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History & Geology

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Geology and stories from the past

The Oquirrh Mountains, Utah


...we will visit three dormant mining districts that lie in the Oquirrh Range in Utah. Some major activity that transformed the lives of thousands of people occurred here from the mid 1860s to the late 1990s.

A Journey Into the Silver Peak Range


The Gold Rush in California called hundreds of thousands of souls to leave their homes to journey to the the far reaches of the West. At first the rich goldfields of the Sierra Nevada beckoned to these adventurous pioneers.

Ancient River Channels of Trinity County


Trinity County is located in the far northwest corner of California and stirs up many different memories for those who have been there.
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Liberty and the Phoenix Mine


Liberty, Washington is located in the mountains near Yakima and Ellensburg. There is nothing much in Liberty except for about 20 houses on patented mining claims and a lot of dry holes.

Confluence Placers


Confluences of placer streams are well known as concentration sites for heavy minerals. The basic reason is that...

The Birimian Greenstone Belts of West Africa


A few years ago I had a tremendous opportunity to visit Australia and hunt for gold there. The geology of the gold deposits there was somewhat different from what I was used to here in the US. I learned a lot about greenstone belt gold deposits while prospecting them in person, and it was an amazing trip.
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All About Quartz—Part I


One of the first minerals most prospectors learn to recognize is quartz, because, in the right circumstances, it can be an excellent indicator mineral for prospectors. Quartz is common, easy to identify, and is often associated with gold and other valuable metal deposits.

Your Guide to Prospecting in Alaska


Alaska is getting a lot of interest these days, not least because of all the gold prospecting shows on television. Hardly a month seems to pass without some new prospecting show being announced, and a couple of the most popular feature Alaska.

Gold Deposits of Montana


Historically, Montana has been an important gold producer, in terms of both lodes and placers, and it still produces gold for the prospector today.
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Benches and Fossil Placers


Unfortunately for us mortal humans, we have a poor perspective on geologic time. When we look at a landscape such as a stream valley, we see it only in two, or at the most, three dimensions. We have poor comprehension of the valley’s fourth and most important dimension—time.

The Many Facets of Iron


I’ve been fascinated by iron minerals for many years. So let’s take a look at this very interesting and colorful element.

Refractory Gold Processing


After your excitement peaks when you first receive the high gold assay from the vein you just exposed, you ponder how you will extract and sell your gold. You will need to develop a flow sheet for your process to optimize your recovery and minimize your costs and permit requirements.
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Charles P. Watson, Chief Geologist

All About Garnets


I get a lot of questions from prospectors about garnets, their value and what they tell us about the geology of some types of mineral deposits. So I thought it would be a good idea to take a closer look at the lowly garnet and learn a bit more about it.

Heavy Sands Mining


Lately my mind has been involved with group 4 of the transition elements, namely titanium, zirconium, and hafnium. They all have similar chemical properties. Of greatest interest to economic geologists and miners is that these valuable elements often occur together in sands.

Using Vegetation and Soil Conditions as Prospecting Aids


Wouldn’t it be great if you could know if there is gold in the ground without setting foot on the ground? Well you can, to a certain extent, if you can recognize mined ground from unmined.
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Prospecting for Diamonds


Let’s take a look at diamonds and diamond mining and see how they form, how they are used beyond just jewelry, and what leads geologists to find diamond deposits.

Mineral Deposit Trends: Real and Imaginary


One of the most important things prospectors do is work to figure out where to go prospecting. Along with understanding the basic geology and putting yourself in a favorable area, one of the things a prospector might consider in finding a location to search is the existence of mining belts also known as mineral deposit trends.

The Struggle to Reopen Alaska's Largest Gold Mine


The historical AJ mine, located east of Juneau, Alaska, was considered the largest gold mine in the state at one time. Joe Juneau and Richard Harris struck gold there in 1880, and it has been more recently known as a tourist destination.
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The Rush to Treasure Hill


There were some exceptional times in the far-flung history of the West. Rich finds of minerals that set men’s souls ablaze. From the rich gold fields of California, men who arrived too late to find riches went searching in every direction. The trail that we will follow leads east, past the shining silver district of the Comstock Lode.

The Verde Copper-Gold-Silver-Zinc District, Jerome, Arizona


When I was a student in the College of Mines at the University of Utah, the Verde district was used as an exploration model for “submarine volcanogenic massive sulfide deposits.” So I looked forward to visiting this district and the town of Jerome in central Arizona in the spring of 2012.

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