Previously I have given much information
concerning the miners, also I have discussed the
choice of localities for mining. for washing sands,
and for evaporating waters; further, I described
the method of searching for veins. With such
matters I was occupied in the second book; now I
come to the third book, which is about veins and
stringers, and the seams in the rocks 1 . The
term "vein" is sometimes used to indicate canales
in the earth, but very often elsewhere by this name I have described that
which may be put in vessels 2 ; I now attach a second significance to
these words, for by them I mean to designate any mineral substances which
the earth keeps hidden within her own deep receptacles.
First I will speak of the veins, which, in depth, width, and length, differ
very much one from another. Those of one variety descend from the surface
of the earth to its lowest depths, which on account of this characteristic,
I am accustomed to call " venae profundae. "
Another kind, unlike the venae profundae, neither ascend to the surface
of the earth nor descend, but lying under the ground, expand over a large
area; and on that account I call them " venae dilatatae. "
Another occupies a large extent of space in length and width; there−
fore I usually call it " vena cumulata, " for it is nothing else than an accumu−
lation of some certain kind of mineral, as I have described in the book
entitled De Subterraneorum Ortu et Causís. It occasionally happens,
though it is unusual and rare, that several accumulations of this kind are
found in one place, each one or more fathoms in depth and four or five in
width, and one is distant from another two, three, or more fathoms. When
the excavation of these accumulations begins, they at first appear in the
shape of a disc; then they open out wider; finally from each of such
A, B, C, DTHE MOUNTAIN. E, F, G, H, I, K Vena cumulata.
accumulations is usually formed a " vena cumulata. "
A Vena profunda. B Intervenium. CANOTHER vena profunda.
A & B Venae dilatatae. C Intervenium. D & EOTHER venae dilatatae.
The space between two veins is called an interveníum; this interval
between the veins, if it is between venae dilatatae is entirely hidden under−
ground. If, however, it lies between venae profundae then the top is plainly
in sight, and the remainder is hidden.
Venae profundae differ greatly one from another in width, for some of
them are one fathom wide, some are two cubits, others one cubit; others again
are a foot wide, and some only half a foot; all of which our miners call wide
veins. Others on the contrary, are only a palm wide, others three digits,
[ ][ ][ ]
[ 123 ]
or even two; these they call narrow. But in other places where there are
very wide veins, the widths of a cubit, or a foot, or half a foot, are said to be
narrow; at Cremnitz, for instance, there is a certain vein which measures
in one place fifteen fathoms in width, in another eighteen, and in another
twenty; the truth of this statement is vouched for by the inhabitants.
AWIDE vena profunda. BNARROW vena profunda.
Venae dilatatae, in truth, differ also in thickness, for some are one fathom
thick, others two, or even more; some are a cubit thick, some a foot, some
only half a foot; and all these are usually called thick veins. Some on the
other hand, are but a palm thick, some three digits, some two, some one;
these are called thin veins.
ATHIN vena dilatata. BTHICK vena dilatata.
Venae profundae vary in direction; for some run from east to west.
A, B, CVEIN. D, E, FSEAMS IN THE ROCK ( Commissurae Saxorum ).
Others, on the other hand, run from west to east.
A, B, CVEIN. D, E, F Seams in the Rocks.
Others run from south to north.
A, B, CVEIN. D, E, F Seams in the Rocks.
Others, on the contrary, run from north to south.
A, B, CVEIN. D, E, F Seams in the Rocks.
The seams in the rocks indicate to us whether a vein runs from the
east or from the west. For instance, if the rock seams incline toward the
westward as they descend into the earth, the vein is said to run from east
to west; if they incline toward the east, the vein is said to run from west
to east; in a similar manner, we determine from the rock seams whether
the veins run north or south.
