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Geology and stories from the past

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.

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.
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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.

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.
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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.

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.
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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.

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.
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Charles P. Watson, Chief Geologist

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.

Potholes and Other Bedrock Traps


Potholes in bedrock can trap placer minerals and even be glory holes. They are, at least, interesting geologic phenomena, and at best, a treasure trove of gold nuggets.

Ask the Experts: VMS ore


Q: Are there any mills that handle VMS ore?
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Gold Depositiion and Gradients of Placer Streams—Part II


The steeper the gradient is, the more potential erosive power to move gold and other bedload sediments, and the more power to remove obstacles to flow.

Prospecting for Copper Ores—Part II


Copper is a critically important metal that we need to run our modern electronic society, and the long term outlook for this metal is for a steady increase in price.

Gold Deposition and Gradients of Placer Streams—Part I


When placer miners from the gold rush era began experimenting with the slope of their sluices, they must have pondered the ideal slope for trapping gold in a creek bed too. Logic suggests the same is true for streams...
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The Wisdom of Mark Twain—And Tales of Cheating the Unwary Prospector


I (enjoy) Twain’s description of a gold mine, “A hole in the ground with a liar at the top.” Some humor here? You bet, but I’m sure he meant it to be a real eye opener as well.

Fabulous Florence—The Golden Town of Idaho


In September 1861, on a round-about prospecting journey homeward, five California gold miners discovered gold in the area now called Florence. While watering the horses, one of the men noticed a golden color on a piece of slate bedrock in the stream...

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