Sunday, October 6, 2013

Professor Hausel's Guide to Gold

Be careful of legends - Not Me! The Superstition Mountains! Many gold
legends are nothing more than a legend. Wonder why no one ever found the
Lost Dutchman mine? Well, maybe there is a mine out there, but why bother
there are plenty of known gold mines and properties around the West.
You've probably heard it before. "Gold is where you find it". Not sure what wise guy came up with that saying - but its true even though it should be obvious. But the problem is finding the "where you find it".  As a geologist who found more than 40 million ounces and possibly as much as 50 million ounces of gold in the ground, I think I have a nose for finding gold deposits and its not as hard as some make it out to be. I was awarded the Thayer Lindsey Award with 6 other geologists for making one major discovery, and also presented the 2004 Distinguished Service Award for many other discoveries.

Here are some suggestions for finding gold:
(1) Use science. Sounds pretty straight forward, but it is amazing how many promoters and scam artists out there profess using unscientific methods such as dowsing, witching sticks, legends, wet dreams and feelings to find gold. None of which have worked as far as I'm aware.
The iron stained (gossan) at the Vulture gold mine, Arizona. Learn what
you can about veins and how to follow them if you want to find gold.
When I was at the Wyoming Geological Survey, I had one dowser who would read my ICMJ prospecting and mining journal articles and next he would dowse the paper and ink maps in the article, sketch over a couple of pencil lines and then send me back a copy of the article to tell me where the mother lode was on each paper map. This went on for a few years and I finally lost touch with this person, so he was either recaptured or promoted to the obama administration. Another dowser would often send me advertisements for his school of dowsing (all hand written) for a variety of courses - and I kid you not, all of his classes sounded like part of the Twilight Zone. One of the better ones was how to find lost dogs and other pets using a dosing rod while flying over the country in a 747. Now if you don't laugh, you better seek help.

Gold nuggets from Arizona
Then there was Barbara - a little old lady prospector from Atlantic City Wyoming who knew where the gold was. It was apparently in other people's wallets. Barbara was well known for scamming people. She was only about 97 pounds soaking wet, a chain smoker, heavy drinker, and actually entertaining. She once sold a guy a jar full of gold at a reduced price. He was excited to show everyone his jar of gold at Atlantic City until he discovered he had a $5000 jar full of mica.  A short time later, the Atlantic City volunteer fire department was called out to put out a fire in Barbara's Cadillac.

Visible gold in rhyolite from Arizona. When you see this much gold - you
struck it rich. A rule of thumb. If you see one tiny spec of visible gold on a
rock sample, it will assay close to 1 ounce per ton. A rock with this much gold
likely would assay 100 ounces per ton.
On another day, Barbara latched on to a well-dressed tourist from Missouri who stepped into the Atlantic City Mercantile to ask directions. Barbara sat down with the unsuspecting visitor and tried to sell him a gold mine until he told her that he and his son actually owned the Mary Ellen mine.
Then there was a University of Wyoming professor. The professor had written on UW letterhead that 297,000,000 ounces of gold reserves had been identified at Pine Mountain west of Casper and near the Rattlesnake Hills. The only problem, no gold had ever been identified at Pine Mountain even though it has been a popular site for mining scams similar to the South French Creek area in the Medicine Bow Mountains. After this professor and others were investigated by the secret service, no charges were files as no money had yet exchanged hands - so the university promoted the professor.

One way to learn about gold is to read some good gold prospecting books. Then find a gold district near your town you can visit (don't buy and jars of gold) and get out on some mine dumps and start examining the area around the old mines. Look for any lineaments such as narrow quartz veins running towards the old mine dump you are standing on and walk along this vein. If there area lots of prospects on the vein, this start looking at the vein and learn all you can. See if you can follow the vein for a few hundred feet, a few thousand feet.
You might also look for linear depressions. These could be related to faults or shear zones. See if there is much in the way of prospects on these depressions. If there are, it is likely an old mineralized shear zone.

(2) Learn what gold looks like. This is important. Visit museums, look at photographs in books and on the Internet. Usually, the only thing that can be mistaken for gold is pyrite and mica and most mistaken mica for gold - like Barbara's friend at the Atlantic City mercantile. Years ago, I wrote an article for the ICMJ about some prospector living in Centennial Wyoming who had been jumping someone else's mining claim on the Middle Fork of the Little Laramie River all winter long. His name may have been 'John', but he used three different aliases when talking to me. Anyway, he mined all winter long using snow shoes to get to the claim and recover all of the gold he could, without being discovered. He told me he had a few barrels filled with the gold in his single wide trailer at Centennial, and finally brought in a couple of Ball jars filled with the material to verify his riches. You could see the disappointment when I told him he had some high-quality plant soil, but no gold.

Gold and silver-bearing vein north of Oatman, Arizona. The Gold Road vein is seen as the white quartz-calcite-adularia vein in the Oatman andesite. But also note all of the material to the left of the beni - this is a fault zone with quartz stringers and it likely contains low grade gold values.
Visible gold in quartz and hematite, Carissa Mine, South Pass
(3) Visit old mining districts. Read about the old mining districts you visit and keep in mind a couple of things - legends are just that - they are legends often concocted by an old prospector in a bar in the past after having one too many drinks. So why waste your time on some one's past drunk when there are still plenty of gold deposits to be found. It is extremely rare (actually rarer than getting the truth from a politician) for any gold mine to be mined out. Gold miners always leave a lot of gold in the mines and in the veins that they mined along. At one time not so long ago, gold prices were only about $18/ounce, then about $20/ounce and then $35/ounce. The other day, they were about $1,300/ounce. When gold prices were low, miners mined only the high grade material, typically material that assayed better than 0.2 opt Au. Today, some companies mine gold ore than averages only about 0.01 to 0.02 opt (ounces per ton) and better. So, in many old gold mines, the miners left all of the low-grade gold ore and sometimes missed a lot of high-grade gold ore. Think about it, how many times have companies gone back into old mines or old mine districts and began mining in an old mine. New mining districts are rarely found, so stick to the mining districts unless you have a lot of geological experience.

Gossan stained fault (shear zone) cut by the Giant King gold
mine in California. Gossans and faults like these should be
It is also worthwhile to visit old mines that were making good money prior to the War Minerals Board closing all gold mines in the US in 1942.  Some of these mines never reopened after the second world war for many reasons.

Giant King gold mine, CA. Note the iron stained (gossan) in the blue serpentinite. Some serpentinites have gold, some platinum and palladium, some will have nickel, and in California, some may have gemstones of benitoite or sapphire.


Tuesday, November 20, 2012


A blog about prospecting for gold
A 7.5 ounce nugget recovered from dredge tailings in Wyoming.

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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Gold Processing and Extraction

Visible gold in goethite and quartz, Mary Ellen Mine
If you decide to mine lode gold, you can keep it simple and dig for specimen-grade gold samples from veins and breccias. Although such samples with visible gold are rare and more valuable than the price of gold, if you have the right vein or ore shoot, they are worth pursuing. When ever you see gossans or tawny to brown limonite and goethite in quartz - look for visible gold! Gossans are something prospectors need to learn to recognize.

If you decide to mine your lode using open pit or underground methods - you will need deep pockets to pay for mining as well as permitting. In this case, it may be easier to start looking for a company that has the expertise and deep pockets.

Detrital gold is by for the best type of gold to search for as a prospector as it has already been mined by Mother Nature, and now it is up to you to figure out how to concentrate it. To extract placer (detrital) gold from a creek using a gold pan (not recommended as it will wear out your back), sluice, trommel, dredge or some other concentrating equipment, you may need a permit from the State or Feds. The government is totally out of touch when it comes to permitting, as in most cases they will try to permit you to death. Some states may even require a permit to operate a gold pan on public property even though this would be as absurd as requiring a permit to operate a fork in a restaurant; however, Democrats were actually talking about this when I left Wyoming. One of the easiest ways to find out rules and regulations for prospecting in your state is to join a local prospecting club. The ICMJ Prospecting and Mining Journal has a number of useful resources you may want to check on.  Many gold prospecting clubs are associated with the Gold Prospectors Association of America: and there are independent groups such as the Wyoming Prospectors Association. When I was in Wyoming, there was a faculty member in the University of Wyoming Geology Department who thought gold panners were polluting Douglas Creek. Obviously, she never tried to operate a gold pan herself, otherwise she would not have made such rediculous statements.  If you find the right creek, and have a backhoe and trommel, some people can make a nice living.
Gold Panning in the Medicine Bow Mountains. This lady was one of
several who attended one of my field trips to the Medicine Bow Mountains
in the historical Centennial Ridge district. I showed the attendees how to
pan for gold and then let them try their luck in the Middle Fork of the
Little Laramie River. No one found gold at what was known as the
Mother Lode prospect, but some found nice specimens of pyrite (fool's gold)
and several found almandine and pyrope garnet! Pyrope garnet is a
tracer mineral used to find diamond deposits! So, somewhere upstream
(or up-slope) there is an eroding diamond pipe leaking pyrope garnets into
the creek. In addition, many people discovered why it takes a strong back
to pan for gold.
Years ago, I met two prospectors from Lander Wyomig who were working Smith Gulch at South Pass while I was mapping the greenstone belt and old mining districts, and they were recovering about 20 ounces of gold per week (Hausel, 1991). At 1600/ounce, that's only about 32,000 per week. Not bad for two guys.

