Learn where to find gold placers.
The English word, placer, pronounced “plasser” like plaster without the “T”, originated from an old Spanish word, placel, which means an open, sandy place.
Understanding the history, geology, and physical actions of nature will help you know where to find gold. Because of water flow and erosion action, streams are continually moving and depositing materials of different weight and size in various places along their winding courses down to sea level. As the water flow slows around a bend or eddies behind an obstacle, like a boulder, materials drop to the stream bottom after moving along in suspension. These accumulation areas are where gold likes to drop out as well.
Given that gold is up to ten times as dense as the surrounding material, any gold particles will gradually work down to the lowest possible point, usually bedrock. Occasionally gold will collect on a “false bedrock” layer of clay or other firm material base depending upon the soil type prevalent in the area. The bedrock layer, whether false or true, prevents the gold from moving any deeper in the placer profile, so once you find this you know where to find gold!
Regardless of where this layer of placer gold builds up,
it is what the old-timers and new gold rush miners call “pay-dirt”!
Where to Find Gold Paydirt
After knowing where to find gold and through sample panning and you know you are in a definite gold area, the real work begins, processing the waste material away trying to get to bedrock. As you can see in this cross-section from an old book I stumbled across about the Klondike Gold Rush, the deeper the placer gold miners dug the richer the pay. While I’d take the gold quantities listed with a grain of salt, you can clearly see the increasing value as gold was processed from a given quantity of material.
The trade-off between quality (amount of gold per ton of material) and quantity (material tons to be processed) continues to this day in evaluating the productivity of any mineral find. In fact, there are many profitable gold mines today processing gold bearing, auriferous, material in the one to two grams per ton. They just have to process a million grams or so to net one gram of gold. This level of processing is a little outside the ability of the weekend prospector.
We have to do our own quality versus quantity calculations…and since most of us only have a few days a month to prospect, this is why we must know where to find gold before we even head into the field prospecting!
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