Societies and Academies Philadelphia


    Academy of Natural Sciences, April 7.—Dr. Jos. Leidy in the chair.—“The Blue Gravel of California,” by E. Goldsmith. Under the name of “Blue Gravel” the California gold miners, and especially the placer miners, understand a rock which underlies the gold-bearing alluvium of that State and part of Nevada. It is stated that whenever the gold-bearing sand in many localities in the two above-named States has been removed by the well-known washing process, the “bluegravel” appears. It also contains gold, which cannot, however, be extracted by washing, the stream of water being unable to disintegrate the rock, which is a compact composite one, and not, as the name “gravel” would imply, a loose material. This so-called “blue gravel” is composed of two ingredients widely differing in age, namely, of pebbles cemented together by a lava. The pebbles are of all sizes. From the general appearance I infer that some of these pebbles were derived from the sedimentary rock, slate, and others from hornblende rock. Entirely different in general aspect from the rounded pebbles is the other part of the rock, which I have already stated to be a lava. This appears to envelop the pebbles completely. This lava is very brittle, so much so that the preparation of a thin plate for microscopical observation is impossible. The hardness is equal to apatite. The most distinguishing crystallisation within the lava mats is a black mica, which is probably biotite. I noticed also a few grains of quartz, as well as flattened grains of bright yellow gold. The conclusion at which I arrive is that the so-called. “blue gravel”of California is a conglomerate of pebbles of various kinds cemented together by an acidic lava in which crystals of mica (biotite) and grains of gold are imbedded. How the gold came into the lava is a question of some difficulty. Whether it was mingled with the pebbles before the lava ran over the bed, or whether the gold was ejected from the volcano, I am not able to decide.

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    Societies and Academies Philadelphia. Nature 10, 474 (1874) doi:10.1038/010474a0

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