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Sunday, July 14 2019
Alluvial gold refers to tiny gold flakes that come to be through water erosion and movement. In geology, alluvium is loose sediment which has been eroded from a primary source, transported and further eroded by water, and redeposited. Since gold is extremely dense, it is easily trapped alongside other dense alluvial particles. The bits of gold found in these deposits of alluvium are called “alluvial gold.”
The alluvial environment is a very complex one, with many natural forces competing with each other. The forces that lay down gold are a summation of many flood water events of varying intensity that cause the reworking of sands and gravels. Between major flood events, water naturally flows along the already created path and typically the gold present in the gravel or on the surface will not move much. But the larger flooding events can change the drainage routes and even the river’s shape. Some curves can be shut off from the stream and bypassed. Where the water speed decreases, gravels will drop out of suspension, creating alluvial pay streaks that are typically located along and near the riverbed.
To identify where a pay streak might be located, take the flow of the waterway into consideration. The most productive streaks are formed as a result of major floods that are significant in terms of both water flow and intensity of erosion. Greater amounts of gold are present here as compared to regular gravels. Pay streaks tend to possess a comet-like form. At the “head” or “heart” is found the richest concentration of gold. At this location, the gravel is coarser and the sandy and silty fraction is much less. This little bit of silt is present only for a few centimeters on the surface, laid down in the last phases of the flood as the silt is dropped. The gold in these gravels is typically small flat flakes, with maybe a small picker or two.
As gold prospectors, our objective is to learn to read a stream and recognize the pay streaks it contains. Think about where you are going to dig before you start and then repeatedly test the gravel you are processing. It is important to consider the presence, form, and depth of the bedrock on which the water and all the alluvial gravel deposits are sitting. In many cases, the gold will naturally concentrate in the lowest part of the riverbed, making a gold-rich path. During high water events, much of the gold is picked up and put back into motion, which leads to forming new pay streaks. Some will be laid back down along the low line of the stream, but may also end up a little farther downstream. The gravels in contact with the bedrock or false bedrock base are often the richest. The same facts apply to the alluvial pay streaks that are formed on gravel bars— the lowest level of the gold-bearing gravel is normally the richest.
The alluvial environment changes over time. Alluvial pay streaks generated 100 years ago could become buried, then subsequently be eroded and exposed again. The erosion might be in part or in total, generating a new series of paystreaks further downstream. Pay particular attention to large boulders and trees. Obstacles like these may partially block the water flow and provide an opportunity for increased gold concentrations, especially behind the obstructions. If there are fissures, holes or natural traps in the stream, be sure to sample these areas, too.
Although high water events are sporadic, when you do find a paystreak caused by one, it can be a very productive spot. Stick with it and keep in mind most are small and narrow and best worked by hand with a sluice and gold pans.
Nugget of News Blog
Friday, February 01 2019
Did you know... there is actually more gold still out there waiting to be found today than the old-timers ever recovered way back in the 1800s gold rush era? And did you also know that attending a GPAA Gold and Treasure Show (Gold Prospector's Association of America) is a great place to get started on your modern day treasure hunt?!
Browse the show floor to find dozens of leading worldwide manufactures and local vendors demonstrating the latest and greatest gold mining and metal detecting equipment, attend free seminars, ask questions of the pros, and enter to win thousands of dollars in door prizes. Pick up a pan for the first time or hone your skills at the panning zone, where skilled instructors will help you recover gold, for free. Keep all the gold you find!
Saturday show hours 10 am - 5 pm and Sundays 10 am - 4 pm in these cities:
Visit the GPAA website for more details and to buy your $5 adult tickets; kids 12 and under plus military and veterans with ID are FREE. If you can, make a family road trip out of attending one or more of the shows this spring. In addition to the show itself, each city has fun touristy things to do, and if you're a GPAA member, you can visit nearby mining claims.
Whether you’re a family with kids or a lone enthusiast, a GPAA Gold & Treasure Show is your one-stop-shop for all of your gold prospecting and treasure hunting wants and needs. By attending a show, you're sure to have a blast, meet interesting people, find new tools, and learn new tricks of the trade. All of that is enough to make you hollar Eureka!
Nugget of News Blog
Monday, July 30 2018
Places where gold naturally concentrates in an environment of streams and drainages are known as paystreaks. No matter if you are panning, sluicing, dry washing, or metal detecting, in many ways your success at gold prospecting comes down to locating these elusive natural pay streak concentrations. Keep in mind that most gold paystreak formations occur during times of flooding and that many factors affect how gold gets deposited. Perhaps the biggest factor is that gold is dense and is more than 19 times heavier than water. The denser an object, the more easily it will resist the flow of moving water. That means it takes a very strong and fast moving water flow to move along a nugget the size of a pea.
