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Finding Gold in Washington State

Gold in Washington is found mainly in the northeast corner. Most gold in Washington is placer gold, but there is also plenty of lode gold.

Washington State has never been a major gold producing state although it has still produced more then 2 million ounces of gold. The state still reportedly contains many unexploited virgin placers and lode gold that a prospector can still work at a profit. There is a complete description of every known lode and placer mine or prospect in Bulletin 37, available from the State Department of Natural Resources, Geology and Earth Resources Division in Olympia. The title of the bulletin is “Inventory of Washington,” by Marshall T. Hunting.

Some of the counties in Washington where they have found gold include Ashotin, Benton, Chelan, Clallam, Clark, Columbia, Cowlitz, Douglas, Ferry, Grant, Grays Harbor, Jefferson, King, Kittitas, Lewis, Lincoln, Okanogan, Pacific, Pend Oreille, Pierce, Skagit, Skamania, Snohomish, Stevens, Whatcom, Whitman and Yakima. Many of these counties contained both placer and lode gold.

The major gold producing area in the state is pretty well limited to the northeast corner. The same district in the Okanogan Highlands extending southward from British Columbia contains the second largest gold mine of the United States, the Cannon Mine. Most of the gold produced in Washington has been placer gold with a lesser amount produced as lode gold.

The State Geological Survey in Olympia has several interesting and informative pamphlets that may aid you. The state also has some very active prospector’s clubs you might want to contact.

Washington hasn't produced as much gold as the other Western states, but it has produced over 2,000,000 ounces of the yellow stuff. Most of the gold produced in Washington is placer gold although there are some mines in the state that have produced lode gold. Most of this gold is produced in the northeast part of the state and any of the rivers or streams located there are apt to produce placer gold.

The geology of Washington is interesting because it is right at the subduction zone of the Juan de Fuca plate. This gives rise to the many volcanoes of the Cascade Range. In this case the plate is being thrust under the state of Washington, and is creating another range of mountains to the east of Puget Sound called the Olympic Mountains. Further inland the same process is creating the Cascade Range that includes Mount Rainier Mount and Mt. Saint Hellenes.

Washington is actually composed of several different terranes that over the ages have been plastered on the West Coast of North America giving the state a widely varying geology. Some of these terranes are considered by geologists to be suspect terranes meaning that they formed somewhere else and were accreted on the West Coast of North America.

In the southwest corner of the state lie the Columbia Plateau basalts that are over 3000 feet thick. These basalt flows were in several episodes that were quite runny. Beneath the Columbia Plateau basalts they have found natural gas. There is a good possibility that gold may be found in the older rocks under this cover but at the present time we just don't have the ability to reach the gold.

It is strange that Washington State seems to be lacking a good many minerals that are found on both sides of it in British Columbia and Oregon. Jade is one of these minerals that Washington possesses, it is found in a high pressure/low temperature metamorphic zone that is along the coast with blue schist metamorphism there should be some jade found on the Olympic Peninsula. Another area to look for jade is near Wenatchee.

Further research into this matter reveals that Washington actually does have both nephrite and jadeite Jade. It is even mind in several places where most of it is exported to Asia for further work. The best place to look for Jade would be in the area of blue schist metamorphism.

Because it develops rind a caused by weathering again be either thick or thin it can be quite elusive. The Jade in Washington is found in glacial till and in rivers. It has a high iron content that is attracted to magnets. The Jade comes in all colors, and sometimes gem quality Jade can be found in the worst looking pieces.

If you like to read about gems go here

References:

Gold Locations in Washington,

Washington Gold, http://www.mayhillpress.com/wagold.html

Washington State geology/index map, http://wa_geology.home.comcast.net/~wa_geology/

Natural Resources, http://www.dnr.wa.gov/Pages/default.aspx

Is there Jade in the Rock in Washington?, WikiAnswers.com, http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Is_there_jade_the_rock_in_Washington_state

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