Shiktehawk Gold?

This summer I had an opportunity to spend a day with the kids at Shiktehawk Bible Camp, encouraging kids from 7 through 12 years of age to take up prospecting.  I was fortunate to have my two daughters with me to give me a hand with the activities and presentations.  I have to admit, the weeks leading up to the camp I was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to hold their interest, boy was I wrong.

Shiktehawk Gold Rush

There were 4 sessions on the day, each about an hour and a half long with 30 kids per session.  Keeping 120 young kids engaged was a challenging task, but with help from the cabin leaders and my kids lending a hand we had a great time.

I had setup a prospector’s table with plenty of tools, maps, books, rocks and minerals.  This was a common session before breaking out into smaller groups.  I had the kids guess what each of the tools were used for, conducted a few basic identification tests, and handed around some samples.  They enjoyed watching the acid test, did some streak tests and especially enjoyed handling the gold and pyrite samples I floated around.

Following the common session I had one group of 15 panning for painted and hammered out fishing weights made to resemble gold.  Although the colour was off, the density is perfect for learning to pan for gold.  I conducted a few demos, then filled their pans with material from the ‘crick’ and mixed in a small piece of ‘gold’.  The kids were simply awesome and picked up on panning in no time.  Over 70 percent of them were able to pan out a small piece of ‘gold’ in less than 3-4 minutes.  They all wanted to keep the little piece they panned.

I set up a sluice box on the Shiktehawk stream and ran through approximately 10 buckets of material to show the kids how the sluice worked.  At the end of the day I did do a clean up but as suspected didn’t come across any colour in the box.  There really wasn’t enough time to be picky on the sampling, it was more to show the kids how it worked.  I did recover some garnets and plenty of black sand.  The black sand was great to demonstrate how some material is ‘magnetic’.

At another station I had my metal detectors which I let the kids try.  They were very keen, although the location I believe was over top of a septic field and near power lines, so the thing was chirping non-stop.  Next time I’ll pick a better location, as least they had the chance to swing a metal detector and try and find the treasure I had buried earlier in the day.

A big thank-you to the leadership and staff at Shiktehawk, it was a great experience for me and my girls.  They are pumped to come back and do it again should they theme warrant another visit.  Out of the 120 kids there were only a handful who were genuinely disinterested, you can’t win them all.  By the end of the day I was quizzed on every rock on the grounds and asked ‘What’s this worth?”.  LOL.. I believe I sent at least half of them home with gold fever.  


Posted in Prospecting | Leave a comment

Gold.. Gold.. Gold..

Winter has been particularly cold this year in eastern Canada.  A hike in the woods with significant snowfall and cold temperatures isn’t all that enjoyable.  I have taken to staying home and watching a number of gold mining TV series.  The drama outside of the mining can be a little much.. but all in all they are all very entertaining series, some of which short-lived others in their 3rd season.

Here are a few I have watched or been watching, it should be noted that the show times in Canada lag by weeks to when they are available in the US.  If you are comfortable with downloading torrents you can download entire series or as each becomes available within hours of airing on TV.

Gold Rush Alaska – Now in it’s 3rd season follows a group of unemployed men from the US who make the trek to Alaska/Northern Canada to find their fortunes gold mining.  They are currently in the Klondike mining the Indian River / Quartz Creek claims. The series also follow a 17 year old, Parker running the show at the Big Nugget Mine and a father and son team, the Dakota boys at Porcupine Creek. What’s interesting is that you get to see a bit of variation in mining at each of the wash plants. A trommel is employed at one, a derocker at another, a shaker table at the other, but in the end they all catch gold with sluice boxes.

More Info: Gold Rush Wiki  Gold Rush Discovery

Bering Sea Gold – This series is primarily about dredging the Bering Sea for gold in Nome, Alaska, although there is one operation which is similar to a traditional wash plant on a barge employing an escavator.  What’s fascinating about this series is the amount of gold within a relatively small amount of material.  Lots of drama with a few questionable characters.

More Info: Bering Sea Wiki Bering Sea Discovery

Bamazon – So what do you get when a bunch of unemployed boys from Alabama head to the Amazon to go gold mining?  Bamazon!! Interesting to watch mind you there is only 8 episodes.  I hate to be a spoiler, but these guys I believe were destined to fail from the beginning. I think I spent all 8 episodes wondering how they thought this was a good idea.  I just hope the production of the show pays them a salary, they certainly need some help paying the bills.

