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The Pocket Sluice

Author Topic: Old Time Prospecting Methods  (Read 130118 times)

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Offline tamarackman

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Re: Old Time Prospecting Methods
« Reply #30 on: September 21, 2014, 09:52:40 AM »
Thanks for the info guys, love reading the old methods on prospecting because its cheap and its tried and tested. the mineral title has opened up now on my placer and my gut tells me to stake so I can follow up on this pocket hunt as the geology is so similar to the info here. My last outing I brought my kids so I had to take it easy and not have the same tunnel vision I usually get when working the claim, this proved to be good as they just wanted to wade up the creek and play in the pools and I had to follow and sample some new spots. As usual i found good float gold right away and the count dropped off as usual at a certain point, now this is where things started to fit together a little better. The rusty rotten quartz vein that goes through my creek and claim seemed to pan dry, the rock it cuts through is slaty, in contact with granite and massive greenish blue volcanic type rock. I found a new feature, just below the vein which I thought might be the source. it is a crumbly or flakey yellowish stained rock on the steeper side of the drainage, the other side is covered with gravel and boulders. i seem to find more colour on the gravely side than the steeper rocky side. Now I guess I need to sample the yellow stained rock and up the hill. Wish I had a donkey and more time! Guess the puzzle gets put together a piece at a time. 

Offline EMF

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Re: Old Time Prospecting Methods
« Reply #31 on: September 21, 2014, 01:40:51 PM »
We think alike in many ways, sunshine. The classification and samplng scheme you described is something I tried, and it brings me back to what the old timer wrote about being smart, but not too smart, it being better to have a strong back. The problem being finding that initial particle of gold to begin the tracing, assuming the project is being started high above any running water. Smart says dry classify first to reduce the load and save time and cover more ground. Strong back says no, haul the sample to water and wash everything, because the particle that will begin the trace is easly likely to be clinging to the stuff tossed away while dry classifying.  tamarackman, you posted as I was writing this, and it looks almost like we had a bit of a telepathic link as were writing. Its great to hear of your activity, I hope to read more. I am finally well enough to return to prospecting, but I'm now encumbered with a huge backlog of neglected things to take care of before I return. I'm now rebuilding my car engine, among other big projects, and later I'll have to put new rings into the engine of my prospecting truck. But it is wonderful to have the energy now to do things again!

Another bit of wisdom written by an old timer hit me right where I was wrong, and it got me past a long string of zero results. This bit is especially true if you are not familar with the ground you are prospecting, and low in prospecting experience. I used to set aside about two weeks a year for prospecting, and had a great time, but results were always zilch. So this guy was writing a hundred years ago about what a mistake it is to load up a wagon with gear and spend two weeks in the mountains hoping to find some gold! I was guilty as charged. He stressed that it really takes much longer than that for successful prospecting, requiring the dedication of enough time at it such that as you wrote, sunshine, " if you are doing it yourself, you certainly get to know the area and will see things that you would not otherwise.  It forces you to walk almost every square inch and you might stumble across interesting trails, cabins or old workings that were not obvious when you walked the area taking 'the easy route'. " I try to stay at least a month, and sometimes I've gone as long as two and half, but I want to spend even more time at it. But with today's roads and transport it is much easier to return to previous places and continue the work than it was in the old days, so shorter times afield are not necessarily as problematic as it was earlier.

And then, traits of alertness and flexibility in thinking are needed, as tamarackman implied. I have gone into the mountains looking for certain specific indicators for pockets, and in my less experienced times have walked by other kinds of indication that in retrospect, were gold indications of another kind, a kind I was not prepared to encounter, investigate, and understand. I shall return. So later I was starting my prospect in a creek that was "all mined out" according to the locals who didn't know how to find gold, and finding gold, trying to follow it to its source, and while the hillside traces were blocked by slides,  I was flexible and alert enough to find a good placer deposit that I did not expect.

