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My last prospecting trip out I was sure I had the spotting possible gold locations process down however there is something, other than no gold, I'm missing. I felt my desert clues (listed below) indicated I was a good area with only red dirt and pyrite missing.


There was quartz all over the area with red stains from iron which I would have thought answered the mail for iron/red dirt. Also there was granite, other minerals, and plants indicating a good mineral rich soil.


But there was also low volume of black sand and it's occurrence was patchy. I sampled the top 6 inches in a couple of areas and got more black sand than I knew what to do with, next 6 inches below the first 6 inches very little.


The only deltas I can think of would be I need to do a better job of identifying the specific areas for sampling, how much time I spend sampling, how I sample or maybe something else.


So if anyone has any!! suggestions about working possible gold locations please past them along. Losing really blows.  :angry:


Desert Clues: Are There Any

Evidence of fault lines

Inaccessible or somewhat challenging locations to reach

Caliche Layers especially within the more challenging areas to reach

Watch for pocket, cracks, generally a base that gold rest on

Hills, slopes, etc above washes may form residual placer deposits

Depressions, gullies, wash veins, bolder obstruction, or water falls

Rock slides near old streambeds, washes, gullies or drainages

Contacts between different rock types, cavities, porous rocks, bed rock areas

Deformed fractures rock and folds of fault zones

Granite traps can be good gold holding types of bedrock

Exposed bedrock, narrow fissures and cracks

Indications where flash floods have been focused

Narrow ravines and waterways which

Focused the water movement

Widen out - watch for gravel bars

Check gravel terraces a few feet above the creek

Iron rich red dirt and/or nice red quartz, faults and fractures intersect rocks

Been know to mix with quartz, dirt maybe also be blackish red

Ant hills and/or gopher holes they dig everything up

Trumpet plants, Black Sand (large flakes best)

Use metal pan with magnet to check for black sand, lager the flakes the better

Trumpet's grow in very high mineralize soil

With Trumpet's may find rich red dirt, mineral concentrated area

Horsetails Plants

  Have a strong affinity for gold bearing areas

  Watch for clumps growing maybe on top or gold rich areas

  An arrangement of branches in a circle around the stem

  May have ribbed and hollow stems

Obvious depressions

Pyrite & Granite (light colored rocks, grains large enough to be visible, colors vary

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History of production no matter how large or small?


Otherwise, it looks like you named a bunch of possible indicators. More than I would have though of.



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The Barstow, CA area in general has been known for producing gold in fact there are a very large number of claims north and south of Barstow; now for the "but part". The only known true placer producing mine was Camp Rock just south of I-40 and east of Barstow. Based on Riches to Rush by Eric Twitty and Gold Districts of California, Bulletin 193 all the other mining activities have been chasing flour or flake gold and this includes the 1860"s thru 1930's old timers. The site I'm working is a known gold producing area. 

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To quote one our recent Presidents, "I feel your pain!". :)


Having spent the past 30 years prospecting the southwest, and going up and down every rabbit trail, I can hereby assert that gold is very rare. Your checklist describes thousands and probably millions of locations around the southwest. Those locations have no gold.


We are fortunately preceded by generations of long legged prospectors that have already walked every wash in Arizona and California. A time lapse video of the southwest over the past 400 years would certainly reveal an interesting view of people seeking their fortune, strutting up and down all of the creek beds, climbing hills and pecking on rocks.


In the news over the past 30 years have been reports of gold discoveries! One discovery in the desert west of Phoenix had none of the markers on your list. The locality was pristine desert. Looked just like all of the rest of the desert for hundreds of square mines. A sample was taken by a curious prospector. He found a very weak showing of gold in his pan. After staking claims that covered a square mile, he mapped out a sampling grid and documented the samples. The sampling program revealed a circular, central zone having the greatest amount of gold.


My belief is that today, prospectors have to look where others have not looked, think out of the box, check areas that DONT have the usual markers.


The other option is to do as suggested and look where others HAVE found gold. I know that's pretty obvious, "BUT", a gold producing region provides an opportunity to discover peripheral gold mineralization that was missed!  For example, along strike, one mile away, an outcrop that was not sampled, may reveal a hint of gold. Placer deposits obviously have a lode "somewhere". That somewhere may be currently unknown. In Alaska, Almost all (80 to 90 percent) of the placer gold deposits being mined today have no lode discoveries.  


- Geowizard

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I'm not geo, but here are a couple sources.

"Fists Full of Gold", by Chris Ralph has some good info on seam diggings.

I consider "The Elusive Pocket Gold of South Western Oregon", by Tom Bohmker to be the "Book" on pocket gold hunting. There are a few minor errors in my opinion, but it is my primary source for pocket gold info even though I'm in Alaska and probably will die here.



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Thanks eric!


I hope that anyone that knows of good references or has experience will chime in. :)


My experience to date is that so called pockets are the result of physical controls. Beginning with their origin, minerals escape from great depths with a certain force. At the extent that force diminishes and is met with equal and opposite force, the mineralization ceases to move. If the mineralization is really locked in position without influence from outside forces, it will remain in its original location. Temperature drop near the surface or at the surface can cause precipitation of gold and other minerals in pockets.


Secondary enrichment can cause mineralization to occur in pockets.


Placer deposits have physical controls that can cause enrichment in traps that are natural gold collectors.


- Geowizard

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Another reason for pocket mines are extraterrestrial sources. :)


Sudbury, Ontario, Canada is known for several mines that are believed to represent meteorite impacts. One such mine is a world class Nickel-Platinum, pgm mine.


I am investigating a half dozen potential meteorite prospects with visible crater lakes in the Moran/Tanana District of Alaska.


- Geowizard

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Thanks Eric & Geo. The things you mention are all true for this area I'm working. I'm in a mtn. range next to the Rio Grande Rift that is part of a large old placer. It is also on the edge of a strewn field. I have found some evidence of some old small pocket mines that had some crystalline quartz with color. Everyone from the Apache, Spaniards, and present day prospectors worked this area. My claims are in a bowl on the side of the Mtn. so I don't have much competition to speak of from "Fairweather Prospectors".  Most of the placer gold came from quartz veins that eroded out of the western red granite

on the side of the mtn.   

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