More Info: Bamazon History Ch.

Jungle Gold – Ok.. so 2 former real estate guys head to Africa to mine for gold.  What could go wrong?  Let’s just say things work a little differently in Ghana compared to North America.  I found Jungle Gold and Bamazon was more about the struggle of working in a hostile enviornment rather that the mining itself.  Bother operations use fairly traditional mining methods.

More Info: Jungle Gold Wiki Jungle Gold Discovery

There are a few other series that are a little more obscure, one on National Geographic called ‘Diggers‘.  This one is about relic hunting with metal detectors which is also a hobby of mine.

More Info: Diggers National Geo

Keep warm!!


Posted in Prospecting | Leave a comment


For those who enjoy fishing I recommend bringing a gold pan along for the trip, fish may not be biting but there’s always some stream beds to play in.  What I would suggest throwing in a knapsack with fishing gear is a small black gold pan, a small folding shovel, a snuffer bottle and a small locking container or vial.  I also usually have my GPS with me in case I wish to mark the location.. or find my way back to the car.  I know in my area some landowners don’t take too kindly to prospectors, but carrying a fishing rod along doesn’t raise any suspicion, provided it is fishing season.

Snuffer bottles are used to remove gold, or other minerals of interest from your gold pan.  It acts as a little vacuum and sucks up material which can later be transfer into another small vial or container.  You can transport a fair bit of material in the snuffer bottle itself, but making a mess and losing your concentrate is possible.

Folding Shovel

A small folding shovel is a god send.  Mine folds up to about 8 inches in length and locks sufficiently.  Be sure to test the locking mechanism.. it’s worthless if it doesn’t lock properly.

A small 10 inch gold pan is sufficient for panning small quantities of material.  Great thing is if you are out fishing and would like to practice, you can use lead weights.  They are sufficiently dense, and already on hand.  Get a pan with riffles, I haven’t seen many without them these days.  I prefer black to green as I like the contrast if looking for colour.

In terms of a container, you can use just about anything which locks.  I like to have something to put concentrate or small samples in to take home for further panning or investigation.

There’s a number of other things you could take along, an identification book, log book, compass, sample bags, rock hammer, fly dope, machete, maps, eye loop, etc.. All kinds of options, but the above is a good start if just wishing to carry some extra ‘fishing’ gear along.


Posted in Prospecting | Leave a comment

Encouraging Young Minds

Exciting times, this summer I have been asked to put on a demonstration for some kids at Shiktehawk Bible Camp near Bristol.  I believe the kids will be 10 – 12 years old, now I’m wondering what activities will hold their attention.  Here are a few things I have come up with;

–          Basics on rock/mineral identification, characteristics, colour, luster, streak, cleavage, lustre, etc.. I have some rock kits I can put on display as well.  I could come up with a matching game where after explaining basics kids could try and do their own identification.  This could be a ‘team’ event.

–          Pair up some kids and have them practice panning.  I have some gold samples.. but for practice fishing weights are much less pricey and have sufficient density.  I may be able to round up as many as 5-7 gold pans which if paired up would be 10-15 kids at a time.

–          Introduction to a sluice box.  How it works, how to use it, etc..  We could set up in the river for demos, and have small groups put to work.

–          Metal detecting basics.. and their use in prospecting.  I have a metal detector and a smaller pinpointer metal detector.  We could bury some treasures and set them loose and try to find them.  Supervision would be required with the big detector as it’s a pretty good size.

–          Technology tools.. and how they work together.  GPS, mapping software, maps, compass, internet research, etc..  How to stake a claim, claim requirements, etc..

If anyone has any other great ideas for kids let me know.  The above were just a few things off the top of my head.

Funny thing is I staked a claim covering the camp, now I wonder if I can use the labour of 100 kids towards the ‘work performed’ to keep the claim in good standing, and what exactly would their hourly rate be.. Forced child labour.. lol.. yes I’m joking.


Posted in Prospecting | Leave a comment


Hello all, Just started getting back into doing a little panning, haven’t done any since I was a kid with my grandfather in BC. But love the thrill of the hunt for gold… My Question is, If a person was … Continue reading

Posted in Prospecting | Leave a comment

Introductory Prospecting Course!!

I see it’s that time again!!  If you are remotely interested in prospecting or have a passion for rock hounding I strongly recommend signing up for the course.  It is worth every penny and much more, you will not be disappointed.

