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Cleaning out a nugget patch… how do you do it?


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I'm still kinda new to this gold prospecting game and I keep hearing stories about all these nugget patches that people have found over the years with their gold detectors.

I have a few questions… let's say you find some nuggets in a relatively small area. I'm guessing that would be considered a nugget patch… right? So once you've hit upon this patch, do you grid it out and keep pounding the area with your gold detector and keep hoping that you'll find more?

Or... do you bring in a bunch of your friends with picks, shovels, and a dry washer or two, and start digging deeper than the depth range of your detector and start taking samples?

Maybe I'm not getting it... but by reading some of the nugget patch stories posted on this forum and several others, it seems to me that there may be a lot of people who quite possibly could be leaving massive amounts of gold on the table, by not digging a few more inches (or feet) and seeing if there's more gold under what they initially found with their detector.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't gold usually abide by the laws of gravity? I mean if you find a few dinks on the surface, wouldn't it make sense that there could possibly be even more (and heavier) nuggets buried below those dinks that are out of the depth range of your detector? Judging by many of the stories I've read, seems the consensus is that gold nuggets (once you've found them) kinda like to hang out together. Would that be a true statement?

Just wondering? :89:

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Azblackbird very good topic and Im sure its been discussed here in the past but I think its worth discussing again. things have changed, new detectors etc. this is going to be a long but informative topic. just to start there are a lot of variables to be considered. AzNuggetBob

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Judging by many of the stories I've read, seems the consensus is that gold nuggets (once you've found them) kinda like to hang out together. Would that be a true statement?

That's true. Once the right geologic conditions are created for gold to accumulate, normally more than one piece will end up there. Lots of factors decide how much will accumulate, and I think some of those are the factors AZNugget Bob was mentioning.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't gold usually abide by the laws of gravity?

Somehow a lot of new guys think this, but gold does not sink down through sand, rocks and clay like a pebble dropped in water. When you get heavy rain and the surface gets soupy, gold can sink in a little, but not far. Usually the soupy stuff is just on the surface. Normally the ground surface is hard, and gold does not sink into it anymore than you do when you walk across it.

I mean if you find a few dinks on the surface, wouldn't it make sense that there could possibly be even more (and heavier) nuggets buried below those dinks that are out of the depth range of your detector?

It just all depends on how the "patch" formed and why it is there. If its an eolian placer, there may be only very little gold that is down more than a few inches below the surface. I've seen guys scrape the surface of this type of placer and find very little. Where the placer is on shallow bedrock in a drainage, once you get down to bedrock, that's it.

In some places I have dry washed patches to get fines that were hard to detect, and sometimes I have done well, and sometimes not so well using that technique.

I have a spot I am going to dig down a few inches on to see what might be below in the next week or so. It seems like this spot has a couple inches of dirt that have washed in over the gold at this place.

Edited by Reno Chris
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Somehow a lot of new guys think this, but gold does not sink down through sand, rocks and clay like a pebble dropped in water. When you get heavy rain and the surface gets soupy, gold can sink in a little, but not far. Usually the soupy stuff is just on the surface. Normally the ground surface is hard, and gold does not sink into it anymore than you do when you walk across it.

Now I'm confused. If gold doesn't sink down through sand, rocks, or clay, then how come in many of the world's richest placers, in order to get down to the "pay zone"… it usually requires the removal of several feet of overburden? Are you saying that all that gold was settled in place before the overburden was deposited?

That's why I asked the question of cleaning out a nugget patch. Seems many patches or pay streaks might possibly be located on semi-soft, or semi-hardened overburden, whereas some of the gold might possibly be suspended somewhat, but heavier nuggets could be lurking beneath those lighter weight "surface" nuggets that were easily discovered with a gold detector. Seems if I found a few so-called suspended nuggets using a detector, then digging down a few more feet and taking some samples might be a prudent move… would you agree?

