Prospecting in shale-heavy areas
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  1. #1

    Aug 2014
    California
    130
    131 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting

    Prospecting in shale-heavy areas

    Hello all,

    I have a question about prospecting in shale-heavy areas. Last year, I broke up some shale and panned out what I could find. The water turned a bit gray'ish, and I was concerned that there may be some heavy metals (i.e. mercury) or something else unknown in it. I did find some chunks of shiny material. It makes the 'ca-ting' sound like gold does in a vial. I'll post some pics of this shortly. My questions are:

    (1) Are there any dangers prospecting in this type of material (shale or this type of rock, especially in California / the Sierra Nevada / Motherlode)
    (2) What might one find in this material? I'm curious about the "metals" I have found, which are reddish in color.

    I'll post pics as soon as I can.

    Thanks!
    BurntBear likes this.
    Remembering EagleDown - The Many Lost Treasures of Mariposa, CA
    Mineral Identification - MinDat
    TreasureNet Rock and Mineral Identification Thread - Got a Rock You Want Identified?

  2. #2
    us
    Apr 2014
    Colorado Springs, CO
    Bazooka 48" Miner and 30" Sniper, Le Trap, Wolf Trap, A52, 2" dredge, Miller tables, Blue Bowl, wheel, Falcon MD20, old White's detector
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    I hope you can post the picture soon. It is hard to tell otherwise. Sounds interesting, though.

    Some shale locations in Colorado gave very good gold when the shale was basically perpendicular to the flow of the river. It trapped gold and was very rich in Breckenridge. It traps other things, too, but I cannot comment on what you might find in the Sierra Nevada, California area.

  3. #3

    Nov 2013
    West Sacramento, CA
    153
    260 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    I've worked material like that and wondered the same thing... It igets very gray and odd. hope to see an answer.
    AuSomeness likes this.

  4. #4

    Aug 2014
    California
    130
    131 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    Quote Originally Posted by CApicker View Post
    I've worked material like that and wondered the same thing... It igets very gray and odd. hope to see an answer.
    Good to know I'm not alone on this! Okay.. let's see if I can get that photo...
    Remembering EagleDown - The Many Lost Treasures of Mariposa, CA
    Mineral Identification - MinDat
    TreasureNet Rock and Mineral Identification Thread - Got a Rock You Want Identified?

  5. #5

    Aug 2014
    California
    130
    131 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    Ok, take a look at these. The material in question is the reddish / shiny stuff. This is after the liquid has settled. I will post a pic of it cloudy as well.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Click image for larger version. 

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    Remembering EagleDown - The Many Lost Treasures of Mariposa, CA
    Mineral Identification - MinDat
    TreasureNet Rock and Mineral Identification Thread - Got a Rock You Want Identified?

  6. #6
    Charter Member
    us
    Ed Tracy

    Jan 2015
    Shoreline,wa
    Equinox 800
    582
    934 times
    Prospecting
    Shale its just sediments and clay hardened over time and pressure, up here in Washington State there are places where in-between the layers of slate wire gold is formed, more valuable that a nugget. I have found areas between the layers of shale that is so decomposed that when panned it turns the water in my pan into what looks like mercury, I have found a lot of my larger nuggets cleaning out these decomposed areas along the river.
    AuSomeness likes this.

  7. #7

    Aug 2014
    California
    130
    131 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    Ed,

    Thanks for the reply. Question: why is the wire gold more valuable? I assume it's because of the unique shape.

    As for your comment about turning the water to what looks like mercury when panning shale material, this is exactly what I am experiencing. I found the stuff in the photos late last year. I had forgotten all about it until I found more material just like my original batch over the weekend. I panned some tonight and I got the same results: a strange, gray, muddy-looking color when put into water. I've attached a pic of what the water looks like when agitated.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Remembering EagleDown - The Many Lost Treasures of Mariposa, CA
    Mineral Identification - MinDat
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  8. #8

    Aug 2014
    California
    130
    131 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    Here are some decent pictures of the metalic pieces I found. They are fairly square / rectangular (in general). They appear to be not worn, which makes sense, as they were extracted from a host rock/material. There appears to be a variety of material in them or on them. There is black, red, gold, and what looks like mud-colored material present. What do you think?

