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Popular Posts
  • Why is gold so expensive?
  • How to Find gold in rivers and streams
  • Properties of gold
  • Fool’s gold
  • Gold's Extraction and Purification
  • Gold's Intangible Merit
  • Where to Find Gold in the United States
  • Gold's Physical Quantities
  • Medical Uses of Gold
  • Gold's Abundance

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Naturally occurring gold can be found in almost all fifty states. This gold may be still embedded in rock, known as "lode gold", or it may have been deposited in a placer (a natural concentration of gold particles in sand or gravel bars) after weathering from the host rock -- or it may be found in plant tissues, or seawater, or even present in minute quantities in beach sand. (Gold is found in copious amounts on Alaska beaches and even in Oregon.) If your interest in gold is more than academic, the trick is to find locations with enough gold to make it worthwhile to try to recover some of it.

The states in which major amounts of gold have been found are: (listed in no particular order) Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Although the historic records are generally not very good, small amounts of gold have also been found in Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Missouri, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont -- which taken together with the big producers means that in three out of every five states, you have a decent chance to find a little gold for yourself.

Where in these states should you look for gold? Government records, in the form of geological reports and maps, will tell you where and in what quantity gold has been recovered in the past. Because gold is washed down into placers over time, areas where a lot of gold has been found by earlier miners will -- even if the placer was played out -- very likely have gold again. Donlt believe the 49 ers got it all - far from it. Advance sin techno;logy and recent gold depostis continue to allow productive searches for gold bearing material.

Gravity is the reason gold collects in placers; gold is six to seven times heavier than ordinary sediments. Because it takes a lot more force for a stream of water to move gold, the gold will tend to get caught in cracks and crevices, to settle out where the flow slows, and to work its way to the bottom of deposited sediments. Knowing this makes it easier to figure out where in a stream to pan for gold. Dry streambeds can contain placers of gold as well, laid down by long-gone flows of water. Unless water is nearby, though, you'll need equipment other than a gold pan to recover it, such as a metal detector or drywasher.

One more reason for checking government records before you set out to hunt for gold nuggets: some public lands are off limits to prospecting, while other areas have already been claimed by earlier prospectors.

*Much of the information in this article comes from: Gold Mining in the 21st Century, by Dave McCracken; You Can Find Gold with a Metal Detector, by Charles Garrett & Roy Lagal; Dry Washing for Gold, by James Klein.

See below for listings of various locations of known gold deposits. We've organized them by states and areas of interest. Happy prospecting!

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Friday, March 1, 2013

The science of using gold compounds in treating medical conditions is called chrysotherapy or aurotherapy. Gold has been known for its medicinal properties since 2500 BC. Gold is no doubt an exceptional metal with diverse properties, and this led the people throughout history, especially during the middle ages, to believe that by drinking gold water they can increase the span of their lives, and hence stay young forever.

Pharmacological use of gold started in 1927 with the development of a medicine called Auranofin. This was used to cure Rheumatic arthritis, and to improve the painful, tender and stiff limbs. Gold appears to have a powerful effect on the immune system, which enables it to relieve the painful symptoms of arthritis.

In recent times, researches carried out, particularly in the MIT have proved that gold can detect the cancerous cells, in cases of prostrate cancer in men, and ovarian cancers in women, when injected in the form of nanorods. Such cancerous cells can be destroyed with the gold vapours without affecting the surrounding cells.

Apart from this, gold is possessed with great relaxing attributes, which are thought to be really helpful in treating neurological disorders. Gold is used in small quantities in such medicines. It actually strengthens the conductivity in the nervous system. Nerves are responsible for relaying information to, and from the brain. Gold activates the functioning of the nerves.

It strongly discourages the formulation of bacteria, or microbes around itself. This attribute has helped surgeons to implant gold patches while conducting a surgery e.g. microsurgery of the ear. It is extensively used in dentistry, since ages in the making of crowns, and bridges. Gold is perhaps the only metal, which is biocompatible. Whether it is taken in the oral form, injection, or is implanted in the body during surgery, it is completely harmless.