When deciding where to start sampling, it’s helpful if you think of a river or stream as a sluice box. Waterways obviously don’t have aluminum riffles and matting, however, they do have natural gold traps that do the same thing that a sluice will do— allow gold to settle out of gravels and be caught while the bulk of the sands continue downstream. Heavy material such as gold doesn’t get spread along evenly, it is most likely caught in certain areas. The downstream parts of inside bends in a stream are favorable places to look for pay streaks. Just how good depends on how sharp the bend in the stream actually is. Usually the sharper the bend, the better the pay streak. If a tributary is known to have coarse gold, look at the intersection of the tributary and the main channel.
Behind an obstruction (large boulder, an island, or an outcrop of bedrock) is another good place to look for a pay streak. Boulders and other obstructions can create turbulence where ordinarily smooth flowing water turns into fast flowing whitewater. It is between the fast white water and the quiet dark water that gold drops out. The coarsest gold tends to be found on the outer parts of the pay streak, and the finer-sized gold is on the inner part of the pay streak. When you are working, if it seems as if the streak is petering out as you go toward the middle of the water flow because you are finding little gold, this region of the pay streak is often where the biggest number of nuggets are most likely to occur.
Once you know where paystreaks form, you might wonder if they are more likely found on bedrock or in gravels. They are nearly always found on bedrock or some sort of false bedrock. False bedrock might include caliche, a clay layer, or just a well-packed hard pan. You may just get lucky and hit something great with your first shovel of dirt, but more likely you’ll need to test a few different places. Even very experienced prospectors need to keep testing to find those hotspots and paystreaks. Good luck and keep sampling!
Friday, April 27 2018
A good rule of thumb that most prospectors agree on is to look for placer gold on bedrock and within crevices in the bedrock. This simple principle makes sense— placer gold is heavy and dense and therefore settles at the lowest point as it is pushed around by flowing water. However, gold isn’t always going to make it all the way down to true solid bedrock at the bottom of all gravels. Instead, in certain conditions, it will be found ABOVE bedrock. When these conditions exist, gold will collect on “false bedrock.” For example, a clay layer in streams can act like bedrock and yield more gold than the true bedrock below it.
Another situation where gold cannot make it to bedrock is where the streams and gullies have “caliche.” Caliche is a form of cemented gravel often found in desert areas. The gravel is deposited by water flows, just as it would be in any other stream. The difference is that the water contains dissolved calcium salts, and as the water dries up in the streambed, the calcium salts turn into calcium carbonate or calcite. This material gets deposited on the gravel a little at a time and eventually the calcite glues it all together into a solid mass. The solid mass then acts like false bedrock and any new gold flowing across it is stopped in its downward movement by the caliche.
Wednesday, June 14 2017
Fun and exercise are two great reasons to go gold prospecting, but you might as well make some money while you're at it, right? The best way to do that is to increase production rates. Assuming you are mining on a known gold-bearing claim or waterway, volume is the key to your success!
Graduating from the basic gold pan to some other form of simple equipment is the best way to increase production rates. Just going from a pan to a sluice will increase production by at least 500%, depending on how it is used. A highbanker will work about the same amount of material as a well-run sluice, though it can move the water to you instead of you bringing the gravel to the water, thereby dramatically increasing volume of production. A drywasher will produce similar results by allowing you to work without water.
A dredge or highbanker/suction dredge combo is the next step up. A dredge uses a gas motor to generate the suction that will load and transport the material to the sluice, which greatly increases volume, as well as allows you to reach gravel on the river bottom that would otherwise be inaccessible (unless the river is seasonal or there is a prolonged drought). The more material a dredger can push across the riffles, the more gold can be recovered. An additional benefit to dredging is that it also allows you to clean gold out of all the cracks and crevices in the bedrock. A shovel just cannot do that.
The size of the dredge intake nozzle is the most important factor in how much material a dredge can process, but it is not a direct one-to-one relationship. For example, a 5 inch dredge will not move twice the material that a 2.5 inch dredge can move. It actually can move much more. The surface of the hose is figured in square inches, the area (and therefore the volume) goes up much faster than the diameter and the corresponding production rates go up proportionally. A larger hose size will also clog less because more sizes of rock and gravel will pass through. Having to stop and remove clogs can significantly reduce the time you get to spend actually moving dirt and finding gold. No matter the size, you're likely to have rocks jam up the hose from time to time, but generally, the larger the hose the less frequent the clogs that slow or stop production. In most areas of the country, a 2 inch dredge is considered a "recreational" size and may not require a permit to use, whereas much larger nozzle sizes would require a permit. Always know the laws where you intend to gold prospect and mine before you buy equipment.
