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The Georgicks of Virgil, with an English Translation and Notes Virgil, John Martyn Ipsi in defossis specubus secura sub alta Otia agunt terra, congestaque robora, Pierius says it is confecto in the Roman manuscript. And Tacitus also says the Germans used to make caves to defend them from the severity of winter, .

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Some people may find this is a bit excessive, but you'll quickly learn that the more dirt and gravel you go through, the more gold you'll find; therefore, it's in your best interests to get into the habit of panning gold in a fast and efficient manner. While you're filling the pan up, go ahead and remove any large rocks, driftwood or other materials that were accidentally scooped up.

These items take up valuable space in your pan that could be used for gold-containing mineral deposits. In fact, it's not a bad idea to clear the bottom of the river or stream where you plan to scoop up gravel and dirt of any large rocks. If you ask ten different experienced gold panners what the best technique is for uncovering gold, you'll probably get ten different answers. Like most things in life, practice takes perfect, and you may develop your own technique after getting some experience under your belt.

How to Find Gold Every Time.

With that said, you'll need to get the basic fundamentals of panning down first. Unless you're familiar with gold panning and prospecting, you might be wondering what purpose this serves. Well, there are a couple different reasons for this, one of which is to settle the gold on the bottom of the pan. Gold is one of the heavier metals found in sediments; therefore, it naturally settles to the bottom. Another reason for shaking the pan while it's submerged is to remove the lighter sediments and rocks. When you shake a pan filled with gravel and sand, the lighter dirt will float to the top and hopefully wash away.

In order for it to wash away, you'll need to dip it in a part of the stream or river where the current is actively moving. Don't make the mistake of trying to dip your pan in a stagnant pool of water, as the dirt and other light sediments won't wash away. Your ultimate goal when swishing the pan back and forth is to remove everything except the gold nuggets and flakes.

When there's only a couple of inches of dirt left in your pan, take it to the surface where you can dip some water in to help swirl the contents around. It may take some serious swishing to finally get there, but continue doing it and you'll eventually be left with a pile of black sand with gold mixed in. Some prospectors may use tweezers or other tools to pick out the gold during this step, but I recommend using your finger. Another example is where the river slows down after a long stretch of faster water. Anywhere along the general gold path where the river slows down on a large scale during a major flood storm is a likely spot to find pay-streaks.

Pay-streaks are important because they are large deposits as opposed to smaller, single-type deposits—like what you might find in a bedrock crevice along the general gold path. The size and richness of a pay-streak depends upon the size of the low-pressure low-velocity area created in the river, and on how much gold traveled through that section of the river during the flood storms which formed the deposit. Most pay-streaks have definite left and right outside boundaries, meaning the gold tends to run out quickly once you get outside the pay-streak. Sometimes upstream and downstream boundaries are not so easy to distinguish.

Varying water flow turbulence during major storms can sometimes make a pay-streak somewhat inconsistent. It may appear to be good for a while, bad for a while, and then good again, but the outside left and right boundaries tend to hold true most of the time. Because pay-streaks have some size to them, they are much easier to find than single-type deposits while sampling. Most successful river miners use the following technique to locate and recover pay-streaks: First, locate a proven gold producing section of the river. By digging or dredging sample holes, locate the main gold path.

More sample holes are continued along the path until a pay-streak is located. This method is generally used whether the operation uses gold dredges in the river, sluices, or even heavy equipment up on the bank.

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Since the bank consists of older streambeds left high and dry, you are just as likely to find pay-streaks on the bank, or in the ancient streambeds further away, as you are in the river itself. If you are able to find acceptable amounts of gold in a riverbed and you want to find more, look upstream and downstream along the same line of flow in the riverbed. Keep in mind the direction water and material would be moving in a major storm.

Gold generally will have moved in the same direction as the water flow.

The point about locating a proven gold-producing section of river is really important! You can save yourself a lot of time and energy by finding out where other miners are already doing well. If somebody has located a pay-streak, there will almost always be more pay-streaks in that general area of the river.

