It seems I failed to make myself fully clear in my previous post on digging deep. So I'm using this post to clarify things on that issue and also to throw in a few other gold mining odds and ends that may be of value.
Making Myself Clear
First off, my mining amigo here in New Mexico, "Rattlesnake" Jim, and my anonymous Aussie commenter are both absolutely correct (see previous post). Hand digging for gold directly into water (a running stream, for example) or into holes that rapidly fill up with water are exercises in futility (if not ignorance or stupidity). Since I made quite an issue of gold's weight and density in water it should be abundantly clear to everyone out there why this is so. To that end, I thank both of these fine, upstanding gentleman for pointing that issue out in their comments. However, my intent in writing the post on digging deeper was not to suggest that particular approach to gold getting but to get folks to realize that gold and water (whether the latter is continual or intermittent) produce fairly predictable results in terms of deposition and that "skimming" only surface gravels is a strategy for failure in the long run. As "Rattlesnake" Jim correctly states, if you're going to work in water the suction dredge is the most efficient means of getting the gold from that sort of wet environment. Another, non-mechanized method includes underwater gold sniping where bedrock becomes a driving factor (i.e., the deepest or "last" resting resting place for placer gold). These things said however, there are plenty of locations out there that will not require small-scale gold miners to dig into water and dry or desert placers immediately come to mind as well as certain ancient river or stream gravels, and gravel benches sitting high and dry on clay layers some distance away from current streams. In other words, there are locations where water is NOT the issue and hand digging as deep as possible into gold-bearing gravels is a viable option. I hope I'm making myself clear here. The idea was not to suggest you could dig for gold into water but that you need to dig as deep as possible wherever you are, however you can do it...whether that's by hand or with motorized equipment. Hopefully this clarifies things a bit and again, I thank my mining friends for their astute comments.
(There are numerous situations where digging deeper is feasible.)
Food for Thought
I'm the first to admit that I'm not much of an electronic prospector or nugget hunter. In fact, I've never found any nuggets using a metal detector of any sort. I may be a bit deficient in this regard but don't think for a minute I can't swing a detector with the best of them, especially when it comes to coin, artifact, and overall treasure hunting. I started out with one of the first or second generation mass-produced metal detectors, a Garrett beat frequency oscillator (BFO). The BFO is a true dinosaur by today's detector standards but I found more gold and silver with that machine than I suspect many would-be coin hunters out there could dream of with their fancy ass machines today. No boast, just simple fact. Yes, small-scale gold mining has always been my first true love, but from a strictly monetary standpoint, I made wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyy more money as a treasure hunter and found more significant quantities of gold that way than I ever did over the course of 35 years working streams and dry washes for placer. So guess what? In most instances, my treasure hunting finds FULLY supported (or at least partly, anyway) my small-scale mining efforts during my heydays swinging a machine. Nope, it was never the other way around. I know that some of you out here are already feeling betrayed and are shaking your fists at me and screaming"Heresy! Burn him at the stake!" Or, "Traitor! Off with his head!" But I owe you the truth and that's the truth as I know it and have lived it. Either way, it was all good. Essentially, the strong affection of a casual acquaintance (treasure hunting) supported my full-on love affair with small-scale gold mining! I say this not as braggadocio but to provide food for thought. Maybe there's something that you too can do that is nearly as fun as small-scale gold mining that could help support your efforts as a miner. By the way, if you kick my name around out there long enough in "older," expert treasure hunting circles you'll more than likely come across someone who knew me (whether they liked me is another thing altogether!). I periodically swung a machine with some of the best, and that's a fact. (Once again, I'm a legend in my own mind!)
( I earned my treasure hunting diploma many years ago.)
Research Pays Off
I know, I know. I can hear you now..."Please, Dear God pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeze, no more about research. I'm plain full up on getting lectured about how important research is and if I hear that word one more time I swear I'm gonna go postal on old J.R.'s ass." Be that the case or not, guess what I'm gonna talk about...yet again? Yup, research! And since I already broached the topic of treasure hunting, anyone who has been in THing circles for any length of time and knows their shit will tell you that good research is absolutely mandatory in finding treasure troves or caches. No, I'm not talking here about swinging your detector in a city park hoping an old piece of silver will turn up in the grass plug you just dug out. I'm talking about the real deal. Robbery loot from long ago, post-hole banks, a stash that was always considered just a legend until you did your research and proved it actually exists. Getting the picture here? Thought so. I will say this though...your small-scale gold mining activities won't (and usually don't) require the level of intensity and complexity that's inherent in real treasure hunting research. So breathe easier, OK? Still, anyone who wants to be successful over the long haul at small-scale gold mining needs to understand that good, or better yet...thorough research is one of the primary factors that separates the men from the boys and the women from the girls when it comes to getting the gold. Anyone who blindly goes to a gold mining region or locale without any pre-knowledge of those same areas or locations is essentially flying blind. And if you are flying blind, I hope you're better at it than some of those gold-mining "stars" on TV! I rest my case...
(c) Jim Rocha (J.R.) 2015
Questions? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org