I wrote this web page in an attempt to help the biggest greenhorn in the world find gold. There's enough information and helpful hint's to allow you to turn your leisure hours into a very profitable adventure. The four major thing's I am trying to provide are what to look for, where to look for it, how to recover it, and what to do with it after you got it. This Web Page is not written to be the final word or the only way to find gold. One thing to remember is that gold will be where you find it and nobody's going to draw you a map to the "Mother Lode". If they knew where there was a fortune in gold they would be recovering it for themselves. However, it might help if you knew a little about where to find it. Searching for gold in the middle of a Texas cow pasture would be a hot and tiring job and you probably would not find much gold either. Although I tried to write this web page in layman's language, there may be words that you do not understand. If you run across terms that you do not understand I have included a complete " GLOSSARY OF TERMS ".
The modern prospector has many advantages over the prospectors of the past. We have better transportation, better equipment and recovery methods and not the least of these is that the gold producing areas known. With these things as a plus we can get to the gold quicker, have a higher percentage recovery and we know where to start. But don't assume that because the gold producing areas are known, that all the gold is already gone. While it is true that miners have overworked the most famous and publicized places, they are a very small percentage of the prospecting areas available to the recreational prospector. Even in the heavily worked areas, gold is still recovered today due to the fact recovery equipment looses fine gold, floods replenishing the gold and gold that other prospectors missed. As you prospect for gold you will notice how little the areas you visit show signs of previous prospecting in the past. Geologists estimate that only early miners recovered about ten percent of the worlds gold. That means that there is a lot of gold waiting for you and I to locate.
Gold is a mineral and is recognized in the same way you want to identify all rocks or minerals. Identification should be made with the following physical properties of rocks and minerals: color, luster, crystals, hardness, cleavage, specific gravity (weight), and fracture. If you do not understand these terms I have included them in the glossary link.
The color of gold is normally yellow but may be silver-white to orange-red, depending upon the impurities present. Gold is almost always found with some impurities, usually silver, copper and iron. It is a metallic element and has a dull to shiny luster. The chemical symbol for gold is "Au". This symbol comes from the Latin word "aurum" which means "shining dawn". Gold has a hardness of 2.5-3 on the Mho's scale of hardness. Gold is not usually found in crystal form, even though it crystallizes in the isometric system, normally forming octahedral crystals, it usually is seen as irregular plates, scales, and masses rather than as crystals. Gold is a rare native mineral ranking 58th in abundance among the 92 natural elements.
Along with its yellow color, the most distinguishing attribute of gold is its weight. Weight of minerals is the term specific gravity. Specific gravity is the weight of a substance compared to water. The specific gravity of purse gold 19.32 times the weight of an equal volume of water at 63.5 º Fahrenheit. A cubic foot of pure gold weighs 1,464.17 Troy pounds. The only minerals that are heavier than gold are iridium, osmium and platinum. It is at least six times as heavy as any of the rocks usually found with it. The weight of gold allows prospectors to remove it from other closely related materials. Most of the equipment used to separate gold from the materials that are associated with it was based on this difference in weight. The atomic weight of gold is 197.2 and its atomic number is 79.
Malleability is another identifying characteristic of gold. Malleability is the ability of a mineral shaped into different forms or shapes. Pure gold is one of the most malleable of all metals. You can flatten it into very thin sheets, or drawn into very fine wire without breaking. It is also one of the most ductile or stretchable minerals. One Troy ounce of gold will stretch into a wire over 60 miles long.
Gold is one of the most stable elements on earth. It forms very few compounds. Seawater, for example, can destroy or decay most other metals except for Gold. The melting point of gold is 1945.4º Fahrenheit (1063º Centigrade). It will not dissolve in most acids except aqua regia (a mixture of hydrochloric and nitric acids), cyanides and a few more. It is for these reasons that gold is known as a noble metal.
What exactly is fool's gold? It is any mineral that can be improperly or wrongly identified as gold. The minerals most often mistaken for gold are pyrite, chalcopyrite, pyrrhotite, marcasite and biotite. Pyrite is the mineral most often called fools gold. Pyrite is iron disulfide and is often found with substantial amounts of nickel and cobalt. It has a similar appearance to gold, but it is much lighter. It has a specific gravity of 4.9 to 5.2 and it is very brittle. Pyrite is identified by its lower specific gravity, or weight, and the fact it will fracture due to how brittle it is. Chalcopyrite and phryhotite are not as common as pyrite. Both have a dark streak and are lighter in weight and harder than gold. Neither of these minerals commonly occurs in crystalline form and most often found as irregularly shaped masses. They both tarnish easily, going from bronze or brassy yellow to yellowish or grayish brown. Biotite is basic potassium, magnesium, iron, and aluminum silicate (mica group). These are usually the very light minerals that shine in your gold pan. Biotite has a specific gravity of 2.8 to 3.4. These flakes, because of their lightweight and flat shapes, are often concentrated in quiet eddies and along sandbanks. Flakes of biotite are the most common forms of fool's gold.
