Searles Lake Gem and Mineral Society
See  Flyer  for dates and times
Blow Hole Field Trip
The Blast
  Preparations for Blast              The Blow Hole Minerals
                             "Fire in the hole!"  Plumes of brine, mud and crystals rise high into the air as the explosives are detonated.
                   1 second                    2 second                    3 second                    4 second

                   5 second                    6 second                    7 second                    8 second

Moments after the shot, each hole bubbles as the escaping gases migrate upward through the brine and the mud layers. The smell of high explosives is everywhere. And the SVMC technician uses a tape measure to determine how much loose material lies at the bottom of the hole.
Over the next two days, the SVMC crew is back to "blow" the holes.  Compressed air is blown through a hose to the bottom of the hole.  On leaving the hose the air enters a large (8 inch dia.), "L" shaped pipe just above the lower end of the pipe.  As the air rises rapidly inside the pipe, it forces brine to rise with it, also at a very high speed.  And the force of the rising brine carries the crystals loosened by the blast up and out onto the surface.  Turning the pipe spreads the crystals in a circle around the hole.

As a bonus SVMC technicians will actually blow a hole for several minutes during the show.  Afterward, visitors are free to collect from the newly deposited crystals.

Crystals seem to be EVERYWHERE. Here is a cluster of borax crystals laying amongst millions of pyramidal hanksite crystals. The dark grey material is mud, which also contains crystals. The borax cluster shown here is approximately eight inches in length.
Here you can see more hanksite and mud. The liquid in the upper-left-hand corner is brine which has not yet had time to seep back into the Lake.

When collectors arrive at the site of the "Blow Holes", they waste no time in starting to collect, either picking up the perfect hanksite or borax crystals or searching for the elusive sulfohalite double pyramids. Young people of all ages have a good time collecting crystals at the blow holes.  Everyone will be able to find nice specimens.
And yes, there are hundreds of collectors on this trip - nearly 1,000 in 2003  Fortunately, the collecting is almost 100 meters long and 20 meters wide.

Collecting on this trip is relatively simple.  Except after the blowing of the demonstration hole, the collecting is on a dry salt surface with only occasional clods of mud.  For digging most people use simple garden tools - a hand trowel or a hand 3-tined fork.  You will also want to have a plastic bucket to hold your minerals and something to kneel on.  All of these items are for sale in the SLG&MS General Store in the east wing of  the show building.

Go to  The Blow Hole Minerals
Go to   Preparations for Blast
Go to  Gem-O-Rama Site Map

Searles Lake Gem and Mineral Society
P. O. Box 966
Trona, CA 93592-0966
Phone (760) 372-5356

| Home  |  Home Site Map  | Revised 09/22/2013

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