What is this black stuff? And this white stuff?

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What is this black stuff? And this white stuff?

Postby GroundquestMSA » Sep 11, 2011 8:56 pm

I found some pure black 1-2" stripes in the wall of a dolomitic cave. They appear as veins of coal, but are as soft as butter.
Also present in the same cave are white "rocks and pebbles" on the stream floor and imbedded in the walls. They too are very soft, more like bleu cheese. Neither of these substances have a noticable odor, nor do they taste like butter or cheese.
Anyone know what sort of things I'm dealing with?

Interestingly there is also a great quantity of grey stone that makes up the structure of the cave. It is quite hard and bears no resemblance to any type of food whatsoever. It tastes like dirt.
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Re: What is this black stuff? And this white stuff?

Postby Bumbalawski » Sep 11, 2011 9:45 pm

I do not know what you found, but I would have never applied the "taste test" :yikes: . The only dolomite cave in the area is currently filled in (we do have permission to reopen it). I do not what is inside it, but there is nothing like you describe on the outside.
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Re: What is this black stuff? And this white stuff?

Postby Leclused » Sep 12, 2011 5:48 am

Is it possible that the black stripes is soot. Soot from carbide lamps that has deposited on small ledges or from any other firesource (ancient fireplaces in the entrance fe). In Belgium we have several caves were we can see those cabide soot deposits. That's why we don't use carbide lamps anymore.

The white stuff ... the only soft white stuff that appears in caves that I know is "Moonmilch"

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Re: What is this black stuff? And this white stuff?

Postby peter febb » Sep 12, 2011 7:02 am

The black stuff could be Psilomelane, or bog ore...a very soft mineral made up of Manganese
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Re: What is this black stuff? And this white stuff?

Postby DeanWiseman » Sep 12, 2011 7:59 am

Bumbalawski wrote:I do not know what you found, but I would have never applied the "taste test" :yikes: . The only dolomite cave in the area is currently filled in (we do have permission to reopen it). I do not what is inside it, but there is nothing like you describe on the outside.



The "taste test" was a quite common testing technique for chemists and geologists dating back hundreds, or even thousands of years. My grandfather was a chemist and he would talk about how his mentors (especially from Germany) were into using that technique. We have quite the elegant chemical detection kit on our tongues and in our noses--not to say that it doesn't come without some caveats. Epsomite is a good one to try if you can find it.

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Re: What is this black stuff? And this white stuff?

Postby GroundquestMSA » Sep 12, 2011 4:18 pm

Leclused wrote:Is it possible that the black stripes is soot. Soot from carbide lamps that has deposited on small ledges or from any other firesource (ancient fireplaces in the entrance fe).


They are deep veins of buttery material in virgin passage.
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Re: What is this black stuff? And this white stuff?

Postby Leclused » Sep 13, 2011 6:14 am

Virgin passage or not it still can be soot. In a cave in Belgium (Weron) a complete part of the cave was named after it (Reseau Noir). During the discovery of this part of the cave the explorers found the soot deposit everywhere in the virgin passages. The known part of the cave was (and still is) a classic caving trip and was done several decades with Carbide lighting. The airflow picked-up the soot and deposited it in that particular part of the cave that was not yet found year-in year-out.

an picture of soot deposit can be found on this page

http://www.scavalon.be/avalonuk/protect ... onview.htm


But in your case it is probably not the case.
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Re: What is this black stuff? And this white stuff?

Postby DeanWiseman » Sep 13, 2011 9:42 am

GroundquestMSA wrote:They are deep veins of buttery material in virgin passage.


Some kind of immature, super-soft coal? :shrug:


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Re: What is this black stuff? And this white stuff?

Postby LukeM » Sep 13, 2011 9:47 am

DeanWiseman wrote:
GroundquestMSA wrote:They are deep veins of buttery material in virgin passage.


Some kind of immature, super-soft coal? :shrug:


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I thought about that, but wouldn't that have a pretty distinct smell?
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Re: What is this black stuff? And this white stuff?

Postby rlboyce » Sep 13, 2011 6:01 pm

Coal next to limestone? I don't know about that one. Surely there are a few geologists here who could help??
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Re: What is this black stuff? And this white stuff?

Postby NZcaver » Sep 14, 2011 8:53 am

Dark matter and light matter..? :shrug: :tonguecheek:
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Re: What is this black stuff? And this white stuff?

Postby self-deleted_user » Sep 14, 2011 3:58 pm

I thought white pasty stuff was moonmilk. "Usually gooey and pasty when wet" http://www.goodearthgraphics.com/virtca ... nmilk.html

As far as the black, perhaps graphite? I remember reading that you can find veins of graphite in limestone, and graphite is extremely soft and would be black.
Another idea is maybe natural asphalt like what is found in Tumbling Rock? Although this stuff has SMELL. OMG SMELL. HORRIBLE MIGRAINE CAUSING SMELL. http://www.flickr.com/photos/undergroun ... 285798516/

see? slowly learning my rocks! :D
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