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Wednesday, March 29 2023
Did you know that “bad” weather can be really GOOD for gold prospectors? Of course no one ever hopes that Mother Nature causes catastrophic loss of life and property, but the ups and downs of weather events in any gold-bearing area are something to take advantage of. Nature can help all of us in our quest for the shiny stuff— especially in light of recent atmospheric rivers causing flooding and lots of snow in California, eastern Idaho, northeast Utah, northwest Colorado, the Cacade Ranges, portions of the northern and central Rockies, and portions of Arizona and Nevada.
Atmospheric rivers are large, narrow sections of the earth's atmosphere that carry moisture from the earth's tropics near the equator to the poles. On average, the earth has four to five active atmospheric rivers at any time. A vast majority of atmospheric rivers happen in the fall and winter. The northern Pacific Coast receives the bulk of activity in the fall, and the California coast receives more in the winter. Since December 2022, the U.S. West has been slammed with back-to-back-to-back atmospheric rivers. These events provide as much as half of the region’s annual precipitation, bringing much-needed water to parched lands and adding to the snowpack in the high mountains. This year’s storms have done a lot to restore the landscape drought and is “greening up” the landscape and refilling many smaller reservoirs.
How does this help you get more gold? Primarily, multiple weather events cause large amounts of gold to move and replenish areas that already have been worked. And even when the atmospheric rivers die down, the higher than normal snowpack will cause water levels in rivers to flow well into the summer instead of drying up in late spring. Higher water levels extend your mining season, and allow you to run high-production equipment such as highbankers and power sluices. Miners can also work stream bank deposits once the water recedes back to normal flows.
Typical winter storms that regularly occur in gold-bearing areas usually do not create enough havoc to force substantial amounts of "new" gold into movement. However, when Mother Nature really goes to work as we’ve seen lately, a great deal of gold can be set free, creating a bonanza for gold hunters. Gold veins that have been hidden for decades suddenly can be exposed. Floods can also sweep gold out of abandoned mines and wash it downriver. Known gold digs can be washed out, trees uprooted, and the landscape eroded— all pluses for prospectors! When tons of rock, cobble, and boulders are swept downstream along bedrock during a huge storm, quite a bit of destruction occurs. Plants, weeds, and trees that normally grow along the river and gravel bars are washed away. And when a major storm or flood tears up large portions of a streambed, a fair amount of this newly-released gold, because of its weight, will be deposited along the riverbed and settle into cracks and crevices (hand dredges are an ideal tool in this situation).
Monday, February 21 2022
Depending on where you live and where you like to treasure hunt, you might still be buried under feet of snow. Or maybe spring has sprung and temperatures are on the rise there. No matter the weather, you probably have extra time on your hands this time of year, so put that time to good use. Even though you might not have been out in the field for the last few months, you can still be prospecting and getting prepared for a new season of gold hunting! In other words, use your downtime wisely, so you can hit the ground running as soon as Mother Nature allows.
Inspect equipment. Did you properly clean and store your sluice and/or highbanker at the end of last season? In advance of heading out into the field this year, make sure the pump still works and the matting is in good shape. Run water through all hoses to check for cracks or leaks. Are the riffles bent? What about the header box or hopper? Check bucket handles to see if they’re still sturdy. Do you have adequate sizes of classifiers and gold pans? Inspecting all the parts now and taking inventory will save time in the field later. Ongoing supply chain issues can cause delays, so order early if buying replacement parts or new equipment online.
Prepare your tools. Sharpen digging tools, picks, shovels, chisels and other specialty tools that require sharp edges. Now is also a good time to mark screwdrivers, magnets, crevice tools and other small implements with some bright colored paint. It’s amazing how easily tools can get “lost” in the dirt. A strip of bright yellow or red can help you more easily spot them. Double check the seals on snuffer bottles, hand dredges, and vials to make sure they’re tight. Pack your backpack or tool kit with everything necessary for a full day’s work.
Maintain your metal detector. If your metal detector is still under warranty or giving hints of potential issues, the off-season is ideal for sending it to the manufacturer or taking it to an authorized repair shop to be fixed or tuned up. Check your rechargeable battery and make sure it is fully charged. Better yet, purchase a new battery as a back up. It’s also time to dust off the operator manual or search YouTube for “how to” videos pertaining to your brand and model. You’ll likely uncover some helpful tips and tricks, or learn a new recovery method. Is this the year to add a new coil or pinpointer? Now is a good time to consider upgrades and make those purchases earlier than you expect to use them.
Do your research. 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— old mining district reports, mining history books, topo maps, aerial photos. Consult the Bureau of Land Management's LR2000 searchable database. The legacy system is undergoing upgrades; as the new systems is implemented, information will be easier to find. It can take a lot of time to research new areas, but when you find a new spot with good gold, it will be well worth your time and effort! It’s also a good idea to have alternate sites in mind just in case you cannot access your primary sites due to unforeseen closures.
Saturday, November 27 2021
If you’re ready to head to a sunnier climate this winter to do some desert prospecting, understanding the weather and topography can add to your success. Before loading up and heading to the Southwest, only to be disappointed by bad weather, first check out the weather patterns for the last 60 days and the predicted weather for the next 30-60 days. Why is that important? Well, it mostly comes down to rainfall— how much and how fast. For example, if there will be a lot of rainfall over an extended time, soils will be loosened and gravity will do its job and cause deeper, and sometimes more concentrated, pay streaks. In general, cool season precipitation (October through April) is the most extensive source of rain in the desert regions. Rainfall is more widespread and of relatively long duration during the cool season. On the other hand, warm season precipitation (May through September) results largely from convective precipitation in the form of short monsoon-type thunderstorms.
Monday, December 23 2019
Did you know that “bad” weather can be a plus for prospectors? No one ever hopes that Mother Nature causes catastrophic loss of life and property, but the ups and downs of weather events in any gold-bearing area are something to take advantage of. Nature can help all of us in our quest for the shiny stuff!
Typical winter storms usually do not create enough havoc to force substantial amounts of "new" gold into movement. However, when Mother Nature really goes to work over a “bad” winter or for an extended period of time, a great deal of gold can be set free, creating a bonanza for gold hunters in spring and summer. Gold veins that have been hidden for decades suddenly can be exposed. Floods can also sweep gold out of abandoned mines and wash it downriver. Known gold digs can be washed out, trees uprooted, and the landscape eroded. Benched gold deposits can be released and transported back into running streams.
If you’re in an area that experiences high-water events, get out and keep an eye on the water flow so you can try to figure out where the gold actually drops out. Watch the flow lines around boulders and trees. Watch where the flows slow down. The rule of thumb — gold is in the inside bend where water is slowest — is a rule of thumb, but not always 100% accurate.
On the flip side, if drought conditions prevailed last fall and continue this winter, adequate water levels needed for panning and sluicing may be difficult to find. By knowing this ahead of time, you won’t waste your time. You can plan to travel to better areas in the coming months.
Water isn’t the only force that can work in a treasure hunter’s favor. If you are a detectorist, keep an eye on the wind. Downslope winds can strip and scrub away a great deal of surface material. This wind-driven movement of top sands can make an exciting difference— areas that came up empty just last year may suddenly be productive for a metal detector!
Whether you’re in the midwest, southeast, or way out west, water table elevations and annual precipitation can have a significant impact on the amount of gold exposed in waterways, which can affect the probability of what you’ll find in your pan. Greater than average winter precipitation may swell waterways, liberating trace gold previously stranded in ground by droughts of late summer and early autumn. Good luck and be safe!
Nugget of News Blog