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About Us » Writers » Jim Straight
Jim Straight
Jim Straight obtained a B.S. in Geological Engineering from Mackay School of Mines in 1954. He has authored numerous books covering many facets of mining. Jim is a metal detector enthusiast who has been called upon to test new models by several manufacturers. He has found countless gold nuggets and meteorites with metal detectors.

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Articles by Jim Straight
The Pay Streak: Redefined With Metal Detectors

The time-honored objective in recovering gold from placers has always been to discover and recover gold from the detritus of both known and unknown lodes. The traditional method to recover gold from desert dry placers was to locate and work the enriched gravels known as the “pay streak.” This pay streak was usually found directly over false or true bedrock and within the upper few inches of the bedrock itself.

August 2008 (Vol. 77, No. 12)
Bella's Birthday Nugget

...under Oakie Jim’s leadership, Lunker Hill was to become a textbook operation of using handheld very low frequency (VLF) and pulse induction (PI) metal detectors to recover placer gold...

September 2008 (Vol. 78, No. 1)
"I Got Dusted"

Out of the blue Archie mentioned, "I was dusted."  My dad misunderstood and thought Archie had developed silicosis, then known and feared as "miners lung."

October 2008 (Vol. 78, No. 2)
Update On “Special Rock” Kicking

Bob “Neverquit” Abendschein’s article on his “Special Rock” in the December 2006 issue was short and to the point. As Neverquit and I are old friends, I sent him e mail:

February 2007 (Vol. 76, No.6)
Samuel Franklin Hunt Nevada’s “Rio Tinto”

At the well-known Rio Tinto copper district, Huelva, in southwestern Spain, large quantities of copper were found beneath a gossan of hematite at an average depth of 100 feet. The deposits were first mined during Roman times.

February 2006 (Vol. 75, No. 6)
Common Operations—Small-Scale Mining and Sharing the "Take"

The “Forty-niners,” known as “Argonauts,” separated the loose gold known as “wet diggin’s” from the river gravels using a wash pan. The pan was made of tin or iron and had a flat bottom and sloping sides.

March 2006 (Vol. 75, No 7)
Metal Detecting for Gold Within Andesite and Basaltic Volcanic Mining Districts

Andesites and basalts are the most common volcanic rocks in the North American Cordillera. The andesites originated within the earth’s continental crust, while the basalts originated within the mantle.  According to the Plate Tectonic theory...

May 2006 (Vol. 75, No. 9)
Detecting for Possible Mid-Range Eluvial Gold

Actually, this mid-range gold zone can exist in any eluvial placer field with a shallow zone where the ground “tightens up” below the loosely packed surface dirt to harder packed dirt. However, its presence depends upon several factors:

September 2006 (Vol.76, No.1)
Effectively Using a Detector and Drywasher for Placer Gold

A "How-To" method for small group sniping and reclaiming old placer areas.

January 2005 (Vol. 74, No. 5)
Drywashing for Eluvial Gold in the Desert—Using a Portable Drywasher and Hand Tools

Often the gold being recovered by drywashing is too fine to be recovered by metal detecting. For every “detectable” nugget found, there could be hundreds of smaller flakes of non-detectable size. Thus, for those that “read the ground,” and snipe for areas of favorable placer concentration, drywashing will continue to be both an inexpensive...

February 2005 (Vol. 74, No. 6)
The "Rip-Roaring" Flood That Washed Out Mazuma, Nevada

Okay, now for the story of not only the Mazuma flash-flood, but also of early day happenings in the surrounding Seven Troughs area as related to me by Gloria’s (late) grandmother, Gommie. At this time (1953-1954) Gommie was in her late 60s and often reminisced regarding her early life in Iowa as a schoolteacher...

March 2005 (Vol. 74, No. 7)
Small-Scale Prospecting & Mining (A Little History)

During the 49’er gold rush, because of harsh winters and adverse river conditions, the working season could be restricted for a week or more at a time. Moreover, many of the “argonauts” (a term dating back to the adventures of the early Greek gold seekers in seeking the Golden Fleece), were unprepared both mentally and physically to meet the harsh conditions.

