History & Geology
Because the forces of erosion and gravity tend to carry lighter materials like quartz away more easily, the heavy minerals like gold or silver will tend to be concentrated in the general area around the vein outcrop. These concentrations are what make residual placers so attractive.
To add to the confusion, the dam wasn’t holding back a large amount of water. It was full of gravels and had a small creek running through it. I had to know more.
I didn’t know what to expect because the area we were working was not close to the water, but we were pleasantly surprised when we began to pan out some nice flakes and a few pickers.
I grew up in Southern California, and found my first nugget there, so I know my way around. Because there is good gold there, I thought it might be helpful to take a look at the many placer gold opportunities found in the southern part of the state.
These deposits are very widespread across the planet. In fact, they are so extensive that something around 75% of all the gold ever mined comes from these types of deposits (if one includes the placer deposits that also formed from them).
The interesting thing about the Mother Lode area is that we can pretty much find at least a little gold in any creek or river (and even in some of the many dry gulches).
…we focused on various layers of hard-packed flood material out of the creek, and we also obtained some material up quite a ways from the creek itself on bedrock.
This area could be re-evaluated for placer scheelite and gold potential in the future along with sand and gravel processing…
Many prospectors thought that Nevada was all prospected out following all the rich discoveries of the 1860s and 1870s, and what was there to be found had already been found.
…to see the huge differences between the gold production amounts of the Western States, let’s look at the gold production—both hard rock and placer—of these 13 states up to the present.
Prospectors often wonder why gold deposits in veins like it does. Why is one vein rich while another is barren, even though they are only a few hundred feet apart?
There are times when being able to recognize a type of rock can make you a much more successful prospector.
The small-scale miner has reasonable opportunity to exploit some of these small, rich placer gold deposits.
There are many other locations in the area where gold has been found, but Woods Creek is the most famous of the creeks and gulches in the area where the 49ers searched for that elusive yellow metal.