Informati News

Il cratere La Fossa, Isola di Vulcano.
Interessi:  attività fumarolica, depositi vulcanici, mineralizzazioni di zolfo 
Difficoltà:  T
Lunghezza:  2.5 Km
Durata:  1 h
Periodo consigliato: tutte le stagioni se il meteo lo consente. In estate o in giornate particolarmente calde ricordarsi di portare con sé il necessario per idratarsi e proteggersi dal sole.
Bibliografia consigliata: "Guida ai vulcani e alla natura delle Isole Eolie" di Calanchi N., Lo Cascio P., Lucchi F., Rossi P.L., Tranne C.A.
“Vulcano, Tre secoli di mineralogia” di Campostrini I., Demartin F., Gramaccioli C.M., Russo M.  Associazione Micro-mineralogica Italiana.

Gold Panning

Gold panning is a traditional technique used to find secondary gold deposits, specifically gold that has been eroded from the primary deposit and deposited in the riverbeds due to its high weight.  This technique is very simple and consists of panning sediments from the river beds and banks to separate out the metals, among which gold flakes can be contained, using a specific pan. 
The technique is based on the principle that gold is about 19 times heavier than water; therefore all the river materials are suspended in water and let the heavy parts (the metallic sediments) to sink on the bottom of the pan.
The easiest way to start looking for gold is searching for gold bearing rivers, where the gold deposits are known, or look for rivers that are close to gold mines. Often gold panning is used as a scouting technique to look for undiscovered gold deposits. Generally there are certain parts of the rivers where the sediments deposit more easily: these are where the currents change drastically their velocity, like for example where the river bends or where there is an obstacle (e.g. rocks).


Gold pans
Vacuum bottle

Step 1. COARSE CLASSIFICATION - The first step consists in sorting out the coarser material (gravel), using the classifier on top of the pan.  We first fill three quarters of the classifier with sediments from the river and then we shake them in order to get the finer material to the pan and keep the gravel in the classifier. Once this is done, the gravel can be discarded.
Step 2. FINER MATERIAL REMOVAL - The second step consists in sorting out the finer material, using the pan and the water from the river. We first submerge the pan in the river and, with fast rotations, we let all the finer material to be suspended in the water. We can then discard the muddy water. This step has to be repeated until the water comes out clean.
Step 3. SAND REMOVAL -  To clean the sediments from the sand, we need to fill a quart of the pan with water and tilt then pan forward of about 45-degree angle.  We start shaking the pan with circular motions that will cause the heavier material like gold to sink to the bottom. The other materials (like gravel and sand) will sit on the top and can be washed off by the water in the pan. The ridges on the pan will help us to trap the heavier material. This step is the longest one as it needs to be repeated until all the sand and gravel are removed from the pan. If done correctly, at the end we should find a ‘black sand’ (heaviest part of the sediments) at the bottom of the pan. The color of the sand is caused by iron and magnetite and, if we are like, it will contain gold.


Step 4. COLLECT GOLD -  Once we reach the black sand, we use the magnifier to check the bottom of the pan and look for gold. The bigger flakes can be collected with the tweezers, while the finer particles can be sucked with the vacuum bottle. The gold can be kept in vials. 

Some time minerals similar to gold can be found in the black sand. However there are tricks that can help you to distinguish gold from other minerals. 
- Doesn’t have a shape
- Is malleable
- Shines in any weather condition
- Is very heavy


1. When the pan is new, use some sand to scrape off the oil used for its production
2. Use a magnet to separate the black metals from the gold
3. Use tweezers to test if the flake is malleable. If it doesn’t brake, but bends instead, it is gold.
4. If you put the gold flakes in a vial with water, they should sink to the bottom. 
5. In the first classification, always check if in the gravels there are important minerals
6. Don’t stay in the same spot of the river for too long  or the water will become too murky
7. If you want to practice at home before going out, you can mix some sand and bb from a shot. The bb will be your gold and you can use a big bucket filled with water to simulate the river.