Descending a few dozen feet into a open array mine, visitors enter a monochromatic universe that looks like a dried universe from Star Wars. On all sides, walls of scarcely pristine quartz sandstone arise up, a sparkly tan of tender shaft sugar, layered with bands of opposite shades. Loose silt sits in tiny piles during a bottom of a cliffs; in a distance, incomparable piles are being installed into outrageous yellow dump trucks that can pierce 70 tons of a things during a time.
But they’re not digging for profitable ores or changed metals buried underneath all this sand. This is a silt mine, and there are dozens like it in western Wisconsin. This state, and others in a Midwest, have some of a best silt in a world.
Sand has been mined here for over a century. It’s used for glass, casting in foundries, even playgrounds and golf march silt traps. But in a final 10 to 15 years, a attention has exploded since this silt has specific characteristics. It’s pristine — roughly wholly quartz, or silicon dioxide — and a particles are round. This multiple creates Wisconsin silt ideal for use in another extractive industry: hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in a query for healthy gas and oil.