(This simple illustration of fractured bedrock's ability to trap placer gold tells it like it is. Image courtesy of therockerbox.com)
In this installment of this series about taking placer gold from smaller bedrock cracks and crevices using basic tools I'll be throwing some additional tips and your way and offering a bit of advice that should help you in your quest for the yellow metal.
Wonder and Amazement
I'm not posing as a rocket scientist when I say that bedrock types can vary widely in terms of composition, structure, and configuration. Unfortunately for all of us, there is no "one size fits all" type of bedrock nor is there a guarantee that placer gold in large amounts will always be found in smaller bedrock cracks, crevices, and crannies. That object point stated, however, those little gold traps will often surprise you. At times smaller bedrock cracks and crevices remind me of those old miser stories you read about in the newspapers or hear about from friends and acquaintances. Despite the fact that old scalawag was thought to be a penniless, mean-spirited tightwad, when he crosses the final divide hundreds of thousands in old coins or cash are found "ratholed" away throughout his cluttered, ramshackle abode. I think you get the idea here, right?
No matter their size, bedrock cracks and crevices rarely (if ever) remain the same width, length, or depth once you start cleaning them out. This principle holds true for the smallest of cracks and crevices. You'll be amazed to find out that those tiny cracks, once opened by hammer and chisel or crack jack, can open up into wider areas or branch out into ledges and mini-chambers. How this can happen in rock that appears nearly sealed at the surface is something that always makes me shake my head in wonder and amazement. (One of you budding geologists out there will have to 'splain this effect to me...I'm old school and a bit dense when it comes to such matters.)
Rules and More Rules
"Rules were made to be broken" is an old saying that, like it or not, has an element of truth to it. When it comes to gold mining, however, I don't recommend that you practice this precept with great abandon. The rules governing gold prospecting and mining are solid, by and large, and there for a reason. However, there are times when you need to step "out of the box" to get the gold.
Anyhoo, the standard rules I've passed down to you when it comes to bedrock cracks and crevices are these:
1) Avoid smooth or heavily water-worn bedrock and instead focus your attention on highly fractured ("bookshelf" type) bedrock.
2) Work only those cracks and crevices lined up in near perpendicular fashion to stream flow in both wet and dry placers.
These two general rules should ALWAYS apply to your crevicing or bedrock sniping endeavors, particularly if you're new to the game. In the first common sense should prevail. Although any exposed bedrock can get your heart pumping and your mouth salivating at the prospect of gold to be had, highly water-worn bedrock with plenty of smooth surfaces is not ideal for placer gold entrapment generally speaking simply because smooth surfaces don't impede gold's progress down stream very well. This includes water-worn bedrock riddled with crevices and/or potholes. But this rule can (and should be) be broken in certain contexts.
(This beauty came from bedrock...even small crevices can contain this sort of treasure down deep.)
Rule number two is another common sense item. Bedrock that's highly fractured and that contains lots of rough fracture points (no matter how slight) acts like the riffles in your sluice box. This is particularly true where small cracks and crevices are plentiful, especially at gold deposition points where stream hydrology is forcing the gold into the same areas as those cracks and crevices. Once again, the ideal situation for gold snipers is to have those little cracks and crevices running nearly perpendicular to the stream flow (wet or dry). But, like rule number one, this rule can be broken in certain contexts as well.
We'll talk more about this later.
(c) Jim Rocha (J.R.) 2014
Questions? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org