"You Can't Help But Love It"
(This close up of a 407-gram Aussie nugget tells the tale.)
Aussie gold prospector and miner GS sent me some detailed information on Australia gold via the comments section of my post titled "Focus on Size at Your Own Risk." If you're interested in electronic prospecting and the nature of gold in Australia, I recommend you read what GS has to say here in relation to previous comments posted by Bedrock Dreams reader and supporter "Muskrat."
"You Could Have Heard a Pin Drop"
"Why do we get so many Nuggets in Australia? Good question. Let me start by telling you I am far from an expert on gold prospecting or gold mining. I now do both on a full-time basis. I am, if you like, obsessed by the chase. Perhaps a better explanation is that I have gold fever. I started five years ago as an electronic prospector (using a metal detector only) in known gold fields in Queensland, Australia. I needed a new hobby and something to take me away from the city and the rat race. OK, back to the subject at hand."
"When I first started, I found six nuggets totaling one troy ounce of gold in my first week in the bush, thanks to a few tips from some old timers on where to look. My first thoughts of course were 'Man this is easy!' I also thought at that stage that everyone must pick up gold like this (dead wrong, greenhorn). Back in town two weeks later I did the show-and-tell thing at the very same place the old timers gave me the info on where to look. I laid out just over three ounces on the table in front of them. Well, you could have heard a pin drop... it felt like minutes before someone finally spoke up with 'Oh, you little prick!' and numerous other expletives that I'll leave to your imaginations. It turns out that the area they had sent me to was (in their minds) all worked out because they themselves had bashed that area for years. (Sorry guys, but you were too lazy to move logs and ground rubbish away from likely spots.)"
"Many Areas Still Have Big Nuggets"
"Gold in this Outback area (my location) was discovered in 1861 by two men digging post holes for a fence line. The gold they found was in the form of potato-sized nuggets. From that point on and still today you can find nuggets in the first 16 inches of ground. These days not many are potato sized but there are plenty ranging from 1 gram up to about 26 grams. That's the norm in this area."
(There's lots of gold ground to walk in the Outback.)
"This country of Australia might be young as a nation but the land itself is not so young. I guess it has probably seen as much volcanic action and changes to its land mass as many others countries of the world, if not more. Australia is a big land with a very small population...even today we might be lucky to have 25 million people total. Many of these people populate the coast lines of Australia. The Outback is huge and sparsely populated, on the other hand. That's why many areas still have big nuggets...simply because those nuggets have been sitting there for a long time waiting for someone like me to walk over them."
"History Will Repeat Itself"
"Gold in nugget form here is called elluvial gold or free gold. A nugget is considered a nugget if it weighs over one gram and contains over 80% gold. Anything under that size it is considered alluvial gold and is more the target of mining companies and some holiday hobbyists. For many years it was believed that gold nuggets were hosted by quartz reefs or veins. Huge outcrops of quartz were what the old timers looked for back in the day. These outcrops weathered away for ages at the mercy of the elements. As they broke down, any gold they were impregnated with was freed ('free gold') and left to fall, travel, or sink again at the mercy of the elements and ever-changing land movements (quartz shrinks and expands 2 and 1/2 times more than the gold it holds)."
"There is a fundamental mistake in this well-held theory... gold is not only found in or hosted by quartz rock or quartz formations. So in conclusion that's why big gold nuggets are still found in Australia. The place is less populated, less traveled, and a lot of Aussie gold is yet to be discovered with a better understanding of its formation and places of origin. History will again repeat itself and the small-scale miner and prospector will again grow in numbers as paid work and jobs disappear and a living must be eked out for individuals to survive."
"Hope I've made sense here J.R. and Muskrat. I'm still climbing the learning curve myself but I can tell you prospecting and mining the Outback is a wonderful lifestyle and after an honest hard day's work it feels great to be alive...especially when I look at that elusive yellow metal I toiled so hard to win."
"Gold? You can't help but love it. That's my two cents worth..."
(c) GS (for Bedrock Dreams) 2014
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