Berkeley Lab

July 2018 Redwell Basin site visit/update

Below is a virtual site visit from this past Thursday at our lower elevation drilling location in Redwell Basin:

Drilling has gone quite well, with ore mineralization very abundant. Indeed, cores recovered from a highly fractured / faulted location at depth show massive metal sulfide mineralization even given the considerable distance from the felsite intrusion. As with the higher elevation site (MW1) drilled last September, Andy Manning and Lyndsay Ball of the USGS are leading the scientific charge. For those unfamiliar, a previously-shared “Meet the Scientist” video presenting their research program in the Redwell Basin is below.

While we had hoped to achieve a total depth exceeding 300-ft, artesian flow upon reaching a high permeability zone at ca. 145-150-ft below grade has necessitated a halt to drilling. Andy and Lyndsay are working today to devise a strategy for isolating this high permeability / artesian zone such that it can be sampled and monitored in the future. Shallower, nested sampling ports will be installed using the same well completion approach used at MW1. Lastly, a shallow (ca. 15-ft depth) portion of the open hole is unstable and work today is geared towards setting a surface casing to maintain borehole integrity for the next week or so as a suite of open hole geophysical logging measurements are collected.

Once completed, the rig will move back uphill to the MW1 location and drill a shallow (ca. 30-ft) vadose zone / capillary fringe monitoring borehole that will enable our team to examine hydrogeochemical processes in this dynamic region. Conversations between Andy Manning and recently funded PI Danielle Rempe (Univ. Texas) at the 2018 DOE ESS PI Meeting inspired this new monitoring hole thus highlighting the great value in that meeting for catalyzing new and novel research plans.

Here in the Elk Mountains of Colorado it continues to be very warm with summer rainstorms beginning to some degree but as of yet not providing much relief for drought-stressed conditions. Soils are incredibly dry throughout the East River area and stream flows are getting very low with high water temperatures. A challenging summer for the plants and critters, I’m afraid.