April 2005 (Vol. 74, No. 8)
Using Rock Formations to Your Advantage

Over the past twenty or more years, the traditional “seat of the pants” science of using mineral identification tables as a means to identify common ore minerals, their associated rock-forming minerals and rocks, has slowly become a lost art.

June 2005 (Vol. 74, No. 10)
Understanding and Evaluating Desert Mineralization for Nuggetshooters

The primary source of many dryplacers is from the weathering of small to large hardrock sulphide ledges to yield free-gold, soluble salts and iron oxides. Placer gold, both large and small nuggets, can be found from the top inch down...

July 2005 (Vol. 74, No. 11)
Drywashing and Detecting for Eluvial Placer Gold Research is the Key to Success—Part I

How many of you remember hearing or reading the phrase, “only a small percentage of the earth’s recoverable gold has been found?” This more aptly applies to large mining corporations having the means to develop and run large...

September 2005 (Vol. 75, No. 1)
Drywashing and Detecting for Eluvial Placer Gold Research is the Key to Success—Part II

Before heading out to work the same old ground, or blindly seeking a previously unknown gold placer area to drywash or detect, maybe you would benefit from doing a little research.

October 2005 (Vol. 75, No. 2)
Metal-Mineral Identification Utilizing a Detector

Seldom is a metal detector used for ore sampling today. Nevertheless, this procedure still works as all BFO and VLF detectors have a non-conductive mineral zone and a conductive metal zone with a neutral null zone between them.

November 2005 (Vol. 75, No. 3)
Picks & Pans: Nuggetshooting Around Cactus

I mostly nugget hunt within the Great Basin and Mojave desert areas of California and Nevada, and less frequently the Sonoran desert of Arizona. I have discovered the gamma grass, sagebrush and creosote areas of the Great Basin and Mojave are friendlier to nuggetshoot than the vegetation within the Sonoran desert.

December 2005 (Vol. 75, No. 4)
Researching Suitable Areas to Detect for Free-Milling Gold

For hundreds, even thousands of years, gold has brought forth the worst as well as the best in the cultures of the world. It has pitted country against country, man against man, and brother against brother. There are countless tales...

April 2004 (Vol. 73, No. 8)
Picks & Pans: George Duffy Jr.—Pocket Miner Extraordinaire

During the Miocene and Pliocene mid-Tertiary Epochs, the Great Basin, Mojave, and Sonoran deserts within parts of California, Nevada, and Arizona became the source—the genesis—of ubiquitous epithermal “precious metal” fissure-gold veins associated with extensive acidic volcanic lava flows that blanketed much of the Cordillera during this time.

September 2004 (Vol. 74, No. 1)
Prospecting with a VLF-Type Gold Detector

Although I found my first detected nugget on a hard rock mine dump using an early VLF/TR coin hunter, it was by “following the dry washers” and detecting old tailing piles that I soon packed a metal 35mm canister with small sub-grain to...

October 2004 (Vol. 74, No. 2)
Picks & Pans—Drywashing and Detecting in Southern California

The late George Elwood, of Johannesburg, California, was well known for helping anyone in need. As a matter of fact, I originally met George when he went out of his way to help me with a flat-tire problem.

November 2004 (Vol. 74, No. 3)
A Gold Detector Sitting in a Closet Only Finds Dust—A Potpourri of Detector Tips

Over the past twenty-five years I have used specialized examples of the various units mentioned in the following article. They all can find gold. Using an expensive “high-end” gold machine does not guarantee success. Your choice should depend upon...

May 2003 (Vol. 72, No. 9)
A Gold Detector Sitting in a Closet Only Finds Dust—More Detector Tips

The diverse minerals, salts, and moisture, plus any halo effect, and old-timer trash, especially decomposing iron artifacts, are often found in any dry placer gold field and can really mask the “penetration powers” of a detector.

June 2003 (Vol. 72, No. 10)
Prospecting for Meteorites with a Metal Detector

The following article has been written with a two-fold purpose; first, to help familiarize anyone interested in “meteorite shooting,” and second, to stress the importance of scientific research.

