Many inexperienced prospectors often get frustrated very quickly when they first start. They’re expectations are high and they don’t have a lot of experience to work with. While there are many skills one must develop to mature into a successful prospector, the one all beginners should focus on immediately is their ability to judge, read, and otherwise locate gold in streams and creeks. It’s not rocket science so a good foundation goes a really long way!
Firstly you must realize that gold in itself is very heavy. It has a specific gravity of 19.3, so in other words it weighs 19 times as much as an equal volume of water. That’s quite heavy and there’s really only a handful of other elements that weigh more. None of which need any concern for now. The principle that gold is heavy is the foundation of all gold panning and placer mining. Gold will settle to the bottom of any turbulent material and it will be the last thing to be washed away by water. This is how the premise of a gold pan works. It’s important to know this because once you understand the dynamics and behavior of gold in water, you can begin to predict its behavior in moving water like creeks and rivers.
Now assuming you’re working a creek, stream, or river that’s known to bare gold – which you should be! – you’re going to have to imagine or predict where the gold will be settling as the current pushes it around and deposits it. To do this, Imagine in your mind a thick S curve representing the water flow. If you where to take a piece of string and run it from the stop of the “S” to the bottom you would notice that it cuts the corners much like a race car driver – the path of least resistance. Along this line is where the gold will be deposited. Note that the line is a complete juxtaposition of the creek’s faster moving current. Gold will be deposited on inside corners and just off center in long straight sections. Apply this imaginary string idea to the creek or river before you and start digging.
Since it doesn’t do much good to run around checking random spots you may think – or hope – have gold, you’re going to want to work on your sampling skills. Sampling isn’t the most fun since its rather tedious and monotonous. However it can seriously help you hone in on a good pay streak or honey hole.
Start by finding the high water mark and dig up a sample from the ground. I dig down to three different depths or until I hit bedrock, whichever comes first. Once I’ve panned out the samples and noted how much black sand or gold I’ve found at the three depths, I then move towards the center of the creek in 3 or 4 foot increments. Continue in this fashion all the way to the center of the creek if you can, all the while noting how much black sand or gold you’re recovering. Remember black sand is heavy like gold, but with a specific gravity between 5 and 11. The black sands will be deposited near and around gold. Ideally what you want to look for is the specific spot where the black sand levels drop greatly. It will be nearest the center of the creek because this is where the water moves faster and carries the black sands away. Because gold is heavier this is generally where the gold is deposited or left unmoved. This will be your pay streak and all your work has hopefully paid off. Follow the pay streak longitudinally up and down the creek till it runs out.
So there you have it, two very useful methods of finding gold in most streams, creeks and rivers. Armed with this knowledge you should be able to find at the very least a little bit of gold. That’s a far cry better than NO gold and nobody can argue with that! Happy prospecting and good luck!
Source by Christopher J Walkin