West Virginia Gold
According to the New York Times May 24, 1886 gold was discovered near Parkersburg, West Virginia by miners returning from the gold fields of California. Gold colors were reported to have been found is a rotted quartz vein and also in some nearby placer deposits. These old tales of gold having been found in West Virginia might be spurious, but a better case can be made for gold fines associated with conglomerate derived from the mountains to the east in Virginia.
The largest gold deposit in the world is found in the conglomerate of the Wits Basin in South Africa. This is the Witwatersrand that not only produces the most gold in the world, but has the deepest mines. Some of these mines descend more then two miles into the interior of the earth, and are so hot they have to be air conditioned. Similar gold deposits are found throughout the world a notable one is found in Timmins, Ontario as part of the Abitibi Gold Province.
In West Virginia there are several formations of conglomerate the Pottsville formation is mappable in several states including West Virginia. Gold in conglomerates is found in fossilized placer deposits resulting from places in ancient stream beds where gold accumulates. The conglomerate deposits of West Virginia might be gold carriers.
In the eastern panhandle of West Virginia is a sequence of greenstone belts. Greenstone is the metamorphosed remnants of ancient oceanic crust. In some gold producing areas they are considered to be the source rock from which gold was mobilized to be deposited in nearby formations of rock. One rock that would be worth looking at is the Weverton quartzite as a possible receptor of gold from the greenstones. All of these rocks are found in the extreme eastern part of Jefferson County. They are the only metamorphic rocks recognized in the state.
There are no exposures of igneous rocks in the state although there is drill core evidence of igneous intrusions into the sedimentary rocks found in several areas of the state.
Although there have been old newspaper accounts of gold having been found in West Virginia there don’t appear to be any references the author could find postdating 1886. This doesn’t mean that gold doesn’t exist, it just means that finding gold is going to be difficult. Gold like they say is where you find it! West Virginia is no exception to this ancient saying.
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