proof of subsidence and is on the ridge just north of Cerro Negra. This probably appeared long after 1848, after the timber posts and matt rotted and compressed. These are beds of silicified tuff that are tipped upwards; their edges are not eroded (Flatiron is in the background).

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Even though a lot of mining took place here, they still barely scratched the surface.

One map depicts the mine very well, in typical Spanish style, and actually shows the cave zone. This appeared about 1895 (thanks Tom Kollenborn).

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klondike
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Re: The Great Mine

Post by klondike »

Perhaps the question is not so much the what but the when. The only way to understand the when is to ask the question who had the technology to accomplish such a task and why were they here.

The folks who accomplished this had far more in common with the technology utilized to mine the Carlin trend in Nevada with particular emphasis on the Midas Mine as a model of what went on in the Superstitions.

Great analysis. it has always amazed me that more time is not spent on understanding the deposit you are interested in. At the end of the day it is all about the Geology it always has been.

Klondike
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Re: The Great Mine

Post by cuzzinjack »

Hello Klondike,

Thank you again for your interest and your thoughts about geology. You know your mines; Midas is a great one. I’m glad that there has not been that much interest to tell you the truth. If I’d signed something away before learning about the size of this orebody and the extensiveness of the workings, I would have regretted it until the day I died.

I think it's clear that the Peralta’s mined this, but only for gold and silver. Cristobal Peralta had the surveyed location and bearings to walk here in 1924 as written in the “Salazar Survey” thread. Now that I think about it, he didn’t come here to go into an underground mine, he came here to see the massive workings that his relatives had created, and to marvel at the sight of what the “yanquis” had not found yet!

This deposit should be similar to the Mormon Stope of Goldfield, only multitudes larger. This is probably where the timber “from trees 7 to 8 inches to over a foot in diameter” went, from the more than 40 acres of mesquite stumps that Sims Ely wrote about at the place called “Soldier Camp”. Any hardwood or pinon in the area would have been fair game.

Have tried to find out where the top-slice mining method originated, and not a whole lot of luck. It was used for centuries to mine bog iron in England. The method is great for very soft rock, which the top of this deposit likely was. It would not surprise me if the Romans used it extensively in Spain.

Below is a better diagram of the orebody, and what was mined out of the middle. Even the area around the shafts appears to have subsidence.

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The “breccia dike” labeled on the diagram is about 10 feet wide. It looks knobby, and pretty blah in the field, but below is a photo of what some of this rock looks like after it is cut; it is jasper and chlorite. There are large cobbles of jasperoid in the dike also.

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The spot labeled “portal” had bees flying out from beneath large rocks there a couple of weeks ago during the worst of the drought. They were going for water. I dug down at the rock face there a while back and believe I reached under the brow of the tunnel with my shovel; there was the mother lode of saguaro fruit there from pack rats, so there was a significant void.

I believe this was the portal indicated on the Ortiz Map below (thanks again Tom Kollenborn). If it is orientated the same as the diagram above, it can be seen that they had several tunnels into the caved zone, and they explored extensively along the rhyolite front. It is believed that these tunnels were only to assist in draining water and for exploration.

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I noticed that after the software update on this site, if you right click on a photo and click view image, the photo can easily enlarged.

cuzzinjack
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Potbelly Jim
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Re: The Great Mine

Post by Potbelly Jim »

Jack,

Outstanding work! I remember reading about the ox-cart tracks you posted some time ago, looks like your project is coming along nicely. Sometimes I lose track of the bigger picture as this info is posted across multiple threads...will check out your website to brush up...take care, Jim
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Re: The Great Mine

Post by cuzzinjack »

Hello Jim,

Thank you very much and am glad you have an interest in this. If this pans out, just about everyone that has ever posted on this forum has had a part in this to some degree.

The first time I ever stepped foot in the “cave zone” was about 12 years ago. It was late in the afternoon after the sun went down, and after seeing all the veinlets and alteration on the east side of the depression, my legs actually started shaking. I knew it was something good, but had no knowledge of VMS deposits, or even that the neck of the volcano was only about 200 feet away.

