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Chris Gholson

Quick Tip # 1: Color Changes

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Since this heatwave rolled in I haven’t been doing much prospecting. If I have to be trapped indoors you can bet that I am at least reading about gold or looking at pictures of it. That’s how I came across these photos and a few short posts I wrote ages ago about Detecting Tips. This one had some great example pics, so I decided to re-share it first. If anyone has any photos or tips, please feel to add to this post.

 

When it comes to finding gold, there are lots of clues that the modern prospector should watch for. In my opinion, one of the easiest to recognize are color changes. These changes can be in the soil or the rock itself. Some of these differences really stand out, while others are a bit more subtle. Whenever I am out detecting and notice an abrupt change in the color, and or geology, I always slow up. For example, if I am walking across brownish colored soil that all of sudden turns reddish/orange, I will move in for a closer look. Same thing for the bedrock. If I am walking a wash that is full of light colored bedrock that all of sudden is cut by a darker body of rock, I know “something” geologically has occurred here and I need to spend some time before walking away. In many cases I have found nuggets right below or downstream from these contact zones.

 

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Anyone that has prospected the desert regions of the southwest has undoubtedly run across rocks with green and blue staining on them. This is a sign of copper mineralization, and it is one of the easiest to spot. The green is malachite, and the blue is azurite. Other noticeable colors are red and black, which usually indicate iron. Both copper and iron are closely associated with gold, so if you see either of these colors out in the field you should slow up, as there is an extremely good chance that some nuggets may be hiding nearby. Happy prospecting everyone! :)

 

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I have noticed, at least in the area adjacent to my claims in Wickenburg, that these different color areas are often on different sides of the creek, as if the "Contact Zone" was softer and over millions of years nature eroded away.

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Hi Chrisski,

 

I have seen that quite a lot. One side of the creek will be one type of rock, then on the other side a totally different kind of rock. I’m no geologist, but it makes me wonder if these “contact zones” were a weak spot that allowed the creeks & washes to form on them.

 

Here are some pics of a small drainage that I walked up not long ago. I spotted at least three different types of bedrock in this one wash! The lower end was just limestone, then it turned to some sort of weird granite, then much to my excitement, I found narrow bands of schist cutting across. I didn’t have a detector with me at the time, but I will definitely go back for a quick hunt. Places like this with crazy geology are in my opinion, always worth a peek. It has been my experience that areas with a wider variety of rock types are more likely to contain gold than a place with just one or two types of rock…best of luck out there!

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I took the photo below while on vacation in western Colorado a couple weeks ago. It seemed like the perfect example for this post. While driving north from Durango towards Silverton this incredibly beautiful mountain, appropriately named Red Mountain, is hard to miss. I imagine when the old-timers crested the ridge and spotted this beauty their mouths must have dropped open! :o This exposed gossan would have acted like a magnet for early miners.

 

Gossans are a great place to search for gold lodes. Gossans, such as this, are produced from the leaching of pyrite and are typically very rusty (reddish-brown) in appearance. When the pyrite weathers it produces sulfuric acid, rust, and heat. In fact, if there is enough pyrite present and it is exposed to oxygen quickly, it can actually catch on fire. This happened at the underground mine in Jerome, AZ and it burned for many years! If you encounter one of these gossans definitely slow down, especially if the rock is full of boxworks. These “vuggy” type rocks could easily produce some high grade gold specimens...happy hunting everyone!

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