Sep 05-06

Past-E-Mail: Cam Notes - 2006: September: Sep 05-06
The story    ...scroll down to share comments
Photos by Bill Haller
Obelisk    ...scroll down to share comments
Photos by Bill Haller

Mary Drew at Pasty Central (Mdrew) on Tuesday, September 5, 2006 - 07:10 am:

Marquette County is home to a number of mines and mining history is quite prevalent in the area, as Bill Haller found out. He spent some time exploring in Negaunee, where he found the Jackson Mine site. The sign pictured pretty much explains the history of the mine, but the interesting pyramid in the second photo was moved to its present site in 1974. It was given as a gift from Cleveland Cliffs Iron Company to the citizens of Irontown, USA, Negaunee. The original iron ore discovery in the area is actually located 8,468 feet southwest of where the monument is at present. The last shot here below these notes, is a closer look at the small marker in front of the pyramid structure. It denotes the names of miners that died in a mining accident.

In Memory
Sidenote: For many kids, today is the first day back to school. Let's wish them all a good and safe year!
Margaret, Amarillo TX (Margaret) on Tuesday, September 5, 2006 - 07:35 am:

cairn: a heap of stones set up as a landmark, monument, tombstone (imagine that)

By Tom Karjala (Tom) on Tuesday, September 5, 2006 - 07:42 am:

Ah, Margaret, at it again so early. I do get my refresher on words that I seem to have forgotten or did not know.
I remember my father talking about the danger in the iron mines versus the copper mines. They were more prone to cave-ins.

By Deb S. (Usedtobeayooper) on Tuesday, September 5, 2006 - 07:56 am:

One of these times we'll visit the mines when we're UP there.

Have a safe school year you kids out there.

By joanne sherick (Shedoesnails) on Tuesday, September 5, 2006 - 08:15 am:

Just returned from taking the kids back to school. yippee.

By WishingIWasInDaUP (Sur5er) on Tuesday, September 5, 2006 - 09:40 am:

All these years that I have been visiting the UP, and I have never visited the mines. Will have to put that on my list of 'must sees' next time ;)

Glad to hear that the school kiddies in Michigan are starting school after Labor Day...and not in mid August, like they do here in Indiana.

By Capt. Paul (Eclogite) on Tuesday, September 5, 2006 - 09:52 am:

Cairns these days are used to mark backcountry trails especially in the mountains of the West. They can also be found in Northern Lower Michigan marking the 45th Parallel in numerous spots. I wouldn't really call the second shot a cairn or an obelisk as it really doesn't fit either definition. How about an iron pyramid?? ;-)

I believe the iron mines were a little more dangerous to work in because the rock was fractured a bit more than in the Keweenaw. All 3 iron ranges in the UP have been subject to continental collisions, which would have created a condition of intense pressure on whatever rocks were present, thus either fracturing any rocks that were there or bending the BIF into the shapes we see today.....

By Joe Dase (Up_miner) on Tuesday, September 5, 2006 - 10:11 am:

Capt. Paul,
In addition to the fracturing it was probably the extraction methods used that contributed as well. Top slicing and Block/Panel caving tends to put allot of abutment stress on any openings around it. Add to the fact that most of the drifts that had to take the stress were in poor ground (if it wasn't poor ground caving methods wouldn't have worked as easily), a lack of rock mechanics knowledge and passive ground support systems (timbering) and you have a great situation for unplanned drift failures.

Laymans terms: They used caving methods usually to extract the iron ore, and the induced mine caving tended to crush mine openings due to stress.

By Richard A. Fields (Cherokeeyooper) on Tuesday, September 5, 2006 - 10:33 am:

The UP was blessed with abundant riches mineralogically speaking. How many of our families would never have made it to the area without the mines? What is even more amazing is the amount still left in the ground that is just not profitable at the current time, but will be so at some far future date. That is the great thing about minerals, they don't rot if you leave them where they are.

I used to think the mines I visited in the UP were big untill I went to the Mesabi in MN. The Hull Rust Mahoning gives big a whole new meaning.

