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History & Geology

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Geology and stories from the past

Residual Placers: An Often Overlooked Gold Source


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.

A Short History of Hydraulic Mining in California


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.

Another Prospecting Adventure: Coulterville


What also helped keep Coulterville alive was the fact that the town itself happened to be sitting on top of one of the richest veins in the Mother Lode. The ledge itself was three hundred feet wide.

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Downieville: Another Gold Rush Favorite


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.

Gold Placers of Southern California


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.

How To Identify Minerals


There are a number of characteristics that are used when one identifies a mineral. Each characteristic gives an indication as to what the mineral might be, and the combination of them will point to what it is.

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How Mesothermal/Orogenic Gold Deposits Form


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).

Georgetown CA: A Historically Rich Mother Lode Treasure


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).

Why So Much Gold in Nevada?


Nevada produces about 75% of all the gold mined in the US. This means that all the other 49 states combined only produce 25%, and this includes California, Alaska and Arizona.

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The Historic Gold Rush Town of Quincy


…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.

Rand, Red Mountain, Atolia Mining Districts of Kern and San Bernardino Counties, California


This area could be re-evaluated for placer scheelite and gold potential in the future along with sand and gravel processing…

How Rich Must My Ore Be?


How rich does a hard rock ore have to be for it to be worthwhile to process and extract the gold?

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Gold Circle (Midas) Gold District


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.

Placer Gold Deposits in the Western States


…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.

Colorado Uranium Mining in the 1950s Boom


You can learn a lot from a small mining operation because you have to become proficient in every job. Soon I was preparing fuses, placing powder (dynamite) and learning the ins and outs of drilling and blasting.

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Gold Geochemistry: Where Does Gold Come From?


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?

Understanding Rock Formations: Petrology for Prospectors


There are times when being able to recognize a type of rock can make you a much more successful prospector.

Exploration Rush at Tonopah, Nevada


A few months later, a young, greenhorn lawyer agreed to pay to have it assayed, and the quartz turned out to be rich in both gold and silver.

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Ancestral Yuba River Placer Gold Deposits


The small-scale miner has reasonable opportunity to exploit some of these small, rich placer gold deposits. 

Jamestown and Our Mother Lode Gold Rush Adventures


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.

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