It has also been used in treating alcoholism in the USA in the nineteenth century. Even today, gold is used to curb the urge to consume alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, and carbohydrates. Furthermore, it is used in making an anti-malarial medicine.

Biochemists have found, in the form of gold, a new avenue to work on. They can use it as a biomedical tool, and study different functions, and anomalies of human body. They attach a molecular marker to an infinitely small gold particle, and let it inside the human body. With the help of an electronic microscope, they can not only trace its ways, but also observe its reaction in individual cells, and molecules. By doing this, they may be able to tell why and how human body reacts to toxins, heat and stress.

Groundbreaking achievements in Genetic Sciences are anticipated in the near future, because currently gold is being used to study the genetic traits, and diseases. Gold is unparalleled in terms of its uses as a medicine. Colloidal gold enhances energy, reduces appetite, increase libido, and works naturally to reduce mental, and emotional stress. It may not bring eternal life, youth, or health, but it can really add to the value of life.

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Gold is a chemical element so it can only be found, not manufactured. It is largely inert, which means:- (i) It is almost totally immune to decay, (ii) it is not very useful in any industrial/chemical processes which use it up and (iii) it is easy to store cheaply for long periods.

It is remarkable for its rarity, density, softness, and its very good electrical conductivity.

Gold finds a small number of industrial uses arising from its physical qualities. It is used in dentistry and in the manufacture of some electronics which require high quality non-corrosive contacts.

However its genuinely practical uses are numerically insignificant. Of all the gold dug from the Earth the bulk of it us used in these three ways:-

  • As a personal adornment, where its colour and its relationship to wealth contribute to its use in jewelry manufacture (~60% of the global supply)
  • As a public store of wealth - backing monetary systems (~20% of the global supply)
  • As a private store of wealth (~15% of the global supply)

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Density : 19,300 kg per cubic metre.
Melting point : 1337.33 K (1064.18 °C).
Boiling point : 3129 K (2856 °C).
Atomic number : 79.
Nucleic protons : 79.
Atomic weight : 197.
Nucleic neutrons (normal) : 118.

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Throughout civilisation gold has been used as money, but the two are less closely related now than has been normal through the last 3,000 years.

Modern currencies (like many older forms of money) can have their supply expanded by diktat, usually by a government or a central bank. All modern money is subject to government in this way, which means that the value of savings is decided, to an extent, according to a political agenda. Modern savers are exposed to any economic or political crisis which could cause money to be over-issued, so their long term prosperity depends on the reliability of the political mechanisms for imposing monetary scarceness.

Historical precedent indicates it is not always in politicians' interest to keep money scarce.

Because of its rarity gold reliably imposes scarceness, which is what occasionally makes it useful as money. Whether or not a physical manifestation of money - in the form of bullion - is a desirable thing is open to debate at any given time. But if a monetary material of reliable scarceness is desirable then gold is still as appropriate as ever. The investment question concerning gold is not whether or not it reliably imposes scarceness, which it does, but whether or not such reliable scarceness will in the future be required by savers.

Because the significant majority of people currently believe that our governments and our central banks have sufficient skill to manage the supply of money gold’s use as a monetary material has waned, especially over the last 70 years. This is a regular pattern. Gold will quietly slip into the background when paper money becomes widespread because, as the famous Gresham's Law says "bad money drives good money out of circulation". But part of the mystery of money concerns gold's cyclical re-appearance, which the following pages will aim to explain.

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One of gold's important properties is psychological. Most people readily associate gold's distinctive colour with wealth, and many even consider the colour beautiful - possibly because it is so closely associated with money. This gives it an immeasurable advantage over other tangible and portable stores of wealth.

The gold jewellery trade is a permanent and global marketing initiative for bullion, and has for thousands of years gone hand in hand with un-worked metal in promoting gold as a store of material value. It creates a significant barrier to entry for any rival material and contributes to the security of gold, in bullion form, as a form of money.

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Because of gold's inertness some 80% of gold within ore is in its elemental state. There are several processes for extracting, and then purifying it.