I had 10 contiguous claims at the time, and felt it extremely important to put a claim on this ground, so unknowingly put the center of claim marker #11 right in the middle of the cave zone, creating a claim separate from the rest. That one claim, at the same bearing N20W as the other 10, covered almost the entire deposit and aligned perfectly with the cave zone it is now known.

From almost the time #11 was staked, I've believed that the satellite workings on the right side of the Burbridge map (thanks again Tom Kollenborn) were at Cerro Negra, but could not “see” the relationship and alignment.

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It has always been my belief that this map with the title, “The Esteemed People of the Salt River District of the North” was a map of an exploration project. The original was dated by the U of A as truly being from the 18th century. Considering the Spanish drove a tunnel several miles long to drain the mines of Pachuca in the 18th century, this really was “light work” for them.

It is thought that where the cluster of pits indicated on the 2 short ridges below was where the bulk of the exploration took place. Where the crew of Mandozo Segundo Marzo drove their tunnels and sunk shafts in 1753 is likely where the cave zone is today. They simply blocked out the ore for others to follow, and it took almost 100 years to create the cave zone that remains today.

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Re: The Great Mine

Post by cuzzinjack »

Below is a diagram of the old top-slicing mining method. If this is indeed a cave zone shown above, this is how they did it. This takes quite a bit of timber, and the Peralta's did not have much nearby. This must have been the number one limitation regarding the amount of tons they could mine from underground.

Image

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Potbelly Jim
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Re: The Great Mine

Post by Potbelly Jim »

Thanks Jack for that diagram...didn't know what you were talking about until you posted it...

I remember hearing about a concrete shaft, but I think it was in a different place...have you done any research to see who had mining claims out there? I'm thinking the claims in 1887/1888 time-frame were a bit north and west of your AOI, but I may be wrong...There was a ledge called the "Red Reef" (I think) and a claim of the "Gold King", and soon thereafter the "Lucky Boy"...but then they found the Goldfield mines and not sure what happened to those first claims after that. Take care, Jim
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Re: The Great Mine

Post by cuzzinjack »

Hello Jim,

The only resources that I know of for finding the historic claim owners are the BLM's LR2000 and the site called the "Diggings" which must be based off of the LR2000. They both show the patented claims from the 1890's, but they show the unpatented claims only from the 1970's forward. If you have another resource it would be greatly appreciated if you posted it. I tried Maricopa County on-line and no luck there.

There are no prospect pits in the cave zone and it would be interesting who had it claimed and did no work on the extensive breccia dikes and pipes, etc.

I spent some more time in and around the cave zone, and will double-down that it is indeed a cave zone. The walls on the north end are much steeper than are shown on google earth. It is strongly suspected that the "saddle" in the middle of the zone is a shaft pillar. Someone will be found that can do a movie of this with a drone; that will be cool.

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Re: The Great Mine

Post by 2016Producer »

Hey Cuzzin!

Great article!

I am wondering about the possible relevance of some info which came out a couple years ago.

Remember the three guys from Utah that died a couple of years ago? Well, there was an article about them that stated that the leader of their group had been rescued the previous year from a mine that had multiple entrances and shafts. It was located East of first water from what I recall, in the vicinity of Weavers needle. The Maricopa Sheriff's Posse would know about it for sure!

Hope that helps!
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Potbelly Jim
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Re: The Great Mine

Post by Potbelly Jim »

cuzzinjack wrote:
If you have another resource it would be greatly appreciated if you posted it. I tried Maricopa County on-line and no luck there.
Jack,

Scared up the old Gold King claim paperwork...that's not it...it was 1/2 mile from Sup. Mtn, and it looks like you are about 3 miles or so N of it...will keep looking...if I had to guess, I would say any claims in your area are going to be in books 4 or 5, if you can get down to the recorder's office and look...unfortunately, no way to page through the claim books online because of the way they scanned them in and named them...take care, jim
Jim R.
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Re: The Great Mine

Post by cuzzinjack »

Thanks Jim,

I'll definitely visit the County Clerk and Recorders office.