Beyond dredges or highbanker/suction dredge combos, you can get into some professional mining set-ups that use trommels and jigs and shaker tables and earth moving equipment. Every deposit is different, varying in size and grade and structure. Environmental conditions and access will dictate mining methods and knowing the rock types and size of the gravel is critical in determining which equipment will work best for increasing your production. Finding a suitable deposit to mine and finding a way to work it economically— to justify your time and expense— is the first step. Then choose the right equipment to increase your recovery rate and speed of recovery and make more money. Good luck!
Sunday, January 29 2017
Make plans this spring to attend a GPAA Gold & Treasure Show! Whether young, old, or in the middle, the expos offer something for everyone and provide the best opportunities to learn new skills, see product demos, and rub elbows with some of the most respected miners and metal detectorists in the business!
Also on the show floor are panning troughs for both kids and adults where you can learn new techniques— and keep all the gold you find!
Saturday show hours 10 am - 5 pm and Sundays 10 am - 4 pm in these cities:
Visit the GPAA website for details and to buy your $5 adult tickets online ($10 adult admission at the door; kids 12 and under plus military and veterans with ID are free).
Sunday, November 20 2016
Recently, Gold Prospectors magazine published an article in the November/December 2016 issue about the Turbopan. Read an excerpt of that article below:
Turbopan was designed by Kim Hillier, an Australian geologist and prospector with over 20 years experience in mineral exploration and gold prospecting. The product was first launched in Australia and then in North America in 2009, so it has been on the market for a few years now. It is 16 inches in diameter (the mini is 10 inches) and gets the gold and heavy minerals to the bottom of the pan and into a central trap quickly because the pan is shallow. The gold and heavy minerals quickly get into the riffle grooves that gravity feed into the central trap, while the light sands and clays fly outwards due to centrifugal forces.
"A river is a natural sluice, and because a sluice is an excellent way of recovering gold, I designed the Turbopan to act like a sluice in a pan," explains Mr. Hillier. The pan's riffles act like a circular sluice and were designed to use gravity to accelerate the gold to the bottom of the pan. The bottom well of the Turbo pan is in the center of the pan-- as far away from the lip of the pan as possible, so you don't accidentally lose any of your precious metal.
The design of the Turbopan combines the best features of the traditional batea, a deep conical shaped wooden bowl used as far back as the Mayans, and the basic copper pan used in the Klondike Gold Rush. The unique design allows the whole circumference of the pan to eject waste material and many more riffles trap much more gold. This is a huge advantage over traditional pans which tend to concentrate all material on one side of the pan. "The Turbopan is really fast!" says Hillier. "You've got maximum riffles if you're panning out over the front and also you can get the waste out before you start the clean up. It's sort of a bit of a hydrocyclone as well if used to its maximum ability, and its also good for wet sifting through gravels for gems."
How to Use the Turbopan:
1. Place your material in the Turbopan. Be careful not to overload it. The pan is meant to hold up to about pounds. With the clean-up riffles facing away from you, submerge the pan into water, and then spin the pan counter-clockwise and then clockwise 180 degrees to allow the water to saturate the materials. TIP: Use a catch tub so you don't lose any gold in a fast-flowing stream!
2. Before panning, use your finger to feel the texture of the material in the bottom of the central trap. Does it feel too tightly compacted? If so, simply shake up the material for better stratification.
3. With your Turbo pan partially submerged, begin moving it in a counter-clockwise circular motion so that the material moves over the circular riffle bed. This action will break up clumps of dirt and prevent compaction.
4. Because gold-bearing black sands are much heavier than dirt and gravel, it will sink and become trapped in the spiral riffle grooves and gravity will move gold into the central trap. The circular motion creates centrifugal force, pushing light sands and clays to the outside of the pan, leaving the heavier black sands and gold in the center of the pan. Alternate between a "centering swirl" to get the gold-bearing heavies to the middle of the pan and the "lights" to the surface, and an "ejection swirl" to get rid of the waste materials.
5. Because the pan is shallow, you'll notice how easily you can clear the small rocks, pebbles and debris from the pan with a single sweep of your hand.
6. When the amount of material remianing in the pan barely covers the central trap, do two or three more clockwise swirls, then about five seconds of vigorous back-to-front and side-to-side motions.
7. Tilt the pan away from you and gently shake it side to side while tilting the pan up at about a 30 degree angle.
8. Pan off any waste until you have only a small amount of concentrates containing gold (about the diameter of a 50 cent piece).