Now miners divide each quarter of the earth into six divisions; and by
this method they apportion the earth into twenty−four directions, which they
divide into two parts of twelve each. The instrument which indicates these
directions is thus constructed. First a circle is made; then at equal
intervals on one half portion of it right through to the other, twelve
straight lines called by the Greeks dia/metroi, and in the Latin dímetíentes,
are drawn through a central point which the Greeks call ke/ntron, so that
the circle is thus divided into twenty−four divisions, all being of an equal
size. Then, within the circle are inscribed three other circles, the outer−
most of which has cross−lines dividing it into twenty−four equal parts; the
space between it and the next circle contains two sets of twelve numbers,
inscribed on the lines called "diameters"; while within the innermost circle
it is hollowed out to contain a magnetic needle 3 . The needle lies directly
over that one of the twelve lines called "diameters" on which the number
XII is inscribed at both ends.
When the needle which is governed by the magnet points directly
from the north to the south, the number XII at its tail, which is
forked, signifies the north, that number XII which is at its point indicates
the south. The sign VI superior indicates the east, and VI inferior the
west. Further, between each two cardinal points there are always
five others which are not so important. The first two of these directions
are called the prior directions; the last two are called the posterior, and
the fifth direction lies immediately between the former and the latter; it
is halved, and one half is attributed to one cardinal point and one half to the
other. For example, between the northern number XII and the eastern
number VI, are points numbered I, II, III, IV, V, of which I and
II are northern directions lying toward the east, IV and V are eastern
directions lying toward the north, and III is assigned, half to the north and
half to the east.
One who wishes to know the direction of the veins underground, places
over the vein the instrument just described; and the needle, as soon as it
becomes quiet, will indicate the course of the vein. That is, if the vein
proceeds from VI to VI, it either runs from east to west, or from west to
east; but whether it be the former or the latter, is clearly shown by the
seams in the rocks. If the vein proceeds along the line which is between V
and VI toward the opposite direction, it runs from between the fifth and
sixth divisions of east to the west, or from between the fifth and sixth
divisions of west to the east; and again, whether it is the one or the other
is clearly shown by the seams in the rocks. In a similar manner we
determine the other directions.
Now miners reckon as many points as the sailors do in reckoning up
the number of the winds. Not only is this done to−day in this country, but
it was also done by the Romans who in olden times gave the winds partly
Latin names and partly names borrowed from the Greeks. Any miner who
pleases may therefore call the directions of the veins by the names of the
winds. There are four principal winds, as there are four cardinal points:
the Subsolanus, which blows from the east; and its opposite the Favoníus,
which blows from the west; the latter is called by the Greeks *ze/furos, and
the former *)aphliw/ths. There is the Auster, which blows from the south;
and opposed to it is the Septentrío, from the north; the former the Greeks
called *no/tos, and the latter *)aparkti/as. There are also subordinate winds,
to the number of twenty, as there are directions, for between each two
principal winds there are always five subordinate ones. Between the
Subsolanus (east wind) and the Auster (south wind) there is the Orníthíae
or the Bird wind, which has the first place next to the Subsolanus; then
comes Caecías; then Eurus, which lies in the midway of these five; next
comes Vulturnus; and lastly, Euronotus, nearest the Auster (south wind).
The Greeks have given these names to all of these, with the exception of
Vulturnus, but those who do not distinguish the winds in so precise a manner
say this is the same as the Greeks called *eu)_ros. Between the Auster (south
wind) and the Favonius (west wind) is first Altanus, to the right of the
Auster (south wind); then Líbonotus; then Afrícus, which is the middle
one of these five; after that comes Subvesperus; next Argestes, to the left
of Favoníus (west wind). All these, with the exception of Líbonotus and
Argestes, have Latin names; but Afrícus also is called by the Greeks *ai/y.
