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Placer areas vs Lode areas


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I'm covered in skunk, and starting to doubt every move I make. My drive is still strong, but feel my lack of geological perspective is dragging me down. The desert is a tough nut to crack, so I'm following the old timers. Question is, are the load digs (hillside) just as productive as the overburden covered flats, benches, and gullies of the placer areas. How does your search plan differ from one area to another if any? Any examples would be appreciated.



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I succesfully hunted both. My opinion is that if one truely wants to find gold in quantity placer is not the one to hunt. Researching gold mines and thier productions are reasonably easy. Using certain key words in your search like NATIVE, FREE or FREE MILLING, VISIBLE, CRYSTALINE. Then using a VLF gold machine patiently working tailing, dumps or float. These areas can be horendously trashy but can also be huge paydays if the oldtimers were somewhat sloppy and most were. Finding mines without claims on them will be just like placer areas hard to find and sometimes difficult to access. My 2 cents worth !! Happy Huntin John B.

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Old timers missed very little.

Especially, on slopes just below lode vein outcrops.

Because, often there was very little, or no overburden .

So, those were easy pickings.

Often, if they had water available, after getting the surface easy pickings.

They would ditch, or pipe in water & ground sluice (boom) those same slopes.

To get what was in overburden in, under or below those easy surface pickings.

As for placer areas, the same holds true.

They worked the bedrock benches, immediately adjoining stream, or river channels.

Then, in the stream or river channel itself.

Then, higher bench gravels, then old channel gravels at much higher elevations.

So, it’s 6 ½ dozen one way & 3 ½ dozen the other.

Each district differs, each site differs, as does terrain.

Deserts differ from wet area’s.

More water, washed more gold further away.

Today, in arid desert conditions, good spots below lode outcrops are usually, where overburden begins to stack up & get deeper.

Simply because that is where the easy surface pickings ended.

Unless they had ample easy water to boom & ground sluice that overburden away. There is sometimes fairly shallow gold, to be found.

The further off the beaten track, the better you do.

Simply because, the close & easy area’s get worked first, so on & so forth.

The farther out you go, into area’s with more difficult access, the better you usually do.

Simply because you sometimes find spots, that have not been picked over 800 times, before you got there.

Placer gold can be found in odd places.

Sometimes, its not where you would expect it to be.

Then, found in places you would never expect it to be.

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Thanks Gents, great info. What is the history behind these short dozzer sweeps to be found scatterred all over mineralized areas?

We have that all over the place down here in New Mexico.

You see Dozer scraps on a lot of hill sides.

Someone had the money to look for suspected fault zones or minerals under the over burden.

I've seen them circumvent the Whole hill at various levels.

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Guest bedrock bob

My experience has been that the old timers missed a buttload. Here they had to haul ore 100 miles or more and it had to be rich to justify it. Most of these old mines have a lot of ore on the dump and below the outcrop. Most veins here are thin and lattice like, and only the wider richer veins were worked at all. Many pounds have come out of veins between shafts and on brances off the main vein in the last few years.

The pushes could have been anyhting...Removal of overburden, trying to scrape away dirt to expose oxidized ore, or simply making a clear area to park or put a shack. I believe any time a machine has cut a few inches off the top is worth looking over.

I agree with JB inasmuch as VLF detectors and methodical elimination of the trash in hardrock areas. Ditto with the idea that hardrock ore is MUCH more productive than a placer is, or at least more concentrated, in most cases.

My BEST finds have been in the lags of hills above the stream course and below high benches of gravel. This is in placer derived directly from lodes, chispas, and broken ore. If the area you are in is REWORKED gravel it is pure placer and all bets are off. Look on horizons of cross bedded gravel there.

Once again gold is found a lot of different ways. Research the data on how and where the gold was found and it will give you some very good clues.

Bedrock Bob

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The question you ask is one that many students in Mining School ask. Many spend 4 sometimes 8 years learning the answer and at best they have maybe 3/4 the clue. The old-timers had little to none formal training, so how did the old prospector do it? Most prospectors' found or discovered the rich lode claims and generally sold them to mining investors who brought the mines into production. Most of this I'm sure you already know, so I will tell you how I was taught by the old-timers' as well as my father.

Most of the mining districts in the USA are already known and most of use us them as a starting point. Listed below is a basic outline of my personal system I use both for lode and dry placer. After 57 years of practing this system, I've done very well in the lode department and pretty good in the placer department. I must tell you up front that metal detecting has only been a part of my system for 3 years and as of yesterday the doctors have removed that part from me.

Mining 101 (as taught to me by my father with the help of a few old-timers)

1. Decide on an area and once there find a high ridge or peak that will give you a good view of the whole area your interested in.

2. Take with you the basics, rock hammer and small pick, a small drawing pad and a pair of bicnoclars(sp), and walk to the top of the ridge. Scan the area you walk, looking for signs of mineraliztion of any kind and make a not of this.

3. Find a comfortable place to sit and scan the whole area with the bicnoclars first. Now go back and rescan the same area and make a crude drawing of the mountains and ridges.

4. Now rescan again, much slowly. Draw lines down from the mountains that are washes or gullies, deep cracks, things water can run down during flood seasons.

5. Now go back and scan again very, very slowly, taking note of the different landscape color changes and look for quartz out croppings and old dig holes or mines. Mark these on your map.

6. mark all areas down the mountain where it looked like it flatten a little, around the mineraliztion or quartz zones. Also mark location points at the bottom, so that you can find your starting places.

7. Go back to your truck and transfer this to you topo map if you have one.

8. Pick a zone that stood out to you and happy hunting.

I know that this takes time to do but jumping out of the truck grabing you metal detector and walking around all over the place takes time and luck also. At least with a hand drawn map and visual inspection of the area gives you a big advantage.

OL'29er. :olddude::miner:

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Thanks Gents, great info. What is the history behind these short dozzer sweeps to be found scatterred all over mineralized areas?

Besides using a dozer, to remove overburden, to be able to inspect something underneath.

THE REST OF THE STORY..............

Years back, the mining law mandated a 4 or 5 yard "discovery cut", on each & every 20 acre claim.

I have run across places, where in a straight line every 300 ft, for a mile or 2 you would find a small dozer cut.

Which, were "discovery cuts", usually in barren ground. But, made to comply with the law, back then.

Years back, the feds & state did away with that requirement.

Because, it often resulted in 4 or 5 ft deep pot holes all over the place, in deserts & flat lands on big claim groups.

Which were done mostly by big mining companies. To stop that they changed the law.

Which now requires a "discovery" but no cut, or excavation, to expose it

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Old timer here (retired mining engineer)

Old ways are tried & true.

Today, you can use modern methods, in comfort of your home or office for preliminary targeting.

Get a state series of USGS topo’s on discs, such as national geographic topo series.

Pick a mining district that interests you.

Acquire & compile all available geologic info, & credible mining history.

Make maps, apply geo data.

Use BLM LR 2000 & master title plats to determine what’s closed to entry, what’s claimed & what’s open.

Once done, you have info what’s closed, what’s had & what’s open.

If any good targets are open, set GPS points on them, and go look, letting GPS guide you to the targets.

No sense searching out something you cannot claim. At least, that’s what I do.

I have a power inverter in my rig, so GPS & laptop go along.

That pinpoints my rigs position, every 15 seconds, on a topo on my laptop screen.

Many times, arrived road weary, at night & set up camp by headlights, close to targets.

Daylight breaks, I an off and prospecting targets.

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more info guys!!!

How do you tell where the old drywashes, and gullies where? Is there a way? school me.

Here's a video that shows what they look like, not sure if that was your question though.


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