So, you decided you want to be a gold prospector. The simple fact that many week-end prospectors are finding gold proves that gold was not easy to find in the first place, otherwise the old-timers would have found it all!
There is an enormous amount of gold still available to the small-scale miner. The problem you face is where to find it. It could right where you are standing or where you are digging until you find it. To be successful, you need to adhere to two very important steps. Sampling is step number one, and production is step number two. Hidden irregularities in the river or stream channel can change where the gold path runs. So, until you locate the gold path, you are never certain as to where it is going to be. Inside bend to inside bend (during flood stage), and a line between inside bends, is a good place to start your sampling. Sampling is done by digging test holes in different locations, comparing one against the next in order to establish where the better results are coming from, and then following these results to find an acceptable deposit to start production.
Where Gold Accumulates In The Sinuous Pattern Of Bends In A Meandering River Bed. This Also Applies To Ancient River Bed And Abandoned Channels On The Flood Plain.
The majority of rivers and streams will have a certain amount of low-grade values dispersed throughout the gravel. However, the general gold path tends to have more gold, iron, and other heavies along it, then the rest of the river gravels.
When making test holes, take note of the amount of iron, other heavies, and gold from each hole. This will give you an idea of the average values in the river bed. When you find a hole that contains more than the average, then you know you are on the gold path.
Because gold is heavy, 6 times heavier than all other river material, when being washed down stream, it quickly works its way to the bottom of the other materials being washed with it. The gold will also move more slowly than the rest of the material, filling cracks, crevices, holes, and barriers in the bedrock. This will happen much more along the gold path than the rest of the river.
Gold deposits along the general gold path can be large or small, depending on the size of the gold trap, the important one being called the “pay-streak.” Pay-streaks always form along the gold path where the river’s flow slows down on a large scale during a major flood storm. Centrifugal force places most of the water pressure to the outside of the bend, leaving a low-pressure (low-velocity) area at the tail end of the inside bend. The size and richness of the pay-streak depends on the size of the low-pressure (low-velocity) area created in the river, and how much gold traveled through that area during a flood storm.
Most pay-streaks have definite left and right outside boundaries, which means the gold will tend to run out quickly once you get outside the pay-streak. Occasionally, upstream and downstream boundaries are not so easy to distinguish. Varying water flow turbulence during major storms can sometimes make a pay-streak somewhat inconsistent. It may appear to be good for awhile, bad for awhile, then good again, but the outside left and right boundaries tend to hold true most of the time.
People who have the most problem in gold prospecting are the ones who give up too easily. You need to give your sample holes a little more time and effort. Once you find a good gold deposit, it will become easy to see why it is located there and how easy it was to find.
If you are not finding enough gold, you cannot blame the claim, the river, or anything else. It may feed your ego by blaming some outside source, but it will not get you any more gold. You either get it, or you don’t. Blaming something else will only head you in the wrong direction. The answer is to become more effective, communicate with other miners to find out where the gold is coming from, and then get busy with your sampling.
If you want to do well in gold mining, then you have to make it happen!