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Tuesday, June 23 2020

Ocean beaches can be compared to the Mother Lode. Why? Because you can find GOLD on many by mining with a highbanker, and by searching with a metal detector. How lucky is that?!  TWO ways to find gold at the same location! Think about it, who hasn’t lost a ring or coins at the beach? Whether you prefer recovering gold by swinging a detector or shoveling into a high banker, your chances of both are higher by visiting a beach this summer that is located in a gold-bearing area. And a side benefit is that you’re outdoors and can social distance!  So if you’re itching to get out of the house now that COVID-19 lockdowns are lifting, here are some tips for mining the beaches in different ways.beach mining with a highbanker

Beach Mining with a Highbanker

When you consider the advantages of beach mining with a highbanker— easy access in all seasons, no classifying material down to size, no digging in heavy cobbles and moving boulders, no worries about rattlesnakes or poison oak— the idea is very appealing. Of course any new environment means there will be a learning curve. Recovering 100 mesh gold from the beach requires a little extra attention to detail to prevent loss, so you’ll need to readjust your equipment and process. Don’t expect chunky nuggets; you’re going for the flour gold here. High tide, not your watch, will dictate your schedule. The general principles you already know are the same, but also keep these tips in mind.

• Slow down. Expect to process about 10 gallons of material an hour. If you try to feed a highbanker faster or use bigger scoops you will likely lose gold. The most efficient way to locate the paying black sand layers is to use a post hole digger or earth auger. The pay layer is usually right on top of a golden brown sand layer that pushes up into the black or blue sand. Frequent storms can remove the light sands and reconcentrate the black sands.

• Use about 25% of the water you would normally use. You may need to modify your spray bar to compensate for less water volume so you aren’t fighting foam and bubbles.

• The beach is a level playing field—literally, so tip your box to a 9-degree angle and go from there. Most beach miners use battery-powered bilge pumps to run their beach sluices. A small gas-powered pump also will work. A Gold Cube is also an excellent piece of recovery equipment to concentrate beach material, then run it through a Blue Bowl.

• Do frequent clean-ups.

Beach Mining with a Metal Detector

Water and sunscreen have a sneaky way of slipping rings from fingers of swimmers and sunbathers, making beaches a lucrative location for metal detecting. There are actually several similarities between beach hunting for jewelry and hunting for gold in the rivers. At the beach, stuff that is lost in the upper sand areas make their way down into the surf during large storm events just like gold is washed downstream in the same storms. You can find an occasional nugget above a river in gold country, but you’re going to make your best finds when you locate the pay streak where nature has concentrated the gold. The same is true of the beaches.metal detecting on beach

You will find that the surf sorts out materials, and when you are really lucky, you can identify a pay streak. In a river, the gold pay streaks follow the downstream flow of the river, but on the beach the pay streak will typically run horizontal across the beach. After items have been in the sand/surf for some time, the wave and current action tend to sort thing by weight and density. The pull tabs will be in a certain line, the lighter coins further down towards the deeper water, and when you start detecting fishing weights, you are  likely nearing a pay streak. That is where you are most likely to strike gold— as in gold rings, bracelets, pendants, etc.

Wet sandy areas are particularly lucrative for detectorists. The reason for this is that beach-goers first congregate at the "towel line" and then migrate to wet sand. The "towel line" is an invisible area where the majority of people plop down their towels and coolers and umbrellas. At the towel line, sunbathers slather on slippery sunblock and tanning oil that acts like a lubricant and lessens friction. After baking in the sun for a while, they will need to go into the water to cool off a bit, which is where the body's natural reaction to cold is to shrivel up. Less friction + shrinkage = rings in the wet sand you can find with your metal detector!

In all types of beach hunting, the discrimination must be kept very low, eliminating only small iron (bobby pins and nails). Aluminum pull tabs and tin foil should not be discriminated or you will lose some gold and/or platinum rings as well. Some beach hunters operate with zero discrimination and dig everything. Use of a sand scoop makes target recovery fast and easy. It’s important to realize that most gold rings will read in the “middle” tones (above iron but below coins). If you’ve ever hunted the beach you have no doubt found your share of unwanted nails and other litter. To solve this, lace a rare earth magnet in the scoop to quickly capture those small, annoying iron targets. If you’re going to hunt the salt beach areas, you’ll want to get a heavy duty plastic scoop. A steel scoop will rust fairly quickly in those harsh conditions.

