Saturday, January 28, 2012

GOLD IS WHERE YOU FIND IT- Arizona Placer Gold Deposits

Gold Mine off Dome Rock Road
The desert is full of gold.   Golden sunsets, gold poppies, gold finches, gold mines, and gold placers.  In fact, one of the richest placer deposits in Arizona is here in the mountains surrounding Quartzsite.  The Dome Rock Mountains to the West, the Plomosa Mountains to the East, and the Livingston Hills to the South are all full of gold mines and claims.  

Situated in between these mountain ranges is the LaPosa Plain crisscrossed with washes that are literally saturated with gold bearing gravel.  Between the Dome Rock area and La Paz there are several working mines and numerous claims.  The photo is of a trommel at a mine south of Dome Rock Road.    But gold isn’t everywhere.  As the saying goes, “Gold is where you find it.”   So, then, where, and how, do you find it? 

To begin with, search areas that are known to be productive.  Many times, early prospectors and miners mapped or journaled about the gold bearing areas they discovered.  Some old maps and writings contain a wealth of information on productive local gold areas.

Modern geology and science give us additional insights into why gold is found where it is.  While some things about gold deposits still baffle geologists today, for the most part we know that gold accumulates in particular areas, under predictable conditions, and for specific reasons.  It is in understanding these “wheres” and “whys” that a prospector’s chances of finding gold will increase.

Trommel at Gold Mine in La Paz
The two principal types of gold deposits are Lode (primary) and Placer (secondary).  Lode deposits are veins of gold-bearing ores in solid rock.  Placer deposits are concentrations of free gold – gold that has been “freed” from its ore body by forces of nature- and deposited in concentrated amounts in specific places.   When a gold bearing vein is exposed, natural forces erode the rock and release the gold.   Once released, gold is moved by natural forces like gravity and water along a specific and relatively predictable path accumulating in particular areas along the way.

Due to its weight and high specific gravity, gold has a natural tendency to get trapped in crevices and places, like behind a boulder, where the force of movement slows down enough for gold to drop out and accumulate.   Because of this, gold deposits are relatively predictable within a known gold bearing area.  With study and practice, the prospector can learn how to “read” the terrain and understand where gold deposits would likely occur within a placer area.

From "Fists Full of Gold" by Chris Ralph
 From "Fists Full of Gold" by Chris Ralph
 From "Fists Full of Gold" by Chris Ralph 
Additionally, learning how to “read” the terrain is good, but it is also important to get off the beaten path.   Gold is here to be found, but time and effort are required to find it.  Sometimes that means working areas that are more remote or hard to get to rather than the easy ones where everyone else has gone.  It is worth investing a little extra time and effort to make your prospecting trips more successful.  Don't forget to enjoy the desert and the other sites while you are out there.  There are petroglyphs, stone cabins, ghost towns and, of course, nature, to enjoy while you are out on your prospecting trip.


While prospecting, please care for the land and fill in your holes. And always remember to plan ahead and be prepared. This is the desert, after all. Happy Prospecting!
        Creative Commons License
Gold Is Where You Find It by Jenn Jedidiah Free & RocksInMyHead is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at       
For information and locations of placer gold deposits in and around Quartzsite come to Rocks In My Head, Space A37, at Rice Ranch.  We also have a great selection of gold prospecting books, supplies, and equipment available, as well as information on how to “read” the terrain.  We are open 7 days a week, November through March, and online 24-7 at 
Stone Cabin off Dome Rock Road

For an excellent book on the properties of gold, placer geology, and reading the terrain, try Chris Ralph's book "Fists Full of Gold".   







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