Often we get used to seeing gold pans filled with gold - this does not really happen in real life; so when we see gold filled pans, remember, the gold was found with some other equipment and placed in the pan for a photo opt.

To assist you in your prospecting, I have several publications that are available for free download on my website.

Panning is an easy process - it just takes a little confidence and a couple of pans full of sand and mud, and soon you will be an expert. Gold has a very high specific gravity (15 to 19.3) which means you are going to have to make a serious effort to wash gold out of your pan. So put a little effort into your panning. If you are ending up with a tablespoon or two of what are known as black sands (mostly magnetite with a few other minerals such as ilmenite, zircon, etc), those have specific gravities of around 4 to 5. Thus gold is going to be 3 to 4 times heavier than those black sands.

While panning for diamonds in California, we recovered a gemstone known as benitoite near Poker Flat and chromian diopside from serpentinites in northern California (Hausel, 1996). In Wyoming, we recovered many gem-quality garnets, some diamonds, and numerous sapphires and rubies from our pan concentrates and found dozens of localities where gold had not been reported before (one was the Laramie City landfill!) (Hausel and others, 1994). In several samples collected in the Laramie Mountains near Vedauwoo, we recovered fluorite (easy to recognize in black sands as it is purple in this area and crushes easily) and many samples with chromian diopside and pyrope garnet in the vicinity of Eagle Rock. This suggests there are undiscovered diamond pipes! While searching for evidence of diamond pipes, we found a distinct, but very small, structurally-controlled vegetation anomaly (41o17'39.96"N; 105o22'46.95"W) along the edge of Eagle Rock. This same area has several beaver ponds to the northwest, any of which could be hiding a diamond pipe.

Not too far from Eagle Rock, we identified other possible diamond pipes that remain a mystery. These included what I originally called the Bowling Pin Anomaly (41o11'15.39"N; 105o19'34.67"W), a circular depression with carbonate in soils that had a couple of bowling pins in the depression when I first visited it several years ago. The entire area has many such anomalies including the HJ17 depression (41o12'01.92"N; 105o19'10.46"W).  Further south (actually just south of the interstate) I also identified 42 highly suspicious cryptovolcanic structures of which anyone of them could be a kimberlite (diamond) pipe. All of these anomalies remain untested due to various access problems.

Arrastra gold concentrator. This was a very primitive grinder with large rocks
attached to a pivot at the center. A mule would walk around in circles pulling
a lever that would continue to drag the boulders over a trough where gold-
bearing quartz would be placed to be crushed.
Other minerals of interest that I found while panning included a lot of white material that was impossible to pan out. It was too heavy! So I stuck it under a black light and with short wave ultraviolet light, it exhibited strong blue fluorescence - it was scheelite (a tungsten ore)! This was recovered from samples (along with some gem-quality iolite) near the old strong mine along the 9th street road in the Laramie Mountains.

And what else did I find in my panned samples - at one location in extreme northwestern Colorado, I recovered 4 diamonds, 17 rubies and 24 pyrope garnets while dry panning. Wow, what a find!  Actually, this was the site of the historical 1872 diamond hoax fraud which occurred near what is now called Diamond Peak (Hausel and Stahl, 1995). This great diamond hoax was amazing as it was an outcrop that was salted in 1871 and 1872 and the prospectors scammed some US Senators (first time in history that scam artists scammed scam artists).

A primative roller mill displayed at the Douglas Museum, Jerome, Arizona.
Eric Hausel stands adjacent to the mill.
Well, got to go, I hear my wife yelling at me. Until next time, happy prospecting from the GemHunter. You can also follow some of my thoughts on Facebook. And if you are interested in breaking rocks - and what rock hound isn't - you can follow me on my other Facebook pages at Arizona and International.

References Cited

Hausel, W.D., 1991, Economic geology of the South Pass granite-greenstone belt, Wind River Mountains, western Wyoming: Geological Survey of Wyoming Report of Investigations 44, 129 p.

Hausel, W.D., 1996, Pacific Coast diamonds-an unconventional source terrane in Coyner, A.R., and Fahey, P.L., eds., Geology and ore deposits of the American Cordillera, Geological Society of Nevada Symposium Proceedings, Reno/Sparks, Nevada, p. 925-934.
Hausel, W.D., and Stahl, S., 1995, The great diamond hoax of 1872: Wyoming Geological Association Resources of Southwestern Wyoming Guidebook, p. 13-27.
Hausel, W.D., Marlatt, G.G., Nielsen, E.L., and Gregory, R.W., 1994, Study of metals and precious stones in southern Wyoming: Geological Survey of Wyoming Open File Report 94-2, 61 p.

Gold from Douglas Creek Wyoming. Photo shows gold recovered with the black sands removed (the penny is just used for scale). To remove black sands, simply wait until your panned concentrates are dry. Get a large and strong magnet, cover it with a paper towel and slowly sweep over the concentrates - whamo - nearly all of the black sands will be removed. What you have left is a little gold, garnets, mica and if you look close, you may even find diamond indicator minerals such as pyrope garnet, chromian diopside, picroilmenite, chromite and/or diamond. Diamond has a specific gravity of 3.5 and will often end up in the black sand concentrates. Much of the lighter colored material will be removed during panning: most of which will be quartz with a little feldspar. Quartz has a specific gravity of only 2.7.

Mining on Douglas Creek using a longtom and a
dredge on a rotating platform with shovel.

Gold nuggets in gold pan. The nuggets from Julian
Creek were recovered using a sluice and longtom
and not recovered in the pan.

Gold mined from Smith Gulch at South Pass using a backhoe and trommel.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Some of my Favorite Gold and Base Metal Prospects

Last night I was thinking about all of the gold, platinum-group metal, base and precious stone deposits I've looked at or studied. If one were rich and could get some senators in their pocket, they might be able to make a few mines. Anyway, these are my choices for some good properties.

1. Donlin Creek, AK
2. Rattlesnake Hills (Sandy Mountain), WY
3. Carissa, WY
4. Mexican Hat, AZ
5. Gold Coin, AZ
6. Lost Basin, AZ
7. Vulture Mine, AZ
8. Kurtz-Chatterton, WY
9. Bear Lodge, WY
10. Julian Creek, AK
11. Wolf, WY
12. Drum Mountains, UT
13. Miners Delight, WY
14. Mineral Hill, WY
15. South Pass City-Atlantic City-Miners Delight shear complex, WY
16. Penn Mine Complex and altered zone, Seminoe Mountains, WY
17. Copper King, WY
18. Ferris-Haggarty, WY
19. Bannack, MT (and dozens of other gold properties in Montana)
20. Alder Gulch, MT
21. Confederate Gulch, MT
22. Whitehall, MT
23. Zortman, MT
24. Kendall, MT
25. Bear Lodge, WY (Au, REE, Th)
26. Puzzler Hill, WY (Au, Cu, Pt, Pd, Ag)
27. Bald Mountain Porphyry, Kirwin WY (Cu, Ag, Au, Pb, Zn)
28. The entire withdrawn Absaroka Volcanic Range, WY, MT (Au, Ag, Cu, Zn, Pb, W, Ti) (this range has $hundreds of billions in resources, reserves and deposits waiting to be found. But the USFS piecemeal withdrew the entire mountain range over the years).
29. Grizzly Creek colored gemstone deposit, WY (iolite, kyanite, ruby, sapphire).
30. Sherman Mountain colored gemstone deposit, WY (iolite, labradorite)
31. Colorado-Montana-Wyoming diamond province (diamond and other gems).
32. Tabor Grand Mine, WY
33. Duncan Mine, WY
34. Stockwork complex south of Sandy Mountain, Rattlesnake Hills, WY
35. Alkalic intrusive stocks in the Rattlesnake Hills, WY
36. Leucite Hills, WY (diamonds)
37. Copper Creek district, AZ (this district appears to have very high potential, but the US Government allows illegals to run freely through nearby federal parks closed to US citizens, makes it very difficult and dangerous to prospect.

T-shirts are available for Prospectors, Rock Hounds, Gold & Gem Prospectors on our website & CafePress. Check them out.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

GOLD & DIAMOND PROSPECTING - Free downloadable publications.

Free Down loadable Publications to help you prospect (if you have problems down-loading these, please look at our website where we have these and others attached as pdf down-loadable documents.








BIG CREEK PEGMATITE (area for rare earths, copper and gold)



ECONOMIC GEOLOGY of the COPPER MOUNTAIN district (gold, copper, gemstones). This would be a good place to prospect for aluminum-rich gems such as ruby, sapphire, iolite, kyanite, etc).

TITANIFEROUS MAGNETITE DEPOSITS (this is a very interesting area that likely has enormous resources of titanium and vanadium - it is also located near some very large labradorite and iolite gemstone deposits.

FIELD GUIDE TO THE SEMINOE MOUNTAINS (this area has significant gold and iron resources and likely has some nice gold in DeWeese Creek. We also identified a large paleoplacer gold deposit along the northern flank of the range near the Miracle Mile as well as evidence for a very rich diamond deposit) .