In a similar manner, between Favoníus (west wind) and Septentrio (north
wind), first to the right of Favoníus (west wind), is the Etesíae; then
Círcíus; then Caurus, which is in the middle of these five; then Corus;
and lastly Thrascias to the left of Septentrio (north wind). To all of
these, except that of Caurus, the Greeks gave the names, and those
who do not distinguish the winds by so exact a plan, assert that the wind
which the Greeks called *ko/ros and the Latins Caurus is one and the same.
Again, between Septentrio (north wind) and the Subsolanus (east wind), the
first to the right of Septentrio (north wind) is Gallicus; then Supernas; then
Aquilo, which is the middle one of these five; next comes Boreas; and
lastly Carbas, to the left of Subsolanus (east wind). Here again, those who
do not consider the winds to be in so great a multitude, but say there are
but twelve winds in all, or at the most fourteen, assert that the wind called
by the Greeks *bore/as and the Latins Aquílo is one and the same. For our
purpose it is not only useful to adopt this large number of winds, but even
to double it, as the German sailors do. They always reckon that between
each two there is one in the centre taken from both. By this method we
also are able to signify the intermediate directions by means of the names of
the winds. For instance, if a vein runs from VI east to VI west, it is said
to proceed from Subsolanus (east wind) to Favoníus (west wind); but one
which proceeds from between V and VI of the east to between V and VI
west is said to proceed out of the middle of Carbas and Subsolanus to between
Argestes and Favoníus; the remaining directions, and their intermediates
are similarly designated. The miner, on account of the natural properties
of a magnet, by which the needle points to the south, must fix the instru−
ment already described so that east is to the left and west to the right.
In a similar way to venae profundae, the venae dilatatae vary in their
lateral directions, and we are able to understand from the seams in the
rocks in which direction they extend into the ground. For if these incline
toward the west in depth, the vein is said to extend from east to west;
if on the contrary, they incline toward the east, the vein is said to go from
west to east. In the same way, from the rock seams we can determine
veins running south and north, or the reverse, and likewise to the
subordinate directions and their intermediates.
A, B Venae dilatatae. C Seams in the Rocks.
Further, as regards the question of direction of a vena profunda, one
runs straight from one quarter of the earth to that quarter which is opposite,
while another one runs in a curve, in which case it may happen that a vein
proceeding from the east does not turn to the quarter opposite, which is the
west, but twists itself and turns to the south or the north.
ASTRAIGHT vena profunda. BCURVED vena profunda [should be vena dilatata (?)].
Similarly some venae dílatatae are horizontal, some are inclined, and
some are curved.
AHORIZONTAL vena dilatata. BINCLINED vena dilatata. CCURVED vena dilatata.
Also the veins which we call profundae differ in the manner in which
they descend into the depths of the earth; for some are vertical (A), some are
inclined and sloping (B), others crooked (C).
Moreover, venae profundae (B) differ much among themselves regarding
the kind of locality through which they pass, for some extend along the
slopes of mountains or hills (A−C) and do not descend down the sides.
Other Venae Profundae (D, E, F) from the very summit of the mountain
or hill descend the slope (A) to the hollow or valley (B), and they again ascend
the slope or the side of the mountain or hill opposite (C)
Other Venae Profundae (C, D) descend the mountain or hill (A) and
extend out into the plain (B).
Some veins run straight along on the plateaux, the hills, or plains.
AMOUNTAINOUS PLAIN. B Vena profunda.
APRINCIPAL VEIN. BTRANSVERSE VEIN. CVEIN CUTTING PRINCIPAL ONE
In the next place, venae profundae differ not a little in the manner in
which they intersect, since one may cross through a second transversely, or
one may cross another one obliquely as if cutting it in two.
If a vein which cuts through another principal one obliquely be the
harder of the two, it penetrates right through it, just as a wedge of beech or
iron can be driven through soft wood by means of a tool. If it be softer, the
principal vein either drags the soft one with it for a distance of three feet, or
perhaps one, two, three, or several fathoms, or else throws it forward along
the principal vein; but this latter happens very rarely. But that the vein
which cuts the principal one is the same vein on both sides, is shown by its
having the same character in its foot walls and hanging walls.