9. Tilt the pan towards you and look for your gold in the bottom of the central trap.
10. If you see gold in the cleanup riffles, don't worry. With a little more practice you'll master your own technique.
Sunday, January 11 2015
If you're looking for a proven fine gold recovery tool that has been on the market for decades, consider the Desert Fox Spiral Gold Panning Machine. It's easy to use, and recently Kevin Hoagland, Executive Director of Development for the Gold Prospectors Association of America (GPAA) conducted a field test review which was published on pages 14-17 of the January/February 2015 issue of Gold Prospectors Magazine. Here's an excerpt of Kevin's findings and you can also click on the image at the end of this post to download a complete copy of the field test review (4-page .pdf).
"... The Desert Fox ships in an Action Packer case that is the storage, transport, and water container unit. It provides excellent protection for the Fox while giving you a true compact recirculating unit that can be transported easily. Unpacking the container was simple and for those of us that spend little time looking at the way something comes out of a container, the manufacturer has included a photo in the manual to show you how to repack the unit so it's back to being travel-ready in just a few seconds. In the container you will find:
Setup takes just a few moments. The wheel frame is a single point A-frame that sits perfectly in place in the container and allows you a stable, easy-to-set-up base for the spiral unit. The A-frame construction also allows the unit to be set up directly in a stream. Stand the A-frame in the container, lift the drive unit to a beginning angle, slide the double-wall wheel into the slot on the drive motor, attach the spray bar, fill with water, hook up to a 12-volt power supply (not included), and after a couple of fine tuning adjustments, the Desert Fox is ready to start running your concentrates. Total time from cased to running is about two minutes!
The A-frame mounted drive motor allows you to easily make small adjustments to the angle of the wheel. This ease-of-use factor can become critical when running materials that require more precision. Water flow is controlled by a single-point knob on the spray bar assembly, and the speed control is located on the back of the unit. These 3 adjustments are all you need to ensure efficient gold recovery. Before first use, be sure to clean with a good quality dish washing soap to remove all the manufacturing oils (mold-release agents from the plastic parts). Do NOT use a citrus-scented soap because the scent is derived from oils, which is exactly what you are trying to remove. Use hot soapy water and a non-abrasive pad.
Spiral panners work in reverse of traditional hand panning. Instead of gravity separating gold from concentrates with the heavies sinking to the bottom of a pan, a spiral machine uses speed, water, and the angle of the spiral wheel to keep lighter material in the bottom of the wheel, while the heavier black sand and gold is brought up the leads. When set correctly, the sands drop off at the last moment and only gold is moved through the center of the unit and recovered in the cup.
I recommend classifying your dirt to a minimum of .25 inch to 1/8 inch mesh. Once classified and prepared to run, feed the material slowly into the bottom of the wheel. I've found it best to use a tablespoon. Increase the feed rate after all necessary adjustments are made.
Starting with the water first, find the lowest water pressure that will clean the light material from the leads as it climbs up the pan, adjust the angle and speed as needed so the heavy sands drop off at the right spot and you're ready to start processing your concentrates. After completing the basic setup, I adjusted the speed to keep the unit tuned in to variations in the types of material I ran. There are two models of the Desert Fox— a constant speed ($339) and a variable speed ($359). Since the difference in price is just $20, I highly recommend the variable speed model.
The Desert Fox is a straight-forward and simple spiral wheel system that recovers gold efficiently, and has been manufactured by Camel Mining since 1969. It is compact, weighs about 10 pounds, and is ideal for carrying into the field. Gold recovery is exceptional and the learning curve is short..."
Click here to learn more about the Desert Fox Spiral Panner on this website. Click image to download .pdf of field test review.
Monday, August 01 2011
Fool's gold, iron pyrite, mica... no matter what you call it, at first glance it looks like real gold and sparkles like real gold in the sunlight or when viewed under water, but how do you know FOR SURE if those gleaming flakes are worth something... or exactly nothing?
Tuesday, March 22 2011
In Sam Radding's publication "The $3.25 How to Gold Pan Book" that's included in the Gold Panning Beginners Kit, he reminds us that there is no single "right" technique to gold panning. After a little practice, everyone develops their own style, but Mr. Radding does give some very good pointers and tips to get beginners started, including 3 very important rules:
1. All of the material placed in your gold pan must be thoroughly washed while the pan is UNDER water. Break up all of the paydirt before you begin to discard material from your pan because gold may be trapped in clay, small roots, or cracks in the small pieces of bedrock you have in your pan.
2. Shake the pan VIGOROUSLY for about 15 seconds to settle the gold to the bottom after the material has been broken up. Fully submerse your pan in water to do this. Once the gold has been settled the first time, it's OK to pick out the larger rocks. Repeat several times.
3. Oil of any type on your pan can cause flat flakes of gold to float on top of the water. Thin flakes as large as 3/16" can be floated up and you don't want that because it can easily wash right out of the pan. A single drop of biodegradable detergent per pan will solve the problem!
Have Fun and Good Luck Getting the Gold!
Nugget of News Blog