Amalgamation is a mercury based process which works because of gold's willingness to be dissolved by mercury. The mercury is applied on an ore, picks up the gold, and the resulting amalgam is distilled, with the mercury being boiled off to remove it. Mercury is highly toxic and therefore environmentally sensitive, making the industrial plant to perform this type of extraction expensive.

The most important process for gold extraction is cyanidation. Sodium cyanide solution in the presence of air causes gold to enter into solution. Good quality ores give up their gold under cyanidation in what is called vat leaching. Lesser quality ores require heap leaching, which involves huge piles of ore being repeatedly re-sprayed with the cyanide solution over a prolonged period.

Relatively raw gold is purified in two main ways. The cheaper first stage of purification is the Miller process which uses chlorine gas and reaches purification of 99.5%, and then there is the more expensive Wohlwill process which electrolyses gold to purities of 99.99%.

Note that London Good Delivery Bars - the main trading unit of bullion (illustrated) - are specified at a minimum of 99.5% pure.

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Gold is extremely rare. According to all geological experience it is found almost entirely in low concentrations in rocks.

Nuggets are an exception, but account for the tiniest portion of discovered gold. Interestingly there is also gold in solution in seawater, however although the aggregate quantity is large (because the oceans are huge), the concentration is low and renders extraction beyond any reasonable technology. The cost of pumping 1,000 tonnes of seawater for processing would considerably exceed the tiny amount of gold it would yield.

Gold's average concentration in the Earth's crust is 0.005 parts per million. The technology of extraction is expensive primarily because the process always requires the manipulation of large physical quantities of ore for small results. The energy required to heave, grind and process ore is itself valuable and places a lower limit on the quality of ore which can be profitably worked. Rising energy costs always impact mining viability.

At different points concentration of minerals within the earth's crust varies from their average, and it is those variations which produce workable ores. Iron, for example, accounts for an average 5.8% of the content of the Earth's crust. It needs to be concentrated by natural variations to about 30% to be considered an ore, indicating a required geological concentration of about 5 times. A lower grade gold ore would contain something like 5 grams per tonne (5 parts per million). So gold ore needs to be concentrated by about 1,000 times above the average to become viable.

The process of gold concentration happens both above and below the surface of the Earth. On or near the surface there is alluvial gold which has been concentrated by the effects of running water, for example in rivers. Because of its extreme density gold will readily fall out of suspension as water slows down. So where a river cuts through gold bearing rock, and then slows down as it hits a flatter/wider river bed, gold will concentrate in a 'placer' deposit, allowing extraction of gold particles by panning and the modern day industrial equivalents. The California Gold Rush of 1849 grew out of the gold deposits on the Sacramento river which were particularly accessible to this technique.

Underground gold veins or 'lodes' are produced in association with various metallic deposits, often including sulphides and pyrites. Gold concentration may occur as other minerals are leached away over a long period. Ore of sufficient yield is very rare.

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Most naturally occurring gold is impure. It usually contains small but significant amounts of other metals such as copper, silver, palladium and mercury.

These each give the gold distinctive colours; for example, gold that contains a significant amount of copper will be tinged red, while gold containing silver will be much paler than the distinctive and unmistakable bright-yellow of pure gold.

The purity of gold is measured in carats. 100% pure gold is defined as 24 carat. 18-carat gold is therefore 18/24, or 75% pure, while 14-carat gold would be 58% pure. Only certain carat values are recognized - 24, 22, 18, 14 and 9.

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Iron pyrites (iron sulfide, FeS2), or 'fool’s gold', is often mistaken for gold because it’s the same ‘metallic’, bright-yellow colour.

To distinguish between fool’s gold and the real thing, smash it with a hammer. Unlike gold, which will just flatten under the hammer, iron pyrites is brittle, and will smash into small pieces.

If you heat iron pyrites to a high temperature, it will give off sulfur, which has a distinctive smell. Gold on the other hand, will just melt at 1 063 ºC.

