Picks & Pans: Prospecting for Lode Gold
October 1999 by Edgar B. Heylmun, PhDMost of the world's ore deposits have been found by prospectors, not by geologists nor mining engineers. This article has been prepared with this fact in mind.
The view from the pass at 16,500 feet elevation was astonishing. In one direction, one range of the Andes Mountains rose to over 18,000 feet, while in the other direction the peaks soared to almost 20,000 feet.
The biggest nugget I have found detecting here was three grams and the following weekend someone found a 9-gram nugget while detecting. Some have even found quarter-ounce nuggets, with one being a chevron nugget.
A pediment is a broad, gently sloping erosion surface or plain of low relief that is often found in arid and semi-arid regions at the base of a receding mountain front. The example shown is from the Palo Verde Ranch 15-minute topographic quadrangle, southwest of Tucson, Arizona. This is one of the best examples the writer has ever seen.
Unfortunately, not all the gold that we prospectors find is pretty, or appealing to the eyes. They are not all nice, bright, shiny nuggets with lots of character that carry high collector value.
Years later I returned with a new detector with a smaller coil and detector technology more sensitive to smaller nuggets. I found my first nugget within five minutes. I had a second five minutes after that.
This fine gold that is so common is probably the most notorious for eluding our riffles and mattings.
For this article, I am focusing on industrial production plants that can handle 10 cubic yards per hour or more and would be fed by a loader or other heavy equipment...
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