Get Closer to the Source
"Gold is where you find it." The old adage rings just as true today as it did when it was first uttered. But chances are you'll find more gold the closer you are to its source. Therein lies the topic for this post.
I know some of you are thinking that it's common sense to assume better and bigger gold (placer or lode) is going to be close its source. No rocket science here, no big-bang theory. Just plain old common sense and logic. That said, how many of you out there have taken the time in your prospecting and small-scale activities to place yourself as close as possible to the source (or sources) of the gold you're digging? Not too many I suspect. See? That's what I'm getting at. In general, the closer you are to the source of the gold in your area the better your chances for good gold recoveries. It doesn't matter if you're a nugget hunter swinging a good machine, a suction dredger, a desert rat listening to your "puffer" thumping away, or a gold panner or sluicer. Your odds of success go up the closer you are to where that gold originated.
(It really doesn't matter how you're going at it.)
There...I Said It
Undoubtedly some of you are totally unaware of the source or sources of the gold areas you've been or are working. There's no fault in this...we tend to go where the gold is or where we've found it in the past. Often this results in borderline gold recovery results due to a range of factors, numbers one and two of which usually involve access issues or stream or wash configuration. More commonly, however, the failure to get closer to the source is a result of ignorance or laziness. There...I said it. Don't be dismayed that I got this out into the clear light of day or get butt hurt because I called a spade a spade. I've been just as guilty in this regard as anyone else at times in my small-scale gold mining career. So I'm not passing judgment on anyone here. Just stating the facts.
It Got Away Clean
And what about ignorance and laziness? Every gold area encompasses a wide range of historical documentation that can be perused to determine gold source points. A large lode fed certain placers at this spot and that one, auriferous veins in mines along the hillsides above a gold-bearing river leached elluvial gold down into alluvial deposits below, or some sort of geological freak of nature scattered coarse gold and nuggets within an epicenter of acreage in the Nevada or Australian Outbacks. And no, it doesn't matter how much work was done in the past to extract the gold at those source points. Past mining operations can range from leveling entire hillsides to barely scratching the surface. It really doesn't matter because the gold that eroded out prior to those mining operations got away clean. In dry or desert placers this gold won't have moved very far due to the lack of running water and in wet placers the best gold will remain closer to source points due to its weight and density. Again, I'm speaking in general terms here because Ma Nature is fickle at times when it comes to gold.
(Are there mines above this river that "fed" it?)
The Primary Source
Let me give you an example of this idea of getting close to the source point. For many years I prospected and mined the Old Placer District here near Santa Fe, New Mexico where I live until private property issues finally put an end to my forays there. The old Ortiz Mine which was the primary source of the gold was worked from the early 1800s right up to the early 1990s, primarily as a lode mine and dry placers. The latter mining operation used open pit methods and cyanide leaching to capture even the tiniest particles of gold from Ortiz gold ore and left quite a mess that had to be restored before the last big mining company left the area. Yet a half mile to a mile below the old Ortiz Mine and those open-pit operations good gold could be found including many small nuggets. Even after hundreds of years of small and large-scale operations, those washes and arroyos close to the mine contain mineable gold in quantity if a feller or gal know what's what. Now by contrast I took it upon myself at times to check washes and arroyos (and even the Galisteo River) a greater distance (miles away, that is) away from the old Ortiz Mine. The results? Virtually nil in terms of color.
(Old adit in the Ortiz Mountains.)
All I'm Saying...
Now here's another counterpoint. During the last two summers I've been prospecting placer areas in Northern New Mexico's Tusas Mineralized Region. I feel like an idiot of sorts because the areas I've been hitting are some 10-15 miles away from the main gold sources due to access issues and as I stated before, stream configuration dynamics. Closer to the source points these running streams I'm testing have lots of overburden and very few obstructions or available bedrock. But farther away from the source there is abundant bedrock and other stream characteristics that are conducive to finding gold. It's a devil's impasse. The gold I'm finding is very small in size and there aren't great amounts of it. But closer to the source upstream where I can't gain access or stream configurations are deplorable I suspect much better gold is available. So the premise here is that when and where you can, GET CLOSER TO THE SOURCE.
That's all I'm saying. Do your research, find out where the gold source points are in your area are and try your best to get as close as possible to them.
My best to you.
(c) Jim Rocha 2016
Questions? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org