I know there's tons of variables, but regarding placer deposits, it just seems to me that the gold is either finally settled (as in the case of very rich placers on top of bedrock, basement rock or whatever you want to call it) or it's held in some degree of suspension (as in the possible case of sub-surface nugget patches) either on the hillsides, pediments, benches, etc. and is on its way over eons of time to eventually becoming finally settled do the natural erosional forces, plate shifting, and gravitational pull of the earth. That's just a theory I have… :idunno:

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azblackbird I think maybe you miss understood what Chris was saying. If you drop a nugget in the sand or dirt it wont sink by itself but when you add moving water everything changes but only drops to the hard pan..

Anyway

Im going to start out with some of my best patch secrets.
and Im going to try to just keep it simple so its easy to understand.
when I find what I think may be a patch, mutable nuggets in a small area.
the slope of the area is very important.
now Im talking hillside patch not creek side,most hillside nugget patches form or if it is 30 degrees or less.
if its steeper the nuggets are strung out without any
pattern as far as size other than a strait line down the hill as they erode out of the vein.
but something else to keep in mind is it may be an old abandoned wash/line/flow.
part of an old wash that changed directions and higher than the new wash,
and the nuggets are sliding down from it to the new wash.
Im going to stop here and say being able to read the geology helps a lot. smooth cobbles verses course rock.
could be a ancient river gravel bed running over a mountain or a local source (quartz vein) or even other type of host rock for the gold.
Being able to read the nuggets (shape) is also very important. I could just keep on writing here but I gota go. keep in mind azblackbird were just getting started. AzNuggetbob

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I drew this picture awhile back because I too was trying to understand the deeper question. Since tiny veins are like fingers coming off the main vein it only makes sense that the patch could be much deeper then what's on the surface. I figure these patch nugget's are only pieces that have pinched off from the fingers of the main vein. Is this correct, is my picture correct, or is my thinking wrong? You won't hurt my feelings, I really want to know.

Also having a hard time understanding bedrock. Does bedrock run all the way down the slopes of a mountain? Or is bedrock only at the base of the mountain? Me confused... :grr01:

I'm glad you brought this subject up again ABB.

In my picture I figure a pod is just and untouched patch.

post-26159-0-89334500-1403683975_thumb.j

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Ive found two one nugget hillside patches and many one nugget washes :)

Found washes with multiple nuggets in them.

In the washes I ALWAYS go back and dig it out. And, I check them after yearly monsoons.

Some have nuggets deeper down, some dont. Some get new nugs after the monsoons...some dont.

Will go over it with different coils, and the GB2 to scrape any last smidge of gold out.

Its hard to tell what the power of a flash flood did from year to year. Shallow spots are deep and deep spots are shallow after the floods.

Just got to get out and walk for miles swinging the detector :)

Tom H.

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I think it helps to know the background geology: to be able to read the land and imagine it with erosional overburden still in place. A large boulder that would act aas a nugget trap may be in the middle( now) of a flat wash or high on an embankment- well away from any water , but thousands of years ago( or more) may have been one of the first "nugget traps" at the bottom of a steep drainage.

LIke we all have heard and read- gold is where you find it.... I haven't :th:

ANd, of course, knowing of a source of load gold in the vicinity( claims or otherwise) is a big help in locating a placer.

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Generally:::::::::: THe mountain is there because it is more resistant to erosion- and most likely exposed bedrock( bedrock is harder than surrounding soils)..

THe valley is there because it is less resistant to erosion, is a zone of weakness, possibly a faultline or joint plane in the bedrock below.

Also having a hard time understanding bedrock. Does bedrock run all the way down the slopes of a mountain? Or is bedrock only at the base of the mountain? Me confused... :grr01:

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I go slow and low,cross grid detect both directions-n to s,e-w . Then a nice ol'steel rake will usually easily rip off that few inches of loose materials(generally as no exacts in nuggetshooting) and again your open to deeper materials to detect. Also little vs big coils. When I hit a REAL patch that's producing good I'll use my big coil first and completely hit the area both ways,then use my tiny coils for the crumbs. I posted a pic a while back on finds and the tiny gold,smaller than ANY detector will find, was with my sluicebox-in the desert your drywasher-as ifn' ya findn' nuggets then fines will usually be plentiful(again general rule a thumb) and a few extra $100 a day in my pocket works just fine. I never detect without my sluice,bucket and shovel as being prepared for the unexpected is the answer to a successful hunt AND a extra detector is always aboard also-lotza luck-John