Gold is widely dispersed throughout all igneous rocks. It also occurs in the seawater in small amounts. Gold can be found in at least forty of the fifty states, but it is only found in commercial quantities in twenty-two of the states. It may be possible to find gold in a new area, but it is probably best to look for gold where it is known to exist. The gold bearing areas extend from North Carolina where gold was first discovered in 1540, Georgia in 1828, Alabama in 1830, to Western states and Canada where gold was discovered soon after 1848. I believe that the first discovery made in the United States was made by Hernando De Soto in 1540 in the Valley River in Cherokee County, North Carolina.
There is plenty of gold in the southern Appalachian states to keep us all busy. If you are a greenhorn, you may as well do your prospecting, as close to where you live as possible, so look for areas where excessive travel is not required, this is to keep expenses down to the hobby level.
Total world production of gold was estimated at 3 billion ounces, you would be able to put that amount of gold in a room that is 55'wide x 55' long x 55' high.
Thomas Jefferson's in of wrote about gold in Virginia in 1782. The total gold production of the United States has been roughly 310 million troy ounces. Placer gold was the primary objective of the old timer. The first verified lode mine in the United States was the Barringer Mine in Stanley County, North Carolina in 1825. The first verified gold mine in the United States was the Reed Gold mine in Cabarrus County, North Carolina in 1799. It started as simple placer mining and eventually the lode was found.
The largest gold producer in the United States is the Homestake Mining Company open pit mine at Lead, South Dakota. Kennecott Copper Corporation's open pit copper mine at Bingham, Utah, is also a large domestic producer of gold. These are very large operations that have tremendous amount of financial backing. Most of us are not interested in the large producers. The small placer operations are what most of us are interested in. I must inform you that roughly 12 percent of the gold produced came from placer deposits, so we can not even compare to the big mining companies.
The demand for gold is increasing every year, and it was one of the firsts metals used by man. It's mainly used by governments as a standard to base their financial system. Gold coins were minted, but now gold is kept in reserve in bars in Fort Knox, Kentucky, as support for economic conditions by the United States government. Gold is also the standard of exchange in international trade. Nearly half of all gold ever mined is stashed by governments and stored in government vaults. But in recent years the governments are selling the gold off.
The jewelry industry uses over one third of the total gold produced. Most of that gold is alloyed, usually with copper. Most of the gold used in jewelry is used for rings and necklaces.
The largest industrial consumption of gold is in electrical components in the form of integrated circuits, connectors, and printed circuits boards. Dentistry use accounts for about 5 percent of the annual gold consumption. The art industry uses a portion of the total amount.
Gold was legalized in 1975, for private ownership. Private citizens for financial investment can now purchase gold. There are even coins minted for this purpose. No alloys have ever been developed that has all the desirable qualities of gold. Platinum family metals are used from time to time, but they lack the beauty of gold. Silver is occasionally substituted, but it is not as resistant to corrosion than gold.
Gold is weighed according to the troy system which is based on 1 troy oz. = 480 grains = 20 pennyweight = 1.097 avoirdupois oz. And 12 troy oz. = 1 troy pound = 1.3164 avoirdupois pound. You can find more information on weights and measures on my " Weight Conversion Table " page.
Gold normally contains some silver and often copper and iron. When silver is present in amounts greater than 20 percent, the alloy is known as electrum. Gold is commonly referred to according to its fineness or purity, which is expressed on parts per thousand. Most native gold contains 5-20 percent other metals and thus has a fineness of 800-950 fine.
The term "karat", also refers to fineness or purity but is expressed on 24ths, 24 karat = 1000 fine = pure gold.
TYPES OF GOLD MINING
It is important to determine where you want to do your prospecting. But first you must understand the difference between hard rock gold mining (lode gold) and alluvial gold mining (placer gold). Lode gold mining is the place where gold is first deposited in veins or in ores. Placer gold is described as the gold that was eroded from veins or ore deposits and dispersed in rivers, streams, creeks, bench gravels, and any other place where it is not located on vein or ore deposits.
Mother Nature is constantly at work, daily there are major changes to the earth, which can create new lodes and placers. Just think about it almost any thing can create new places where gold is located. Here is a list of things that I am aware could influence where gold is found: floods, storms, volcanoes, earthquakes, tornadoes, freezing and thawing, faulting, tilting and folding, erosion, landslides and glacier action.
