What Is Prospecting?
Prospecting is a profession that has been the starting point of many cities and towns, and often the reason why some civilizations have moved past others. The disparity of the world's population has resulted due to the massive influence that prospecting for gold has had on human life. So what is prospecting and how has it been so influential in the lives of humans?
In a few words, prospecting is the task of finding gold in a particular area. It is the precursor to mining and is the process of finding out if there is any gold in the area and whether mining, in that area, would be a profitable venture.
How is it Done
Prospecting, for centuries, has been done in the same way because the basic principle has remained the same. Gold is denser than most metals that it is found around, so whether in dust format or as nuggets, it always sinks to the bottom faster. The earliest prospectors figured that this could be used, quite simply, to separate gold from muck.
So all you need to do is find a container, of sorts, and scoop up some earth from an area where you feel you might find some gold. Then, just fill it with some water or hold it at an angle under running water. As the water flows through it, any gold will quickly sink to the bottom while the remaining, slowly sinking stuff, will flow out with the water.
What do you use?
Gold prospecting isn't like mining because you aren't looking to build up stocks; you are simply looking at the "prospect" of finding gold in that area. Hence the name! The idea is to simply check a little sample of land and see if there are some souvenirs of gold that you can take home with you. When it comes to a hobby, that is the extent to which gold prospecting stretches.
To do that, the tools are quite simple - a gold pan or a sluice box is all you need to get started!
Each tool has a few basic features - they have grooves along the sides (gold pan) or along the bottom (sluice box) to catch the gold and prevent it from flowing out. As the gold sinks to the bottom, the running water threatens to take them over the side and out of your pan/box. However, these grooves hold them in place.
The gold pan is nothing but a simple pan that can be made of plastic, aluminium, steel or any other form of metal or, even, wood. All it needs to be capable of doing is scoop up some mud and keep the gold, if any, within.
The sluice box is an elongated form of the gold pan, only with more grooves and a longer body. It's a three-sided box, with an open-top, and with a number of ridges and grooves along the bottom. The box can be placed in water, near water or even a short distance away, as long as there is a way to keep replenishing the soil in it.
You can, either, scoop up the soil, manually, and put it in the sluice box or simply attach a dredging mechanism that, automatically, scoops up soil from the river bed, like a vacuum cleaner, and sends it up to the sluice box.
Either way, all you need to do is ensure that the soil gets into the box and keep a steady flow of water running through the system.
Where do you go?
If you want to go prospecting for gold, then you need to know exactly where you can find some. Most local city mining councils will have detailed maps of gold mines, past or present, as well as of other locations that prospectors frequent or have found gold in. You can use these maps as a starting reference point to begin prospecting.
Once there, the first place you need to check are in creeks or rivers, especially in parts where the river bends or turns sharply. Most rivers or creeks carry soil and earth, including gold, downstream but wherever there are sharp turns or bends, the speed of the water is cut down. That gives gold, in dust or nugget form, time to sink and land on the bed.
Using soil samples from these areas is ideal and is the most likely place to find any form of gold or precious metals.
To know what is prospecting all about, you really need to head out there and do it once. That is the only way to truly experience what it means. It isn't just a thing people do for a living because prospecting has become a fantastic hobby for people of all ages. It is especially fun if you are taking your kids along because they will get to spend a wonderful day in the beautiful lap of nature, living, camping, picnicking and just having a whole lot of fun all ‘round.
The tools are extremely cheap, the hobby is a whole lot of fun and you have the possibility of finding gold. Even if you don't find any, you can guarantee that a day out there, like prospecting offers, is something that few hobbies can match.