By stix (Stixoutwest) on Tuesday, September 5, 2006 - 11:35 am:

Looks like a gorgeous day in the those web-cams. Can't believe how nice the weather was in the Copper Country this summer....perfect. It always goes by too quickly but I'm so thankful we can return each year! Did an art show in Flagstaff, Az. this past weekend and it has some real similarities....lots of old stone buildings, hills, small town feel etc. etc. Believe it or not, it may very well have been cooler there than in Houghton!!
Have a great day.

By Capt. Paul (Eclogite) on Tuesday, September 5, 2006 - 11:46 am:

Well well Mr. Joe, glad to see you've come from the depths of the Earth to say hello once again!!! ;-) True about the mining methods as well; for caving to work effectively a mine needs somewhat poor ground. Add in a highly fractured ore material, such as the BIF's, and it becomes a nasty place to work underground. Probably a big reason most iron ore mines are now openpit these days (along with cost of removal).

If you ever get a chance to see Bingham Canyon near Salt Lake there Richard, do it!! Words can not describe how big a hole in the ground is there, and pictures won't do it justice either. Another big hole in the ground is Morenci in SE Arizona. Both have great tours of the facilities for the public....

By Mike R New Berlin WI (Miker) on Tuesday, September 5, 2006 - 11:49 am:

When we were visiting Washington DC in 1984, we were at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum. Went outside to catch some air. There was this huge red rock sitting in front of the entrance. It was from the Jackson Hole, Negaunee Michigan. My home town. What a shock.

By Happy to be in the U.P. (Lahelo) on Tuesday, September 5, 2006 - 12:22 pm:

WishingIWasInDaUP (Sur5er) Some of the kiddies went back to school in Michigan in mid August also. So its just not in Indiana they do that.
Only good thing about starting before Labor Day, they get out earlier!

By maija in Commerce Township (Maija) on Tuesday, September 5, 2006 - 12:58 pm:

thanks Capt Paul, Joe Dase, and Cherokee Yooper for your intelligent contributions which are very appreciated.

By Kathy P. (Katiaire) on Tuesday, September 5, 2006 - 01:09 pm:

Maija, AMEN to that thought

By Marge Roberts (Fluffyyellow) on Tuesday, September 5, 2006 - 03:16 pm:

This is one set of shots I could identify immediately. I remember when I was a kid (50s & 60s) seeing fenced-off areas warning of cave-in areas. Then, a few years ago, my dad drove me all over Negaunee saying, "I lived here" and "here" and "here," and "These houses used to be there" and "there" and "there."

I always have said that, if I lived 150 years ago I'd have 8 kids and 8 teeth. After visiting the iron museum in Negaunee, I added I would be washing miners longjohns. (The museum talks about the women who ran boardinghouses for miners and did their laundry.)

By Ms. Katie (Mskatie) on Tuesday, September 5, 2006 - 04:59 pm:

What an impressive sight that pyramid structure! Look at those colors! And it just shouts solid and indescructive like the citizens of that time and place. Perfect for Labor Day. And personal message # 1, welcome back to "stix", missed your posts this summer :>)

By Therese (Therese) on Tuesday, September 5, 2006 - 05:18 pm:

BIF? What is BIF? Basalt iron fragment?

By stix (Stixoutwest) on Tuesday, September 5, 2006 - 05:29 pm:

I'm interested in what BIF is too!! I use basalt stone from the UP beaches in some of my jewelry pieces. Wasn't sure what stone I was using until recently and I have no idea where it comes from. Guess we need more geology lessons! But I do know the stone really compliments the beach glass! I believe basalt is the stone used in "hot rock massages" too!

By Dr. Nat (Drnat) on Tuesday, September 5, 2006 - 08:21 pm:

BIF stands for Banded Iron Formation.

BIFs are fascinating rock formations. The best known and studied BIFs are found in the Lake Superior area of North America, parts of Australia, and parts of South America. They are almost exclusively Precambrian, especially from the Proterozoic Eon. (Precambrian = anything older than 550 million years ago. Proterozoic = rocks 550 to 2500 million years ago). I love BIFs because they give us a insight into early earth history. The early earth was much different than today. The atmosphere was composed of methane, ammonia, and carbon dioxide, among other gases. But the earliest life, which can be found in the rocks around Lake Superior could survive in this atmosphere and was photosynthetic (meaning they breathed carbon dioxide and gave off oxygen, just like today's plants). As these organisms breathed, they began to oxygenate the oceans and, in turn, the atmosphere.

