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 vein - 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.
The Superstition Mountains - home to the 'lost. Dutchman gold mine.