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a one ounce day

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Adjustable Sluice: The bottom angle of the sluice box can be raised or lowered as required depending on the condition oof the material being run, water volume, etc.

Amalgamation: The process of using mercury to recover micron gold and other gold pieces too small to recover easily by panning, gold wheel, bowl or other methods of separating concentrates.

Ancient Streambed Material: Gravel that is in place from a previous river course or the one that is there now but has changed course or eroded a deeper channel, stranding potentially valuable gold deposits in various locations above and below the water line.

Assay: That process by which ore (or metal) is tested to determine what kind of metals are present and how pure the metal is that is in the sample.


AuWhatfun: Site owner's pen name.

Bang Box: See Header Box

Bar:  Gravel or Iron? A gravel bar is formed in the low pressure areas of rivers and creeks, most often on inside bends. Iron- See "Prybar".

Bedrock: The rock crust of the earth. Placer gold can't penetrate this layer except in cracks and fissures, though sometimes it can be found several feet into decomposed bedrock.

Bench: A level or nearly flat area on a hillside.

Bench Deposit: A gravel deposit that is above the modern water line, usually made up of Ancient Streambed material.

Black Sand: Sand that contains large amounts of iron, hematite, magnetite and other dark, heavy minerals.

Boulder: Larger than a cobble, can not be picked up by one person.

Boulder Bound: That condition in a working dredge hole where you uncovered so many boulders that were too large to remove from the work area that progress becomes difficult or impossible to continue.

Cemented Gravel: Gravel that is so tightly packed together that it is reminiscent of concrete. Very difficult to dredge.

Claim: An area usually in 20 acre increments of size, in which the minerals are "claimed" by a person or association of persons for the purpose of extraction for profit. Rules for filing and maintaining a "Claim" vary depending on local, State and Federal laws.

Classification: The process of separating sand and gravel into various sizes using screens with uniform size holes for the purpose of making the process of extracting the "values" from the gravel more efficient.

Classified Gravels: The state of the concentrated gravels after the process of classification.

Cleaned Out: An area that has already been mined.

Clean-Up: The process of removing the concentrates from a sluice box after processing sorted or unsorted materials through the box.

Clouded Out: When dredging and the silt gets stirred up, lowering or obliterating your visibility.

Cobble: Rocks that are too big to pass through the dredge nozzle, but not so big that one man can't easily move them.

Color: Traces of gold that can be seen with the naked eye.

Concentrates: The heavy (usually) black sand and metal particles that are left in a sluicebox after processing bank run or pre-sorted gravels  from a mining operation usually involving a bare sluice box, a sluicebox on a dredge or a trommel.

Crevice: A wide crack in the bedrock.

Dive Mask: A device used to see underwater, usually styled like oversize safety goggles, but some versions integrate the regulator and face mask in one unit. The better Dive Masks allow you to exhale through a purge valve in the mask making it easier to keep your mask clear for better visibility.

Dredge: A machine that usually floats on top of the water that is designed to draw the sand and gravel up from the bottom of the body of water (lake, stream, river, ocean, etc.) and deliver that material through a sluicebox in which riffles and materials are placed to allow the heavier particles such as gold and other precious metals and gems to be trapped as "concentrates" and the lighter gravels pass on through and are deposited back into the body of water a few feet from where they were originally picked up. The dredge basically functions like an underwater vacuum, only retaining selective items.

Dry Suit: A dive suit designed to keep you dry while underwater. These are designed to keep you warmer in very cold water temperatures.

Dust (gold dust): Bits of gold too small to grasp with your fingers.

Face Mask: See "Dive Mask".

Fines: Same as dust or gold dust.

Flour Gold: No, you don’t bake gold bread with this flour! It’s another name for gold dust.

Free Gold: Any gold that does not need chemicals to be separated from concentrates or lode ore.

Glory Hole: We all hope to hit one of these some day! It is an ultra rich spot that yields so much gold that when telling about it afterwards, there is    no need to exaggerate the story!

Gold Nugget: see "Nugget"

Gold Path: Or “Common Gold Path” is the path of travel that placer gold takes as it is moved down river by the force of the water- usually during massive floods.

Good Gold: Well truthfully, there is no bad gold! But good gold is sometimes called making wages or better while mining. There is a point at which it is not worth continuing in the hole you are dredging in (see profitability).

Grain: A unit of weight measurement. 480 grains equals 1 Troy ounce.

Gram: A unit of weight measurement. 31.1 grams equals one Troy ounce.

Gravel: Rocks that are anywhere from a half inch to three inches in diameter.

Grizzly: A plate of steel with holes punched in it, a screen or heavy steel bars to force oversize materials to be rejected and only allow materials to pass through that are "Blank" (the hole size, say 1 inch) minus. For example, a grizzly that has opening between the bars of 2 inches would leave a pile of 2 inch minus gravel, ready for further processing.

