Gold is the most malleable and ductile of all metals. One ounce of gold can be stretched into a wire more than 40 miles long.
Gold can be worked into a layer 1 millionth of an inch thick it has been used on the face masks of astronaut’s space suits as a shield. Gold is Inert, therefore it does not corrode. Gold is an excellent conductor of electricity All of the gold ever mined in all of human history would fill a cube only 60 feet on a side! How Did the Gold Get There? Gold is present in very small amounts in literally all rocks and even in ocean water; but to be mined economically, it must be concentrated.
Even so, the richest gold deposits may contain only a fraction of an ounce per ton.
It didn’t even exist as land, and instead, lay at the bottom of the sea. The Pacific shoreline lay to the east, in present day Utah and Arizona.
To the west, large volcanic islands erupted ash and lavas onto the sea floor. Hot springs on the ocean floor built up huge deposits of sulfide mineral deposits. At various times between and million years ago, titanic crustal forces caused the offshore islands to collide with the American continent, crushing and folding the rocks derived from the sea floor and volcanoes Keep in mind that this was still a slow process, with movements of only a few inches per year.
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The rocks, scraped off the sea floor and collected from innumerable volcanic eruptions, became the metamorphic rocks that make up the bedrock of the Mother Lode region. Beginning about million years ago, massive shifts of the tectonic plates that encircle the earth caused the sea floor crust to be pushed beneath the American continent, where it heated up and melted into huge molten masses of magma. These so-called subduction zones are in modern times responsible for the volcanoes and sometimes violent earthquakes of the Cascade- and Andes mountain ranges.
The molten rock forced its way upward through the crust and slowly cooled to become the granitic rock that makes up most of the Sierra Nevada today. Water, derived from rain and snow, percolated into the ground in the Mother Lode region.
Following fractures and cracks left by millions of years of geologic mayhem, the water came closer and closer to the hot molten magmas. At these elevated temperatures, water dissolved otherwise stable materials including quartz, gold, silver, copper and zinc.
The metal and sulfide laden stew of hot water then rose along fractures adjacent to the Melones Fault Zone in the Mother Lode.