California: The Land of Big Nuggets—Part I
December 2017 by Chris Ralph
The nugget sat there in plain sight, though it was covered in dirt, while hundreds of people had passed that way every day.
The whole purpose of sampling mineralized ground is to measure the values in a small volume of material that would be representative of a much larger volume of similar material. The key word is representative. Chemical and fire assaying will not accurately represent placer deposits by themselves.
The high prices for gold and silver are exciting and certainly have revolutionized the prospecting and mining scene. New interest in gold and silver mining is springing up from every corner, from individual prospectors armed with gold pans to exploration and mining companies working to set up multimillion dollar commercial operations producing hundreds of thousands of ounces per year. The idea of getting riches from rocks is one that motivates a lot of folks all over the globe. It’s an exciting time, but this excitement brings out another side...
I furiously started pulling material out of the side wall and putting it in my scoop. It didn't take long to discover that the source of the scream was from a one-ounce chunk...
The excavator or backhoe has become the tool of choice for testing placer ground. These machines are the best way to explore and sample a placer deposit if the ground is not too wet or frozen and bedrock is not beyond the reach of the machine.
My last update on this adventure was in the April 2012 issue and involved our search for the northern extension of the Cedarberg Mine. At that time we had found it and we were in the process of returning for some detecting when Mother Nature struck with a late rain and snow storm.
The first experience involved an overgrown gold mine operated during the 1880s. A razed mill adjoined the mine and could be glimpsed from the isolated public dirt road I was traveling.
The pile up on the small hill had to be a couple yards of black sand. I’m not one to ignore a little gold even if it is small in size—I have always believed that gold fever comes in all sizes.
The Bawl Mill • Legislative and Regulatory Update • Ask The Experts - Looking for help smelting gold • Ask The Experts - Chlorine bleach and vinegar makes a deadly combination • Ask The Experts - Were there insufficient values to continue mining at this site? • Watch Out for Split Estates When Filing Your Claim • Detecting the Fringe Areas • Butte, Montana—The Richest Hill on Earth • Conrey Dredge No. 4—Part II • Gold Detecting Strategies for Hydraulic Mines and Debris Flows • New Technology for Extracting Lithium To Be Tested in Nevada • Melman on Gold & Silver • Mining Stock Quotes and Mineral & Metal Prices