Finding gold in Alabama
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Finding gold in Alabama

Gold mining in Alabama predates the California goldrush by over twenty years. Both placer and lode gold are found.

Gold mining has a long history in Alabama they had a gold rush 20 years before there was gold discovered in California. After gold was discovered in California most of the Alabama miners went to California where there was more gold to be had. At one time there were thousands of miners that were digging for gold in Alabama.

The Southern gold belt enters the state from Georgia. In Alabama it is a belt about 60 miles wide and 100 miles long looking very much like an old sock. Birmingham is just about the toe of the sock, and Montgomery is just below the sole. In this area both placer and lode gold are found.

Unfortunately, in many of the places that you could pan for gold they also have water moccasins so be extremely careful where you put your hands. A bite from one of these critters may not be poisonous enough to kill you, but it hurts real bad and it will make you awfully sick. If you are bit don't panic and get immediately to a hospital or doctor. Don't cut the wounds open and don't try to suck out the venom. Let the doctors deal with the bite don't try to do it yourself.

Any mining that takes place in Alabama now is practiced for the most part by amateurs either panning or using a sluice box. There is little hard rock mining going on in the state now. Gold production is now pretty much in the hands of the hobbyists.

In Alabama the western part of the southern Gold belt plunges beneath the sediments of the Mississippi Valley reappearing again in Arkansas in the Ouichita Mountains where they had their own goldrush in the 1800s.

The Southern Gold belt was formed over 200 million years ago when North Africa collided with North America and a piece of Northwest Africa remained attached to North America where it was thrust. There are hundreds of millions of year’s worth of sediments that had accumulated off the coast of America. The gold is found in all of the different types of rock that this event left.

This is called the Eastern overthrust belt that extends all the way from Canada as far south as Alabama. It is the conntention of many geologists that the Eastern overthrust belt contains significant amounts of petroleum or natural gas. The Eastern overthrust is now producing both petroleum and natural gas with a considerable amount of drilling activity taking place.

Either the gold postdates the collision will Africa where they are going to find gold deposits in the Western part of Morocco since that is where this rock originated. The range of rock types containing gold can range from slate to gneiss. It occurs in both quartz veins and associated with iron pyrite. The placer gold is found in the rivers and creeks throughout the gold belt.

There is another type of placer gold that is found in the decayed ancient rock of the state. This type of deposit is called a saprolite and can extend below the surface of the land for as much as 100 feet. Many of the old mines in Alabama are of this type.

For more information about gold mining go here!


Map of Alabama's Gold Belt,

Carter, John, Gold Prospecting in North Carolina,

Seeking New Oil in Old Fields, Time,,9171,951636,00.html

Geographical and Geographic description of the Gold Belts, HBC Nitze et al,

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Comments (1)

As usual John - GREAT article my friend!