Earth Science  ESC 35CC - Field Geology
Geology and Gold Panning of Calaveras County

Jeff Tolhurst, Ph.D., Instructor
(209) 588-5235
tolhurstj@yosemite.edu

Facebook Earth Sciences Program Page


Objectives:

1.      Given information on the geological history as well as the main geologic processes that have occurred, and continue to occur, in Calaveras County, you will be able to describe how Calaveras County has been shaped it into what it is today.

2.      Given gold pans, sluices, and other mining tools, you will mine for gold in a local creek using your knowledge of the following attributes and concepts acquired in class: geologic factors, hydraulic/hydrologic factors, and the “pay streak”.

Procedures: We will meet two times: 1) Saturday (meet at Vallecito High School at 8 am); and Sunday (meet at Vallecito High School at 8 am). We will also cover some information on the geological background of Calaveras County to prepare us for gold panning Sunday. The address of Vallecito High School is: 3670 Church St., Vallecito, CA 95251.

Click here to see maps: Maps

Itinerary:

Day 1: We will meet at Vallecito High School where you will get background information on plate tectonics, geology, and the geologic history of Calaveras County in the morning. We will then head into the field for the rest of the day to observe outcrops of interesting geologic features in the field (Camp 9 Road, Highway 4, Dorrington, etc.).

Day 2: We will meet at Vallecito High School where you will be taught about the mining history of the area, mining techniques used, and the tools miners used. You will then learn how to use the tools yourselves to pan and sluice for gold in a nearby stream in Calaveras County.


What to Bring:

-- LUNCH for both days
-- plenty of WATER for both days
--
clothing for hot, wet, and cold weather-- sturdy hiking/walking shoes
-- sunscreen/chapstick
-- sunglasses
-- a hat
-- money for things at the store in Murphys or Angels Camp
-- a field journal (to be turned in for credit) with pens, colored pencils, erasers, etc.
-- camera
-- any medications you may need
-- tools for gold mining on Day 2 (we'll go over what you'll need on Day 1)
-- other


What to Expect:

Expect to drive to the different outcrops, then hike further. The weather is usually nice there this time of year, but it can range from very hot to very windy at times, to very cold at night.  Historically the temperature has gotten up into the low 100’s during the day. We haven't seen any snakes or scorpions on our trips yet, but they've probably seen us!!  Also, we will be in a stream the second day, panning and sluicing for gold. You should either wear rubber boots or some type of shoes you won’t mind getting muddy and soaked. More information on what to bring Sunday will be forthcoming on Saturday.


What to Turn in for Credit:

1.      In order to assess your learning, I'll ask you to keep a learning log for the trip. You will be expected to turn this in to me at the end of the trip. This log should document the things you would like to learn before the trip as well as why you are taking the class. You should also enter into your log the things you learned about: 1) Calaveras County’s geological history; 2) volcanic processes; 3) gold formation; 4) erosion and deposition; and 5) tectonic processes (faulting and folding). You will be asked to make an entry at each stop on the trip as well as add an additional entry at the end of each day, reflecting on what happened during the day.

2.      A short exam will be given at the end of class testing your knowledge of #1 above.

3.      You will also be graded on how much you learn about gold panning and whether or not you are successful at panning at the end of Sunday.


Grading Scheme:

A = satisfactory completion of 1-3 above with strong demonstration (>90% on exam) of understanding of geological concepts encountered on the trip as well as appropriate use of mining tools and equipment. Also, appropriate conduct and behavior expected of a college-level geology student will be factored into your grade.   (Click here to read the Student Code of Conduct from the Columbia College Catalog)

B = A final score of 80-90% on exam given. Also, appropriate conduct and behavior expected of a college-level geology student will be factored into your grade.

C = A final score of 70-80% on exam given.  Also, appropriate conduct and behavior expected of a college-level geology student will be factored into your grade.

D = A final score of 60-70% on exam given.  Also, appropriate conduct and behavior expected of a college-level geology student will be factored into your grade.

F = A final score of <60% on exam given.   Also, appropriate conduct and behavior expected of a college-level geology student will be factored into your grade.


Note: I have had to add this statement based on past student behaviors: 

NO SMOKING during field lectures and activities.  If you cannot adhere to this requirement you should not sign up for - or drop - the course.  I'm serious about this - you can't smoke in class, so don't smoke on my field trips.

“For students with disabilities (or medical issues), (i.e. physical, intellectual, emotional, social, spiritual, occupational, financial, etc., in nature), who believe that they may need special accommodations in this class, I encourage you to discuss options with me within the first meeting  of instruction.”

That having been said, I hope we all have a good trip! Feel free to contact me at the phone number or email address above if you have any questions before class starts.

(Click here to read the Student Code of Conduct from the Columbia College Catalog)
 


Link to Powerpoint Presentation from Class


Release of Liability Form


Other Links of Interest

Camp 9 Road Log
Cyanide Heap Leaching in California
Fire Assay of Gold and Silver
Geology of Moaning Cave
Gold
Price of Gold
History of Calaveras Cement Company
Quarry to Mill by Pipeline
Stanislaus River Geology Field Guide

Discovery and Development of the Carson Hill Mine
Geology of Carson Hill