But that country is also a mix of serpentinite and laterite, both of which are notorious for random pieces of gold laying about with no obvious source, which illustrates the importance of knowing what kinds of formation in an area have gold that can be traced. I suspect the ground has a lot of small quartz veins with tiny amounts of gold scattered in them, confusing the traces to actual pocket deposits, so finding the actual formations that substantial amounts of gold can found in are important to do before sampling the hillsides for gold is done in places like that. In some places, pockets are known to have formed in contact zones between slate and greenstone, so following and sampling along the contact is the way to go. Other pocket zones are found by following vein systems, looking for broken rusty weathered parts, or where other veins cross them. There are so many different things to know about beyond the sampling technique I posted above.

But the best place to begin is in stream beds and gullies. That is where you find out if gold is even in play where you are prospecting, then you start the hillside work, if the gold seems to be coming from that direction. But still, if you know the geology and have a gold spear, it is great to walk the logging roads in likely gold occurring areas that follow the contours and poke the ground with it in the exposures the loggers made, flagging the hits, marking them on the GPS, and washing samples in springs; or searching out formations such as veins and listwanite alteration zones, and taking samples, or studying the old workings that lay about in order come to an understanding of why gold was being found in the particular kinds of ground gold that was being washed (by ground sluicing), and perhaps not completely mined.

Totally enjoyable activity.

Offline isaac

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Re: Old Time Prospecting Methods
« Reply #32 on: October 24, 2014, 09:22:08 PM »
Great article EMF thanx for sharing info

Isaac :

Offline EMF

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Re: Old Time Prospecting Methods
« Reply #33 on: October 28, 2014, 11:18:58 PM »
I just finished reading a couple of really good books. The first one here, written in 1882, is very wide ranging and covers the occurrence, mining and milling of gold as it was known in places all over the English speaking world at that time. It has over 1200 pages and I learned a lot of new things from it. It has a lot to say about getting gold from shallow placers. There is a diagram and an explanation of a device used from the days of ancient Egypt up to the time of writing that we can see as a kind of stone hibanker with recirculating water. There is a treasure hunting lead for those so inclined, for a location now at the center of the Ebola epidemic. Adventure!  I learned about the different way gold gets deposited in the steeper grades of a stream than it does in the slower moving parts where we expect placer deposits. My first nugget was found in one of those steep grade deposits. In New Zealand they had a technique for getting those really small gold particles that float on water which they called "Fly Catching." It could be modified for such use today if that kind of gold is in your area. A few of the pages did not come out just right, so if you find one of those it usually corrects if you change the magnification or rotate it. The title is  "Gold--Its Occurrence and Extraction." A pdf of a digitized copy from the Internet Archive can be found here:

http://ia600502.us.archive.org/0/items/golditsoccurence00lockuoft/golditsoccurence00lockuoft.pdf

The second book was fun to read. It is a novel about the adventures of a group of four young men who set out for the California Gold Rush. The author, who was born around 1872, wove together the experiences described from 21 different writers who took part in the Gold Rush to make this novel. He did a good job of it.

https://ia700306.us.archive.org/32/items/goldillustratedb00whituoft/goldillustratedb00whituoft.pdf

Offline mentalcoincoin

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Re: Old Time Prospecting Methods
« Reply #34 on: January 12, 2015, 09:50:10 PM »
I found an article called Mud Men: Pocket Miners of Southwest Oregon—Part I thought this would be the thread to put it in.
It wont = EMF s great article,but it is interesting.
Mud Men: Pocket Miners of Southwest Oregon—Part I - ICMJ's Prospecting and Mining Journal

Offline tamarackman

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Re: Old Time Prospecting Methods
« Reply #35 on: January 13, 2015, 08:54:21 PM »
good read on mud men, im looking forward to next months article.   

Offline ozzyjock

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Re: Old Time Prospecting Methods
« Reply #36 on: June 25, 2016, 08:33:32 PM »
Excellent reading for a newbie and experienced prospectors alike,
will keep me going for ages, love learning how the old timers did it, a lot of lost techniques and knowledge .
thanks and some kudos for you all.
Barry

 


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