Things To Ruin A Perfectly Good Day

One of the ongoing projects behind the scenes here is to catalog the range of explosives used in mining, particularly in the old days. Particularly the varieties of form, and what happens to them (chemically and in appearance) as they degrade. Eventually this catalog will be made available, to aid other “drifters” (abandoned mine explorers) and those who’s work takes them to the depths.
I’ve just been adding some pictures to the Facebook page (which you should check out), and these are among them. I thought they might be of interest to the larger community, so I’m posting them here. Future photographs of this type will go on the FB page, so please, become a fan and keep up to date!!

We entered a short mine complex in the Magdalena district, and when we turned back after hitting the end of the tunnel found this. It was in the wall a few yards back the way we’d come, and just above our heads. Everyone else moved carefully out, and I took a few quick pictures and then similarly removed myself with delicate haste.
The fuse is an old type of safety fuse (blackpowder w/ fabric wrapper), and behind it the pretty blue colors are from corrosion on the blasting cap (likely a lead azide charge, in a copper sheath. Now, with exposure to moisture [this was a wet mine], the visible “corrosion” is likely to be extremely sensitive Copper Azide Salts). Further behind that is what can only be assumed to be an old, degraded, stick of dynamite.
Dangerous, scary, stuff – Old blasting caps and old dynamite are not your friends, and are extremely dangerous
. It’s one of those things we hope to never find, and treat with the utmost of respect by leaving the hell alone and avoiding totally. Realizing we’ve accidentally put ourselves in an environment with it is distinctly uncomfortable.
In this case, it would’ve been hard to avoid entirely, but better awareness of the environment would’ve prevented going beyond it and allowing it to be between us and the only way out.

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