Gold Mining Challenges

Shorty (Sketch by the author).
Government may or may not grant permits to explore or mine, water permits, drilling permits, etc. This is their privilege (at least this is what they will tell you) and we have little recourse unless you have a relative in the Senate or a herd of lawyers to milk your bank account dry. Permits can cost a fortune and take years to obtain (if at all).

A friend of mine and his family were granted a small mining permit on an old gold mine at South Pass that already existed and he even decided to avoid using any chemicals just so he could get a permit in a relatively short time - it took 11 years along with bankruptcy. The DEQ rangers in charge of this permit were not competent (they actually called me to ask about the chemicals they detected in the area - arsenic and carbon: arsenic is natural in this environment as a sulfide and carbon proved there was life on earth).

When I ran exploration in the US for diamonds for an Aussie company, we applied for permits to drill 150 feet deep to test a structure for kimberlite (and hopefully for diamonds). It took nearly 5 months to get the permits, but we had to get permits from Larimer County, Colorado State DEQ and the US Forest Service just to drill one shallow hole. Then the permit was delayed again while our company had to wait more than a week for a forest ranger to drive out to the field to inspect the site.

Giant King gold mine, Sierra Nevada, California. Note the distinct, brown to tawny limonite (gossan).
One property we leased to put into production had an active stream adjacent to the property and also had water in shear zones (faults) associated with our diamond-bearing kimberlites. Our plan was to build a small mill on the property to mine the diamond ore in Colorado. The state and county (even though they were nearly bankrupt) would not allow us to touch any of the water nor build a mill on the property. So we finally found a permitted sand and gravel quarry miles away to haul ore from the kimberlite to the gravel pit (although this would have been very costly). Next, the county told us they would not grant us a permit to use haul trucks as they did not want us to kick up dirt in the area.

I've been asked many times why did I not claim and develop many of the gold and gemstone deposits I found over the years. The answer is easy.

(1) It was considered unethical for me to claim anything I found or anyone else found while I worked at the Wyoming Geological Survey. However, any politician, any University of Wyoming faculty or staff, or any other state employee could file mining claims. I was the only person (besides another geologist - Ray Harris- who lost his life while working at the WGS) in the entire state who could not file a mining claim. But it was fine with me as I loved to search for new mineral deposits and publish reports and maps.

(2) I learned years ago that it required a fortune to put anything in production. Here are some examples:

Note the quartz veins in the back (roof) of the mine.
After I discovered gold in the Rattlesnake Hills, I figured it would be a  year or so before companies began to explore this region and hopefully outline a minable gold deposit in this favorable terrain. Commercial amounts of gold have now been established in this mining district. Yet it has been more than 30 years and there is still no mine in the Rattlesnake Hills. Even so, there is no question that the major gold deposit that has been outlined at Sandy Mountain, is similar to Cripple Creek, Colorado. Some drill intercepts by Canyon Resources, Newmont Gold and more recently by Evolving Gold have shown considerable gold at depth. The geology of this district is extraordinary and amazing that it sat there until I discovered gold in several types of deposits in 1982. It is a greenstone belt. Greenstone belts are terrains of old Precambrian rocks (former volcanic and sedimentary rocks) that have above normal gold content. This belt was intruded by at least 42 Tertiary (volcanics) alkalic volcanoes and dikes that acted as heat engines to mobilize the gold and concentrate it near these volcanic rocks. It is highly likely that this district has many more hidden and blind gold deposits. In addition, there are also gold deposits in exhalites and in stockworks.

In Alaska, a group of geologists (including me) found one of the largest gold deposits in North America - a deposit that has 4 times as much gold mined in the Klondike. This was discovered in 1988, yet it is still not in production. Why? It is simple - the deposit is located in the middle of nowhere. Recently it was reported capitalization for this gold mine would be as much as $7 billion dollars! Seven billion dollars to build the mine, mill, infrastructure and pay for government permits.

Narrow veins everywhere (white). These and the wall rock inbetween should all be sampled for gold content.
Unfortunately, government agencies tend to think most people are morons and then try to protect our lands from us. I observed this while working in Wyoming for 3 decades as the US Forest Service and US Bureau of Land Management piecemeal withdrew public lands every time there was a possibility for a mine. In the 1970s and 1980s, the Feds began taking one of the largest base and precious metal rich regions in the US. The Absaroka Mountains east of Yellowstone were withdrawn, piece by piece to provide a giant protective boundary around Yellowstone National Park. This might be compared to withdrawing the solar system to protect the sun - it just doesn't make sense.

Yellowstone is one of the most caustic geological terrains in the world and why would such a geological environment that is larger than some states need to be protected by a border that is just as big?  The answer - it doesn't.

The Absaroka Mountains likely have many tens of billions in base and precious metals as it includes giant massive, replacement deposits, porphyry copper deposits similar to those mined in Arizona, veins, mineralized breccias and more. Yet over the years, this area was hacked to death by the Feds with wilderness, primitive, roadless, and other types of withdrawals.

I watched the same happen to the volcanogenic massive sulfide deposits in the Sierra Madre Mountains. Enormous resources of copper, zinc, gold, silver, platinum, palladium all withdrawn every time someone made a discovery. Potentially $billions of metals kept from the public.

Now its happening to South Pass. First, a million ounce+ gold deposit was withdrawn by the state. Now the rest of this gold-rich greenstone belt is being piecemeal withdrawn by the State and Federal government. 

Historically, Wyoming should have produced 50 to 200+ times as much gold as it did. But it hasn't. However, there are tremendous gold resources that are now tied up in withdrawals in the Absaroka Mountains, Yellowstone, Sierra Madre and South Pass.

These are just a few of the many problems related to prospecting and mining. The US Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management have confiscated public lands. The only solution is to drastically cut government, eliminate the BLM and FS and only vote for politicians who agree to reverse these withdrawals. Our country has incredible natural resources under its public lands that are not open to the public. 

Sketch, by the author

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Need a Gold Mine?

HOW TO FIND GOLD? Our new book focuses on how to find and recognize gold and describes dozens of mines and occurrences. In fact, over 20 years, I visited nearly every mine in the book and both of us provide you with our insight as geologists.

GOLD, A Field Guide For Prospectors & Geologists (Wyoming & Adjacent Areas) is available at Amazon. It is rated 5 out of 5 stars!

Based on geology and historical mining, we feel that Wyoming has been overlooked for gold and that state should have 50 to 200 times more gold than has already been mined. This is based on geology and mining history.

So where is all of that gold hiding?

Few other geologists in history have been as successful at finding gold and other mineral deposits as the authors of a new gold book. But they are not keeping these deposits a secret. The book describes how to find gold, what valuable minerals are found with some gold deposits, and where to look for gold and tells the reader exactly where to find gold in their now book at AMAZON and Createspace entitled - GOLD Field Guide for Prospectors and Geologists

Since 1977, the senior author discovered hundreds of gold anomalies and was on the discovery team of one of the largest gold deposits in North America in the Kuskokwim Mountains of Alaska - a gold deposit estimated to have more than $65 billion in gold. He and 6 others were awarded the Prospectors and Developers'Association of Canada's Thayer Lindsley Award for a Major International Discovery for this discovery.

The author also discovered an entire gold district in the Rattlesnake Hills of Wyoming, which is now being touted as another Cripple Creek. For this and other work, he was presented the Wyoming Geological Association's Distinguished Service Award.

An outstanding communicator, he was presented the American Association of Petroleum Geologists President's Award, the Education Award by the National Rock Hound and Lapidary Hall of Fame, and noted as Distinguished Speaker by the University of Wyoming Department of Geology and Geophysics.

The co-author is a geologist and graduated with degrees from the University of Wyoming in geology, astronomy, astrophysics and physics, and has been rock hounding with his dad since his youth. The father and son authors write about their experience with gold exploration.

How does one find gold? Where can one find a gold deposit? How do you recognize gold? What other valuable minerals are likely to be found around gold deposits?

Thanks to Obamanomics that is out of control, gold prices continue to rise  - already more than $1625 an ounce. Thousands of gold deposits that have been ignored by geologists and prospectors in the past are likely commercial at today's price. Gold is the only commodity with real intrinsic value.

Over the past 3 decades a few hundred gold deposits and anomalies were discovered by the senior author and many were looked at by both authors (when gold was more than 4 times lower than it is today). In this book, the authors' tell you about hundreds of gold deposits and anomalies and tell you exactly where these deposits are located. It is now up to you to visit them and see if you can make a mine out of some of these.

The authors provide the reader with information on where to find gold, how to find gold and give four decades of combined experience to help the reader understand what to look for and how to read the geology and rock outcrops.

And take a look at my other book on Amazon - that tells you what minerals, rocks and gemstones are found in Wyoming and how to recognize them. This book is rated 4.5 out of 5 stars.


Thursday, April 14, 2011

Finding GOLD

Currently I am finishing my latest book on gold - the 4th draft is almost complete (April 14th, 2011) and when finished, it will be sent to the publisher (watch for it on Amazon). The Working title for this book is "GOLD, Field Guide for Prospectors and Geologists".

