Gold in the Southeast: South Carolina (Part 1)
Widely Disseminated Lode and Placer Gold
Both lode and placer gold are widely disseminated throughout the Southeast and South Carolina is no exception. Here's what the South Carolina State Department of Natural Resources has to say on the subject:
"Gold can be found in most of the Piedmont (Note: The Piedmont Uplift is the main geologic formation responsible for gold formation in the Southeast. J.R.) , which is the area northwest of the Fall Line. The Fall Line is the division between the younger sedimentary rocks of the Coastal Plain and the older crystalline metamorphic and igneous rocks of the Piedmont."
"Major gold mining operations have been located in Lancaster, Fairfield, McCormick, Chesterfield, and Cherokee Counties. Briefly, gold deposits were formed within volcanic rocks during the early history of the Piedmont."
"Deposits are now found by core drilling or visual and chemical observations of rock outcrops at the surface. Gold and other minerals accumulate in stream sediments because of the actions of erosion on the crystalline rock."
"Panning and sluicing for gold in streams, creeks, and shallow rivers has yielded minor finds."
Unfortunately, this somewhat terse description doesn't do justice to the small-scale gold mining potential of South Carolina. So I'll attempt to flesh things out a bit:
The "Tanyard Pit" Placers
Many of South Carolina's gold placers invariably occur close to lode veins which are the source of the gold. Perhaps the most productive gold placers were found in and surrounding the so-called "Tanyard Pit" at the Brewer Mine in Chesterfield County. The placer gold production of the Tanyard Pit was fairly significant and exceeded gold recoveries from nearby veins by a 2-to-1 ratio.
Before you begin planning a prospecting trip to the Brewer Mine, please note that it has been designated a Federal "Superfund" environmental cleanup site due to previous mining and leaching operations. However, you may want to check some of the drainage areas beyond and below the "Superfund" site for indications of placer gold.
Nuggets in the Multi-Ounce Range
Additionally, keep your eyes open for quartzitic "float" or gold ore that may have been overlooked or washed down from the Brewer Mine. Interestingly enough, some geologists believe that Chesterfield County gold deposits were formed, in part, by the wave action of ancient seas.
If you want to know specifics about what sort of gold values might exist in the area I can tell you that some nuggets in the multi-ounce range were found in the old days near the Brewer Mine. The same holds true for pieces of gold-bearing quartz.
Please Don't Trespass
Remember, whether you're prospecting in Chesterfield County or anywhere else in the "Palmetto State" keep your eyes out for private property signs and please don't trespass.
That's it for this round. I'll continue with more information on gold in South Carolina in my next post.
Be safe out there.
If you liked this post, you may want to read: "Working Clay Layers (Part 2)"
(c) J.R. 2009
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