    Click image for larger version. 

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    BurntBear likes this.
    Remembering EagleDown - The Many Lost Treasures of Mariposa, CA
    Mineral Identification - MinDat
    TreasureNet Rock and Mineral Identification Thread - Got a Rock You Want Identified?

  9. #9
    us
    Mar 2014
    Traveling US to work
    Current Whites DFX Past Garret GTI 2500 and others Prospecting Minelab GPZ 7000 Past SD 2100 GP 3000 (retired)
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    Pyrite crystals.
    Everyone Believes they have gold buried in the back yard... small wonder so few ever look for it.

  10. #10
    us
    Mar 2003
    Redding,Calif.
    5,851
    6687 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    There are many places in calif where the shale has great gold. Like pages in a book fulla gold.Especially the Merced...John

  11. #11

    Mar 2013
    Bounty Hunter
    557
    288 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    Shale I believe is just ground down rocks and minerals in to very fine particles then compressed together, not sure,
    AuSomeness likes this.
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  12. #12
    Charter Member
    us
    Ed Tracy

    Jan 2015
    Shoreline,wa
    Equinox 800
    582
    934 times
    Prospecting
    Check out " Liberty, Washington wire gold " on the net and YouTube. Potato size nuggets are found there plus crystalline wire gold. You are right, because of it's rarity and growth pattern it is highly prized for specimens and jewelry.

  13. #13

    Aug 2014
    California
    130
    131 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    Quote Originally Posted by DDancer View Post
    Pyrite crystals.
    I'm not sure about that. I've seen lots of pyrite, but I've been wrong before. Probably the most difficult part for me is that these are not weathered by the environment. I will have to clean one up and test it for brittleness. If it is iron pyrite, from what I've read, I suppose arsenic could be a concern. FUN! lol
    Remembering EagleDown - The Many Lost Treasures of Mariposa, CA
    Mineral Identification - MinDat
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  14. #14
    us
    Apr 2014
    Colorado Springs, CO
    Bazooka 48" Miner and 30" Sniper, Le Trap, Wolf Trap, A52, 2" dredge, Miller tables, Blue Bowl, wheel, Falcon MD20, old White's detector
    1,076
    1285 times
    Prospecting
    Quote Originally Posted by AuSomeness View Post
    I'm not sure about that. I've seen lots of pyrite, but I've been wrong before. Probably the most difficult part for me is that these are not weathered by the environment. I will have to clean one up and test it for brittleness. If it is iron pyrite, from what I've read, I suppose arsenic could be a concern. FUN! lol
    Arsenic in small quantities is not deadly. The LD50 is 15mg/kg; or if you weight about 200 lbs, the dosage is about 1.4 grams. That is an awful lot to get from working with a small crystal of your material. First, from the sizes in the pictures, it would have to be almost all arsenic and then you would have to eat it (since that is the oral or by mouth dosage). Absorbed through skin is even less toxic (higher LD50--but I cannot find the data).
    Last edited by GoldpannerDave; Apr 29, 2015 at 02:21 PM.

  15. #15

    Aug 2014
    California
    130
    131 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    Quote Originally Posted by GoldpannerDave View Post
    Arsenic in small quantities is not deadly. The LD50 is 15mg/kg; or if you weight about 200 lbs, the dosage is about 1.4 grams. That is an awful lot to get from working with a small crystal of your material. First, from the sizes in the pictures, it would have to be almost all arsenic and then you would have to eat it (since that is the oral or by mouth dosage). Absorbed through skin is even less toxic (higher LD50--but I cannot find the data).
    Thanks for the info, GoldpannerDave. I tend to play it safe.
    Remembering EagleDown - The Many Lost Treasures of Mariposa, CA
    Mineral Identification - MinDat
    TreasureNet Rock and Mineral Identification Thread - Got a Rock You Want Identified?

 

 
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