Why do flooding and fires affect placer gold?

Wild fires & placer gold
Wild fires & placer gold

Why do flooding and fires affect gold concentration?

You may have heard me mention that floods are the primary agent of movement for concentrating placer gold.  In fact water moves all that gold, even in the desert.

What is possibly the most fascinating part about this is the fact that erosion of land and riverbed is strongly affected by the speed of water moving over it.

Plants act as a natural sponge and a source of braking friction to slow water motion and retain the top layers of soils on hills and canyons.  
Nature has its own way of removing grasses and organic matter from the hillsides, it’s called fire.  Fire is one of the main causes of mudslides and flooding in the world today. 

Once the grassy erosion buffers are removed from the hillsides, there’s little to stop the motion of water.  Once the soil moves, the rocks and gravel buried deep inside give way and quickly slide down toward the deepest spot in the canyon.  
From there, they slowly migrate toward the ocean along with the gold trapped in it.

What does this mean for you? 

This means that one of the best times for you to go look for gold can be the year or two after a big brush fire.  Assuming you can gain access to that gold site.

It also means that the gold will be recharging the classic locations for gold to concentrate.  I discuss a lot of this concentration process and how to recover gold in the “Gold prospector’s bonanza club”:  http://Hunting4Gold.com/get/gpbc/

Of course it goes without saying that you need to fill in your holes and use best prospecting practices because the fire cleared brush also means it’s a lot easier to see what gold prospectors are doing in the distance. 

Until next time,

Prospector Jess


  1. George Beaver says

    Have prospected in Wyo., Ark., Mont. now in S.C. since 2013. So far prospecting areas seem scarce. Am 85 yrs. and can’t drive, but have a loving wife who will.Do you have any close by prospects near Moncks Corner that I could check out ? Willing to try most anywhere ! Also do some beach detecting., when she can take me . Thanks , Geo.

  2. Dave says

    Hey Jess,

    as you know there have been major wild fires in Colorado. There have been intense mud slides and flash floods from these. These are in known gold areas but much is on private land. There has been some that has gone into a creek down one highway, but most stays on private areas. So what are your thoughts on asking about access to these private areas, some BLM areas and other National Park areas that have been closed off ?

    • Prospector Jess says

      Get gold claim contact info from BLM and write a nice letter to site owners and make sure to describe how much you will share in the gold recovered. Many site owners will negotiate access for a fee plus percentage, especially if you can help them locate new gold pay leads. Be willing to accept No and try another contact. Also if you are willing to contact other locals, getting their trust can’t hurt either. Check local real estate databases for private land contact info as well.

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