Our Geologic Origins
Why Here? Stratigraphy - What's Down There Is Up Here Now?
Over one million years before mankind even walked on the earth,
a staggering seismic upheaval broke the Earth around Valles Mines.
Rock layers broke into huge pieces the
size of football fields, as if you had dropped a stack of china plates a few inches, just enough
to break them but not enough to make them random debris.
To make matters worse, the layer around Valles Mines had 20 miles of caves running through them before all
that seismic upheaval. Some caves took an elevator ride up and some took the elevator down a floor. But these were no
ordinary caves, they were caves full of lead. Only now, they were broken into segments and tilted.
hypogene cave system stayed hundreds of feet under the ground for a very long time then tilted but
sometimes one end got pushed up to the surface, but sometimes we got lead in many places literally rising up out of the surface with
surrounding rock weathering away over thousands of years. Native American tribes traded the shiny lead ("galena") nuggets and
word of this new commodity made its way to Francois Valle, a French merchant in Canada. He came here to trade for it but ended
up settling here to mine it.
Cut to...today. Before the Highway 67 Interchange at V Road was built you could still see the Valles'
Mines Fault exposed on the east side of Highway 67 south of the exit. On one side that Fault exposed red Potosi
rock and on its south side, blue Eminence stone. While faulting in rock units (also called "strata") occur all
over the Earth, this faulting is unusual here at Valles Mines because it was as a textbook example
of a 'reverse thrust fault', a very rare occurence where ore mined itself
when a deep layer tilted up to the light of day, not down deeper and lost forever!
So what came up to the surface?
Caves full of lead ore, some of the most geologically perfect minerals on our planet. Galena nuggets
the size of...the size of a Volkswagon Beetle!
And 99% pure with an impurity of...silver! You can get some at our Rock Shop. Miners got theirs by staking
a claim and digging down ("dropping a mineshaft") until they hit a cave they thought was under their boots,
what miners' dreams of. But beware, not every shaft hit paydirt. Some unlucky miners hit caves alright --
but they were empty.
Stratigraphy - What's Down There?
We have on display Diamond Drillhole cores from the 1914 prospecting campaign seeking the Viburnum
Trend down deep, like 800 feet deep or more. but the drilling results turned out far more valuable, hitting
at 840 feet an underground river stretching north from Arkansas and giving us for a hundred+
years...the Artesian Well. And across the property, next to the Big Bill Mine,
we now can see the highwall of Frazier Quarry II.