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Gold is often found in underground veins of quartz and, less frequently, in other minerals such as pyrite, granite and mica slate. The veins can be anything from half an inch to several feet wide. 80% of the gold that’s produced today is mined from such sources (the rest is ‘alluvial’ gold – see below). Knowing where to mine involves ‘chasing’ the gold-bearing veins on the surface, back underground. It’s been estimated that in the past 500 years, about 100, 000 tonnes of gold have been mined, but even this amount would only fill a cube with 17 m sides. The world’s biggest gold producer is South Africa, where gold mines are sunk over 3,000 metres deep into the earth.

There are also large deposits of gold above the ground. So-called ‘alluvial’ gold is found as small yellow grains and flakes, or even small nuggets, on the beds of fast-flowing rivers and streams. Natural erosion, flooding, glacial movement and weathering also play their part in freeing the gold from mountain rocks. As it’s carried downstream, the gold-bearing rock is broken up into increasingly smaller pieces, thereby releasing the gold from the quartz and mineral veins. The released gold is itself broken up into smaller and smaller fragments. The further it’s carried downstream, the smaller the gold particles become. By the time it reaches the sea, any gold is in the form of very small specks or grains.

You’re more likely to find gold deposits on the inside of bends in a river, where the water flows less quickly. As the water slows down, the heavy gold particles fall through the gravel on the riverbed, and work their way down through the soil underneath, eventually settling on the riverbed’s clay bottom. The gold can be separated from the rest of the riverbed soil and clay by panning (panning involves scooping up a sample of the sand, gravel and clay on the riverbed and swirling it with water in a shallow, wok-shaped dish), a process that relies on the extreme heaviness of gold. Any gold, being so much heavier than the rest of the minerals in the pan, will settle to the bottom, while the lighter material is washed out of the pan by the swirling motion. Any gold in your panned sample will stand out clearly as tiny, yellow flecks or small grains, a process that relies on the extreme heaviness of gold.

Gold is also often found deposited where a river widens, as well as on the downstream side of large boulders and rocks. The flow of the water slowing down allows any gold to fall to the riverbed under its own weight.

To locate gold on a riverbed, you need to take soil samples by digging down to the darker layers. The darker layer indicates the presence of heavy deposits like magnetite (iron oxide, Fe3O4, a black, magnetic iron ore). The samples are panned in order to discover whether they contain any viable gold. Because of the flow of the river, the gold is often deposited in a line along the riverbed. You can take further samples up and downstream to trace the line that the gold has followed.

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Most metallic artefacts recovered by archaeologists are fashioned from either gold or silver, which are thought to be the first metals to be worked by humans. They are both relatively easy to reclaim from the rocks in which they’re found, and are easy to work. Gold is extremely unreactive and doesn’t tarnish like most other metals. Consequently, gold jewellery can survive essentially unchanged for thousands of years.

Gold is also extremely heavy, with a density of 19.4 g cm-3. The density of lead, by comparison, is only 11.4 g cm-3. Its heaviness plays a crucial part in many of the physical methods used to extract gold from its various sources.

Gold is the most malleable (something is malleable when it is easily beaten into a thin film) element there is. Just 1g of gold (the size of a grain of rice) can be beaten into a thin film covering 1 square metre.

Gold is also extremely ductile (something is ductile when it is capable of being drawn out as a wire under tension without breaking.)

Pure gold is also a very soft metal. It will scratch easily, and it’s therefore unsuitable in its pure state for use as coinage or jewellery. For these purposes it’s usually alloyed with other metals such as silver, copper and zinc.

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Gold is an unusual metal in that it predominantly exists in the Earth’s crust as the element (so-called ‘native’ gold); that is, it’s not chemically combined with other elements. Silver and copper are the only other metals naturally found in their elemental form.

Gold is a relatively rare element, making up only 0.000 000 4% of the Earth’s crust (by mass). You would need at least 250 twenty-tonne trucks full of the earth in order to recover just 20g of gold; that’s a cube of gold with approximately 1cm sides. Gold is valuable simply because it’s scarce and difficult to extract.

However, gold is by no means the scarcest or even the most expensive metal. The current price of gold (October 2002 prices) is $322 per troy ounce, compared with platinum at $566, and rhodium at $690.

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