APRINCIPAL VEIN. BVEIN WHICH CUTS A OBLIQUELY. CPART CARRIED AWAY.
DTHAT PART WHICH HAS BEEN CARRIED FORWARD.
Sometimes venae profundae join one with another, and from two or
more outcropping veins 4 , one is formed; or from two which do not outcrop
one is made, if they are not far distant from each other, and the one dips
into the other, or if each dips toward the other, and they thus join when they
have descended in depth. In exactly the same way, out of three or more
veins, one may be formed in depth.
A, BTWO VEINS DESCEND INCLINED AND DIP TOWARD EACH OTHER.
CJUNCTION. LIKEWISE TWO VEINS. DINDICATES ONE DESCENDING VERTICALLY.
EMARKS THE OTHER DESCENDING INCLINED, WHICH DIPS TOWARD D. FTHEIR JUNCTIO
However, such a junction of veins sometimes disunites and in this
way it happens that the vein which was the right−hand vein becomes
the left; and again, the one which was on the left becomes the right.
Furthermore, one vein may be split and divided into parts by some hard
rock resembling a beak, or stringers in soft rock may sunder the vein and
make two or more. These sometimes join together again and sometimes
A, BVEINS DIVIDING. CTHE SAME JOINING.
Whether a vein is separating from or uniting with another can be deter−
mined only from the seams in the rocks. For example, if a principal
vein runs from the east to the west, the rock seams descend in depth
likewise from the east toward the west, and the associated vein which
joins with the principal vein, whether it runs from the south or the north,
has its rock seams extending in the same way as its own, and they do not
conform with the seams in the rock of the principal veinwhich remain
the same after the junctionunless the associated vein proceeds in the same
direction as the principal vein. In that case we name the broader vein the
principal one, and the narrower the associated vein. But if the principal
vein splits, the rock seams which belong respectively to the parts, keep
the same course when descending in depth as those of the principal vein.
But enough of venae profundae, their junctions and divisions. Now
we come to venae dilatatae. A vena dilatata may either cross a vena profunda,
or join with it, or it may be cut by a vena profunda, and be divided into parts.
A, C Vena dilatata CROSSING A vena profunda. B Vena profunda. D, E Vena
dilatata WHICH JUNCTIONS WITH A vena profunda. F Vena profunda. G Vena dilatata.
H, IITS DIVIDED PARTS. K Vena profunda WHICH DIVIDES THE vena dilatata.
Finally, a vena profunda has a "beginning" ( origo ), an "end" ( finis ), a
"head" ( caput ), and a "tail" ( cauda ). That part whence it takes its rise
is said to be its "beginning," that in which it terminates the "end." Its
"head" 5 is that part which emerges into daylight; its "tail" that part
which is hidden in the earth. But miners have no need to seek the
"beginning" of veins, as formerly the kings of Egypt sought for the source
of the Nile, but it is enough for them to discover some other part of the vein
and to recognise its direction, for seldom can either the "beginning" or the
"end" be found. The direction in which the head of the vein comes into
the light, or the direction toward which the tail extends, is indicated by its
footwall and hangingwall. The latter is said to hang, and the former to lie.
The vein rests on the footwall, and the hangingwall overhangs it; thus,
when we descend a shaft, the part to which we turn the face is the foot−
wall and seat of the vein, that to which we turn the back is the hanging−
wall. Also in another way, the head accords with the footwall and the tail
with the hangingwall, for if the footwall is toward the south, the vein
extends its head into the light toward the south; and the hangingwall,
because it is always opposite to the footwall, is then toward the north.