If you intend to hunt IN the water, of course you will need a waterproof metal detector and waterproof headphones — one that can handle salt water mineralization. There are some good pulse induction machines that work extremely well in salt conditions. Very shallow water is no problem but when you hunt waist deep water and deeper you should consider a mask and snorkel. If possible, hunt at low tide. That way you can get further out and hunt where other detectorists might not have gone. Plus, the surf tends to pull things down the beach and out into deeper water.


It goes without saying you should check your local laws first to see if you need a beach mining permit. Some state park beaches don’t allow metal detectors either, so double check the rules. Although it’s always good to share your treasure hunting hobbies with others who ask what you are doing (especially young people), with everyone social distancing these days, you are likely won’t be approached by curious onlookers that can slow you down.  Good luck and have fun mining the surf and sand… and remember to wear sunscreen and stay hydrated!

Posted by: Denise AT 04:02 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Saturday, May 02 2020

Researching new areas in which to prospect for gold, gems, or whatever you are seeking can be a lot of work, but since we’re now gold prospecting mapabout six weeks into the Coronavirus quarantine, most of us have extra time that could be put to good use. Even though you may not be out in the field every day, you can still be prospecting! And even if you’re not making plans for out-of-state road trips just yet, you can still dig down into the history of local areas for new ideas. In other words, use your downtime wisely, so you can hit the ground running with your gold pan, highbanker, pick and shovel, metal detector, or other equipment as soon as shelter-in-place restrictions are lifted.


As you begin researching, don’t rely on just one source of information. Confirm it through several sources. The best kind of research brings together different forms of info from a multitude of sources. It is the info gleaned from COMBINED sources that can help you to determine the best possible place to locate precious metal or gems. The more info you can lay your hands on, the better. Consider these resources:
 

  • Old mining district reports and mining history books. Most western states have some form of mining and geology agency, although they all have different names depending on the state. Find out what information is publicly available at the agencies located in the area you will want to prospect. Old history books can be more help than any state agency because they were written by folks with ties to the area they wrote about. That means they often include valuable information on old mining discoveries or operations that didn’t make it into a government report.

  • LR2000. Utilize the Bureau of Land Management’s Legacy Rehost System, LR2000, for information on mineral development, mining claims, classifications, and more on federal lands. After all, you don’t want to accidentally claim jump or waste time if an area is closed.

  • Topographic maps. Many old mining areas are shown on topo maps, but usually not on the newer versions, so try and find older topo maps. Many of the newer versions may have old mines removed as a way for the government to “keep the general public safe” by not advertising the whereabouts of the old and “dangerous” mine shafts.

  • Aerial photos. Google Earth is amazing in its quality and detail of photos. Many times you can see individual trees, hiking trails, rock outcrops and even hand-stacked piles of rocks left behind by old-timers.  Sometimes larger features and patterns (areas where miners removed a lot of brush, for example) cannot be seen from ground level, but are obvious from far up in the sky. This is also a good way to get an idea of the condition of the roads in the area so you’ll know in advance which look to be commonly traveled. Google Earth ties in with GPS, too. You can review the photos, check them against maps, and get the GPS coordinates of the precise location you want to visit. You will then know for sure that you are in the right spot once you travel there.

  • Reference libraries. The librarians at state mining divisions and university libraries are generally very friendly and helpful. These libraries are open to the public, so don’t feel shy about requesting help. Any university with a good-sized geology or mining program should have quite a few geologic reference resources including old reports, magazines on the mining industry, thesis reports by graduate students, and even reports by engineers and geologists who were on site at the big operating gold mines in the late 1800s. Many of the old books and reports found in the university libraries will be out of print and cannot be purchased anywhere, so be sure to make photocopies of any documents you need while you are onsite.


If you are a member of Gold Prospectors of America (GPAA), know that claims are still open as of May 2020. GPAA Claims are located on federal BLM and USFS land. At this time, only developed property and campgrounds have been closed in certain states. Access to GPAA claims has not been impacted, and if your local guidelines permit, you are free to continue prospecting as long as you are following the CDC guidelines to slow the spread of the virus. This includes practicing social distancing, and not being in groups of more than 10 people.


Although COVID-19 has changed the world as we know it, chances are good that as a prospector you PREFER social distancing. And what better way to enjoy solitude than out in nature armed with some new knowledge gleaned through research that can make your mining efforts more profitable. It’s no surprise that when the economy takes a turn for the worse, the price of gold (and many other precious metals and minerals) usually reach new highs. And every time the price of gold starts to climb, recreational prospectors get a bit more motivated to seek out hidden fortunes. Many people might get discouraged by the amount of work and time that can be involved in researching new areas, but when you find a new spot with good gold, it will be well worth your time and effort.  Good luck and stay safe!

Posted by: Denise AT 07:01 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
 

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