All About Flood Layers (Part 2)

 (Desert flash flood in its infancy.)

I've been caught up in other responsibilities this week, including getting ready for retirement (finally!) and the usual day-to day stuff so I've been remiss in getting timely posts out to you. Never fear, however, because I'm back with more on flood layers. Once again, I bring your attention to my use of italics in this series...there is important emphasis in that usage...just so's you know.

Geological Time vs. Our Time

First off, please understand that I have tremendous respect for geologists as a whole. My only son is a degreed geologist after all. But one thing I've noticed in my studies of geological bulletins and face-to-face discussions with geologists is their tendency to view things in macro-scale terms. This is probably due, in part, to the fact that most large-scale geological processes occur over broad lengths of time and space. Significant geological changes aren't like overnight house guests who appear on your doorstep one evening and then are gone the next. That's the essence of the geological concept of time. I'd describe it as a monolithic, snail-like movement from the past to the present, with abrupt changes (morphology) tossed in occasionally for good measure. It has a distinct past, a challenge-able present, and a predictive future.

 (For geologists it's mostly the past...)

Truth Be Told

Of these three items the past weighs the most in terms of overall importance and significance. Yet for small-scale gold miners what's most important in terms of geology and morphology is what is occurring right now. The processes that brought the gold to bear are important. There's no questioning of that fact. But the true qualifier for us is where the damn gold is now! Not what mineralized liquid form it took millions of years ago, or how tectonic shifting caused it to be exposed in the recent past, or even what types of ore forms held it in bondage until recently. No sir or madam. What we want is information relevant to where that yellow metal resides here and now this very minute. This is not meant to denigrate any individual geologist or the science as a whole. Nope. No way and no how. As I already stated, I hold a deep respect for geologists. Hell, Waldemar Lindgren is one of my "heroes," after all. And, the truth be told, had I not branched off into other academic pursuits I might have become a geologist, not finding myself at the tail-end of my working career as an erstwhile engineer.

 (One of my "heroes," Waldemar Lindgren.)

Cause and Effect

So what's all this drifting of mine have to do with flood layers? Plenty, once you make the connection here. You see, the geologists tend to view flood layers from that grand macro-scale I already mentioned, from the "Great Flood" right on down to the 100-year jobs I talked about in my previous post on this topic. Their concept of floods and gold carried into flood layers happens over millenia while our minds have to be narrowed down to deal with what's at hand over the short term. Certain breccia or gold-bearing conglomerates might have been formed in broad swaths by ancient large-scale flooding or they could have been formed as recently as the last century, the last half-century, the last twenty five years, the last decade, or even last week. The time qualifier is really unimportant to us, the small-scale gold miner and prospector. That is unless we are the first ones to come across an ancient flood layer laid down millenia ago. Or alternately, we are the first miners on the scene after severe flooding just last week creates a brand-new gold-bearing flood layer at our favorite wash or stream. As the much-maligned and sometimes hated Confederate cavalry general Nathon Bedford Forrest once said, it's all about "Gettin' there firstest with the mostest." The underlying roots of the Civil War aren't Bedford Forrest's main concern. Fighting it is. That's the real cause and effect here.

(For most geologists it's all about macros, not micros.)

Listen Well

Ahhh, now the light bulb is coming on for the majority of you isn't it? I always have a method to my madness and a somewhat eccentric way of making my points to you. Those of you who've been with me a while already know this, those of you who are becoming aware are starting to learn it, and you newbies and greenhorns aren't really sure at this point. So should it be. Your main concern here, however, is gaining an understanding of just how important flood layers can be to your overall mining success as evidenced by how those little plastic or glass (God forbid!) vials get filled up. The simple fact remains that flood layers often contain good gold or support it as a temporary resting place until the next big flood event comes along. I've pulled some damn good placer gold off and in flood layers during my mining career and so can you if you listen well to what I have to say in these posts. I'm not a miracle Nor am I claiming to be the Grandest Grand Poobah of them all when it comes to small-scale gold mining and prospecting. But I'm damn good at what I do and I know a sight bunch more about gold mining than most of the self-proclaimed experts out there trying to sell you their shit. That's a plain fact, whether they like me saying it or not.

(Not all the Grand Poobahs are what they claim to be.)

OK, in my next post I'll drift back to concrete tips and instructions for working flood layers. Until then remain humble (something I obviously struggle with!), be good to those around you (when they allow it anyway), and keep the faith (cast aside all doubt and believe it will be).

In the end, what really matters is what you carried forward to completion with the best of your ability.

(c) Jim Rocha (J.R.) 2016

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