The one thing you can count on with rivers is that they are never boring. Even slow meandering rivers change into raging torrents when heavy rains come. First let me distinguish between wide shallow rapids and narrow fast rapids. Do you remember what I said about a river being a natural sluice box? This effect is even more pronounced with rapids depending on the type.
WIDE SHALLOW RAPIDS
We have all seen this type of rapid. If nothing else it is in the movies we watch like the old style westerns. A typical cattle drive going across a river?
Most of those crossings are made where the river gets wider and shallower. OK, now the punch line. We aren’t interested in the rapids themselves. It is what happens before and after this noisy rush of water that makes “cents”. There are mainly two conditions we are looking for:
- A widening before the shallow rapids (a slow deeper section that is brought up to the rapids, hence the faster rapid.
- A narrow length of river that widens out to become a shallow rapid.
OK, for the first condition. A widening before the shallow rapids is where you are going to find the greatest accumulation of gold in the front edge or “toe” of the rapids and again just after the rapids end. At the end is where the water’s velocity slows and the river regains some depth.
ANYTIME you have a sudden slowing in the current flow the gold will drop out of the flow at that point. The reason there will be some gold accumulation at the front edge of the rapids is because the deeper current is forced to climb up into the rapids during floods, dragging gold with it. Remember this spot is on the rise into the river.
NARROW FAST RAPIDS
The second condition, a “narrow length of river that widens into a rapid”, will force the gold through the narrow ravine like passages, unless there is a pocket in the narrow section. When it comes out of this narrowing, the force is like an intense fire hose. The first thing the gold that is being carried alone does is to look for a place to settle. It depends on the front structure of the rapids but pockets, side shoots and any large rocks near the front will become a “magnet” for gold. Remember, gold is heavy and like to settle wherever it can find a spot.
If these rapids just pick up speed (fast shallow water) there will be a little drop out of the heavier pieces right in the rapids themselves, however the real payoff will be at the end where the current suddenly slows. At this sudden slowing point is where the lion’s share of the gold will be.
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