"Reading" a Stream, Part II
I already covered the basics of how to read a gold bearing stream in an earlier post. Now I'm going to throw a bit of a curve ball your way by using two words. Be creative. After you've grasped the basics of stream hydraulics and gold deposition you must train yourself to think "outside the box" occasionally while enjoying your small-scale mining pursuits. Why? Because gold can sometimes show up where least expected.
Mother Nature Loves a Good Joke
Yes, it is remains a fact that placer gold geology, stream hydraulics, and the physics of gold deposition are firmly rooted in established scientific theory, study, and principles and you should conduct your prospecting and mining operations accordingly. But Mother Nature loves a good joke and can, at times, hide her wealth in places you wouldn't normally dream of looking. Hiding places that are not always the usual or logical "suspects" like that good-looking stretch of bedrock or behind that big boulder in the low pressure portion of the stream flow. Nor are they always in large, well-known, and extensively worked historical mining districts.
Do Your Research
Let me tell you how I learned this lesson in a very big way. Back in the early-to-mid 1980s when I was just getting up to speed with my placer mining skills, I was trying to increase my limited knowledge by constantly reading and researching as much as I could on mining history, techniques, methods and processes, and the science of gold formation and deposition. This pursuit led to me to a very interesting discovery.
One day I came across a 35-year old San Diego County geologic bulletin that included geologic maps of the county listing documented areas of mineralization as well as areas that might contain precious metal but which had not been verified or listed as active mining areas with proven production. These maps, in turn, led me to an undeveloped area a scant 15 miles from downtown San Diego, where I in turn sampled and recovered a small deposit of placer gold where no placer operations had ever taken place, where no mining boom town ever sprang up, and where no one else had thought to look.
How much gold you ask? Enough my friend, considering the locale and the tiny creek bed I worked. And all of it came in the form of beautiful wire gold, a highly unusual (and often sought after) gold form. After recovering what I could from the creek bed I spent months prowling the nearby hillsides looking for the source of this wire gold, but was never able to find it. Today, sad to say, this spot is entombed by one of those typical sprawling and overpriced Southern California housing developments.
A Personal Message
So here's my message to you. Do your research and look for what others may have missed or neglected. You can apply this principle to your actual on-site mining activities as well. Instead of digging in the same old spots and getting just a bit of color here and there, use your eyeballs to search for spots that others may have passed on because they didn't "look good" or required too much effort to uncover or process.
In the final analysis, "gold is where you find it." But you won't find it by being lazy or adhering to placer mining principles in a slavish or robotic fashion. Be creative the next time you're out there.
You never know. You may just find your golden dream.
(c) Jim Rocha (J.R.) 2008