Nuggets in laterite (ironstone): This is the most
common type, the result of chemical weathering and
deposition. These nuggets are high purity as they
form very near the surface, and the ironstone erodes
out of them. Those actually found on the surface are
as clean as you can get them. They often have lots
of character, in that they are knobbly with convex
and concave facets. Some have reddish ironstone, most
have black. Some have so much ironstone that you can
only see a glint of gold. Nuggets that form one, two
or three feet below the surface often have calcrite
(whitish pink) and alumnina (yellowish brown) inclusions.
Nuggets in glacial streams: These form in the schist
traps. They are less pure, and are often pale, rounded
and very small. They have no matrix. If you want some
of these first hand, go to the freezing streams of
New Zealand or Alaska with a pan. It is brutal work.
Nuggets in quartz: Sometimes gold is deposited in
a continuous vein, and when there is enough gold the
specimen can be described as a nugget. These nuggets
are from the upper parts of the original gold deposit.
They formed in the boiling off zone of the hydrothermal.
They were often well above present ground level, and now only scattered specimens remain on the
ground below the point of their formation. Sometimes
the quartz is as a white as snow, but most times it
is heavily stained with black and brown oxides and
sulfides. It is hard to buy and sell, as the novice
has a hard time determining the actual gold content
and purity of the piece. Most often these pieces as
specimens have a value far above that of their gold
content. Attractive pieces are rare and highly sought
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2002-2003 Gold Nuggets Resource, Torrance, California.