There are two types of lode deposits; these are ore and vein. Vein deposits are usually quartz veins in solid rock, which contain gold in stringers and veins. There are some lode deposits that have gold finely disseminated throughout the surface mantle, this is what I call ore. These lode deposits are not mined by underground tunnels, but by the open pit method. This method, though, is more commonly used to mine glacial drifts or bench placers. In open pit mining of lodes, the overburden is first stripped off, and then the ore is removed from the pit by trucks or railroad cars. In open pit mining of placers the overburden is first stripped off and then the gold bearing gravel is ran through a variety of separation equipment, such as trommels, long toms, etc..
Lode mining for gold is neither a weekend entertainment nor a hobby to be undertaken upon retirement. It is a serious business requiring considerable metallurgical experience and finances to determine whether the gold bearing rock is worth the great expense it takes to process.
Lode mining is expensive. It takes professional evaluation, such as a mining engineer, or other experienced personnel to get the project of the ground. Some people consider bench (deposits high above stream), desert (dry areas with no water), and glacial drifts (gravel moved by ancient glaciers) to be lode mines, but I do not share this opinion. A lode mine in this web page is a mine that followed a vein of gold in tunnels underneath the ground or the excavation of ores that are gold tellurides. Since I am primarily a placer miner, this web page is more helpful to recreational prospectors such as myself. I list the lode mines on this web page because some of my best finds are in the streams below the lode mines. The lodes are usually associated with the placers, because that is how the old timers discovered the lodes. The old timers would trace color up a stream until they found the vein.
There are many different types of placer gold deposits that the weekend recreational miner would be interested in. The first type of placer deposit we'll discuss is the river or creek placer. This type placer is the most common in the south. It usually consists of the gravel bars and gravel paystreaks on a gold bearing river. Usually the best gold in this type deposit is found in the cracks and crevices of the base rock (bedrock). Bedrock is a term that will be used throughout this web page.
The second type of placer deposit to be outlined is the bench placer. A bench placer is a placer that was left high and dry above the present streams. Bench placers are very common in the southeast because of the water worn terrain and age of the mountains.
Placer gold is what most every prospector who reads this web page is in search of. The thrill of seeing "color" glittering in the black sand at the bottom of your pan is one of the greatest thrills I can describe. The search for gold provides its own reward, it is a very active hobby and gives you plenty of good exercise, plus it gives you the opportunity to get rich without gambling in the stock market or worrying about bad investments. Finding gold is the object of the gold prospector. If you are serious and hope to find enough gold to make a profit, then you should have as much information as you can find. Research, knowledge and the correct equipment is the key to successful prospecting. Prospecting for placer gold is not expensive. It is possible to locate a deposit and work it with very little money. You can get by with a shovel, pick, gold pan or a sluice box.
Placer gold had to come from a lode gold source. The lode gold occurs in veins, stringers, or unusual shapes in quartz. Quartz is a white to black in color, although rose, purple (amethyst), yellow (citrine) or brown (smoky) quartz is common. Gold after it was eroded from quartz veins made its way to the rivers, creeks and streams, was ground by the moving water. The nuggets found in streams near their origin will be larger and the lower quantity of small gold.
One thing to remember when prospecting for placer gold is that gold is very heavy and usually concentrates itself down to bedrock. Bedrock is the base rock lying beneath the soil layers. This soil layer is called overburden.
Most of the placer gold is located in the cracks and crevices in bedrock. Not all gold is on bedrock, but that is the place to find large nuggets. The inside bend of the stream where the water slows is a good place to find gold. Gold is most often found in areas where the water slows or has restrictions such as rocks, boulders, trees etc. The successful gold prospector has learned how to evaluate creeks, streams, and rivers for good gold areas. I am not going to tell you every detail of placer geology in this web page, because many other fine books have been written on this subject. But by studying this and other handbooks you can learn about what effect eddies and other natural obstructions to the flow of the water and decide where the gold may be.
The river you are prospecting could have had a different path a few thousand years ago. This change in course could be of interest to you because these old riverbeds contain placer gold. Always look for these old beds some of them are very rich.
The best place to find an old riverbed is above the present river valley. These are known as terrace placers. Terrace placers could be several thousand feet away from the current river. Several places on my gold locations page I mention Terraces.
I am going to end this by saying that I did not go into great detail, I just touched on the surface, due to the fact that there are many other books that teach this subject with a lot more knowledge than I have. All I have done in this web page is outline the basics in which others have gone into great detail.
ACCEPTABLE REQUIREMENT: The minimal amount of gold that you need to recover on an average daily basis to make a certain area worth dredging or working on a production basis. See my tips on successful dredging
ACCESSIBILITY: 1) Having legal rights to bring your equipment into a location and mine it. 2) Being able to get your equipment into a location without a great deal of trouble.
