So I decided to kick up my interest in the local metalliferous deposits and get more folks involved. As a member of the executive cmte of the ACS local section I’ve organized a seminar at a local university and arranged to have the lead exploration geologist from CC&V come to talk about the their gold mine in Cripple Creek.

The seminar is thursday night. Friday morning a few of us will board a van and drive the 5 h round trip to visit the open pit operation. We’ll stop at the nearby Molly Kathleen mine as well. I’m hoping we’ll be 1000 ft down the hole when the mine next door begins blasting. That’s an unforgettable experience.

Enthusiasm is contagious.  Especially with regard to gold colored precious metals. Unfortunately, bench chemists have few opportunities to take field trips. So the thinking here is that we’ll find a way to get members out and about to look at heavy industry. And gold mining is definitely a chemically related industry. Email blast notifications to rouse attendance are surprisingly ineffective- 1 or 2 % response at most. It is hard to get folks to participate in local section activities because everyone has a life.

The next day I’ll be on a field trip with geologists to visit various sites showing ductile and brittle deformation as well as hydrothermal alteration of formations in the central front range. I’ll be a chemical science interloper, as usual. The key to many of the metalliferous features in the world is hydrothermal transport. Shallow magma intrusions energize a kind of heat engine that pumps water through metal-bearing rock and transports hot, pressurized mineral laden fluids through a large and cooler network of fissures and faults where minerals precipitate according to their solubility.  Hydrothermal alteration is an important feature to look for when prospecting for metals.