A lot of claim buyers don't know where to start the first time they walk across their new mining claim. 20 acres is a large parcel (nearly 900,000 square feet) if you are planning to cover every square inch searching for the Mother Lode. The idea of gold sitting in full view, shining brightly in the Arizona sun? A one in a million shot...You gotta dig for it.
In my 45 years plus I have found only 3 nuggets on the surface. They were large, the smallest wedged between two boulders about two feet above the water level. The sun happened to hit it just right so that I spotted it from about 50 feet across the river, an example of pure luck. As none of us are capable of seeing 6 inches below our feet we have all walked over gold if we were in gold country. Many of us may have walked across the Mother Lode and it's still there, waiting for some lucky prospector to discover and cash in.
Probably the easiest and least expensive way to prospect your Arizona Mining Claim is with a metal detector. You can buy a new, top of the line one for about $6000 or buy a good used detector for a $100, give or take. I personally have 4 detectors and I have found more gold with my old $250 machine than the one that costs thousands. There is something to being in the right place at the right time and a bit of luck always helps.
So here is one way to find gold in the dry Arizona desert. I have used this method for many years and it's not 100%, rather a good starting point. Let's begin with basics such as the specific gravity of the minerals and material you will encounter in a typical dry desert wash found on your mining claim.
1. Common sand or quartz particles have a specific gravity of about 2.6
2. Magnetite or black sands have a specific gravity of 5.2 (twice as heavy as common sand)
3. Lead (like bullets or fishing sinkers) have a specific gravity of 11.34
4. Gold has a specific gravity of 19.3 or about 7+ times heavier than common sand.
Gold being extremely heavy sinks to bedrock and usually stays there until a flash flood moves it down to a natural trap such as a crack or crevice. That said, I find it a waste of time working a wash where it is six feet to bedrock as I'm not digging a grave nor do my detectors reach that deep.
I seek smaller washes or gulches that empty into the large wash. Then I look for streaks of black sand or magnetite. Not all showings of black sand will contain gold nor will an area with no black sand be void of gold. Yet the odds are in your favor if you spot streaks of black sands that form on the surface as the water slows. Where I find surface or streaks of black sand I often find gold. Experience leads me to move upstream to where the streaks of black sands start and begin detecting here. Gold is about 3.5 times heavier than black sand, so it drops out first.