ADIT: In underground mining, a horizontal opening driven from the surface which gives access to the ore body and so broken material can easily be removed by gravity. The term "tunnel" is frequently used in place of Daito, but technically, a tunnel is open to the surface at both ends.
ALASKAN DAMPER: A device that attaches to a sluice box usually made of rubber, which rides along the surface of the water as it moves over the box. The "damper" does various things to improve the recovery of the sluice box, including smoothing out the flow of water over the box, and breaking the surface tension of the water.
ALLUVIAL: Generally pertains to loose gravel and / or mud that has been deposited by water. An example of this would be stream gravel.
ALTERED ROCK OR MINERAL: A rock that has undergone chemical change since its deposition or emplacement.
AMALGAM: An alloy of mercury with another metal or metals. Amalgamation is the process of recovering gold and silver with the use of mercury. If you want to use mercury to recover gold, see my " Using Mercury to Recover Gold Page ". Mercury is dangerous, and if you would like to avoid it's use, see my " How to Recover Gold without Mercury Page ".
ANALYSIS: The determination of one or more constituents of a substance either as to kind or amount.
ANCIENT MATERIALS: Are streambed materials that are either located over virgin ground, or are materials which have been swept away from virgin ground during a major storm to be redeposited elsewhere.
ANCIENT STREAMBED: For our purposes would be natural streambed which has been in place since before the old timers arrived on the scene. Those gravels, and that area, have never been mined before. Sometimes this is called "virgin ground".
APEX: (vein) This term is used in mining law to denote the outcrop of a vein which is exposed on the surface, or the upper most limit of a blind vein which does not outcrop.
ASSAY: An analysis of an ore sample, streambed sample, or a gold sample to determine the proportions of gold, silver, platinum, and other valuable metals, to the amount of waste material present in the sample.
ATTITUDE: The direction and degree of strike and dip of a vein or bed.
AURIFEROUS: Gold containing or bearing.
BACKPRESSURE: When you see water moving backwards against the main flow in a back eddy, you are looking at a backpressure area.
BACK SIGHT: A term used in surveying for any sight taken in a backward direction.
BACK TRACKING: Following the gold back through the shallow material of a paystreak in an effort to find the tail end.
BAILING OUT: To drop the weights, which hold a diver underwater in order to quickly, get to the water surface.
BAR (MINING): A long steel bar, usually 5 feet, with a sharp point on one end and a chisel point on the other end. Used to pull down loose rocks. Some people call this a "gad".
BAR (PLACER): A bank of gold bearing sand or gravel usually found in the slack or quieter part of a stream.
BEDROCK (PLACER): Any solid rock underlying gold bearing gravels. This is the base rock of the earth and is usually where the larger gold lies.
BEDROCK STRINGER: A paystreak that is lying right on the bedrock.
BENCHES: Also known as "terrace placers." Sections of old streambed that have been left high and dry by the present stream of water are referred to as "benches." Many benches still contain large paying quantities of gold. I refer to "terraces" and benches in my gold location pages many times.
BENCHES (PLACER): Step or terrace deposits of rock or gravel.
BENCHES (OPEN PIT): Step or terrace-like working areas on the sides of a pit to keep the sides from becoming too high.
BLACK SAND: Grains of heavy, dark minerals, magnetite, limonite, chromate, etc. found in streams which commonly collect in sluice boxes. It may gold and platinum. Learn how to get gold out of black sand on my " GET GOLD OUT OF BLACK SAND WITHOUT MERCURY " Page.
BLEEDING OFF: Natural erosion of bench gravels into a present stream of water.
BLM MARKER: This is usually a solid brass spike, placed permanently in the bedrock. The BLM marker is usually identified on USGS maps.
BOIL OUT: If too much force of water is moved over top of a back pressure area, the force of the flow being pulled into the vacuum becomes so turbulent that even most of the heavier materials, gold included, will be "boiled out."
BONANZA: A very rich gold deposit, whether it be a lode or placer, is often referred to as a "bonanza."
BOULDER BOUND: A hole which has so many boulders at the bottom that it is almost impossible to get a boulder harness around any of them because they are packed so close together.
BOWLINE KNOT: An easy to tie and untie sailor's knot, which has a non-slipping loop. There are many uses for this type of knot in a dredging operation.
BREAST: The vertical end surface of a working heading. Sometimes called "face".
BRUNTON COMPASS: A special compass used in surveying with an attached inclinometer and sighting device.
CALICHE: Brown or white material, usually containing rocks and gravel that are cemented together tightly with calcium carbonate. Commonly encountered in dry, desert placers. Gold is usually on top or in this material.
CHAMMY: Chamois cloth used to strain amalgam through.
