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Prospecting is a fun past-time that many of us enjoy. We all know that when we find gold it makes it that much more enjoyable… And when we find lots of gold… Well… Its an all out party then! Here a few tips to make your next trip out more rewarding (don’t forget to invite me to the party )
Did you know that geologists estimate that only 5% of the gold has been removed from the Earth. That leaves a heck of a lot of gold out there for us prospectors to find. So lets get about finding that stuff.
If you are heading to a new area, do a little homework before you head out. Find topo and satellite maps of the area where you are going to identify possible hotspots before you arrive. This can save a lot of wear and tear on the old feet from having to criss-cross possibly hundreds of acres looking for that one good spot.
You can find maps online or you can order them. Having a good hard copy topo map is always a good idea when you’re heading into a new spot. Plus if you have a map you can mark it with the spots that you identified in your research, making it a heck of a lot easier to get to once you arrive at your destination.
Another thing to look for on your topo map is historic mines. If there are old mines in the area, the prospect of there being gold there is greater. After all, they didn’t dig that hole in the ground to get dirt! If a creek or river passes through that area… Bonus! There should be gold in that stream bed.
If your area includes a waterway, identify the bends in it and check them for deposits. Also large rocks boulders tend to trap gold. Anywhere the stream slows, there is the potential for gold because gold is heavy and tends to drop where the current is slowed or encumbered.
When digging look for bedrock and false bedrock. Many ancient river beds that may no longer have water in them have false bedrock that is rich in gold. These caliche layers are easily identified becuse they are usually much lighter in color (nearly white at times) than the soil above them. There will also be water washed rocks and gravels (smooth edges and round in shape) cemented together in these areas.
You will find gold on top of these caliche layers and embedded within them. Its a good idea to have a large pick and a strong shovel for these layers. Wash all of the larger rocks off before discarding them, then classify the remaining material down to a workable size. A high-banker works well with this type of material, but it can be processed with a pan, as well.
Look for quartz and black sand in the area. Quartz and gold deposits require the same geologic forces to be created. When you find one, you won’t necessarily find the other, but quartz is usually a good indicator of the possibility of gold in the area.
Orange and Yellow stains are indicative of copper and iron ores. These ores are what make heavy black sands. If your area has gold and you find black sand, you are usually going to find gold in the same area. Heavy materials tend to settle into the same spots.
Look for exposed bedrock. Water and climate conditions erode deposits and the density of gold causes it to settle at the lowest levels… i.e. On top of bedrock. If you can find exposed bedrock, you can check the crevices for gold. Also if there is exposed bedrock, there should not be too much over-burden in the surrounding area so you won’t jave to move too much material to get to the potential gold deposits.
Use a metal detector or pinpointer to check the crevices and the holes you dig. This alone can be a huge time-saver. No sense in digging up a bunch of dirt and rocks of there’s no gold there.
Another good spot to look would be if there had been glaciers in the area. Some of the best placer gold deposits have been found in areas where glaciers have been.
Lastly, I want to touch on common courtesy.
Hope these tips help make your next trip out more prosperous and enjoyable. ‘Til next time…