Now we get to why this is important to BIFs. Iron is easily dissolved in water when no oxygen is present. However, when oxygen is present, it is not easy to dissolve in water. During the Proterozoic was when these early life forms were adding oxygen to the atmosphere, making the iron in the oceans come out of solution to form the Banded Iron Formations we see today.

Another interesting thing about the Lake Superior BIFS is that fossils of Grypania can be found in them. Grypania is the earliest known multicellular organism.

As you can probably tell. I love BIFs! This is just the shortened Cliff Notes of how truly amazing they really are.

By Capt. Paul (Eclogite) on Tuesday, September 5, 2006 - 08:30 pm:

The basalt you use Stix in your jewelry most likely comes from lava erupted during the opening of the Midcontinent Rift approximately 1100 million years ago. If you want to know more, just ask Dr. Nat and she'll lecture about that too!! ;-)

By Greta Armata (Gretania) on Tuesday, September 5, 2006 - 10:24 pm:

I'm echoing the thanks for the additional rock info. I've always had a thing for rocks, picking them up from various spots. As a kid, my Dad used to call me "Greta, Greta Got-rocks". I don't quite understand the fascination, but I have a small stone or two in my wallet at all times - I sometimes think it's to remind me that I'm from this earth.

By David Haykus (Dhaykus) on Wednesday, September 6, 2006 - 12:15 am:

Anyone know what has happened to the escanaba cam?

By Therese (Therese) on Wednesday, September 6, 2006 - 06:23 am:

Thanks, Dr Nat, for the explanation. I grew up in an area covered many feet deep with sand and clay, coutesy of those glaciers, and am a little jealous of you people who grew up with the bones of the earth arcing above you. My first trip to Agawa Canyon in Canada when I was 17 was a revelation. You can study geology in class, but that is like a blind person hearing about light. I would like to look at banded or folded rocks and have it speak to me of the slow upheavals and groans of the Earth.

By kosk in Toronto (Koskintoronto) on Wednesday, September 6, 2006 - 07:44 am:

Beautifully put, Therese. And I do believe that the Earth has its own
way of speaking.

By Capt. Paul (Eclogite) on Wednesday, September 6, 2006 - 09:06 am:

Yeah, they're called volcanoes!!

By Russell E. Emmons (Russemmons) on Wednesday, September 6, 2006 - 10:48 pm:

Ok Dr. Nat, Capt Paul, Speaking of early life forms, iron in solution etc. They tell me we have "Iron eating bacteria" down in our 150' deep well. How does this fit (if at all) in the scheme of all this?

By Dr. Nat (Drnat) on Thursday, September 7, 2006 - 09:09 am:

I am not an expert on microbiology, however, there is a scientist at the University of Massachusettes named Derek Loveley who studies them. According to Dr. Loveley, iron was essential for early life as some types of bacteria converted iron oxide into magnetite in the process of metabolising their food. Dr. Lovely outlined this research in a September 1998 article in Nature entitled "Microbiological evidence for Fe(III) reduction on early Earth."

By Lee Wernholm (Leeforfree) on Friday, September 8, 2006 - 09:41 am:

I grew up near the original location of the pyramid and the Jackson Mine plaque on the west end of Iron St. in Negaunee (they now sit in Miner's Park on the edge of M-28/US-41). The old location was condemed as "Caving Grounds" over thiry yrs. ago, and was fenced-off. Our house was torn down and we had to move to the other end of town. The caving area was recently re-opened (conspiricy theories abound)to the public, and you can now walk, or drive to many of the original Jackson Pits. There are some cool rock formations(I know this sounds barbaric after the previous, detailed, geological notes), and even open drifts (tunnels).

Not to nit-pick, but I think the large iron ore rock in front of the Smithsonian is from Jasper Knob in Ishpeming (only a couple thousand feet from the old Jackson pits in Negaunee, though).

By william wade (Billw81) on Saturday, September 9, 2006 - 12:29 am:

Brrrrrr! it's getting chilly in the U.P.

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