Remember, this is a working title and it could be modified by time it is release. The book will point you to hundreds of gold anomalies and deposits: many have been overlooked by past prospectors, miners and companies. As an example, in 1981 (and over the next few years), I was the first to recognize the Rattlesnake Hills gold district and its potential for significant gold and identified dozens of gold anomalies in the district. For the next several years, while working at the Wyoming Geological Survey, I told company after company and geologist after geologist and presented numerous talks and lectures on this district, but it took years before anyone really dug into its potential. Now, Evolving Gold has discovered a major Cripple Creek-type gold deposit at depth in this region following up on previous exploration by American Copper and Nickel, Canyon Resources, Bald Mountain Mining and Newmont Gold. Part of my job at the WGS was to conduct research on mineral deposits and then try to attract mining companies to the state to increase the State's revenue. A potential multi-million ounce gold deposit in the Rattlesnake Hills will provide many attractive high-paying jobs as well as severance taxes, employment taxes etc. So I did my job well.

At about the same time, I found more than a dozen samples of quartz with visible gold in the Seminoe Mountains and started a modern day gold rush. I also later recovered samples of metamorphosed basalt, komatiite and banded iron formation with anomalous gold in this very interesting greenstone belt. The geology of this belt is fascinating and very unusual and rare volcanic rocks that are found in some of the more important greenstone belts in Australia, southern Africa, Canada were identified in this are by Terry Klein of the USGS. The Seminoe Mountains contain a large altered zone with gold mineralization that surrounds the places were I found gold - yet this very good gold target remains essentially unexplored to this day!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Preparation For Gold Prospecting Trips

Claim post on Federal Minerals. I often get questions about claim staking,
but I'm as confused as you are. Please contact the US Bureau of Land
Management for information and hope they provide you with the correct
While completing my latest book with my son (who is also a geologist) I thought some information would be useful for those who are interested in learning some hints for prospecting. As a prospector, you need to learn about maps. Topographical maps provide information on geography and show locations of hills, valleys, mountains, roads, trails, creeks and towns. Geological maps show rock outcrops in relationship to the geography and likely will have locations of mines, prospect pits, trenches, tunnels, veins, faults, shear zones and folds. Geological maps also provide information on types of rocks.

Know what areas are open to mining claims. Much Federal land is open to claiming, but some is closed to claims. To find out what is open, visit you local BLM (Bureau of Land Management) office. State land cannot be claimed but often can be leased. Private land cannot be claimed unless it has Federal Minerals under the private surface. One problem with mining claims is that new claims are constantly filed, and at the end of the fiscal year, others are not renewed thus claim maps change. One way to access claim information that is mostly up-to-date is to access the BLM GeoCommunicator website (sorry, the BLM apparently decided to eliminate claim information on their website recently). This can also be found by doing a Google Search for "BLM GeoCommunicator". Just like the government, this site does not always work and it is also very slow.

Gold nugget found in Rock Creek, South Pass.
The BLM attempts to keep information up to date on this site, but like anything the government does, it is not always correct. So use it as a general guide for mining claims and claim activity then you need to follow up with research in the county courthouse. When prospecting in the field, watch for claim posts as these provide information on claim locations, although just because there are claim posts in the field, this does not mean that the claim is active or even legal.

Other sources that are excellent for prospecting include Google Earth and Virtual Earth. These provide aerial photos over areas of interest as does the GeoCommunicator. With the aerial photos and associated maps on these programs, relationships between geology, topography, mines, prospects, roads and drainages can be seen from the air prior to visiting a area of interest.

Schedule a trip to the Hidden Hand gold mine and vicinity in the Lewiston district of the South Pass greenstone belt in the southern Wind River Mountains in western Wyoming. The legal description of the Hidden Hand mine is SE section 5, T28N, R98W and map coordinates are 42o25’30’N; 108o32’39”W. Thus if you examine the Radium Springs quadrangle and find section 5 with the Hidden Hand mine labeled on the map, it is located in the southeast quarter of that section. Or by using the map coordinates, you should be able to zero right in on the mine with Google Earth.

Inside the power house at the Vulture Gold Mine ghost town, Arizona.
Topographical maps that cover this area include 2 degree sheets (scale 1:100,000) and 7.5 minute sheets. The 2 degree sheets are especially useful. These can be neatly folded and carried in a shirt pocket, glove compartment, or day pack. They represent general maps covering broad regions that are great for planning field excursions and contain information on roads and geography. For greater details, 7.5 minute quadrangles (scale 1:24,000) are invaluable. Topographical maps are available at some sporting goods stores, outfitter stores, the WGS, US Geological Survey (USGS), University of Wyoming Geology Library and local colleges and libraries. The WGS and USGS will also have geological reports and geological maps, many which can be ordered on-line or over the phone.

The WGS and USGS websites should have topographic map indexes. First find a 1:100,000 scale (2 degree) topographic index for the state. Now search the coordinates T28N (vertical scale) and R98W (horizontal scale). These coordinates intersect within the boundaries of the South Pass 1:100,000 scale topographical map. This is the first map you need for your excursion. Often there is a companion 1:100,000 scale BLM map on Land Status. The South Pass Land Status map will be useful as it gives general information on location of private, public and state lands. These Land Status maps also have a layer of topography sitting under the land status designations.

Next, examine the 1:24,000 scale (7.5 minute) topographic map index. The coordinates of the Hidden Hand mine places it within the Radium Springs quadrangle near the top of the map. The map to the north is the Atlantic City map which may also be useful. Search for geological maps on the WGS website: geological maps provide important geological relationships associated with the mine, such as rock types, nearby structures such as faults, shear zones, folds. The necessary geological maps are found by searching the Map Series page on the website. This part of the WGS website is poorly organized, so you will need to dig through the list of maps. After digging, you will find a geological map of the Radium Springs quadrangle (Hausel, 1988e). Other geological maps in this area that will be of use sooner or later include Atlantic City (Hausel, 1989), Miners Delight (Hausel, 1992e) and South Pass City (Hausel, 2007). Next find the Report of Investigations page on the website. Search for Report of Investigations 44 (Hausel, 1991a). This report will be useful as it is a detailed discussion of the geology and gold at South Pass. Another report that will be useful when learning geology and rock types of the area is Reprint 49 (Hausel and Love, 1992). This will be found on the Reprint page on the WGS website. The reprint was put together for a past Wyoming Geological Association field trip guide and describes important rock outcrops and will lead you on a personal field trip through South Pass. One more page that might be of interest is the Bulletin page. This has a group of books that contain general information on mineral deposits statewide - Bulletin 68, 70, 71, and 72.

A 7.5 ounce nugget found in tributary of Rock Creek, WY

The Hidden Hand mine is located about 8 miles east, southeast of Atlantic City along the Lewiston road (also referred to as the Oregon trail road) south of both the Lewiston ghost town site and Strawberry Creek. The mine is on a patented claim. Patented claims are claims filed under the 1872 mining law that had enough value the government allowed the claimants to purchase the property at a fair market price. This was done in the 19th century to try to stimulate interest in mining and development of the West (something the government today no longer does - now they just discourage development and protect bugs, flowers and dirt). Today, it is impossible to patent claims. Although I never had access problems to this mine because it sits in the middle of BLM ground surrounded by vast, empty, wasteland, it could easily be blocked off. There is a very disturbing trend that non-mining people buy patented mining claims and then close it off because they feel they have something of value when they have little to nothing other than coyote pasture. This is what has happened to many of the diamond deposits in the State Line and Iron Mountain districts. If it isn't the democrats stealing our future, it's the government stealing our land. Have you seen what the legislature did to the Carissa mine? This once potentially productive gold mine (it likely has more than a million ounces of gold in the ground) is now Wyoming's version of Disneyland.

When this district was mapped (Hausel, 1986c) I stayed in a tent near Lewiston for much of one summer and did not see another person all summer. But that was 25 years ago. Maps that cover this area include the Radium Springs 7.5 minute (1:24,000 scale) topographic and geological maps.

Now if you examine Google Earth, you should see distinct foliation (closely spaced lines) in the Miners Delight Formation metagreywacke that trend to the northeast. The rocks in this area are folded, faulted and turned on end. Also noticeable is the alignment of the Burr Mine with the Hidden Hand mine and this trend parallels regional foliation. A nearly east-west to northeasterly trending line of vegetation is visible southwest of the Hidden Hand that represents a cross-cutting shear zone that intersects the primary shear at the Hidden Hand. There are several prospect pits and a number of backhoe trench scars (some remain open, others are reclaimed) cut perpendicular to the primary shear zone.

A portion of the Radium Springs Geological Map near the Hidden Hand mine by the author showing shear zones and mines in this part of the South Pass greenstone belt. Greenstone belts are famous for gold in veins and shear zones.