Consequently the vein extends its tail toward the north if it is an inclined
vena profunda. Similarly, we can determine with regard to east and west
and the subordinate and their intermediate directions. A vena profunda
which descends into the earth may be either vertical, inclined, or crooked,
the footwall of an inclined vein is easily distinguished from the hangingwall,
but it is not so with a vertical vein; and again, the footwall of a crooked
vein is inverted and changed into the hangingwall, and contrariwise the
hangingwall is twisted into the footwall, but very many of these crooked
veins may be turned back to vertical or inclined ones.
ATHE "BEGINNING" ( origo ). BTHE "END" ( finis ). CTHE "HEAD" ( caput ).
DTHE "TAIL" ( cauda ).
A vena dilatata has only a "beginning" and an "end," and in the place
of the "head" and "tail" it has two sides.
ATHE "BEGINNING." BTHE "END." C, DTHE "SIDES."
ATHE "BEGINNING." BTHE "END." CTHE "HEAD." DTHE "TAIL."
A vena cumulata has a "beginning," an "end," a "head," and a
"tail," just as a vena profunda. Moreover, a vena cumulata, and likewise
a vena dilatata, are often cut through by a transverse vena profunda.
Stringers ( fibrae ) 6 , which are little veins, are classified into fibrae trans−
versae, fibrae obliquae which cut the vein obliquely, fibrae sociae,
fibrae dilatatae, and fibrae incumbentes. The fibra transversa crosses
the vein; the fibra obliqua crosses the vein obliquely; the fibra socia joins
with the vein itself; the fibra dilatata, like the vena dilatata, penetrates
through it; but the fibra dilatata, as well as the fibra profunda, is usually
found associated with a vein.
The fibra incumbens does not descend as deeply into the earth as the
other stringers, but lies on the vein, as it were, from the surface to the
hangingwall or footwall, from which it is named Subdialis. 7
In truth, as to direction, junctions, and divisions, the stringers are not
different from the veins.
A, BVEINS. CTRANSVERSE STRINGER. DOBLIQUE STRINGER.
EASSOCIATED STRINGER. F Fibra dilatata
AVEIN. B Fibra incumbens FROM THE SURFACE OF THE HANGINGWALL. CSAME
FROM THE FOOTWALL.
Lastly, the seams, which are the very finest stringers ( fibrae ), divide
the rock, and occur sometimes frequently, sometimes rarely. From
whatever direction the vein comes, its seams always turn their heads
toward the light in the same direction. But, while the seams usually run
from one point of the compass to another immediately opposite it, as
for instance, from east to west, if hard stringers divert them, it may
happen that these very seams, which before were running from east to
west, then contrariwise proceed from west to east, and the direction of
the rocks is thus inverted. In such a case, the direction of the veins is
judged, not by the direction of the seams which occur rarely, but by those
which constantly recur.
ASEAMS WHICH PROCEED FROM THE EAST. BTHE INVERSE.
Both veins or stringers may be solid or drusy, or barren of minerals,
or pervious to water. Solid veins contain no water and very little air. The
drusy veins rarely contain water; they often contain air. Those which
are barren of minerals often carry water. Solid veins and stringers con−
sist sometimes of hard materials, sometimes of soft, and sometimes of a
kind of medium between the two.
ASOLID VEIN. BSOLID STRINGER. CCAVERNOUS VEIN. DCAVERNOUS
STRINGER. EBARREN VEIN. FBARREN STRINGER.
But to return to veins. A great number of miners consider 8 that the
best veins in depth are those which run from the VI or VII direction of the
east to the VI or VII direction of the west, through a mountain slope which
inclines to the north; and whose hangingwalls are in the south, and whose
footwalls are in the north, and which have their heads rising to the north,
as explained before, always like the footwall, and finally, whose rock
seams turn their heads to the east. And the veins which are the next
best are those which, on the contrary, extend from the VI or VII direction
of the west to the VI or VII direction of the east, through the slope of a
mountain which similarly inclines to the north. whose hangingwalls
are also in the south, whose footwalls are in the north, and whose
heads rise toward the north; and lastly, whose rock seams raise
their heads toward the west. In the third place, they recommend those
veins which extend from XII north to XII south, through the slope
of a mountain which faces east; whose hangingwalls are in the
west, whose footwalls are in the east; whose heads rise toward
the east; and whose rock seams raise their heads toward the north.
