Big Storms Can Produce "Big" Gold

(When gold-bearing rivers get this violent, "big" gold can be had.)

It's no great secret that hydraulic action is what shakes placer gold loose and moves it around in streams, washes, and rivers. What many miners aren't aware of however, is that big storms can produce "big" gold.

Why is this the case? Simple gold deposition physics for the most part, fueled by an angry and potentially violent Mother Nature.

Main Culprits

In the far western United States, huge storms rolling in from the Pacific coast in the wintertime are the main culprits while in the Southwest it's summertime or "monsoon" season thunderstorms that are the cause.

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Either way, there's a simple axiom for miners in this regard: the larger and more violent the storm is and the more rain or snow pack it produces, the more likely that isolated or even wide-spread flooding or flash flooding events will occur.

 (I can't help it...when I see flooding like this all I can think about is gold and more gold.)

Newly Deposited "Goodies"

Here's the second part of this axiom: the more water that floods or rushes its way downstream, the greater the forces of hydraulic action. The greater the hydraulic forces at play, the greater the likelihood that gold-bearing gravels will be ripped from gravel benches, from underneath large boulders and bank walls, and sent tumbling and turning downstream where they will eventually come to rest when the waters begin to calm.

The force from big storms can easily strip deeply buried placer gold nuggets, flakes, and fines from their resting places and redeposit them in multi-ounce pockets and paystreaks on or very near the surface. Much like anything else in this life, it's a first-come, first-serve mining proposition. Experienced placer gold miners know this and will invariably be the first ones on the scene to get those newly deposited "goodies."

More Gold in a Day...

I've not only seen this happen but have been there to get my share as well. I will tell you straight out this sort of event can be an amazing experience, especially when you recover more gold in a day than you did the previous two months combined.

Does this happen in every instance? Of course not...recovering "big" gold after a significant weather event still takes a practiced eye, solid mining knowledge and experience, and as usual...a lot of elbow grease. 

Get Off Your Duff

That said, the rewards can be great as well. So the next time you're sitting at home watching that TV weatherman tell you about all that flooding going on in the foothills, it's time to get off your duff and grab your gear. last thing...don't place yourself in deliberate danger or peril. Wait till Ma Nature calms a bit...I can't afford to lose any readers.

Good luck out there.

If you liked this post, you may want to read: "More on Gold Prospecting"

(c)  Jim Rocha (J.R.)  2012

Questions? E-mail me at


  1. I was thinking about this very concept while I was elk hunting recently. We hunted near the "little bear" fire scar. You must know that much of that scar is near Bonita lake, which is now closed due to silting and flooding. unfortunately the whole area is still off limits to the public. but, oh boy next year!


    1. You're thinking the right way here Bo. Those big water events can really mic things up and move the gold around, making it more least for a while anyway! Thanks for commenting. J.R.


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