A few things to note on the map: (1) the mine is located at the intersection of a group of shear zones (wiggly lines). At least 5 shear zones (faults) are apparent in the field and on aerial photos. Because of this, the mine shaft sits in highly brecciated and incompetent rock. (2) The mines (black and white squares) and prospect pits (x’s) line up on the map and on aerial photos as these essentially follow the shear structures that are buried under a few inches of dirt. (3) The Hidden Hand shear zones are offset along faults (dark, solid bold lines) to the south (where they appear to terminate) and to the north at Strawberry Creek. (4) A few hundred feet of the shear structures continue under much younger rock and dirt labeled as Tu along the bank of Strawberry Creek. Thus there is likely some gold sitting under Tu. (5) Strawberry Creek and Burr Gulch likely accepted much of the eroded gold eroded during the past, thus downstream from these shear zones (to the east) would be a very good place to prospect for placer gold.
The shaft was sunk on a 10- to 30-foot-wide, N40oE-trending, 62oNW-dipping shear in chloritized, hematitic metagreywacke (the normally black rocks actually have a slight reddish to greenish hue due to rock alteration) The shaft was 110-feet deep and the shear was explored by at least 640 feet of drifts prior to 1926. Ore from the 30-foot level was reported to run as high as 75 opt Au (ounces per ton in gold). In 1916, about 1000 tons of ore with an average grade of 4 opt Au were reportedly stockpiled. Some specimen-grade material assayed 3,100 opt Au (since there are only 32,000 ounces in a ton, this indicates that this specimen contained 9.6% gold). I must point out that such high assays must be questioned and are suspect.

Samples of altered metagreywacke that I collected from the dump contained only trace gold (Hausel, 1989). This discrepancy suggests one of a two possibilities: (1) the reported assays were exaggerated or (2) that the property developed a reputation for producing excellent gold specimens that the mine dump was thoroughly picked over by collectors over the years. Little information about this district and mine has been published and the mine workings are inaccessible, thus it is difficult to provide much in the way of conclusions. In addition, the explored structure at the Hidden Hand mine exhibits considerable brittle deformation – something that is more typical of Laramide faulting (post gold mineralization) in this region.

When looking at the Hidden Hand or other prospects, mines and districts, try to learn as much as possible. Soon you will become an expert prospector. If a prospect has a vein, try following the vein on the surface: look for minerals that are described in the area. Try to visualize the vein in three-dimensions. What does the vein look like at depth, how far does it go into the earth: five feet, 500 feet or 5,000 feet? Does it pinch and swell at depth? Does it pinch to 1 inch, is it faulted at depth, does it swell to a giant vein? Of course you can’t be certain, but sometimes there are things around you that give you clues as to what might happen at depth. One minable gold vein in Yellowknife, Canada that I looked at several years ago was only 1 foot wide on the surface, but at 100 feet deep, it is 8 feet wide and rich in gold! What angle does the vein project downward into the earth?

Outcrop of the distinctly dipping Vulture vein.
Now it’s time to call on the wisdom of Albert Einstein because we need to take a trip back into geological time. If we could step into a time machine and go back about 50 million years, what would the vein and surrounding topography look like? How far in the air would the vein (and surrounding country rock) have projected before erosion leveled the terrain to its current level: 20 feet, 200 feet or 2000 feet? Where did all of the gold in the eroded quartz vein go? If the level of erosion was 2000 feet, there could be considerable gold in the nearby creeks, gulches and draws. Is the vein folded? Folds in quartz are often great places to look for gold enrichment known as ore shoots.

Limonite-stained gossan found in glory hole near the Vulture vein 
in Arizona.
As an example, look some photos I took of the Vulture gold mine in Arizona. The vein provides an excellent example of a dipping vein. The photo was taken along its strike (or trend) such that from the point the picture was taken, the vein continues perpendicular to the surface of the photo. Off in the distance is a wooden structure which represents part of the old headframe where a decline shaft was sunk along the vein. The dip of the vein or angle that it projects from the surface into the ground follows the flat surface along the left edge of the vein: here it dips about 40 degrees. But not only is the vein of possible interest. When you walk around this mine area, several things of interest pop up. To the right of the photo is a glory hole of altered rock that is gossaniferous and stained by tawny yellow to brown limonite that likely has some gold. This sits below the quartz vein. Sitting adjacent to this pit and on top of the rock unit is some eluvial and alluvial material that past gold miners thought might be of interest as they dug an adit into the material. In Arizona, there are lots of eluvial gold deposits that eroded from adjacent gold deposits (many are hidden today).  Also, by walking around the area, other things of interest include rehealed breccias (the angular rock fragments have been cemented together with silica rich material). These probably contain gold and in some of the rich porphyry copper districts in Arizona, similar breccia pipes are good indicators of mineralization at depth. And the possibility of older rocks in the Vulture area containing structurally controlled gold may be worth checking because the old vulture mill sits on old, folded schist and gneiss.

Adit (tunnel) dug into eluvial and alluvial material. Many gold deposits in Arizona and some in Wyoming were found in alluvial and eluvial material, but few of these were ever explored at depth.
Quartz breccia on the Vulture property is worth looking at as many breccias in Arizona (as well as elsewhere) provide a clue to former high-pressure mineralized and gaseous fluids at depth that erupted because of the gas under pressure.
Folded schist that forms the foundation of the Vulture mill.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Prospecting For Gold

Note visible gold (yellow) surrounded by pyrite brassy to silver metallic at
the Copper King gold-copper mine.
Looking to find your personal gold deposit? You've come to the right place!

After hunting gold for more than 30 years, finding the yellow metal for companies and the State of Wyoming, I've decided to let the public know about gold and other valuable treasures in Wyoming so, I've put together some ideas for prospectors on where to find gold.

Wyoming produced 50 to 200 times less gold than its surrounding neighbors, yet it has much more favorable geology for gold. This suggests to me there are major gold deposits that have been overlooked in Wyoming.

Take for instance the Copper King, the Carissa, the Wolf, Rattlesnake Hills, Seminoe Mountains, Ferris-Haggarty, Puzzler Hill, Kurtz-Chatterton, Mineral Hill, Black Buttes, Bear Lodge Mountains, Dickie Springs-Oregon Buttes and the copper porphyries in the Absaroka mountains. These areas all contain significant gold and likely hide some million+ ounce gold deposits. But why would Wyoming try to keep these deposits from you and me? I have some ideas, but I will let you come to your own conclusions.

Gold in milky quartz vein material made as inlay in this match box apparently
owned by the Lost Dutchman. 
Spring typically arrives in Alaska, CaliforniaColorado, Idaho, Montana, South Dakota and Wyoming with prospectors combing the hills in a hearty search for the yellow metal - GOLD! In Arizona, spring is here much of the year (except in summer and fall when temperatures compete with the surface temperatures of the sun) but Arizona has so many attractive gold deposits, it is amazing more gold mines are not operating.

Some prospectors look for gold and find nothing, others find a little gold or some other treasure: maybe ruby, sapphire, gem garnetdiamond, platinum, chromian diopside, palladium or some other valuable metal or mineral. I found all of these in Wyoming; and while prospecting for diamonds in California my gold pan touched some gold, chromian diopside, sapphire and a beautiful sapphire look alike known as benitoite. Diamonds were also found in gold placers in California by others (Hausel, 1998). Others catch a incurable case of 'gold fever' or 'diamond fever' such that they will give up everything - their homes, jobs and common sense just to search for gold. Some are so taken by the fever that they are exposed to scams and con-men who take whatever worldly possessions are left. It is like Obama, Congress and taxes.

 If you want to get rich - learn a little about gold prospecting, geology from a good prospector or field geologist, and something about contracts and marketing. Personally, I found $billions in mineral deposits, but unfortunately, I didn't learn anything about contracts or marketing - so yes, even after finding more than 40 million ounces of gold (nearly US$70 billion), I never made anything more than wages and all of the minerals I could carry in my back pack.  But I had a great time in the wilds.

There are many types of gold deposits to a geologist - hydrothermal, mesothermal, epithermal, replacement, etc., but to prospectors, there are only two types: placer and lode (Hausel, 2001, 2010). Famous placer deposits include Nome and Flat, Alaska and Alder Gulch, Montana. Examples of lode deposits are the Mother Lode, California and the great Homestake mine in South Dakota.

Gold from Douglas Creek, Wyoming. Note the gold pan also has a small pyrope garnet (red) that was recovered by prospector Paul Allred from Arizona. Pyrope is a indicator of possible nearby diamond deposits. In this region of the Medicine Bow Mountains, many diamond indicator minerals were identified (particularly around the Middle Fork of the Little Laramie River, and also near South French Creek) as well as two gem-quality diamonds found by prospector, Paul Boden from Wyoming on nearby Cortez Creek. Diamonds were even found in drill core by Superior Minerals during exploration of some 2.5 billion year old quartz pebble conglomerates many years ago. It is very likely that the Medicine Bow Mountains host many undiscovered diamond deposits.

There is not always a clear distinction between lode and placer gold deposits. For instance, the great Witwatersrand gold deposits in South Africa, the most productive in the world, are classified geologically as paleoplacers. Because they occur in brittle, consolidated rock (mined to depths of greater than 13,000 feet), most prospectors would consider these to be lode deposits. However, geologists classify the great Rand deposits as fossil (paleo) placers, since the gold was deposited in streams and rivers more than 2.5 billion years ago and now the rocks deposited by the former rivers and streams are preserved as hard, consolidated rock ledges.