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Re: The Great Mine

Post by cuzzinjack »

There have been some more learnings and conclusions gained regarding Cerro Negra and the “Great Mine” and thought it worth a post. To start, below is a photo of the cave zone next to the saddle area. In the background can be seen El Sombrero at the bearing of S65E. It appears like the rock over the stope is STILL subsiding even today on the sides of the cave zone as the decayed timber matt is crushed below.

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Below is a map showing most of the VMS deposits ever mined throughout the world. Where they are especially prevalent is in Japan and Spain/Portugal. The ones colored green are more apt to carry gold. This is from the USGS site @
https://mrdata.usgs.gov/vms/map-us.html. This is a great website.

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Cerro Negra is a Kuroko style VMS deposit, rich in gold, and the “Kuroko” name was coined in Japan. The best diagram found of the Kuroko style VMS was found on this Japanese website:

http://home.hiroshima-u.ac.jp/mfukuok/e ... KB_09.html

This is the original diagram:

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Below is the same diagram that has been modified to show the situation of the deposit at Cerro Negra. A layer of basalt covers the deposit, and jasper, jasperoid, and some gossan has been ejected through the basalt. The ejected material can be found in large quantities today. Because of the abundant limestone cobbles that were beneath the basalt before the VMS was emplaced, jasperoid replaced the limestone, and some jasperoid cobbles have been ejected also.

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This is what a cut piece of the jasperoid looks like.

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To lead into the next subject, below is the Bicknell article that was published in 1895.

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The part of the story that is most unbelievable to me is where they abandoned the shaft that was being mined by the Mexicans, after they threw the bodies inside, and then they saunter on down the hill and find an outcrop of auriferous quartz. Yeah, right. It is not completely clear to me though from Bicknell’s writing whether they find a second shaft or not, or start from scratch.

It would seem plausible that if they found a quartz outcrop in say 1868?, and it was fairly large, it would still be there today, unless this happened in Goldfield? How could anything like this escape the eyes of so many for so long and be right out in the open?

Believe me, the possibility of something like this really exists.

Below is a photo again of the cave zone with the location of a vein and breccia pipe added. This vein has a strike length of over 150’, and its width is about 15 feet wide (really). This is interpreted as the auriferous siliceous pipe shown in the Kuroko diagram above. There are other narrower quartz veins in the area. Except for the basalt lying over it, all of these things are indicative of the classic Kuroko deposit.

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The breccia pipe is made entirely of the material in the photo below. It is laced with drusy quartz, and copper staining can be seen with a loupe. This is nice stuff:

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Some of you know much more of the stories that have been told than I and one I’ve heard was of an incredibly rich chimney deposit. A breccia pipe can be such a deposit. I have had a few assays run of the area years ago, and it ran anomalous gold, but did not expect much from the surface because the area has been leached by salt water. The depressed area indicated on the diagram looks like it could have been disturbed by man. There are no prospect pits on the vein and only a couple of broken beer bottles.
Here are some photos from the vein:

This is a sawn piece of the stained quartz:

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These are large quartz crystals covered by chalcedony:

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This photo shows the limonite stained quartz, and brecciated quartz cemented by calcite:

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In conclusion, it is very possible that the stories of old could have happened nearly exactly as they were told.

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Re: The Great Mine

Post by Deducer »

Very interesting. You've done some painstakingly detailed work here. I continue to follow along.
cuzzinjack
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Re: The Great Mine

Post by cuzzinjack »

Hello,

There is a piece of the puzzle that I neglected to post with this thread.

