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Tag: Geology



Serious gold has been found in about 3 out of every 5 states in the US.  While there is still untold amounts of gold to be found, however, it’s not as easy as it was in the 1800’s to find open land to prospect.  You can jump right in and start fishing through streams for a cache, but it can also be a risky and disappointing way to go about any serious prospecting.  There are a few things to consider before loading up the mule and heading off to the mountains that will greatly increase your odds of success – and decrease your odds of ending up in court.

Just because a mine or claim is no longer worked does not mean that the gold is gone.  That particular property, however, might still be off limits to hunters.  Public lands are not always a free for all gold prospecting areas, either.  Some public land contains claims and other areas are off limits to hunting at all.  Some areas are restricted hunting, meaning you can use a pan, but not a dredge or sluice, or other equipment.   If you are thinking that you can just slip into off-limits areas and slip out without notice, you are taking one healthy risk to your wallet or freedom.   By getting some research under your belt before diving into the creeks with your prospecting gear, you can avoid not only fines, arrests, or being shot for claim jumping, you can also get a pretty good idea where your best bet is to find a good productive placer.  The search for records can be time consuming, but it is a “must” do for anyone serious about gold prospecting.

While you will want to know the ownership status of the land you wish to hunt, it’s not going to do you much good to hunt if there isn’t a decent amount of gold to be found in the area.  While you may have heard that gold can be found just about anywhere, a few flakes dropped by glaciers aren’t really going to make a hunt worthwhile.  You should start your search by studying mining records to find areas from which good amounts of gold have already been found. State Bureau of Mines offices will have information about mining in the areas you are researching.  Remember, thousands of people already have searched the country for gold.  You aren’t likely to make much headway in new and untouched territory.  Your best bet is to stick with known territories. While some people believe that areas that contain mines are tapped out, this is rarely the case. Gold in these areas still works its way down into streams and forms placers downhill from the sources.

The city office in the area you are researching will have records of current mining claims as well as records of claims that are now abandoned.  Once you study these and are content with pursuing prospecting in an area, you will want to do another bit of study.  The BLM offices have maps containing land status plats that show the ownership of public lands. Their offices also have mining and mineralogy maps. These offices are where you find out where you are free to prospect.

Claims  become abandoned for many reasons.  Some might be abandoned because the area had been worked until the claim quit producing.  Others may just have never been fruitful in the first place.  Others could be abandoned due to other difficulties that the owner encountered, such as inability to get to and from the claim, illness or death, and a myriad other reasons.  If a claim is abandoned and the land is open to prospecting, you might be able to pick up the claim for a low price and continue work on it. If it has been a considerable amount of time since a claim has been worked, it may contain fresh gold which continues to wash down into placer areas over time.

Local assay offices are sometimes willing to provide information about their own records of gold assays from local area claims, although sometimes you will be charged for records searches.  If the claim produced gold recently enough, someone in the office might just even remember that it produced well.

A bit of geological study about gold is always a good idea for those who are extremely serious about prospecting, too.  What you learn may just help you identify “new” localities near the older, known ones.

While these studies can be time consuming, most areas have several months a year (in some places most of the year) which are not suitable for hunting in the field so these are excellent months to do your “indoor” prospecting.

Once you have the information you need about open land and available claims, you are then ready to go out into the field and try your luck in the 2010 Gold Rush.

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RHS1 Earth Watch 3rd Quarter 2010 Earthquake Report

RHS1 Earth Watch 3rd Quarter 2010 Earthquake Report

Earthquake stats for the year so far have been pretty shaky indeed.  As always, below is included an explanation of where averages come from.  Below that you will find the statistics for the third quarter and the year totals so far.   It’s been a very interesting year all the way around.

About The USGS and RHS1 Averages:

The USGS statistical averages are averages compiled from 1990 to 2000.  That is when global tracking was achieved and we have no way of knowing for sure how accurately those statistics represent numbers before that time.  There are scientists who did tracking, but there were also many very volatile areas that aren’t populated and it was impossible to track before.  From old records we can assume that there have been more recently, but there is no way to know for sure.

We also use an RHS1 average which is 3 year statistical average which was drawn from my three year quake report from  2006, 07, 08  that I will compare the quarterly statistics to, so we can see a more current trend.  At the end of this year we will add this year’s average to the three year average, making an average of 4  of 5 years since the middle of the current decade.  If data can be retrieved for 2009, a year in which our site was being rebuilt from hacker/virus injection damage, we will add those in to make a current half decade statistical average.

8 Magnitude and Stronger:

We had none during the second or third quarter.  We had one in the first quarter.

The USGS average is 1, if any per year.  The RHS1 average is two per year.

We are holding steady at low average for these massive quakes.

