Steve, where can I find gold?
Well, the smart-ass answer is “anywhere”. Gold can occur just about anywhere on the planet. It’s been estimated that less than 1% of the gold on earth has been discovered. Getting to it and getting it out of the ground is a whole ‘nother story.
Most gold panners like myself rely on nature to get the gold out of the ground. That means either wind, earthquakes or water moves the rock and exposes the gold. We like water because it’s consistent and acts fairly quickly in the grand scheme of things. It also tends to move the gold in a predictable manner and deposit it in predictable places. Once you know how and where, the rest is easy. Just go and pick it up.
Gold is heavy, really heavy. That means it takes a lot of force to move it and it will stop moving as soon as that force weakens. This is very useful information when you are looking for places that gold might be. A stream or river is going to be your best bet to find gold. One that floods is going to be the best of the best.
Imagine you have found a stream where you’ve heard there is gold. If it’s the low water season you’re going to want to try to figure out how the stream will look during a flood. Ideally you can go and check it out when there actually is a flood. Where is the water flowing the fastest? That water will be carrying gold from upstream. There’s your force.
Now you want to find where on the stream the force weakens. That’s where the gold will drop out of the water flow. The bottom of a rapid, the inside bend, a big rock with a whirlpool behind it. Even a big tree close to the bank with exposed roots can have gold on the downstream side. any place where the water slows down had the potential to hide gold.
I do mean hide. The gold you’re looking for didn’t come down the stream yesterday. It took hundreds, thousands or tens of thousands of years for that gold to get there. All the while, much lighter materials have been washing down the stream along with the gold and as gold is the heaviest it will work it’s way to the bottom of the pile with all the junk & rocks piling up on top. The only thing that will stop gold from going down is solid rock or very solid clay. You will have to remove the overburden (the junk & rocks) from on top of the gold. The overburden could be anything from a few inches to hundreds of feet. If it’s hundreds of feet and you have a hand shovel, you’re out of luck.
So, you’re looking for slow areas in fast moving water where bedrock is close to the surface. If you find such a spot it’s time to dig.