More on Gold Prospecting

(This how the old-time gold prospectors did it.)

Confusion Persists

Confusion seems to persist among those who are new to small-scale gold mining when it comes to the difference between gold prospecting and gold mining. As I stated in a previous post, my definition is actually quite simple: "Gold prospecting is the art of looking for gold while gold mining is the art of recovering gold."

Tips for Smart Miners

One thing that you need to understand is that these two pursuits are not always mutually inclusive. Many old-time, single-blanket jackass prospectors spent their lives prospecting for gold but never stuck around long enough to really become miners.

Dying Art Form

Once they had made a discovery and perhaps sold it for a pittance, they moved on to follow that golden dream again and again. In the strictest sense, these hardy individualists were not really motivated by the finding of gold, but by the search for gold.

I've also said before that I believe gold prospecting is a dying art form. There are any number of reasons for this, including increased restrictions on access and the general availability of open areas to prospect (or mine, for that matter).

The Heart of the Matter

But the heart of the matter here is to pass on to you a bit more of what many of the oldtimers already knew about gold, gold geology, and mineralization. So here goes:

1) Gold is much more widely disseminated throughout nature than you may currently expect or realize.

The kicker here is, of course, that large concentrations of the precious yellow metal are much less disseminated and the very largest have already been located and mined for the most part. But, smaller, less-extensive gold veins and placers still await discovery by a new breed of hardy souls with "color" running through their veins and the knowledge, experience, and motivation to get out there and find these deposits.

 (This is one example of what you're looking for.)

2) Gold can be found in just about any type of geological formation from the very oldest to the very newest.

That said, I've learned from both study and direct field experience that the best types of geological formations for gold mineralization are those with the greatest amount of changes that have taken place over time. These changes include fissuring, faulting, elevational changes and tilting, folding, vulcanism, and last but not least: strong metamorphic changes in the texture and overall mineral composition of host or "country" rock.

3) Certain visual clues are good indicators of gold's presence nearby.

When you're out and about prospecting keep your eyes open for things like quartz "float" or stringers or veins of quartz that appear "rusty" or "rotten" and crumbly; iron pyrites or pyritic crystals in quartz or other rock; garnets; magnetite and hematite; zircon or monzanite; rocks with a range of colors in them; and sudden or abrupt changes in surrounding vegetation or earth color. These are all indicators that strong mineralization has taken place and precious metals may be part of that mineralization.

Wolverine Boots
Dickies Work Clothes

(Note: You've probably noticed that I didn't mention heavy black sands as a visual clue here. One reason is that magnetite and hematite are constituents of most black sand deposits. Secondly, the presence of black sands is widespread and is NOT an indicator of gold of and by itself. Remember that and you'll save yourself a lot of hassle and wasted effort if you're a fledgling prospector or gold miner. J.R.)

That's all for now. I wish you good health and good luck out there.

If you liked this post, you may want to read: "Gold Ore Fire Assays"

(c) J.R. 2010

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