What You Really Need to Know About Tertiary Channels (Part 1)
(N. California's Ruby Mine has produced some spectacular pieces of Tertiary placer gold.)
Ancient Gold-Bearing Streams
I've talked a little bit in the past about Tertiary river gravels (Tertiary Channels) but I'd like to take the opportunity here to address another aspect of these ancient gold-bearing streams. The main reason I'm doing this is because I've received a number of e-mail queries on this subject recently and I feel a strong need to respond to these questions for reasons that will quickly become apparent.
First, let me give you a brief rundown again of what Tertiary Channels are. They were prehistoric, gold-bearing streams that existed as "recently" as 2.5 million years ago all the back to 60 million years.
As eons passed, these rivers and streams ceased to flow due to extreme geologic upheavals and in most instances were covered to a great depth by successive geologic events, including lava flows and terrain fracturing, uplift, and alteration. Eventually portions of these ancient gold-rich channels were brought closer to the surface or even uncovered in certain locations after other geological forces took hold assisted by erosional and weathering factors.
Lindgren's Classic Work
I've mentioned U.S. Geological Survey geologist Waldemar Lindgren in the past, but my respect for the man and his work remains undiminished. Lindgren's classic treatise, "The Tertiary Gravels of the Sierra Nevada of California" was first published in 1911 but remains the best (and most detailed) scientific and analytic work ever written about Tertiary Channels.
I own an early edition, hard-bound copy of "The Tertiary Gravels of the Sierra Nevada of California" and you'd have to shoot me dead and pry Lindgren's book from my cold, stiff fingers if you wanted to get it away from me. Even if you don't live in the western or southwestern United States, I highly recommend you read what Lindgren has to say about Tertiaries...it can only help you in terms of your overall mining knowledge because these gold-bearing channels exist in a number of locations outside the U.S.
One of the Worst Offenders
Don't worry, I'll eventually get to the heart of this series of posts. First, however, I'd like to digress a bit here and bring your attention to the fact that a number of online "dream merchants" have taken Lindgren's hard-earned work (and that of others as well) and distorted it to suit their own mercenary needs and goals.One of the worst offenders here is a self-proclaimed expert and self-styled Indiana Jones type I'll call Mr. Adventure.
This hustler and snake oil salesman has (to the extent I can determine) made a pretty decent living selling purported maps and other info relating to these ancient gold-bearing rivers to the uneducated, the unwary, and downright gullible. What Mr. Adventure won't tell you, of course, is that even if he could direct you right to rich Tertiary ground the odds of you being able to access that ground (a good deal of it lies on foreign soil) are slim to none and the odds of you actually working that ground as a solitary, small-scale gold miner are just about zero.
We'll talk more about the "whys" of this last statement in my next post. Until then, best of luck to you.
If you liked this post, you may want to read: "Prehistoric Rivers of Gold (Part 1)"
(c) Jim Rocha (J.R.) 2012
Questions? E-mail me at email@example.com