Investigation to locate proven areas, and communication with local successful miners to find out where deposits have been located, can save a great deal of sampling time. All of the really successful small-scale miners I know make it their business to stay updated on who is finding deposits and where.

The overall process of successful mining is quite simple. We have it down to a science, having taken most of the chance out of it. Gold travels and deposits along special lines.

Gold Prospecting Methods

A knowledgeable, energetic, persistent sampling effort is assured of always finding the next pay-streak. Sound simple? This is because you never know where the next deposit is or how long it is going to take to find it. And, this is why it always comes back down to that important, fundamental ingredient, which is you! You are the one who decides where to put your sample holes, how large to make them, and how long to continue them. You are also the one who evaluates the test results and has to decide what to do next. You have to decide, based upon your sampling results and the other information you have collected, whether a certain section of river deserves further sampling activity or if you should move on to another location.

Every decision you make is a crossroads that will directly affect the final outcome. It is important to realize that how much gold you get from your mining activity depends entirely on you and what you decide to do.


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A good miner is an investigator who tracks down where the gold is coming from, and diligently works his or her way right into it. How good you are does not depend upon how much time you have spent at it in the past. It depends upon how much you really want to succeed and how willing you are to hustle yourself into a deposit. I know of quite a few people who have discovered rich gold deposits in their first season. I also know a lot of guys who have been at it for years, and still cannot seem to find acceptable deposits for themselves.

Why is this? They are not sticking to the right procedure. They are making the wrong decisions, and, a lot of the time, they are deciding to giving up too easily. Again, the main problem is not knowing. So, based on the information you do have, you are constantly being put to the test, having to decide if the gold is likely to be in a certain area or if it is more likely not to be.

People who have the most trouble in gold mining are the ones who give up too easily.


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You need to give your sample holes a little more time and effort than they deserve, but without overdoing it. This is a matter of judgment which gets a little easier with experience. Once you find a good deposit, it is easy to see why it is located there, and you will also see how easy it was to find. But when it runs out, you are right back to not knowing where the next one is going to be. Gold mining is always an emotional challenge.

The problem most people have with mining and sampling has little to do with judgment in sampling. It has to do with other basic decisions they have already made concerning their own personal success. It is very difficult to help someone become a successful miner when that person has already decided he or she is not going to do very well at it.

Some people work at it just a little bit, and then give up on their sample holes long before they are completed. You cannot find gold deposits this way unless you are awfully lucky. This is good food for thought for everyone. Some people get into gold mining as a get-rich-quick solution to other problems they have created in their lives. If you are not finding enough gold, you cannot blame the claim, the river, the club you belong to, or anything else.

Blaming an outside source might make your ego feel better, but it will not help you locate more gold. You are either getting it, or you are not. Blaming anyone or anything else is going in the wrong direction. The answer is to become effective, communicate with other miners to find out where the gold is coming from, and then get busy with your sampling. If you want to do well in gold mining, you have to make it happen!

And, if you are not sure if you have given a sample hole everything it deserves, be honest with yourself about it and give it a little more. It takes personal discipline to be a good sampler! This is not to say that gold mining cannot be fun. It is a great outdoor activity no matter how much gold you find while you are prospecting for high-grade deposits. Once you get involved though, you will find it is more fun if you are finding more gold!

Learn How to Pan for Gold

If you are looking for challenge in your life, if you want to put yourself to the real test, then gold mining is just the thing for you! When you are producing sample holes and not finding acceptable amounts of gold, when you are not sure where the gold might be, and you are not sure exactly how to deal with it, that is when you are put to the real personal test. This is when you have the opportunity to see who you really are and where your personal improvement lies. There is not a successful miner alive who does not have to deal with this on a continuing basis! This is why it always comes back to you.

If you are strong enough to pull yourself through it, you will learn to sample, enjoy new thrills, and attain personal achievement and growth, not to mention the gold you will find. There is much, much more to know about the business of sampling, which we will continue to cover in future articles. But we have covered the most important and fundamental ingredient here. If you can get yourself squared away with the right attitude, and approach mining with a stiff upper lip and the eye of a tiger, you will have no trouble figuring out the rest!