Gut: The deepest part of a creek or river, usually near the center.

Hard Pack: Gravels that have not been disturbed since being deposited there during some long ago storm or flood. They are very tight and require some use of pry bars or to dredge through

Header Box: Sometimes known as the “bang box” or "crash box"  (due to the noise of gravel banging around inside) and was used on older dredges before the Jet Flair became popular. It is the area that the rocks and water enter after leaving the dredge hose before entering the sluice box. Its job is to slow down the material to allow the gold to “fall out” and get trapped in the sluice.

Hookah: Type of diving system whereby the diver is supplied breathable air through a hose from a compressor on the surface, usually powered by the dredge pump engine but can be a stand alone unit, sometimes powered by low voltage. A low pressure regulator is used for breathing. The diver is "tethered" to the compressor, but can stay under water as long as the compressor is running. This is the most common type

Hungarian Riffles: A series of bars placed in the sluice box perpendicular to the flow of the water designed with a bend in them that creates a low pressure area down stream of the water flow to allow more gold and heavy minerals to be extracted from the flow of water and gravel through the sluice box.

Iron bar: Tool for prying open bedrock pieces, prying boulders loose, etc.

Jet Flair: The transition tube between the dredge's round suction hose and the opens up an oval shape as it enters the sluice box.

Lode: Rock that contains one or more valuable minerals but needs processing to extract the "Values".

Micron Gold: Gold too small to separate from the concentrates without using amalgamation, shaker table or chemical leaching methods.

Mining Claim: See "Claim"

Mother Lode: The fabled elusive "Fabulously Rich" lode that the California '49ers thought existed in the High Sierra mountain range which has turned out (so far) to be just that: a fable. But we keep looking! :)

Nozzle: The metal fitting that is clamped on the the business (suction) end of the dredge hose.

Nit picking: When the

Nugget: A piece of noble metal (i.e.. Gold, Silver, Platinum, etc.) that will not pass through a number 10 screen.

Ore: See "Lode"

Panning: The process used to separate gold from common river sand and gravel. Gravel is placed in a pan, shaken and  moved back and forth to remove the lighter materials. This method has been used for centuries to sample gravel to determine if the area warrants further investigation or mining. Also used to trace a placer deposit to it's lode source.

Pay: The term describing the amount the gravel you are mining is yielding. For example, the location my friend told me he was dredging was "paying" a quarter ounce a day in fine gold.

Paydirt: The dirt or gravel that contains higher concentrations of gold and/or other values than the surrounding materials.

Pay Layer: Gravel bars often have layers that are deposited during flood stage. These layers often act as a false bedrock with the gold being deposited around the old cobbles and boulders that were there previously.


Pennyweight: Equal to the weight of one penny in the British Empire. It takes twenty Pennyweight to make one troy ounce.



Placer Deposit:


Platinum Group Metals:

Plug-up: When the dredge hose gets partially or completely clogged with rocks and/or sand and gravel.

Plugger Pole:

Pontoon: Floatation device to build a foundation in the water for the dredge frame.

Profitability: The point at which you can pay your expenses with the equipment and crew you have assembled- in the location you are dredging.



Purge Valve: A one-way valve allowing air to pass one direction and does not allow water in. Used on better Dive Masks and snorkels.

Recovery System: This varies widely in design, but any system that is design to catch and retain gold or other precious metals or gems.

Rich Ground:


Safe hole:

Sample hole:

S.C.U.B.A.: Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus. This allows the diver more freedom to roam under water but due to the bulky tank and other gear is usually not practical for dredging purposes.

Silver: Ag

Sluice/Sluice box:

Sluice Damper:

Snorkel: A tube held in the mouth while floating face down in the water to allow you to breath without lifting your face out of the water.

Streak: See- Paystreak


Tailings: The waste material that drops back in the river after working it's way through the dredge system or other mining gear.

Tail Race:

Tracking/ back tracking:

Trommel: Circular metal tube with holes punched in it. This is to allow the smaller particles to drop through as the "paydirt" is run through with water as a slurry. The oversize cobbles and gravel run on through as tailings. Watch for cobbles with stringers of gold going into the tailings! A metal detector mounted in the system could be useful to alert the operator of  these prizes.

Troy Weight System:

Underwater rock weight:

Up cropped bedrock: A chunk or mass of bedrock extending up through the bottom of the stream bed which can cause gold to accumulate in one glory hole or can enhance a paystreak if it occurs on the common gold path traveling down the river.


Virgin Ground:

Weight belt:

Wet Suit:

Wet Suit Heater: (not the hot chocolate you drank before the dive!)


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