There is so much information that I am tempted to take it again.  Starting to get prospecting fever as the snow starts to melt away!  Here’s the registration form CourseRegForm-Apr May 2012

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) – Lands, Minerals and Petroleum Resources will be holding an introductory level prospecting course in FREDERICTON, NB.  The course will run over two weekend sessions (Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday). Registration is on a first come – first serve basis.  A registration fee of $50.00 will be required to confirm enrollment. Maximum class size is sixteen participants, and the minimum is ten.

WHERE: 1350 Regent Street – Hugh John Flemming Forestry Complex
Ranger School – Room 224,  Fredericton, NB
WHEN: Two Weekends:  April 27, 28 , 29 and May 4, 5, 6, 2012
TIMES: Friday night: 6pm-9pm; Saturday: 9am-7pm; Sunday: 9am-4pm

Course modules

  • Basic prospecting and the mining cycle
  • Field gear and safety procedures
  • Orienteering: topographic maps, air photos, compass and GPS
  • Elements, minerals and mineral families
  • Rock types, geological maps and lexicon
  • Glacial deposits & landforms
  • Mineral deposits & landforms
  • Selecting an area to prospect
  • Map staking (E-claims)
  • Sampling media, methods and protocols
  • Analytical labs, methods and protocols
  • Promotion and prospecting grants

Course participants are responsible for providing their own meals and overnight accommodations. Coffee breaks will be provided.    Residence rooms at the Forestry Complex are available at the following rates: Daily: Single occupancy = $35.00 per night + 13% HST / Double occupancy = $25.00 per person/night + 13% HST  PLEASE NOTE: For all Torunski Hall residence requests, please contact Loretta Phillips at the Maritime College of Forest Technology at 458-0643.

You should bring a pocket knife, hiking boots and weather-appropriate clothing as the instructors will try to incorporate a small field trip (weather permitting) at some time during the course.

You may register at:

DNR Geological Surveys Office – Bathurst                         DNR Geological Surveys Office – Sussex                       495 Riverside Drive                                                                207 Picadilly Road
Tel: 547-2070; FAX: 547-7694                                              Tel: 432-2010; FAX: 432-2060

DNR Geological Surveys Office – Fredericton
1350 Regent Street
Tel: 453-2206; FAX: 453-3671

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

NooB Question

Hello, I have been reading about gold panning for a bit and I am planning on doing some this spring.  I can’t seem to find any information on the GNB webiste about recreational panning?  Just wondering if any one knows if you can do recreational panning on crown land?



Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Gold in Them Hills?

I had an opportunity to get out in the woods a few hours this past weekend.  Prospecting was secondary with the primary goal to survey property belonging to the family which has been left to its own devices for several decades.  With machete in one hand, GPS in the other and backpack containing the essentials secured to my back I headed out.  It wasn’t long before bug spray became a valuable commodity, this time of year I strongly suggest having it in your pack.

The lithology according to the NB Bedrock Lexicon denotes the following;

Grey, medium- to thick-bedded, fine- to medium-grained, lithic wacke interstratified with dark grey, laminated, locally graptolite-bearing, siltstone and light to dark grey shale (Poole, 1957). Graded bedding and flute casts well displayed along Rte. 102 near Kingsclear indicate deposition by turbidity currents (Gordon, 1973; Fyffe, 1995c).

The property has an exposed rock face as elevation climbs to 130m in this part of the property. There is also a small stream which was very inviting for panning which I’ll describe later.  The exposed bedrock contained significant orange-red siltstone, the weathered rock a more brownish hue.  Working along the ridge there were significant outcrops of what appeared to be coarsely grained biotite-feldspar-quartz gneiss, and further along unexpected outcrops of a quartz conglomerate containing larger rounded quartz stones cemented with quartz sand and slightly discolored by yellow-brown iron staining. (see poor picture)

The stream had a large percentage of rounded quartz stones which likely were deposited through weathering of the underlying quartz conglomerate, and the visible rock face noted at higher elevations.  Noting the strong association of gold and quartz I took a bit of time to pan the stream to see if there was any sign of color.  Unfortunately I had packed in a hurry and had forgotten my snuffer bottle which would have allowed me to pick out any interesting material to evaluate later.  I was surprised of the absence of black sand and other iron rich magnetic material.  Panning did produce a few gold-like flakes, unfortunately I came ill-prepared and have plans to return exclusively for further panning as I didn’t process much material due to time constraints.  The stream itself is active during the spring runoff and reduces to a trickle later in the summer.  There are plenty of areas for gold and other minerals to get trapped, such as around tree roots, at the bottom of small waterfalls, etc.  I was able to easily hit bedrock in many areas which is encouraging, if there is anything to be found it shouldn’t be that difficult.