7 Magnitude and Stronger:

We experienced a whopping 9 of these shakers this quarter bringing the year total in the third quarter up to 17 – which is the USGS yearly average for these massive quakes.  RHS1 3 year average is 11 annually, a  35% drop from the USGS average.  It looks like these are going to break both averages this year.


6 Magnitude and Stronger:

We experienced  37 of these strong quakes in the third quarter.  With  only 29 of these quakes in the second quarter and a the high number of 48 during the first quarter, we have now experienced 114 mag 6 quakes already as of the end of the 3rd quarter.  The USGS average is 134 per year.  RHS1 average is  159 annual mag 6 quakes per year.  Only 20 quakes in the forth quarter will see the USGS average but 45 still need to occur to reach the RHS1 average.  It looks like we will be considering this year a high or a low according to which average you want to look at.

5 Magnitude and Stronger:

There were 401 of these quakes during the 3rd quarter of the year.  We experienced only 285 of these strong shakers second quarter – but we had extremely high numbers the first quarter – 565 of them!  At 1251 total for this year as of the end of the third quarter, we will exceed both averages this year.   USGS average is 1319 per year. The RHS1 average  is only 1275 per year.  Judging from my recordings so far of the 4th quarter, we already have.  The only question left is by how many we will be exceeding averages.

During the first few quarters of the year most quakes were happening at depths of 10 and 35 km, indicating a crustal shift was going on.  In the third quarter there were still quakes occurring at these depths but not in such a profusion as earlier in the year.  The depths are becoming disperse again with no real perceivable patterns to them.

The high number of quakes this year are mainly due to some strong and lengthy aftershocks occurring after the major 7 and 8 magnitude quakes experienced near the beginning of the year.

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Back To Copperopolis – Rockhound Field Trip

Back To Copperopolis – Rockhound Field Trip

After the first dig, Jessie and I just couldn’t resist taking a second run back there right away. We had another person with us, too – she had seen Jessie’s cache from the first trip and was gung ho to try her hand at digging a few herself. This time the weather was warm but not as excruciating as the first time in.

I did some studying before this trip and found that our spot is in the Southern portion of a formation that runs all the way up to highway 26 and possibly even further North than that. Not having a lot of time to explore this time, we settled for just going back to the dig knowing that we’d find something. Something turned out to be a lot better than our first try at the pit.

Beginner’s luck doesn’t quite explain Jessie’s luck in finding a major pocket. She again had the biggest load to carry back to the car this time. While I had the biggest stone of the day – Jess once again topped me out with a spectacular green moss crystal. Her friend,Gina, was amazed and thrilled with her cache. While she came along expecting to find a few crystals, she was not prepared for the size of the stones she was finding. To tell the truth – neither were we.

For all Gina’s friends back home she said would never believe she actually found those herself — yeah, she did – and they were AWESOME!  I didn’t get pics of hers, but they are about the same trend as the ones in the pics below.

That said – we took some more pics for you all to enjoy.

Favorites from my dig cache
These are my favorites for the day. The one on the left is the biggest single crystal of the day.

The crystal on the left was the biggest single of the day. It’s not the best crystal, however. It’s got a bit too many of the watery feathers in it to be clear at the size it is. The medium size crystals are much clearer than the larger ones.

Quartz Crystals from Copperopolis 5
These are Jessie's favorites from the day.

Jessie  had the biggest cluster (top left) and a lot of beautiful medium sized clear stones. She also got a lot of so-so stones that will probably end up being the start of what I call “driveway rock” collection. Those are the stones you toss in the yard somewhere for decoration. Non-hunters seem to love looking at these piles and picking something out for themselves to take home. There’s always party favors somewhere when you visit a rockhound’s home.

Let’s move on to the real prize of the day – also one of Jessie’s finds:

Moss quartz crystal
Gorgeous water clear crystal with green moss.

I have never seen a true moss quartz crystal before, and perhaps that isn’t the right technical name for it, but one look at that picture and I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s about the best description to be had for this gorgeous stone. It’s close to an inch wide and there is a crust, as you can see, but promises to be a stunning pendant piece when the layer is removed.

We did explore around the rock formation above the dig up by the main road this time. The view was spectacular. Almost spectacular enough to make me actually like being in California for awhile.

Copperopolis view from the top
Veiw from the rock formation above the dig site.

And of course – Rickie had a great time and enjoyed a little more sun and hiking this time with the weather a bit cooler than last time. I think his smile says more about how the day went than anything else I can say.

Dogs can so smile.
Love this guys smile - he says it all for all three of us.

Um….if anyone should make it out to Copperopolis and find a folding army shovel……..It’s mine. Could ya let me know it’s been located?   I’ll be back for it – trust me  on that one!

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