Therefore they devote all their energies to those veins, and give very little
or nothing to those whose heads, or the heads of whose rock seams rise
toward the south or west. For although they say these veins some−
times show bright specks of pure metal adhering to the stones, or they come
upon lumps of metal, yet these are so few and far between that despite them
it is not worth the trouble to excavate such veins; and miners who persevere
in digging in the hope of coming upon a quantity of metal, always lose their
time and trouble. And they say that from veins of this kind, since the sun' s
rays draw out the metallic material, very little metal is gained. But in
this matter the actual experience of the miners who thus judge of the veins
does not always agree with their opinions, nor is their reasoning sound;
since indeed the veins which run from east to west through the slope of a
mountain which inclines to the south, whose heads rise likewise to the
south, are not less charged with metals, than those to which miners are
wont to accord the first place in productiveness; as in recent years has been
proved by the St. Lorentz vein at Abertham, which our countrymen call
Gottsgaab, for they have dug out of it a large quantity of pure silver; and
lately a vein in Annaberg, called by the name of Himmelsch hoz 9 , has made it
plain by the production of much silver that veins which extend from the
north to the south, with their heads rising toward the west, are no less rich
in metals than those whose heads rise toward the east.
It may be denied that the heat of the sun draws the metallic material
out of these veins; for though it draws up vapours from the surface of the
ground, the rays of the sun do not penetrate right down to the depths; because
the air of a tunnel which is covered and enveloped by solid earth to the depth of
only two fathoms is cold in summer, for the intermediate earth holds in check
the force of the sun. Having observed this fact, the inhabitants and dwellers
of very hot regions lie down by day in caves which protect them from the
excessive ardour of the sun. Therefore it is unlikely that the sun draws
out from within the earth the metallic bodies. Indeed, it cannot even dry
the moisture of many places abounding in veins, because they are pro−
tected and shaded by the trees. Furthermore, certain miners, out of all
the different kinds of metallic veins, choose those which I have described,
and others, on the contrary, reject copper mines which are of this sort, so
that there seems to be no reason in this. For what can be the reason if the
sun draws no copper from copper veins, that it draws silver from silver veins,
and gold from gold veins?
Moreover, some miners, of whose number was Calbus 10 , distinguish
between the gold−bearing rivers and streams. A river, they say, or a stream,
is most productive of fine and coarse grains of gold when it comes from the
east and flows to the west, and when it washes against the foot of mountains
which are situated in the north, and when it has a level plain toward the
south or west. In the second place, they esteem a river or a stream which
flows in the opposite course from the west toward the east, and which has
the mountains to the north and the level plain to the south. In the third
place, they esteem the river or the stream which flows from the north to the
south and washes the base of the mountains which are situated in the east.
But they say that the river or stream is least productive of gold which flows
in a contrary direction from the south to the north, and washes the base of
mountains which are situated in the west. Lastly, of the streams or rivers
which flow from the rising sun toward the setting sun, or which flow from
the northern parts to the southern parts, they favour those which approach
the nearest to the lauded ones, and say they are more productive of gold,
and the further they depart from them the less productive they are. Such
are the opinions held about rivers and streams. Now, since gold is not
generated in the rivers and streams, as we have maintained against
Albertus 11 in the book entitled " De Subterraneorum Ortu et Causís, " Book
V, but is torn away from the veins and stringers and settled in the sands of
torrents and water−courses, in whatever direction the rivers or streams flow,
therefore it is reasonable to expect to find gold therein; which is not
opposed by experience. Nevertheless, we do not deny that gold is generated
in veins and stringers which lie under the beds of rivers or streams, as in
END OF BOOK III