StreamThe stream had an brownish discoloration which I chalked up to the iron-rich siltstone.  It’s also possible that the stream is fed by stagnant water from a beaver pond, although the direction and origin appeared more apt to be fed by a nearby spring or aquifer.

All in all a nice hike in the woods, but if you are averse to blackflies, mosquitoes or horseflies this isn’t the hobby for you.  All comments are welcome, any help with identification is also much appreciated.  If anyone is interested in the Fredericton area to head out panning/prospecting drop me a line.


Posted in Prospecting | Leave a comment

Weekend travels..

My wife and I had the opportunity to spend some time in Nova Scotia over the weekend with a scenic drive back through New Brunswick en route to Fredericton.  Over the course of our travels we had the opportunity to see some interesting geology worth mentioning.  Following a trip to Joggins Fossil Cliffs (previous blog entry) we were in the Windsor, NS area and noted white cliffs which were unmistakably gypsum.

Unfortunately a quick search online noted that mining operations have since come to a halt. I was unable to get stopped to snap a picture but I must say prospecting for gypsum given the quantities found in Windsor certainly would be easy.  However, on the way back through New Brunswick I was in Hillsborough and did stop by a long abandoned gypsum quarry and scooped up a few samples, and took a few pictures.

Location: 20T 0370853 E 5080559 N
AKA: Albert Mines, NB

And now for a few comments from Pough:

Gypsum CaSO4 2H2O

Environment: Sedimentary tocks as massive beds, in free crystals in clay beds, alkaline lake muds, and crystallized in cavities in limestone.  Often in opaque, sand-filled crystal clusters.

Crystal Description: Crystals are common, often assumes a tabular habit: model-like, backward-slanting, monoclinic plates with the horizontal axis the shortest.

Physical Properties: Colorless, white and pale tints.  Luster glassy, pearly (on cleavage face), and silky.  Hardness 2, specific gravity 2.3; fracture conchoidal and splintery; cleavage 2, 1 perfect and 1micaceous.

Distinguishing Characteristics: With its low hardness, and flakes that are easily scratched by a fingernail, no other test is needed.  The clear plates bend but lack the elastic rebound of mica; they are softer than the common brucite.

Location: 20T 0496859 E 4958510 N
AKA: Salmon River Bridge, NS
Just an interesting rock face near Salmon River Bridge in NS. Only thing I could think of was to practice my dips and strikes.  As one nears the coast the abundance of exposed bedrock keeps my head on a swivel.

We also attempted a trip to the historic Moose River Gold Mine for which there is a small monument, museum, and it bears provincial park status.  Unfortunately time was short and we didn’t have a chance to do much exploring.


Posted in Prospecting | Leave a comment

Fossils.. and no not me.

En route to a weekend getaway outside of Halifax I convinced my lovely wife to entertain my wishes and we dropped by Joggins to experience the fossil cliffs.  First of all, I can’t say I am a fanatic when it comes to fossils but I do have a moderate interest, intrigued by the resulting geology.  Regardless it was a nice diversion, a chance to get out and stretch.

Location: 20T 0387024 E 5060799 N
AKA Joggins Fossil Cliffs – Joggins, Nova Scotia

The same rules apply to fossils and coal in Nova Scotia as they do in New Brunswick, both belong to the province and legally you are not carting any fossils home unless you have a special permit of which I have none.  On a different occasion I had visited the ‘drag line’ in the Minto/Chipman area where you can find all kinds of fossils.  Where it is a commercial operation and not a provincial park they are much less protective of their specimens.

The history surrounding the coal industry in the Joggins area is interesting.  Seams of coal, visible from the ocean, were exploited by the French and the English.  The thickest coal seam is only 3 ft. 6 inches wide with many of them less than 6 inches wide.  This led to 83 separate mining operations within a 30km range.  You can walk along the beach and pick up handfuls of coal.

All in all a nice little visit, there is an attached museum, gift shop and cafe.  There are organized directed tours, and if you are passionate about fossils plan on half a day.  The gift shop had numerous mineral samples for sale, which in itself captivated me for 15-20 minutes.



Posted in Prospecting | Leave a comment