Gold Deposition in Dry Placers (Conclusion)

 (One of my mining "pards," Kane Fisher, checking a section of dry wash bedrock.)

"Hit or Miss"

One thing I can tell you about dry gold placers is just how fickle or "hit or miss" they can be. This fact is only amplified when you try to compare dry placers to those found in wet environments where gold-bearing streams run year round. In truth, however, these sorts of comparisons are not really's similar to comparing apples to oranges.

The "hit or miss" quality that typifies most dry placer gold deposition is probably the single most frustrating aspect of prospecting or mining in dry or desert environments. Every time you think you're on to something and starting to get a bit of gold that wash or arroyo will throw another curve ball your way while Ma Nature just sits back and laughs at you.

Just the Opposite is True

So here's the'll need to curb your excitement and damp down your expectations once you begin to find and recover decent gold values in dry placers. Why? Because that thin paystreak or small pocket you just found sitting atop a layer of caliche or behind that large boulder is not going to be consistently applied throughout that dry wash or arroyo.

Wolverine Boots
Dickies Work Clothes

You can move down to another layer of caliche or sample behind the next large wash obstruction thinking you have this puppy wired in terms of where the gold is and guess what happens? Nada. Nothing. You won't even find a grain of gold. In most wet placers, however, just the opposite tends to be true. There will be a consistency to gold distribution and deposition. (Getting the true picture here now?)

(There's a lonely sort of beauty to many dry placer locations.)

Very Good or Very Bad

Whether you're an old timer like me or a "newbie" to small-scale gold mining and prospecting, your best bet for finding gold in dry placer environments is by keeping an open mind and thinking outside the proverbial box. To achieve success over the long haul you'll have to use ALL your mining experience and knowledge in ways you never dreamed of before, especially if the majority of your gold mining or prospecting was done in wet placers prior to this point in time.

Metal Detectors
Most dry placer gold deposition (unlike that in most wet placers) is so erratic that anything can happen. This can be very good or it can be just as bad.You might, like I once did, find a quarter troy ounce in the top six inches of dirt and gravel behind a large boulder, or you may slink on home with only a few grains after Ma Nature finishes spanking your butt.

Either way, roll with the punches and don't give up. There's good gold to be found in most dry placers by those of you who already know (or can learn) the score and use the right gear (i.e., a good dry washer) to recover that dry placer gold.

Good luck to you out there.

If you liked this post, you may want to read: "Gold Mining Questions and Answers: Part 10"

(c)  Jim Rocha (J.R.)  2012