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Find the outside perimeters of the patch then like John said, coil size is important. Big coils then small to clean up the fly specks. Then dry washing or a bucket and sluice to pocket the fine gold. Good luck, Dan

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Heck, if you want it cleaned out, Just take a few friends out to it, Tell them they can only come when your there. The next time you go out, there will be nothing left but empty holes! Grubstake

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AZ Nugget Bob said it right - In places that are in the bed of a live stream, gold can work its way down to bedrock or hard pan as it moves down the stream, but in places that are not in a stream, no, it doesn't work its way down.

Placers have a lot to do with erosion and there are a number of types of placers - river, bench, hillside, eolian, residual, beach, etc.

My recommendation is to read up and learn. There is a lot of information out there.

Searching for placers without understanding how they form, why they are found where they are found, etc - means you are searching for something you don't fully understand.
Lots of guys just go to club claims and go where others have shown them there is gold and that is fine, no problems with that. However, if you want to start searching on your own behalf and find your own patches and work them yourself, you need the knowledge and understanding to be successful in your search. Knowledge is important.

I know this is going to sound really self-serving, but I wrote a book and it contains many chapters on this type of stuff with various diagrams and illustrations.

Reading through the book would really make a big difference in your understanding of this type of thing.

The book is called Fists Full of Gold and Bill sells it. Its also available on Amazon.

post-187-0-82109700-1403717093_thumb.jpg

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when I find what I think may be a patch, mutable nuggets in a small area.

the slope of the area is very important.

now Im talking hillside patch not creek side,most hillside nugget patches form or if it is 30 degrees or less.

if its steeper the nuggets are strung out without any

pattern as far as size other than a strait line down the hill as they erode out of the vein.

but something else to keep in mind is it may be an old abandoned wash/line/flow.

part of an old wash that changed directions and higher than the new wash,

and the nuggets are sliding down from it to the new wash.

Im going to stop here and say being able to read the geology helps a lot. smooth cobbles verses course rock.

could be a ancient river gravel bed running over a mountain or a local source (quartz vein) or even other type of host rock for the gold.

That's kinda what I'm getting at. Let's say you're on a hillside and you hit a nice patch that's giving up nuggets anywhere from 3" to 12" down. Many detectorists (at least from what I've read) are perfectly content and happy just to find those "surface" nuggets and not dig down any deeper. They keep coming back year after year with the latest and greatest detectors and maybe scratch out a few more nuggets, some a little deeper, some a little finer, and some they missed because of their swing pattern. What I'm wondering is how come most don't come back in and dig a few more feet down and take some samples? Wouldn't it make sense that if nuggets were found 12" down… there may be more that are 24" down?

Using your hillside methodology, what's to say that sub-surface nugget patch you've been working off and on for the last 10 years isn't laying over some type of a bedrock laden catch basin that is another 3 foot down and contains a mini-mother lode of pooled and settled nuggets? My take on the matter is if you hit a nice nugget patch, then dig down and do some sampling of the entire patch and maybe even beyond a little ways. I'm just saying that you really never know what lurks just a few more feet down (out of detector depth range) from the surface unless you do some sampling.

Case in point… how many times have we heard of the more popular detecting areas doing a "dozer scrape"? From what I've read, and from actually witnessing some of the 1+ oz nuggets being pulled out for myself, you'd swear that after a good dozer scrape an entirely new nugget patch has been opened up.

Can somebody explain that to me? :idunno:

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AZ Nugget Bob said it right - In places that are in the bed of a live stream, gold can work its way down to bedrock or hard pan as it moves down the stream, but in places that are not in a stream, no, it doesn't work its way down.

