Purple Passion Mine

General Information about the

Purple Passion mine & the Diamond Joe tunnels

Back when we were still trying to figure out exactly which mine this used to be, we named our dig the Purple Passion mine, because of the lilac colored fluorite comprising some of the vein. About a year later, while we were researching the records at the Arizona Department of Mines and Minerals, we found out that it had originally been called the Diamond Joe mine. The maps had been mislabeled and they showed the Diamond Joe some distance to the east, but we were able to recognize our mine from the description.

All three of the original openings into the Diamond Joe tunnel system are blocked or caved-in near the surface. We decided that it would be too much work to open the tunnel system and so we made our own inclined shaft about 100 feet to the north which we named the Purple Passion mine. We excavated along the vein with a backhoe, and picked a spot to start down. The first ten feet or so was done by hand with hammers, chisels, and prybars. We soon moved on to an electric hammer-drill and eventually to explosives. We built a collar out of railroad timbers and put up a headframe to help hoist the material, We had a little setback when someone stole our winch, and we were forced to find other ways to hoist until we were able to replace the winch. The shaft is about 35' deep and we are now drifting to the north, following some veins of wulfenite.

We were mining the vein for wulfenite and in addition to the regular blades, we found some really unusual wulfenite crystals. At last count, there are at least 350 places to collect wulfenite in Arizona, but only three of them have ever reported needles of wulfenite, and the other two places had only small amounts of them. In addition, we found needles of wulfenite growing on the surfaces of wulfenite blades. We coined the term "fuzzy tab" to describe the unusual epitaxial growth and learned that the only other place that they are known to occur is in southern France. When we had mined for about 6 months, someone asked us if any of our material was fluorescent. When we checked it out, we were astonished to find that that we had some truly amazing 3 and 4 colored fluorescent material (see Purple Passion fluorescent photos).

Last year, the focus changed a little and we spent many futile days trying to reopen the original inclined shaft of the Diamond Joe mine. We rented a backhoe for about six days and a huge front-end loader for a day, spaced out over many months. The original inclined shaft started about 13 feet up on the side of a hill, so we ripped the top off of it and dug a huge hole following the shaft down at about a 55-degree angle. Unfortunately, we did not find enough solid material to make a good headwall - it just wasn't safe. In July of 1999, we again rented the backhoe and were able to dig deep enough to find some of the old timbers still in place, although the shaft was filled in with dirt and rock. The hole was quite deep but the sides still were not stable, so we installed a metal corrugated culvert (5 1/2 feet in diameter and 18 feet long), to access the area. The tunnel dig series of photographs show the effort to clean out the hole, the installation of the culvert, and our initial efforts to muck out the tunnel. Since the original inclined shaft started a short distance up on a slope, the bottom of the culvert intersected the original tunnel at about the 35' depth. We have since dug about 6-8 feet deeper and have found the 45' side tunnel, although it is completely filled with dirt. As we started deeper, we found a mixture of dirt and pieces of the calcite vein. We know that some collectors were in this tunnel in 1973, and Wayne Thompson, (a well-known Arizona mineral dealer), says he saw some 3" wulfenite blades that were collected from the original tunnel system at that time. We are sure that the original miners did not leave pieces of the ore-bearing vein blocking the tunnel. We speculate that the mineral collectors worked the 45' tunnel and threw the debris further down the shaft and added to any blockage that was already there. We started the process of building a proper head frame to winch up the muck a little more easily, and will add photos as the work progresses. Unfortunately, a large rainstorm washed several feet of muck into the bottom and we got a little discouraged, so in recent weeks, we have turned our efforts back to the Purple Passion shaft and the Hogan Claim.

Fluorescent Material from the Purple Passion mine

I work the Purple Passion mine and the Hogan claim - both of which have good 3 and 4 color fluorescent material mixed in with the plain red fluorescing calcite and other minerals. In the process, we discovered that all the large short-wave UV lamps out there are horribly expensive, so we tracked down all the components and started building our own. See the section about UV lamps for more details.

The Purple Passion fluorescent material has the following characteristics: the fluorescent reds and red-oranges are calcite, the blues, violets and purples are fluorite; the white, yellow and greens are willemite; and the peach color is caliche; a few specimens have some aragonite which fluoresces (and phosphoresces) a pale blue-white. Naturally, the fluorite does it's best under long or mid wave, but will usually show to some extent under short-wave - if it doesn't show under short-wave, I usually don't pick it up. However, it is a disappointment to work the mine during the day and to see nice veins of pale green fluorite only to find out that the fluorite needs long-wave to fluoresce. Four colored pieces (either with caliche or aragonite) are unusual, but we do find them.

Photographing the Fluorescent Minerals

Taking photographs of fluorescent minerals is at best a difficult task to accomplish. Not only does it require some trial and error on the part of the photographer but, the developer of the film also has to do some extra work. Some of the photographs were taken at the mine at about dusk, but most of them were taken in my garage. I use a Nikon CoolPix 5000 to take the photos. I use one of my powerful short-wave display lights at a distance of about a foot to fluoresce the specimens. If you have a powerful display lamp, you can expect the colors to be fairly close to that shown in the photos, unless otherwise noted. If you are using a less powerful lamp, the colors will not be as bright and you may not be able to fluoresce all of the surface at the same time.


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