Understanding and Prospecting Benches
September 2011 by Jim HalloranThe most obvious benches are usually near the valley floor, but they can be thousands of feet above the valley floor. Since benches were made by streams, they can contain placer deposits.
Plumas County has a rich heritage of gold mining, much of it from placer deposits that can still be searched and panned today. Being at the far northern end of California’s famed Mother Lode, it is quite often overlooked by those searching for gold today—really a well-kept secret after all of these years!
The process of recognizing ores all starts with being able to recognize some basic minerals and knowing what hard rock ore looks like in the districts where you prospect.
For the prospector, knowing what oxidized hydrothermal alteration looks like in the field is an important exploration tool.
This mine was a real wonder of engineering, and the water supply and drifts had to be carefully managed to keep it in operation. In fact, it didn’t close due to lack of gold, but instead closed with the fall of the Roman Empire.
The small-scale miner has reasonable opportunity to exploit some of these small, rich placer gold deposits.
Three homonyms come to mind when I think of gemstones, gold and vegetables: carrot, carat and karat. Let’s look at carrot first.
Because quartz and gold may be deposited together across a considerable range of temperatures, not all quartz veins are the same, and there are several different types of gold-quartz deposits.
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