Gold is Where You Find It?

I had an hour tonight between running kids to activities and have made sure to keep the van stocked with gold pans, sluice box, metal detectors, etc..  Given my limited amount of time some evenings, if anyone were to locate interesting finds close to home it will be me.

Location: 19T 0679958 E 5095483 N
AKA: Off of Route 105 heading towards Douglas

With limited time I headed down a near-by stream with little expectation of finding much of interest.  With my metal detector in hand, gold pan and some digging tools in my backpack I decided to do a quick sweep of the area.  First of all I was surprised how clean the area was of debris, surprising given how close it was to the highway.  With the metal detector I picked up the standard debris, the most valuable ‘relic’ and alpine beer cap from the 70’s.

I did a quick sweep down a small brook which was littered with larger rocks also pervasive in the surrounding sparse woodland cover.  The rocks were ‘hot rocks’ in metal detecting terms indicative of mafic extrusive stones left behind by volcanic activity possibly deposited by glacial movements.  This wasn’t surprising given I was less than a kilometer from Currie Mountain which is a known basaltic flow.

When metal detecting didn’t turn up much of interest I turned to a bit of panning, more for practice sake than anything as I was a bit rusty.  Keep in mind I still had to make an appearance at one of my kids events, and was a relatively well dressed prospector at the time.  Ok.. so I looked a little out of place.

I was practicing on a small stream, a tributary of a now ‘large’ stream given the high water level.  The game plan was to avoid getting wet, that being said I wasn’t adventurous in choosing my sample.  Large rocks, clay, and tree roots act as natural riffles and can trap gold and other heavy minerals.  Digging among the tree roots down to clay, and behind the rock in the picture I scooped up some material.

First step is dissolve the mud by running your fingers through the material in the pan breaking up any large clumps.  Given environmental concerns I was careful to dump the muddy silty water on the shore, strained by the nearby moss.  Next step is to pick out any large stones, tree roots and other debris.  Once all of the larger pieces have been removed it’s time to get down to business.

Maintaining the correct amount of water in the pan I believe is part of the trick.  You want to have enough to keep all of the material in suspension and nothing more.  I start with some large circles, once content the sand is moving well I tilt the front end slightly downward and progress more from side to side slowly tipping the end until material slides off the front end using the riffles as an aid.

After the first pass I repeat the process using the free hand to assist with moving the lighter top material as well as dipping the end down in the stream and using the current to assist.  When it’s all said and done the last thing to move when you swirl the water in your pan will be a trail of black sand (magnetite) and if you are lucky plenty of ‘colour’.  As you can see from the photo there is just a bit of trailing black sand, and alas I am headed back to work tomorrow… no ‘colour’.

Consider the following table to get an idea of the specific gravity of different minerals/metals and where they would be expected to settle out in a suspension during the panning process:

Mineral Specific Gravity
Water 1.0
Mica 2.3
Feldspar 2.5
Quartz 2.7
Garnet 3.5
Corundum 4.0
Magnetite 5.2
Silver 10.5
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Will It Ever Stop Raining?

It has been raining day in and day out since I finished a prospector’s course, do you think that would stop me from getting out and about?  Of course not, sometimes I believe (and my wife tells me) I have little common sense to be out in the rain, playing in mud and reliving my childhood.  As those who know me can attest I have always enjoyed a treasure hunt and now that all ‘rocks’ are part of the bounty I am hooked.  It’s hard to go anywhere without seeing a rock and trying to identify it.

So where was I off to this rainy day?

Location: 19T 5078495 N 662494 E
AKA: New Highway Construction – Route 8 out towards Marysville

I can just picture hardcore prospectors sitting back and looking at gossan centerfolds or how about a nice ore body.  It makes me laugh thinking about it, but then again I have been buying just that.  A book here and there, a few tools of the trade, etc.. It’s a nice distraction.

This trip didn’t produce any great finds with my untrained eye identifying primarily sandstones, and shales.  I was able to recover a few specimens from the roadway containing a few fossils, and a few hints of mica crystals and what appear as biotite.  I presume the ‘rust’ colour is derived from hints of pyrite. The biggest puzzling concern was this stuff is being used in the 3 inch for the foundation of the new highway, interrupted by much harder granite in other locations.  I’m not an engineer but given the differences in medium I’d have to think there will be some settling down the road.

All in all a nice walk in the rain… hopefully the rain will let up soon.



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Passionate Prospecting…

Don Hattie and Mark Conner

Over a couple of weekends I and many others had the opportunity to attend an “Introductory Prospecting Course”  offered through the Department of Natural Resources.  I can say with near certainty that we had 3 of the best and most passionate instructor’s in the province which included Don Hattie, Mark Connell and Steve McCutcheon.  Their breadth of knowledge, both in the field and theoretical, was beyond reproach.  I’m still not convinced Don is 95 as I know he’d be hard to keep up with in the field.

My sincerest thanks to those instructing and fellow students.  I had a great time and learned until I could retain no more.

Quote of the day: “Oh.. I’m feeding you a bunch of bullshit!”


“Igneous Intrusive or Igneous Extrusive?! Is is Mafic of Felsic? Pryoxene? Olivine? Amphibole? Syncline or Anticline?  Give me a dip and strike? Did you get that Kevin?”

I believe I am still having flashbacks late at night as I hear Mark drilling us with decades worth of experience and Don recounting 50+ years of field experience in a single breath, with Steve attempting to get a word in when possible.

Mineral samples



The course curriculum looks like the following:

  • 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 (NB e-CLAIMS)
  • Sampling media, methods and protocols
  • Analytical labs, methods and protocols
  • Promotion and prospecting grants

If you are interested in learning about prospecting this course is well worth your time.  Hearing the voice of experience alone is worth the price of admission.  There is a tremendous amount of information presented to the point where several of those in attendance were taking the course a second time.

Kevin (aka kevgo)

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