CHUTE: An opening in the ground where ore is allowed to pass from one level to another. It is the structure built to load cars from a stope or ore pass.
CLAIM: A portion of land claimed by a prospector and marked out by stakes. Maximum size of a placer claim for single person is 20 acres.
gravels, or a set of concentrates. Classification is usually done with the use of one or more sizes of mesh screening.
CLASSIFIER: A screening device itself is often referred to as a "Classifier". There is a classifier commonly found at the head of most sluice boxes on gold dredges.
CLEAN MINING: A system of mining where the ore is not diluted by waste rock.
CLEAN UP: The action of removing the gold from a set of concentrates and then cleaning the gold so it takes on its natural look. This is often a term used in dredging.
COBBLETS: Rocks that are too large to go through the suction hose intake nozzle, yet smaller than a boulder. Cobbles need to be removed from a hole by hand.
COLLAR: The immediate surface at the top of a shaft, or the start of a drill hole.
COLORS: Small specks of gold.
COMMON GOLD PATH: Because gold is six or seven times heavier than the average of other streambed materials that get swept down river during a major storm, it tends to follow and be deposited along a common path. For the most part, this path seems to follow to the inside of the bends and the shortest route between the bends.
CONCENTRATE: The valuable material produced from an ore by a separating or concentrating process. Placer concentrate refers to the mixture of black sands and gold.
CONTACT: The surface between two different types or ages of rocks.
CONTOUR LINE: Lines connecting points of equal elevation.
COUNTRY ROCK: a) The rock enclosing or traversed by a mineral deposit; b) The rock intruded by and surrounding an igneous intrusion.
CREVICE: A split, crack, or open fissure in the bedrock surface. Those crevices that are likely to trap gold out of the material as it passed over during a large storm.
CRIB: A system of timbering where the members are laid upon one another to form a rectangular opening in the center.
CROSSCUT: A horizontal tunnel driven at a large angle to the strike of a vein, connecting drifts.
CYANIDATION: The process in which a solution of potassium cyanide is passed through crushed ore to remove the gold. This process is not used when the ore contains copper.
DIP: The maximum angle of inclination downward that a vein or bed makes with a horizontal plane.
DREDGING: The process of using a floating machine for scooping up or excavating material from the bottom of a body of water, raising the material to the top, and processing the material to remove the gold. Today it refers to suction dredges.
DRIFT: A horizontal underground opening driven along the course of a vein.
DRIVING: The process of advancing a mine working, usually a drift or rise.
DUMPING OFF: The act of removing the concentrates from a sluice box.
DUST: Extremely fine particles of gold are referred to as "gold dust". A good recovery system being used in some areas will recover a considerable quantity of "dust". Often enough to pay all of the operating expenses, sometimes more. In the earlier days of mining, a pinch of gold dust was worth a dollar. Today, the same pinch is worth about $25 dollars.
END LINES: The end boundary lines of a mining claim which cross the vein. They should be parallel.
EROSION: The weathering of rocks. May produce both physical and chemical changes in the material.
EXTRALATERAL RIGHT: The right of a mine owner to follow a vein down beyond his side lines under a neighbor's ground if he has the apex on his claim, and his end lines are parallel.
FAST WATER STABILIZERS: Extra floatation attached securely to each side of a dredge in order to increase its stability when moving the dredge out into fast water. Fast water stabilizers prevent your dredge from being capsized or swamped by the swifter moving water. Also used as support on smaller dredges, so you can climb up on the dredge to fill the gas tanks.
FAULT: A fracture in the earth along which there has been displacement. This displacement may range from a few inches to a few miles.
FELSIC: An adjective used to describe a rock in which light colored minerals predominates.
FILLER MATERIAL: Material that works its way down between the major rocks of a streambed as it forms. Filler material usually tends to harden over a period of time and cement the rocks together to a degree.
FINDER'S FEE: A percentage of the recovery given to a person because he helped to locate a paying deposits for an operation.
FINE GOLD: Those particles of gold that are small enough to pass through 40-mesh screen are known as "fine gold."
FINENESS: A system that is used to indicate the purity of a gold sample or specimen. A specimen having a fineness of .900 would be 90% gold: a fineness of .650 would be 65% gold, and so on.
FLOOD LAYERS: Sometimes a streambed will have different layers of material that were laid down during different storms at different periods of time. Sometimes each separate layer contains its own gold in varying amounts. These different layers are called "flood layers.
FLOTATION: A process of mineral separation in which water, oil, and chemicals are combined to make a froth of air bubbles to which certain minerals adhere and can be collected in a trough.
FLOUR GOLD: Same as GOLD DUST.
FLOURED MERCURY: Mercury that has been broken down into thousands of tiny bubbles.