February 2002 (Vol. 71, No. 6)
More on Meteorites

...how many of us have knowingly found or bought a meteorite—a small to large mass of stone or metal; a meteor that has survived not only a space voyage of millions of years, but also the impact of striking the earth?

April 2002 (Vol. 71, No. 8)
Picks & Pans: The Professional Nuggetshooter

I recently returned from a nugget-shooting trip somewhere in the extensive Basin Range of Nevada. While there, I happened to meet “Young Fella,” a professional nuggetshooter.

September 2002 (Vol. 72, No. 1)
A Few Prospecting Notes From Jim Straight

The article that appeared in the October 2002 Issue of ICMJ, “Confessions of a Professional Nuggetshooter,” by Lunk, is an example of how to use a “deep-seeking-type” metal detector to lay down a grid pattern to “mine” eluvial placer gold after prospecting and finding the first nugget as the locus.

November 2002 (Vol. 72, No. 3)
Metal Detecting Within the Cordillera for Gold Placers Associated With Tertiary Epithermal Ore Deposits

This is a follow-up article to “Epithermal Ore Deposits...” published in the December 2000 issue. Related tables and maps were included with the previous article. If you did not receive the December issue you can still view the previously published maps on our web site by clicking on “January 2001 Featured Article.”—Editor

January 2001 (Vol. 70, No. 5)
Placer vs. Lode Gold

For centuries gold has been a symbol of wealth for both individuals and nations. Because of its chemical and physical resistance it has been widely sought after by early explorers whose only motive was to find new sources of gold.

May 2001 (Vol. 70, No. 9)
VLF Detectors and the Effect of Mineralization While Nuggetshooting

For those who are perplexed and puzzled by the mystery of “hot rocks,” or are considering using a VLF-type metal detector to seek gold nuggets, please read on.

June 2001 (Vol. 70, No. 10)
Basic Information About Gold Detectors

For those who rarely nuggetshoot, or are thinking about doing a little occasional nugget hunting, to buy a specialized gold detector may not be financially practical. Fortunately, a coin shooter with do-all capabilities, while it may not be as sensitive to sub-grain flakes, is satisfactory for many nugget hunting situations, especially if a smaller accessory coil is used.

July 2001 (Vol. 70, No. 11)
Basic Drywashing Principles

Within the arid desert regions of the American Southwest and Western Australia, drywashers have proven to be a simple and inexpensive method for concentrating placer gold. Drywashers are not limited to desert operations...

August 2001 (Vol. 70, No. 12)
How to Become a More Successful Nugget Detectorist—And Basic Information on Machines

The intention of this article is to summarize the highlights of the past 25 years which have led up to metal detecting for gold nuggets and to cover some basic information...

November 2001 (Vol. 71, No. 3)
Nuggetshooting Eluvial Placers in the Western United States

The future is still good for anyone wishing to use a metal detector to nuggetshoot residual and hillside eluvial placers. Since these placers are easily overlooked, the key to opening the door marked "success" is the willingness to do research.

August 2000 (Vol. 69, No. 12)
Drywashing Alluvial Placers

Portable, hand-operated, bellows drywashers have been used for over a hundred years to recover gold in the deserts of Arizona, New Mexico, California and Nevada. Drywashers were considered a last resort over...

October 2000 (Vol. 70, No. 2)
Residual, Lateritic and Gossan "Soils" as Potential Nuggetshooting Sites

Nearly everyone who has drywashed or metal detected for placer gold within hardrock gold-mining areas is aware of "residual placers" (a.k.a. seam diggin's)...

November 2000 (Vol. 70, No. 3)
Epithermal Ore Deposits Associated With Tertiary Volcanism—And the Feasibility of Metal Detecting for Them

Epithermal ore deposits are common in regions of late volcanic activity, especially areas associated with Miocene and later Pliocene extrusive volcanics that have not been deeply eroded since the ore was deposited. Many are simple fissure veins, but stock-works and ore-pipes are also common.

December 2000 (Vol. 70, No. 4)