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May-June 2014

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Specimen Gold from Georgia

Although famous for its historical gold production, Georgia has few gold specimens with acceptable attribution in existence today. These specimens occur as nuggets or masses of gold derived from placer and saprolite deposits and as visible gold in quartz mined from lode deposits. Crystals are rare, but several localities have produced the occasional excellent gold crystal. Georgia gold deposits are restricted to the crystalline metamorphic and igneous rocks of the Piedmont and Blue Ridge provinces (fig. 3). Early in the history of southeastern gold mining, workers mined gold in small quartz veins that exhibited enrichment and dominant native gold above the water table. Concurrently, gold placers derived by the weathering and erosion of the upper parts of these lode-type occurrences were also worked extensively at places along the Etowah and Chestatee rivers. Unfortunately, the productive vein deposits gave way to sulfide-dominated zones with depth, making gold recovery almost impossible by early unsophisticated techniques. A few mines, such as the Franklin-Creighton in Cherokee County, did exploit veins to depths of nearly 1,000 feet once chlorination and cyanidization processes were introduced around the turn of the twentieth century.

Julian C. Gray is the curator of Tellus Science Museum in Cartersville, Georgia.

Dr. Robert B. Cook, an executive editor of Rocks & Minerals, is a professor emeritus in the Department of Geology and Geography at Auburn University.

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