Field trip to Gordonsville and Elmwood Zinc Mines


Mineralogy and petrology students in front of the #3 shaft at Gordonsville Zinc Mine

On Nov. 30th, undergraduate students in the Mineralogy and Petrology class had an incredible opportunity to study minerals in their natural habitat, the Gordonsville and Elmwood underground mines. Led by Dr. Leimer and TTU alumni Josh Gentry, nine students and new faculty member Dr. Wolak visited the facility. After a brief safety session, the group headed down below to learn about mining geology.

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Keegan Woods, a TTU earth science major, also works as a geotechnician at the Elmwood Zinc Mine.

Keegan Woods, a current TTU Earth Science undergraduate, also accompanied the students. Both he and Josh explained geology of the connected mines as they made several stops underground. Excited (read: ecstatic!) students had an opportunity to inspect vug geometries and collect samples of the ore breccia, sphalerite, fluorite, calcite and limestone.

Vug inspection.

Vug inspection.

Following the subsurface part of the field trip, the group was led on a tour through the mill facility. From one end of the building to the other, the tour guide explained how raw ore was crushed and separated to yield both powdered lime (for agricultural use) and sphalerite (for zinc).

Dr. Leimer observes crushed ore in the mill facility.

Many thanks to Nyrstar and folks at the Gordonsville and Elmwood Zinc Mines for a safe and memorable trip underground!

Dr. Leimer and Dr. Wolak are all smiles with a new sample of calcite to display in the TTU Earth Science Department.

New calcite to be displayed in the TTU Earth Science Department. (Dr. Leimer and Dr. Wolak for scale.)

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