Eluvial gold typically sits on top of a vein or lode. Eluvial deposits are restricted in size but may be enriched in gold. A lode may not be exposed at the surface, but if you are finding gold-bearing quartz in alluvium, a vein is likely hidden under the alluvial (eluvial) cover. Such deposits are common in Arizona, though few of the eluvial-alluvial deposits have been explored in detail in a search for the underlying lodes. In Wyoming, there are likely some giant gold deposits under eluvium and alluvium near South Pass.

 Another not so clear distinction may arise with eluvial deposits. Eluvial deposits are essentially composed of detrital material weathered in place from a nearby (often underlying) source. Gold from an eluvial deposit would show little or no evidence of transportation. Since eluvial deposits are unconsolidated, some prospectors would consider them placers, even though they may directly overlie a lode. There are many examples of eluvial gold in Arizona. The arid environment is favorable for eluvial deposits due to the lack of active streams and - where there is eluvial gold, there is lode gold in the immediate area - something every prospector needs to keep in mind. Eluvial means that the material essentially eroded in place or from a nearby source area. In Arizona, there are many placer, alluvial and eluvial gold occurrences in streams, conglomerates and fanglomerates.
Paleoplacer gold, uranium and diamond deposit from the Snowy Range in
the Medicine Bow Mountains, Wyoming. Note the rock is very hard and
massive, yet it contains many rounded pebbles deposited in streams more
than 2 billion years ago. Uranium, thorium, gold and even diamonds have
been recovered from these rocks in Wyoming.

Placer deposits
Placers consist of detrital gold and other valuable minerals transported in streams or by wave action to be concentrated with other heavy minerals known as black sands. If you have ever panned for gold, you are familiar with black sands. Black sands consist of dark opaque minerals with greater than average specific gravity, which may include magnetite, pyroxene, amphibole, ilmenite, garnet, sphene, chromite and monazite, as well as some rare light-colored minerals with relatively high specific gravity such as cassiterite and scheelite. If you ever panned near Wilson Bar or Wilson Gulch at South Pass, Wyoming, you may have found all of this heavy, nagging, white to brown quartz that was impossible to pan out. Well, it probably wasn't quartz. With a shortwave ultraviolet light, this heavy quartz likely will fluoresce blue-white simply because it was not quartz, but instead is scheelite, a tungsten ore found in some of the gold ore at the Burr and Hidden Hand mines (Hausel, 2009). When found,on public land, placers can often be claimed under the 1872 mining law. But if you want the lode under the placer, you better look at filing a lode claim too.

Take a close look at this sample. It
was one of many found by field trip
attendees on my past field trips to
South Pass. Everything you see that
is gold colored in the rock is gold.This
was found at the Carissa mine.
Other minerals of potential economic interest with relatively high specific gravity may occur in gold placers such as cassiterite, scheelite and a host of gemstones including ruby, sapphire, gem-garnetdiamond, platinum, and palladium. While prospecting for diamonds in the Laramie Mountains in southeastern Wyoming, several samples with trace amounts of ruby and sapphire were recovered along with heavy minerals (Hausel and others, 1988; Hausel, 1998). These were eroded from nearby, undiscovered, corundum (sapphire, ruby) mica schists and gneisses. How do you tell if you have ruby or sapphire in your gold pan? Look at crystal habit. The habit is the common form of the crystal. Ruby and sapphire form hexagonal crystals that are bounded by two pinacoids (basically flat surfaces).

While prospecting for diamonds in the Sierra Nevada of California, I found sapphires and benitoite near Poker Flat. And one prospector (Paul Boden) found a couple of excellent gem-quality octahedral diamonds while searching for gold on Cortez Creek in the Medicine Bow Mountains, Wyoming, and another prospector (Frank Yassai) found several diamonds in Rabbit Creek, Colorado while prospecting for gold.

Another sample collected on my field trips for the public.
Visible gold is seen in every vug in the piece of quartz found
at the Carissa mine at South Pass. So what did the State do?
This likely multi-billion dollar gold deposit was purchased by
the State of Wyoming, withdrawn, and placed within the
South Pass City historic site.
During erosion of bedrock, these heavy minerals mix with abundant light-colored, glassy, transparent to opaque minerals with low to average specific gravity such as quartz, apatite, feldspar, and mica. Along with these, minerals with high specific gravity are slowly moved in streams with moderate to high water velocity. The sediment carrying capacity of a stream diminishes with decreased velocity. The heavy minerals concentrate by settling out where diminished velocity occurs; such areas are marked by a distinct increase in black sands. Heavy minerals tend to concentrate at the bottom of a stream along the leading edge of stream meanders, behind obstructions (i.e., rocks, cracks in bedrock) and at waterfalls. Since many streams lack sufficient velocity to carry gold for any great distance, much of the gold in these streams (particularly where it is concentrated in pay streaks) is probably transported during flash flooding events or during heavy spring runoff.

The distances heavy minerals can be transported are not known with any accuracy. Some minerals can be transported great distances. For example, because diamond is 6000 to 8000 times harder than any other mineral and is not very heavy (specific gravity of 3.52 compared to 2.87 for quartz), there are cases where transport distances for diamonds has exceeded 600 miles. In southern Africa, diamonds are found in kimberlite pipes, in stream and river placers and in extremely rich beach placers along the west coast of the continent.

 Such great transportation distances for gold are not possible. Gold is too heavy (specific gravity of 15 to 19.3), so when found in streams it is thought to have been derived from a nearby source. In some unusual cases, gold may be transported greater than normal distances while in solution. In Alaska, geologist Paul Graff identified gold that had crystallized in nuggets downstream from nearby lode deposits. Maximum transportation distances for gold in solution is unknown.

The color change (upper arrows) more than 1 foot above the gold pan (circled) mark the site of a pay streak in Smith Gulch discovered by prospectors Hank Hudspeth and Buddy Presgrove. This streak was produced during a flash flooding or unusually high spring runoff. A second pay streak was found at the base of the open cut near the standing water (lower arrow). Even though this placer was located in a dry drainage when mined, it was immediately downslope from several lode deposits that provided a favorable site for gold concentration. At this point, the prospectors had not yet reached bedrock, where there is likely another pay streak.

 Flash flooding events appear to be important in forming pay streaks of gold and diamonds. Pay streaks, or lenses of gold-enriched gravel, are often found in zones of coarser-grained pebbles and cobbles. The pay streaks may be scattered over one or more intervals in a vertical column of gravel.
Schematic showing development of meander. Where the stream starts to meander, water velocity decreases & minerals with higher specific gravity concentrate (stippled areas). Through time, the meander may mature, leaving deposits on the inside banks as the stream migrates. Material in the stream as well as the adjacent bank material (which may be high and dry after episodes of flooding and high water) will contain heavy minerals & possibly gold and diamond.

 Where meanders occur in streams, gold may concentrate on the inside of the initial curve in the channel, as well as in the bank (point bar) on the upstream part of the inner meander where gold was deposited in the past. As an example, one of my favorite places to take students in the past in my prospecting courses was near Bobbie Thompson adjacent to a historical gold placer in Douglas Creek, Wyoming. Here the bank gravel sits away from the active stream, but contains enough gold to keep the interest of the students.

Gold Road Lode vein in northwestern,
 In addition to modern placers, some regions contain paleoplacers. Places like Wyoming and the Witwatersrand of South Africa are famous for paleoplacers scattered over large regions. In the Witwatersrand, the paleoplacers are so important, that they have produced about 50% of all of the gold mined in human history. Today, they have the deepest mines on earth. In Wyoming, most paleoplacers have either not been prospected, or only have been cursory examined at best, even though it is a safe bet that economic gold deposits occurs in some of these. Paleoplacers are simply fossil placers that were deposited by streams or by wave action along prehistoric seas in the geologic past. In most cases, these may not lie anywhere near an active stream or sea today; thus, mining would either require transporting water to the paleoplacer, or transporting material from the paleoplacer to water.
Wayne Sutherland, WSGS geologist, examines paleoplacer at Dickie Springs to the south of South Pass. Note all of the rounded boulders and cobbles typically found in active streams and rivers.

 Where the paleoplacer consists of relatively unconsolidated gravel, it can be mined in a manner similar to a sand and gravel operation. If the operation is located near a road, the sand and gravel by-product can be used in road construction. Conversely, gold can be extracted as a by-product of sand and gravel operations. For example, gold was found in several sand and gravel operations and placers adjacent to Interstate 80 in southern Wyoming (Hausel and others, 1993). Where paleoplacers are extremely old and well consolidated, such as in the Witwatersrand, the gold is typically mined underground.

Gold recovered the dry paleoplacer near Dickie Springs. The gold suggests a hidden lode somewhere between this site, and the exposed South Pass greenstone belt to the north. Hecla Mining explored this area and identified a good target - a sulfide-bearing iron formation at depth that likely contains gold.

 In the South Pass greenstone belt in western Wyoming, giant paleoplacers surround the region at McGraw Flats to the north and Oregon Buttes-Dickie Springs to the south. And there are smaller ones in between. The southern paleoplacer was reported by Love and others (1978) of the US Geological Survey to contain more than 28.5 million ounces of gold, yet most of this area is unexplored. Along the northern flank of the Seminoe Mountains greenstone belt, the Miracle Mile paleoplacer is unexplored even though myself and field assistants recovered gold from the dry paleoplacers nearly everywhere we sampled. This paleoplacer was discovered by prospectors Charlie and Donna Kortes, also contains dozens of G10 pyrope garnets that indicate somewhere in this region is a very rich diamond deposit or deposits. Keep your eyes out for diamonds when looking in any placer or paleoplacer!  Paleoplacers in the Medicine Bow and Sierra Madre Mountains in southern Wyoming yielded some gold and diamonds, but are rich in uranium and thorium.

