Article by Rod Strange
Ever wondered what the best areas are for gold detecting? Well its recommended that you start with areas popularly known for coarse gold production. The term coarse refers to pieces of sold gold with sizes varying from rice grain to rock size. Of all the methods used to detect gold, metal detector scanning is regarded as the most popular not to mention, practical means.
Coarse gold cannot be found in any or all gold fields and may even be scarcer in areas considered especially rich. In some areas of Australia fine gold can be found concentrated in cracks and crevices of rocks as well as in a gravel wash overlying this. Metal detectors will not detect these super fine gold sprinkles through materials such as sand and gravel, nor minute traces of gold still contained in reef materials.
It was policy for miners to register the weight, exact location and other relevant information on gold nuggets found over a specific size. The policy was often resented and generally ignored by diggers and avoided as much as possible.
The process of finding gold nuggets in gold fields are usually comprised by several phases of activity. After initial discovery, area is ‘rushed’ to by gold diggers from all over the world. Early arrivals work at the speed of light, sinking as many as a thousand shafts. Frequently only a small percentage of shafts dug would produce gold in any shape or form. The shafts that did indicated the way to richer leads, or even reef from which the gold originated.
Picks and shovel were used to dig tons of shafts until the yields decreased substantially or lack of water made the field operation impossible. When any one of these unfortunate circumstances hit, the digger would pack their few possessions and head to the next undiscovered gold field.
After the initial rush to gold rich areas where men worked at incredible speeds, more men would come with advanced skills, better equipment and tools. The reefs where searched for all available sources. Puddlers where built by some diggers and gold wash processed with animals like horses, oxen and water. Some puddlers were built to reprocess any left over heaps on the fields.
American diggers where especially skilled at the art of dam building as well as stream and sluice diversion. This was a result of the increased water supply at their disposal to process, wash and feed crushers separating quartz or slate from gold.
An increasingly effective method of processing large tracts of super rich ground, was introduced by the Chinese a couple of years after the first excursion. All soil and rock was removed above the bedrock’s and transported via a cart into a puddler for washing. Surfaced areas served as indicators of particularly rich ground.
The majority of Victorian gold fields where so rich that the ground was literally a bed of substantially sized nuggets, to the extent that the first diggers simply used a shovel to dig up shovels full of ground and bounced it up and down. If no clang sound was heard the dirt was merely tossed aside. Sometimes the weight of the shovel alone served as an indication of nugget presence. This method commonly referred to as potato digging had a tendency to miss small pieces of gold.
Australian gold fields are considered some of the worlds’ driest and located in some of the most remote areas in Australia. Tons of hopeful miners suffered immense hardships and many died during their efforts to survive drought and isolation, while attempting to strike gold. All kinds of special techniques and methods had to be adopted to separate rock and clay gold without the use of a single drop of water.
Dry blowers originally developed and designed in Mexico were commonly used in Western Australia, which comprised of manual shakers that moved the dirt down a series of sieves.
The majority of nuggets were dug up within the first one meter from surface. The world largest nugget known as The Welcome Stranger, was located only a couple of inches from the surface in Australia. Legend has that the nugget was exposed after a cart made a track on the soils’ surface.
Ancient riverbeds that received gold particles and nuggets millenniums ago, washed down from nearby reefs were commonly known as deep leads. These leads eventually silted over or covered by volcanic material. When relocated under basalt or soil, these old beds could be dug up and gold separated from the debris.
Check out http://www.gold-detecting.com/ for loads more of info on gold detecting.
Rod Strange is a writer, and gold-detecting enthusiast from Australia. To learn more about gold detecting, visit Rod Strange’s website and blog at http://www.gold-detecting.com/
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