Exactly! Thus my reason for questioning why many detectorists upon hitting a nugget patch, don't dig down a little deeper and take samples. If gold isn't working it's way down and resting on bedrock, that means it's in suspension and can be found at various depths.

Seems to me that if a guy hit nuggets at 12" down, wouldn't it make sense there could also be nuggets 24" down that were out of the depth range of your detector?

Case in point I made above… just look what a dozer scrape does to an old worked out patch. Scrape off a foot or two and you got a brand new nugget patch! I'm just trying to apply the same principle.

Would I be correct in thinking that way? :idunno:

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That's the thing stated in one of the past comments. You could have a patch that is surface only. Sure you can dig down and sample any patch. But you have so many variables. You never know until you do it. Plus getting the proper permits and laying down bonds gets expensive. Is it doable? Heck yes, just gets spendy. Shoveling off a big patch could make the ol back hate ya lol. Chris was right about his book. Very informative and explains ALOT of what you are asking.

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Chris was right about his book. Very informative and explains ALOT of what you are asking.

I've got Chris's book. Have read it many times. Page 302 begins the chapter on sampling. My point is… I often hear about all these guys finding nugget patches and going back year after year with the latest and greatest detector, and maybe pulling out an extra nugget or two here and there... but yet I never hear of them going back in with a dry washer and sampling those patches for further exploration. I'm thinking you've already found gold, you know it's there (at least on the sub surface anyways), so why not go the extra mile and dig down a little deeper out of the range of your detector and take some samples of the area. That's what's been so confusing to me. :89:

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Azblackbird its simple why people are content just taking the shallow stuff. Most can not and do not want to shovel a foot of hard packed hillside or gravel creek. Its crazy hard work.

Hell yeah it's crazy hard work… nobody said finding gold was easy. Thankfully we have modern day tools that can make that job a little easier. I've been thinking of hitting some of these so-call old worked out patches, but the problem is, I don't know if judging by the dig holes, if they pulled out gold or pulled out trash. Thus the reason I'd rather get away from the tourist areas and find my own nugget patches. That way I know there's gold there and the area is somewhat fresh to do some massive sampling. There's a ton of those fresh areas out there, just a matter of doing the research and learning the geology of the area. That's pretty much what I'm devoting my time to now. Come fall, I'll be hitting the areas I have researched this summer and will be sampling like a mad man. :ROFL:

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Only way to know for sure is do a scrape. Digging down by hand would be a waste of time. You could dig down 24" and miss a nugget by 1" off to the side.

So with a tractor I go about 4" off the top at a time, spread out the pile at the end of the pushed lane. Beep the new pushed part and whither or not I find more gold I still do a couple of more pushes to get down deeper. I keep this up as long as I find more nuggets/nugget.

When gridding I go four different directions, NS-EW,NW-SE,NE-SW

I've had patches in the patch that gave up nuggets with each change of direction. Then bring in the tractor!

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Azblackbird its simple why people are content just taking the shallow stuff. Most can not and do not want to shovel a foot of hard packed hillside or gravel creek. Its crazy hard work.

boulder dash said it all. now if the d-9 came with a rebuilt engine :thumbsupanim

Lon

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I've had patches in the patch that gave up nuggets with each change of direction. Then bring in the tractor!

Unfortunately in the many areas I have mapped out to prospect, there is no way I can get a dozer in there (legally anyways) unless I claim the area and do all my NOI, and POO BS. But before I would even consider doing that, I need to know for a fact that it would be profitable to do so.

For now I'm just going to detect and sample all the remote areas I have mapped out that look good from studying all the geology reports, maps, and old mining bulletins. If I find something that has the potential to be commercially viable, then I'll think about filing claims and doing all the other BS required to bring in the heavy equipment. My goal is to find a nice rich deposit that I can pull out an ounce or two here and there and just keep a low profile while having fun padding my retirement account. Thankfully those type of deposits are still out there just waiting to be discovered. I always get a good laugh out of the guys that think all the lucrative gold deposits have already been found. I know better! :4chsmu1:

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