Lode deposits
One might think of lode deposits as veins or other consolidated rocks that contain anomalously high quantities of metal (e.g., gold). Many lodes occur as distinct quartz veins. These may form linear to tabular masses of quartz within country rock. One important characteristic of many productive veins is the presence of sulfides, such as pyrite (fool’s gold) or arsenopyrite (arsenic-pyrite).

Classic lode. This auriferous quartz vein in metatonalite at the Mary Ellen mine at South Pass was offset along a small, reverse fault. Lodes are considered in situ deposits in hard rock

 When pyrite oxidizes, it produces sulfuric acid and rust (a massive sulfide deposit of pyrite will smell like rotten eggs, and a massive arsenopyrite deposit will smell like garlic, and both can have considerable gold and silver), resulting in a gossan at the surface and a potential supergene zone (a mineral deposit, or enrichment, formed by descending fluids) a few tens of feet below the surface. Gossans are the oxidized sulfide-rich parts of veins and other mineral deposits that have a distinct, rusty appearance. These gossans offer excellent visual guides in the search for gold and other mineral deposits. In any historic mining district, you will often find dozens, if not hundreds, of old prospect pits dug into the rusty rocks. Prospectors learned to recognize these gossans as guides to ore deposits.

Gossan at Red Mountain in the San Juan Mountains,
southern Colorado. Note all of the red to light
yellow-colored rock found nearly everywhere in the photo.
These are gossans that contain significant amounts
of gold and silver.

Gossans are good places to search for high-grade gold in lodes. The recognition of gossans in the field can be very helpful to the prospector. For example, gossans produced from the leaching of pyrite are typically very rusty (reddish-brown) in appearance; gossans produced from arsenopyrite are typically greenish-yellow. Gossans are so important that an entire book was written on their different characteristics (Blanchard, 1968).

Large gossans that cover several acres may be situated over giant sulfide-enriched veins or massive sulfide deposits. These may contain gold and/or valuable base metals (copper, zinc, lead, etc). One very large gossan in the Hartville uplift in eastern Wyoming is so distinct that I ended up naming it “Gossan Hill”—it overlies a massive sulfide deposit. One of the better places to look for specimen-grade gold samples is within gossans containing boxworks. Boxworks is a distinct vuggy and rusty rock.

This specimen of boxworks exhibits pore spaces formed where sulfide minerals used to be. The sulfides were leached and removed. Gold, which often is found in pyrite, is inert, and may remain in place within the boxworks, while some of the iron from the pyrite stains the rock and much of the sulfur is carried downdip. At Bradley Peak in the Seminoe Mountains, I found nearly a dozen of these samples and started a gold rush in 1981. Even this area remains essentially unexplored to this day!

 Some faults and associated breccias may also be mineralized. Breccias are zones of broken rock containing distinct angular rock clasts. When found, gold may occur in the matrix of the strongly limonite-stained gossan surrounding rock fragments. Other faults, known as shears, may also be mineralized. These shear zones consist of granulated rock. Within many shears, gold is often found associated with rust-stained quartz. Many shear zones, particularly those in greenstone belts, have been quite productive for gold. In some gold mining districts in the world, nearly every foot of the exposed shear zone has been prospected at the surface.

A breccia (angular fragments) cemented by quartz - a good place to check for gold. Such breccias are formed in faults or by the release of gas under pressure which produces a breccia pipe. Note the difference between the breccia with angular rock fragments (left) and the Tertiary-age (about 30 million years old) paleoplacer with rounded pebbles (below left) and the stretched pebble conglomerate (very old paleoplacer nearly 2 billion years old) (below right) All three can contain gold.

 Ore shoots
Many veins have sporadic gold values with localized ore shoots enriched in gold. Some of these shoots may be enriched 100 to 1000 times the average value of the vein. The challenge given the prospector is how to recognize these shoots.

 Ore shoots can be structurally or chemically controlled. Where pressures and/or temperatures dramatically dropped during hydrothermal mineralizing events, structurally controlled ore shoots occur. Chemically controlled ore shoots may occur where there was a chemical reaction between the mineralizing fluids and country rock. Any where an igneous rock (hot) comes in contact with a reactive rock (such as limestone) is a great place to find gold and other minerals.

 When searching for structurally controlled ore shoots, it is necessary to look for places where one would expect the pressure to have decreased along vein systems. Some structurally controlled ore shoots are found in folds. Many fold closures in gold-bearing veins will be enriched in gold. Another type of structurally controlled ore shoot includes vein intersections. Some intersections of gold-bearing veins have been dramatically enriched in gold.
The Carissa mine at South Pass. The shear zone in the background is rich in gold [average grade reported at 0.3 opt Au, much higher than the ore currently recovered from mines in Nevada (0.02 to 0.15 opt Au) (opt Au= ounces per ton of gold)]. Although not visible to the untrained eye, this giant gold-bearing structure lies in a large fold in the shear. The ore zone is 970 feet long, nearly 1,000 feet wide and continues to a minimum depth of 930 feet (and likely  a few thousand feet deep). The property was withdrawn by the State of Wyoming even though it very likely hosts a few million ounces of gold worth a few $billion.

 There are many other types of structurally and chemically controlled ore shoots. For example, while prospecting in the Gold Hill district in the Medicine Bow Mountains of Wyoming, I noted gold was almost exclusively found in veins adjacent to amphibolite. The same veins in quartzite were unproductive. Additional information on ore shoots can be found in various books on economic geology and ore deposits (see Earll and others, 1976; Evans, 1980; and Peters, 1978).
What does gold look like?
Most people have a difficult time identifying gold at first. Gold is very heavy! It is 15 to 19 times heavier than water, it is malleable (it will easily scratch with a pocket knife), and has a distinct gold color that does not tarnish. Most people mistaken mica, pyrite (fool's gold), or chalcopyrite (copper-fool's gold) for real gold.  These latter minerals are brittle and will crush to a fine greenish black powder. But don't be fooled. Some pyrite (fool's gold) may contain up to 30 parts per million gold hidden in the crystal structure (about an ounce per ton). To test for this gold, you will either have to assay, or powder the pyrite and pan it for gold. And chalcopyrite may have as much as 20 parts per million gold hidden in its crystal structure. 

Large specimen of mica (muscovite) shows a mirror-like surface, bronze-color, and will break into tiny pieces by a pocket knife unlike gold. Tiny mica flakes will easily move around in a gold pan while panning. As you pan, if the gold material stays flat on the surface of your pan and is difficult to move, it may be gold. However, if it moves easily, rotates or spins in the water, it is not gold. Mica is hard to pan out of a gold pan simply because it is essentially 2-dimensional and will cut through the water like a knife. 
Gold in the pan is angular, heavy and a brightly yellow-gold color. It does not have mirror-like surfaces and will stay put in the pan. Pyrite will crush to a greenish black powder and the same with chalcopyrite (photo of gold from Dickie Springs, Wyoming courtesy of Dr. J.D. Love).

The search for productive gold deposits requires a good background in prospecting and economic geology as well as some luck. However, there are literally hundreds of occurrence and deposits in nearly every state in the West including Alaska. The best way to begin prospecting is to get a book that describes the gold mines and placers and visit these as I have found there are always many deposits near old gold mines that have been overlooked. This is how I found more than a hundred gold deposits and anomalies. An understanding of geology also helps: I found an entirely new gold district (Rattlesnake Hills in the early 1980s) that was missed by everyone else, simply because of the geology. It had very favorable geology and is currently being explored and drilled by several companies even though I discovered this district nearly 30 years ago! I was also on the discovery team of the giant Donlin Creek gold deposit in Alaska. Part of our discovery team (Rob Retherford, Bruce Hikock, Toni Hinderman) had recognized that some place gold at Donlin Creek was like corn flakes, very angular. Paul Graff visited the area with Mark Bronson and Richard Garnett and WestGold decided to explore this region. I was hired to map the deposit - it was a major discovery that includes more than $42 billion in gold! Yet this discovery occurred all the way back in 1988 and the gold deposit, considered one of the largest in the world, still is not being mined (but is under exploration).

So, get hold of books in your area that describe where gold deposits are found. Pick out the exciting areas and look at the deposit described in a book and look around for what the old prospectors missed (they missed a lot!). Search for publications at your local geological survey (usually they have a few good publications). If you are in Wyoming, I published numerous books that are available on the Internet, the University of Wyoming bookstore and the Wyoming Geological Survey. In particular, get copies of Bulletin 68 and 70 and Report of Investigations 44. If in Arizona, there are likely hundreds of lode gold deposits that have been missed because of so many eluvial placers with no reported gold source (the gold came from somewhere!). Colorado and California have hundreds of possibilities, but personally, I would look in Arizona, Wyoming, Montana and Alaska. For additional information on gold, gold in Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Idaho, Washington, Oregon and South Dakota, watch for other blogs and keep track of my GOLD and Consulting websites as I will periodically update these. Myself and my son (Eric) who is also a geologist, are currently writing a couple of books on gold and we will tell you exactly where to look.

