TIMELINES & FAULTLINES comprises a panorama of Colonial history, painful politics and resultant social issues across a swath of the 20th century. The author, a mining geologist, has recorded unusual events and stories from sub-Arctic gulag country to Antarctic whaling waters, from coral atolls of the Pacific to the fleshspots of South East Asia, from European mining might to the the uncertain life of Brazilian garimpeiros.
Working in the Amazon Basin, Minas Geras, in 1973 I witnessed first hand the dreadful working conditions of the garimpeiros (illegal miners) eeking out a tin scratchers living on the Sierra Branca cassiterite deposit. Their lot is one of heat, dust, dirt, mud and violence.
The Sierra Branca deposit is located adjacent ro the Rio das Mortes, a waterway infested with pirhañas, carnivores that will strip cattle or a humans to the bone in moments. The only way to reach the deposit is by an unstable punt. The operator was on the way to becoming a millionaire, no charge one way, a kilogram of cassiterite for the return trip.