FOOL'S GOLD: Iron Pyrite, biotite or any other mineral that has an appearance that looks like gold.
FOOTWALL: The bottom or lower enclosing wall of a vein.
FORWARD-TRACKING: Dredging a narrow path forward at the upper end of a paystreak along the line of where it paid the best, in an effort to find an extension of the paystreak if it is there.
FREE GOLD: Those particles of gold in an ore or in a set of concentrates that are not chemically locked in with the other elements.
GEOLOGY: A science dealing with the formation of the earth and ore deposits.
GIRT (timbering): The upper horizontal member of a timber set, parallel to t the direction of the drift or strike of a vein, which holds the posts and caps in position.
GLORY HOLE: A bedrock hole that contains large amounts of gold.
GOLD FEVER: A term to describe me. It is when a person is obsessed with gold.
GRAIN: A term used to label a small particle of gold, and also as a unit of weight in the troy system of measurement. In which 24 grains equals 1 pennyweight. One grain also equals 64.8 milligrams. See my " Weight Conversion Table " Page for more information
GREENHORN: Someone that is inexperienced at mining.
GRIZZLY: A metal grate that screens the large rocks out of a sluice box.
GRUBSTAKE: The practice of a storekeeper extending credit or another person putting up money for the purpose of outfitting a prospector and keeping him supplied until he makes a strike. In exchange, that person then receives an agreed upon percentage of the find.
GUT: The river main channel is often referred to as the "gut."
HARD PAN: The bottom of a flood layer and top of the layer just below is called a hard pan. The layer just below the flood layer is usually hard packed enough that the flood did not wash it away too. The hard pan often contains the flood gold that was riding at the bottom of the flood layer.
HANGING WALL: The top or upper enclosing wall of a vein.
HEADER BOX: The forward most section of the sluice box upon most suction gold dredges today is designed to slow the materials down and spread them out evenly over a classifier as they enter. This upper section is referred to as the "header box."
HEADFRAME: A structure erected over a shaft to support the sheave wheel for hoisting purposes.
HEADING: Any part of the mine where work is under way. Usually confined to development workings only.
HEMATITE: An iron ore (Fe203) which is of reddish brown color. Hematite is one of the main non-magnetic minerals that comprise black sand concentrates.
HIGH GRADING: Is when a person is stealing the higher-grade gold specimens from a mining operation.
HIGHGRADE ORE:An ore that yields a large margin of profit per ton.
HITCH: A depression or hole cut into the rock to hold timbers in place. Stilts are commonly put in a hitch so that they will stay in position.
HOOKA AIR SYSTEM: Air breathing system used on most gold dredges in which the air is pumped from the surface down to the divers through an extended air line.
HORSE: A mass of waste rock in the ore or in a vein.
HOT WATER SYSTEM: Water can be heated up at the surface and pumped down through a hose to pour into a protective suit. In this way even an old wetsuit can be made to keep a diver comfortable when dredging in cold water. Usually water is pumped over a copper tube wrapped around the muffler on the engines running the dredge.
HYDDRAULIC CLASSIFICATION SYSTEM: A means of material classification in which water (hydraulics) is used to wash the materials over top of classification screens. Double and triple sluices are examples of hydraulic classification systems.
HYDRAULIC MINING: (Hydraulicing) A method of above water gold mining in which a large volume of water is directed at gold bearing streambed, so its materials can be washed down through sluice boxes, where the gold can be recovered.
IGNEOUS ROCK: Rock that has solidified from a molten state.
JET: Is that component on a suction dredge that water is pumped into, and which creates suction up through the suction hose. The jet is designed so that streambed material can be pumped directly to the recovery system without having to be rum through the water pump.
LAGGING: Planks or split-round timber placed around timbered sets to keep material from falling into the opening. Also used for flooring.
LATERAL: A horizontal mine working. A drift in the footwall of a vein is often called a lateral.
LEASE: A contract by which one conveys real estate for life, for a term of years, or at will, usually for a specific rent. Also, the act of conveyance, or the term for which it is made.
LEDGE: A horizontal layer, but often a vein or lode is referred to as a "ledge" of ore.
LESSEE: A person who obtains a lease on mining land.
LESSOR: The grantor of a lease.
LEVEL: All the connected horizontal mine openings at a certain elevation. Generally levels are 100 or 200 feet apart, and are designated by their distance from the collar of a shaft or some other point of reference.
LODE: Veins that contain valuable minerals are referred to as "lodes." Gold, in hardrock form, (lode) is commonly associated with quartz veins that protrude through the general country rock that makes up the earth's crust. Lodes are the original source of placer a deposits. Lodes can also be open pit mines from gold tellurides.
