Every year some of us have an 'opportunity' to go to Australia and prospect for a few weeks. Some of us pull the trigger and some of us don't. (I'm not talking 'Paul' type of trip where you outfit yourself for months.)
Now is the time to book that type of trip. I'm sure many Australians book trips also.
Which tour has the 'best' three week or so, all in or tag along trip and to what part of Australia? We'd be bringing our own detector, a 7000 and just want to get put on or near a gold patch or two.
If you have been there and done that recently it would sure help to know your story. Maybe this is the year to pull the trigger.
Although I first searched for native gold with a detector in late 2015 (3 years ago) I've really only been able to spend less than 75 hours in the field due to the distance I live from detectable gold. Add to that the fact that even though I've spent a lot of time reading about how to find gold with a metal detector I really didn't know what I was doing. All that changed last month when I took Gerry McMullen's in-field training class. "All that" includes what I report here.
I'll be creating a separate post reviewing Gerry's class so I'll only quickly set the stage now. Rye Patch, NV, north central part of section 17 -- 32N32E, a location that has seen more than its share of detectors of all types. I brought my Equinox 800 and (at the time) new 6 inch coil fitted with a homemade polycarbonate skidplate (copied from Steve H.'s design for his 11 inch coil). After 3 days of training I stayed around for an extra 2 days on my own (actually, Earl from Idaho also stayed and we compared finds during and at the end of each day).
On the last afternoon of my last day, hunting only about 50 meters from the location where the 'classroom' part of the class was conducted, I got a familiar signal and scraped off about an inch of soil with my boot, finding I had moved the target. I say 'familiar' because I'd been digging tiny foil (cigarette pack?) pieces, tiny wire, and lots of bullet shards for 3 1/2 days.
I was in Gold 1 mode, threshold = 8, recovery speed = 4, iron bias = 6, ground tracking, sensitivity = 19, using the WM-08 module attached to SunRay Pro Gold headphones. I got an ID of +1 which I had been told by the instructors was where much of the Rye patch area small gold was hitting on the Eqx 800. The signal was loud and clear. Expecting another piece of lead I was surprised to see a faint yellow color on the recovered piece. I noticed Earle was near his campsite and I tried to hide my excitement when I showed him my find. He (diplomatically) told me he wasn't sure that it was gold based upon both its color and a scratch on one face. His alternate theory was that I had found a piece of brass bullet jacket. I countered with the fact that it wasn't at all jagged (like most bullet fragments I had found) but in fact had the rounded characteristics of metal that had seen a lot of natural (water, wind) wear. But I certainly took his concerns to heart.
I returned to the 'patch' 😁 with a couple hours remaining before sunset. It took me the full two hours but right before calling it quits I got another solid +1 ID, this one about 2 inches deep, that also showed the sought after yellow color, this time more pronounced (gold-like) in color. It was a smaller piece but also showed weathering. As it turned out, my 'backup' find was needed. I didn't get home for another week, and then after weighing both pieces I decided I needed some under 0.1 gram calibration weights for my milligram scale so another few days went by. When I finally was able to calibrate the scale (it was pretty close to being accurate, within 1 mg at the low end of weight) and after fumbling around making a sling to hold the larger piece I found the following:
Larger sample (1st piece found) had a dry weight of 171 mg (just over 2 1/2 grains) while the smaller weighed in at 121 mg (about 1 3/4 grains). That was the good news. Repeated measurements of the larger piece suspended in water gave a displaced volume of 16 microliters (from a dry vs. wet difference measurement of 16 mg). Dividing that out gives a specific gravity of between 10 and 11 (with an uncertainty in the neighborhood of 1 on this scale), definitely nowhere near gold. In addition, I later accidentally broke the larger piece into smaller pieces. Gold doesn't break.
Although a specific gravity measurement of the smaller piece could be done, this would tax both me (trying to get it into a thread sling) and my scale, which would likely give a single digit reading (that is, < 10 mg displacement weight) for the divisor and introduce even more uncertainty into the calculation. Of course maybe I'm afraid to know the truth. One positive sign is that I tried to break the smaller piece (using my fingernail -- that's what broke the large one) without success.
So, what is the imposter? I don't think it's iron pyrite since it gave a strong metal signal and ID of +1 on the Eqx. It could be some kind of alloy, possibly of copper and silver (but are those found in native form in Rye Patch?) or even some kind of Au-Ag or Au-Ag-Cu (electrum?) alloy. But, regardless, if my specific gravity measurement is anywhere close it can't contain much gold.
The photo shows clearly the difference in color of the (original) two finds. (Oh, even though my find was half a world away from Australia I thought it might be good to put things in perspective for those Down Under who aren't well versed in the size of our US dime.) The upper two pieces are the remains of the broken larger piece. I did lose about 14 milligrams in smaller fragments when it broke and those were scattered on my dirty workshop floor. (Good luck finding that 14 mg amongst all the metal shavings, even with a detector. I'd have to sweep the floor and pan the refuse!) I'm interested in reading your opinions, both of what the larger piece really is but also whether you think the smaller piece looks legit.