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THE INUIT of the Arctic Regions Of Canada, Greenland, Russia & Alaska

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Author Topic: THE INUIT of the Arctic Regions Of Canada, Greenland, Russia & Alaska  (Read 7589 times)
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« Reply #75 on: March 16, 2009, 09:09:53 pm »

                                Arctic Yields Fresh Evidence For Elizabethan Gold Swindle

(July 7, 2004) —

Canadian scientists say they've found conclusive proof that a tiny, barren Arctic island was the site of Canada's first, and perhaps greatest, mining fraud.

In 1577 and 1578, Kodlunarn Island, in what is now Frobisher Bay, was the site of British mariner Martin Frobisher's infamous Arctic Eldorado turned New World financial nightmare. Now two Laval University scientists say there's solid evidence that Frobisher and his chemists were in on a massive fraud that was an Elizabethan-era "prelude to Bre-X."

Since the scandal broke more than 400 years ago that the tons of black rock Frobisher brought back to London from the Canadian Arctic near present-day Iqaluit were worthless, there's been speculation about what happened. Was this a massive con job on Elizabeth I and her court, or did Frobisher's assayers mistakenly dupe themselves into believing they'd found gold?

One intriguing hypothesis, put forward by now retired University of Ottawa mineralogist Dr. Donald Hogarth, argued that Frobisher's assayers inadvertently contaminated their samples with gold from the lead used in the assay process.

Now, for the first time, lead samples from the assay workshops on Kondlunarn Island have been analyzed using a combination of age-old and high-tech methods in order to test the contamination hypothesis.

"We find there's not a trace of gold contamination in the lead used by Frobisher's assayers at the Kodlunarn Island site," says Dr. Georges Beaudoin, a geologist at Laval University. The results of his NSERC-funded research appear in the current issue of the Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences.

The five, tarnished, grey beads of lead – the largest about the diameter of a toonie – were discovered and collected on Kodlunarn Island during an archeaological excavation of the site in 1993-4 led by Laval University archaeologist Dr. Réginald Auger.

"With these results we've now discarded the possibility that the lead was contaminated with precious metals," says Dr. Auger, co-author of the article. "So how is it that in 1578 Frobisher went so far as to load 12 ships with tons of black ore and sail it back to London? The chemists at the site must have known the ore was worthless. We have to conclude that there was a fraud."

Sixteenth century assayers knew that it was possible to contaminate their ore samples with gold and silver. The assay process, still used today, involves melting a small sample of ore in a ceramic bowl. Powdered lead is then sprinkled onto the molten rock. As the lead mixes and sinks to the bottom of the bowl it binds with other metals by a geochemical affinity. The lead bead, or button, that forms at the bottom of the ceramic bowl is then collected and any precious metals chemically separated from the lead.

However, the same geochemical affinity that causes the precious metals to bind with the lead in the assay process means that the lead being used can already be naturally contaminated with these metals.   
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