This may be preaching to the choir, but Sims Ely wrote the first book about lost mines or "lost mine" in the Superstition Mountains, and he coined the phrase "the lost Dutchman" with the title of his book, the "The Lost Dutchman Mine". In his lifetime of searching for the mine, he did not find much physical evidence, but he found 40 acres of mesquite stumps near LeBarge Canyon (he spelled it that way) in about the year 1900? He found the diameters and the density of the mesquite remarkable in that the Superstitions were very lacking in trees of this quality. He researched the possibilities, and came to the conclusion that the trees were used in the mine he had been looking for.

Sims was not a mining man, and he wondered what kind of mine would use that many mesquite trees. The square-set mining method, which uses a lot of timber, was not invented until well after 1848, and it needs straight, and much larger timber. This miner offers that the twisted trunks of the mesquite, that are not big enough for timber, were only good for the mining method described above, the top slice method. Their intertwined trunks would have worked fairly well to make the timber mat for the technique.

It is not known precisely where the "soldier camp" is that Sims said the stumps were found, but it appears to be about 3 to 4 miles east of the "Great Mine". It appears that neither the "Great Mine" or the stumps could have existed without the other.

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Re: The Great Mine

Post by cuzzinjack »

Merry Christmas!

After some refining, a method has been devised to place maps over the top of google earth photos in a presentable manner. The most important step of the process it has been learned is to pick the best google earth photo from all years. Hands down, the best to be found is from 2012.

It has been known for some time that the Ortiz map was related to the Cerro Negra mine complex, but out of laziness or just that there was “bigger fish to fry”, the map was not overlain on a google earth photo. It turns out that the Ortiz map is the “big fish”!

Aligning the map with the portal that was found that is described above, and other features, an overlay was created. Using Tom Kollenborn’s copy, the height/width ratio of the Ortiz map was preserved, and there was not a “sleight of hand”. It can be seen that the Ortiz map was surveyed and aligned with true north. Here it is.

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All of the subsidence zones were not added, just so things aren’t “muddied up”, except for the Great Mine subsidence, and a smaller elongate subsidence zone at the southwest corner of the overlay. On the west side of the ridge that is labeled “basalt replaced by silica”, a red basalt was noticed that was not realized before. It was raining, so it showed up well. After testing with my magnet (3 for $5 at HD), it was impressive how magnetic the rock was. The silicified ridge was not magnetic at all. Here is a photo of the red basalt. There is a high likelihood that there was a stope beneath the elongate depression.

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For the tunnel to be driven all the way over to the ridge versus accessing by shaft, the rock must have carried good gold grade the entire distance. It has long been thought that the entire underside of the basalt must be highly mineralized because the upper half of the Whitetail formation has a great amount of limestone sand and cobbles in it and the basalt acted as an aquaclude. Likewise, the edge of the Rhyolite was mined extensively as shown, because this is where the rhyolite would contact the limestone in the Whitetail, creating a gold skarn deposit.

The shafts are not shown on the Ortiz map, but after overlaying the Burbridge map over the same google earth map, it can be seen that a lot of the shafts were repurposed and extended from the first level of the mine (Burbridge Level), to the second level (Ortiz Level). The Burbridge map is not as accurate because it is relatively small, but it can be seen that the shafts of the Burbridge generally line up with the corresponding tunnels on the Ortiz Level. Please note that in this zoomed in view that the terraces on the west side of Cerro Negro can be seen.

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The above creates a lot of questions, and here are a few:

• Were the Mexicans mining discreetly in 1884, or is this when the map was copied?
• Is the orebody so large and so rich that the great amount of gold had to be “laundered” through the Manila galleons to avoid war?
• Certainly, the sinking of the Spanish armada and what might come had to be on the Spaniard’s minds?

So far, these are the “heavy hitters” that show the location and/or size of the mining area beneath the basalt:

• The Burbridge Map
• The Minas del Oro Map
• The Ortiz Map
• The Salazar Survey
• The Peralta Fish Map

The center of it all is right here:

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Please see the “Ortiz Map” thread on this site for more information about the Ortiz map.

cuzzinjack
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