LOW-GRADE ORE: Ore that yields a low margin of profit per ton.
LOW/BACK PRESSURE AREA: Any area in a river or stream of water in which the water force slows down or reverses direction due to some sudden change in the bedrock, some kind of obstruction, or some change in the direction of flow. Gold tends to concentrate in the low/back pressure areas that lie along the common gold path.
MAFIC: An adjective used to describe a rock in which dark colored minerals predominates.
MAGNETITE: Fe304 The heavy magnetic black sands (iron) that is found in the heavy concentrates that collect in the recovery system.
MALLEABILITY: Is the ability of a mineral to be shaped into different forms.
MATRIX: The fine-grained interstitial material of an igneous rock or the smaller, fine-grained particles of sediment that occupy the spaces between the larger particles.
MERCURY: ("Quick silver") A heavy, silvery colored, liquid type of metal which has a tremendous affinity for gold, silver and many other metals. Mercury is often used amongst gold miners to collect the fine gold values out of a set of heavy concentrates that have been taken from a recovery system. The procedure is called amalgamation. Learn how to use Mercury on my " HOW TO USE MERCURY TO RECOVER GOLD " Page
METAMORPHISM: The mineralogical and structural adjustment of solid rocks to physical and chemical conditions that differ from those under which the rocks originally formed.
MILLING ORE: Ore that must be concentrated at or near the mine before it is shipped. Free-milling ore refers to roe, containing gold in free form, that is, not in chemical combination, which, when crushed and milled can be separated by mechanical processes.
MINERAL: A homogenous substance of fairly definite chemical composition and physical properties found in nature and not directly a product of life or the decay of a living thing.
MINERALOGY: The science of minerals and their identification.
MINING: The extraction and recovery of valuable minerals.
MUCK: A common term for any broken ore or waste underground.
MUCKER: A shoveler, or one who handles muck.
NATIVE GOLD, COPPER, ETC.: Any element (gold, copper, etc.) found uncombined with other elements.
NITRIC ACID: A clear, fuming, highly corrosive liquid that is often used clean gold of various impurities.
ORE: The naturally occurring material from which a mineral or minerals of economic value can be extracted.
ORE BODY: The part of a vein that carries ore. Generally all parts of a vein are not ore.
OUTCROP: The outcrop is the edge or surface of a mineral deposit or sedimentary bed that appears upon the surface.
OVERBURDEN: The valueless dirt and material overlying the pay zone in a placer deposit or the valueless solid outcrop of an ore body. In dredging, the overburden must be removed first, before processing of the paystreak is possible.
PATENT: A written title to land granted by the government after filling certain obligations. A mining claim can be patented after $500 worth of work, plus many other requirements.
PAYSTREAK: A paystreak is a concentration of gold that has formed in a section of river or stream because of a lessening of water force in during a storm.
PENNYWEIGHT: A unit of the troy system of weight measurement. One pennyweight equals 24 grains, and is 1/20th of a troy ounce. See my " Weight Conversion Table " page for more information
PINCH: A thinning or squeezing of a rock layer or vein.
PLACER DEPOSITS: Free gold that has eroded away from its original lode and which has been swept into a stream of running water will tend to accumulate in certain common locations. These accumulations are called "placer deposits."
PLATINUM: Is a family of 6 rare and valuable metals that are usually silvery white in color. Because platinum is sometimes recovered along with gold, it's a good idea for the placer miner to know what it looks like so he does not discard it along with the waste materials from his recovery system.
PLAYED OUT:All gold deposits whether placer or lode will run out sooner or later. When all of the known about paying quantities of gold or other valuable minerals have been mined out of such a deposit, it is said to have "played out."
PLUGGER POLE: A long thin rod made of metal or PVC piping that is used to tap the plug ups out of the jet on a dredge from the surface when they occur.
PLUTON: An igneous intrusion.
POKE: A mineral container of gold.
PRIMER: The device on a suction dredge which connects the water pump to the water, which is also designed to be manually filled with water so the pump can be easily primed from the surface.
PROSPECETING: Locating and evaluating the quantity and worth of potentially valuable minerals. Prospecting includes panning, which often determines gold content in placer or crushed lode gold ore.
PUMPING MATERIAL: The action of feeding material into the suction nozzle. The material rides up through the suction hose and up into and over the sluice box where the gold is recovered from the material.
QUALITATIVE (ORE TESTING): The kind of valuable minerals or elements that are present in a sample of ore.
QUANTITATIVE (ORE TESTING): How much valuable mineral or element is present in a sample of ore.
R: Range, refers to range on USGS maps.
RAISE: In underground mining, vertical or inclined openings driven upward to connect workings from level to level.
RANGE: Range, refers to range on USGS maps.
