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History & Geology

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Geology and stories from the past

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.

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.
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Ask the Experts: VMS ore


Q: Are there any mills that handle VMS ore?

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.
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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...

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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Arizona's Vulture Gold Mine and Lost Dutchman


When prospectors and treasure hunters talk of gold in Arizona, it is the Lost Dutchman or Vulture mine they usually think of. The Lost Dutchman gold mine is just that—a myth chalked full of holes that has been embellished over time as any good legend should be.

Critical Metals: Copper


From time to time I’ve been doing a series on critical metals and how important they are to our complex and technological society. This month we are going to take a look at copper, and how important that metal is to our modern lives.

Prospecting Homonyms


Three homonyms come to mind when I think of gemstones, gold and vegetables: carrot, carat and karat. Let’s look at carrot first.
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Eolian Placer Gold


I would first like to mention that I am not a geologist. I have, however, spent the last 8 years intently searching for gold nuggets with a metal detector. I have found gold in numerous locations, and in several different types of gold deposits.

All the Gold Ever Mined...


If you have been prospecting for any length of time, then you have probably heard something like, “All the gold ever mined would equal a cube 60 feet on each side.”

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