"Old mines never die, they are just forgotten". And enormous gossan exposed at the United Verde mine in Arizona. This property was mined for copper, gold, silver and zinc over many decades and then it was closed. Was it mined out?  No - few mines are ever mined out. It is just that the economics prior to the 1960s made it uneconomic to mine. But at today's high gold prices (compare $1700+ per ounce to $35 per ounce) many of these old mines are likely economic. It is reported that the former miners did not recover the low-grade zinc and copper ore that likely contains more than a million ounces of gold. Additionally, after examining the aerial photos over this region, it is apparent that there is a 10+ mile gossan that likely is underlain by several massive sulfide deposits that remain unexplored. Remember, old mining districts often contain many opportunities. 
 While you are looking for gold deposits, remember, there are probably just as many if not more gemstone and diamond deposits that have been missed by prospectors and geologists. I recently found a major field of cryptovolcanic structures that are likely diamondiferous kimberlites sitting right along Interstate 80 west of the State Capitol of Wyoming. With a good arm, one could probably hit some of these with a rock next to the interstate. These remain unexplored and were just discovered a couple of years ago! 

 Some of these are so obvious, that it makes one wonder what everyone has been doing. Take for instance the Cedar Ridge opal deposit. Probably the largest opal deposit in North America was sitting right on the side of the main highway to Riverton, Wyoming and exposed in numerous road cuts in an oil and gas field and in a pipeline - but totally overlooked. Even after the announcement of this major field in 2003, it still remains pretty much unexplored! This deposit contains opals in road cuts that weigh more than 100,000 carats and has common, fire and precious opal and some spectacular 'Sweetwater' agates. How anyone could have overlooked this, is beyond comprehension. But it sat there for several million years, untouched, other than a few brief mentions of the presence of opalized rock in old USGS reports!

Then there is likely the two largest colored gemstone deposits on earth that I found at Grizzly Creek and Raggedtop Mountain in the Laramie Range. How these can remain essentially untouched is beyond my understanding. At one deposit, I found gem iolite as large as 24,000+ carats with pieces in the outcrop that likely weigh hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of carats. The other deposit may host as much as 2.7 trillion carats based on past geological reports (that missed the fact that these were gemstones). Just imagine how valuable these deposits are even if you mined them, cut the stones, sold them and only made $1 profit! The primary gemstone, iolite, can be cut for $0.5/carat and is sold for $15 to 150/carat. Nice profit! For those of you who wonder - I do not have claims on any of these, it was considered unethical when I was employed at the WGS (Although, today I am a consultant).

 There are many placer and lode deposits to be found, although the discovery of entirely new mining districts is rare. In all my years as an exploration geologist, I have only been able to find one new gold district. However, I have found many gold deposits within known districts and you should be able to do the same armed with a little knowledge.

Some of the better areas to search for gold are historical mining districts. In my experience, it is rare that any ore deposit has been completely mined out. Many historical and modern mines still contain workable mineral deposits as well as nearby deposits that have been overlooked. Many well-known giant mining companies of the past were notorious for overlooking significant ore deposits and ignoring others. For example, AMAX explored a large porphyry copper-silver-gold-lead-zinc deposit in the Absaroka Mountains southeast of Yellowstone. They focused on the prophyry and ignored nearby vein deposits that assayed >100 opt silver! Thus, one could potentially make a living just following up on the exploration projects of many of these past giants [as well as some projects of present giants].  Now if you get out in the field and forget your rock hammer - you may have a problem. This is of course if you have not kept up on your karate lessons. In Arizona, we try to keep up with our martial arts classes.
Pyrite (fool's gold). Note the brassy color (not gold colored). Pyrite is brittle and the upper photo shows crystalline (cubic) pyrite. Upper specimen from the Lost Muffler gold prospect, Rattlesnake Hills and lower specimen from the Pickwick vein, Kirwin district, Wyoming. But don't throw them away: pyrite can contain a few hundred parts per million to potentially 2,000 ppm (64 ounces per ton) hidden in its crystal structure!
  • Some References cited
  • Blanchard, R., 1968, Interpretation of leached outcrops: Nevada Bureau of Mines Bulletin 66, 196 p.
  • Earll, F.N., and others, 1976, Handbook for small mining enterprises: Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology Bulletin 99, 218 p.
  • Evans, A.M., 1980, An introduction to ore geology: Elsevier, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 231 p.
  • Hausel, W.D., 1989, The Geology of Wyoming's Precious Metal Lode and Placer Deposits: Wyoming Geological Survey Bulletin 68, 248 p.
  • Hausel, W.D., 1991, Economic Geology of the South Pass Granite-Greenstone Belt, Wind River Mountains, Western Wyoming.Geological Survey of Wyoming Report of Investigations 44, 129 p.
    Hausel, W.D., 1997, Copper, lead, zinc, molybdenum, and associated metal deposits of Wyoming: Wyoming State Geological Survey Bulletin 70, 229 p.
  • Hausel, W.D., 1998, Diamonds and mantle source rocks in the Wyoming Craton, with a discussion of other U.S. occurrences: Wyoming State Geological Survey Report of Investigations 53, 93 p.
  • Hausel, W.D., 2001, Placer and lode gold deposits: International California Mining Journal, v. 71, no. 2, p. 7-34.
  • Hausel, W.D., 2009, Gems, Minerals and Rocks of Wyoming. A Guide for Rock Hounds, Prospectors & Collectors. Booksurge, 175 p.
  • Hausel, W.D., 2010, How to find gold: Lost Treasure Magazine, July, p. 56-60.
  • Hausel, W.D., Marlatt, G.G., Nielsen, E.L., and Gregory, R.W., 1993, Study of metals and precious stones in southern Wyoming: Wyoming State Geological Survey Mineral Report MR 93-1, 54 p.
  • Hausel, W.D., Sutherland, W.M., and Gregory, E.B., 1988, Stream-sediment sample results in search of kimberlite intrusives in southeastern Wyoming: Wyoming State Geological Survey Open File Report 88-11, 11 p. (5 plates) (revised 1993).
  • Hausel, W.D., and Sutherland, W.M., 2000, Gemstones and other unique minerals and rocks of Wyoming—A field guide for collectors: Wyoming State Geological Survey Bulletin 71, 268 p.
  • Peters, W.C., 1978, Exploration and mining geology: John Wiley and Sons, New York, 696 p.
Specimen of chalcopyrite in quartz (with green malachite and silver-colored specularite) from the Kurtz-Chatterton mine (a great, unexplored, gold prospect) from the Sierra Madre, Wyoming. The chalcopyrite is the brassy-orange material in the specimen. Some chalcopyrite can contain as much as 20 ppm Au (a considerable amount of gold equal to about 0.7 ounces per ton) hidden in the crystal structure along with some silver.

Just hit a rock and you will smell garlic? No, it was not that Italian prospector standing up wind from you - it was most likely the smell of arsenic from the arsenopyrite that you just hit with your rock hammer. Arsenic-pyrite, or arsenopyrite, often is found around many gold or silver deposits and can hold up to 1,000 ppm gold (32 ounces per ton) hidden in its crystal structure. Whenever I find arsenopyrite, I have it assayed. Sometimes the mineral will assay high in silver, such as at South Pass. At Donlin Creek, Alaska, both arsenopyrite and stibnite yield high gold assays. Thus, arsenopyrite is a good guide to precious metals.  The rock above contains considerable prismatic, silver gray metallic arsenopyrite with scorodite (reddish brown to yellow oxidized arsenopyrite).

Cuprite (earthy red), malachite (green) and tenorite (black) from the Sunday Morning prospect, Seminoe Mountains, Wyoming. These minerals can all contain some silver and gold in their crystal structure. Malachite will emit CO2 bubbles just like soda pop when sprayed with dilute (10%) hydrochloric acid. Spray cuprite and tenorite with dilute hydrochloric acid and rub a well used rock hammer in the wet mineral and it will replace the worn parts of your hammer with native copper.

Gold from the Carissa Mine, South Pass. Click and look at the visible gold in this specimen.

Gold from Rock Creek at South Pass.

The Gold Hunter
The Gem Hunter
The Diamond Hunter
Donlin Creek, Alaska - major gold discovery
Gold in Arizona
Gold in Alaska
Gold in California
Gold in Colorado
Gold in Montana
Arizona Gold
South Pass district, Wyoming
Seminoe Greenstone Belt, Wyoming
Rattlesnake Hills district, Wyoming - another Cripple Creek
Copper King gold-copper deposit, Wyoming - another million ounces
Douglas Creek district, Wyoming
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malachite, a copper carbonate, often contains anomalous silver and gold that are
detectable in assays

Azurite (blue), tenorite (black) and cuprite (red) - classical copper minerals. Don't make the mistake many prospectors do - collect these pretty minerals without having some assayed. Copper minerals often contain gold hidden in the mineral or replacing some copper atoms in the crystal lattice. They also contain silver more often than not.

Not all assayers are created equal. Do some research and check on an assayer before using them.