RECOVERY SYSTEM: The part of a mining operation or mining equipment which is designed to recover the gold from the material which you are running through the system. The recovery system on most dredges consists of a sluice box.
RESIDUAL DEPOSIT: The residue formed by weathering in place. The weathered material that has not been moved from the site where it formed.
RIFFLE: Grooves, channels, slats, or wire screens in a sluice box or rocker to catch gold or other valuable minerals.
ROCKER: A device used for concentrating gold in small-scale placer mining operations work. The rocker is usually hand operated and is used by shoveling gravel into a hopper, bailing water into the honker and rocking the device from side to wash the gravel and concentrate the gold.
ROLLING HITCH: (Winching) A rolling hitch is done by slinging the boulder backwards and then running the chain or pull cable over top of the boulder. This will usually free the boulder up by rolling it.
ROYALTIES: Royalties means payment. A claim owner usually receives a percentage of what an operation finds on his claim. A grubstaker may also receive a percentage. These payments are often referred to as royalties."
SALTING: The practice of adding gold to a claim to convince someone it is rich, so they will buy it.
SAMPLING: Basically consists of exploratory testing in an effort to locate acceptable paying ground prior to starting a production mining operation. This is usually done by dredging sample holes in the likely spots to find gold deposits, should they be present within that general area. The material from each sample hole is tested to check the gold content. The prospector continues to make sample holes until a sufficient paystreak or deposit is located, at which time mining activities are begun with the intention of recovering the gold out of the deposit. For more information on sampling see my "Successful Dredging Techniques Page".
SAPROLITE: A soft, earthy, clay rich thoroughly decomposed rock formed in place by chemical weathering of igneous and metamorphic rocks.
SCUBA: Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus (scuba tank, etc.) was used during the earlier days of suction dredging, but has since past on to the Hooka air breathing systems which are more efficient for most of today's dredging activities.
SEC: Section, refers to the section on USGS maps. There are 36 sections in one township.
SECTION: Section, refers to the section on USGS maps. There are 36 sections in one township
used in finding ore, draining water, ventilation, lowering and hoisting men, and lowering materials.
SILICOSIS: Lung trouble caused by silica or quartz dust.
SILL: A tabular igneous intrusion that parallels the planar structure of the surrounding rock.
SILVER: A shiny metallic element that is usually found in close association with gold to some degree. Silver is also considered to be a precious metal and is superior to any other metal in its ability to conduct electricity and heat.
SINKING: The driving or excavating of a shaft or winze.
SINKER: A hand-held drill primarily designed to drill down holes.
SINGLE DEPOSIT: A single deposit of gold can form anywhere along the general path in the river which gold follows, where an obstruction, a small change in bedrock, or a crevice is located.
SKIP: In underground mining, a container used to carry ore to the surface of the ground.
SLIP: A small fault.
SLUICE BOX: A trough with riffles through which gravel and wash from placer mining operations is passed so the gold and other valuable minerals will be caught and saved.
SMELTING: The process of melting ores in furnaces.
SNATCH BLOCKS: (Winching) A type of pulley which can easily be attached or unattached to a cable.
SPECIFIC GRAVITY: The ratio of the weight of any substance to an equal volume of water.
STEMMING (TAMPING): The material tamped in a drill hole after the dynamite has been placed. This increases the effectiveness of the blast.
STOPE: Any underground mining, the area from which the ore is removed.
STOPER: A type of drill used in stoping and raising operations.
STRIKE: The bearing of a horizontal line in the plane of a vein, bed, or fault with respect to the cardinal points of the compass.
STRIPPING: Removing the overburden from a placer deposit or the barren outcrop of an ore deposit.
SCULL: A timber used to support loose rocks or slabs. It may also be used to support a platform in a working place.
SUMP: A hole or excavation used to collect water on a level or at the bottom of a shaft.
SYNCLINE: A fold in rocks, it is concave upward, down folded layers.
T: Township, is the township coordinates on the USGS maps.
TAILINGS: The material that washes out from the end of the sluice box.
TAMPING: The gentle forcing and compaction of dynamite by packing material into the drill hole above the dynamite.
TOWNSHIP: Township, is the township coordinates on the USGS maps.
TREND: The general direction or bearing of a vein, or shoot, fault or rock outcrop.
TROMMEL: A revolving screen used in placer mining.
TROY SYSTEM: Is a system of weight measurement that is commonly used amongst miners and gold dealers. 24 grains =1 pennyweight 20 pennyweight =1 troy ounce 12 troy ounces =1 troy pound. See my " Weight Conversion Table " Page for more information.
An extension of bedrock that extends up out of the foundation of a streambed. Upcropping
can be the cause of single deposits or paystreaks when they lie along the common gold path.