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Isolated mine environment leads to potential new mineral

Adventure Mine in Greenland Township is one of the oldest in the Copper Country and entire tiers have been off-limits for a century. Owner Matt Portfleet says he has been dewatering each level slowly over time. Level Two was done about a decade ago, and now features tours. Recently, the site has been draining even further underground. Portfleet says it is like a time capsule.

Those unique conditions, featuring little oxygen and residual chemicals from when blasting was taking place, can create unique minerals found nowhere else. Portfleet says they tend to form as growth attached to copper or the predominant ore in the mine. This one is different.

The bright blue is unusual, it definitely has copper in it but it looks almost like the mineral is precipitating from — almost like a mini stalagmite from the rock.

Once exposed to conditions at the surface, the bright blue tends to give way to a more grayish sheen. The Adventure Mine is a seasonal site, giving tours beginning on Memorial Day weekend. Portfleet says he is being careful about opening up Level Three to the public. It is hard to reach for the average person and there are boot prints, writing on the walls, and other manmade features that are being meticulously documented.

We’re hopeful with help from Michigan Tech and the National Park Service to basically 3-D model with laser scanners the whole third level., and create a virtual tour. For practical purposes a lot of people will never be able to access it. It’s a lot of climbing up and down ladders, or using ropes and harnesses to get down.

Adventure Mine is a registered heritage site with the Keweenaw National Historical Park.

104 year-old boot prints found on Level Three of the Adventure Mine. Courtesy of the organization’s Facebook page.

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