Commodity Online

The soaring gold prices have a strange impact on the streambeds across California.

With gold hovering over $900 an ounce, people are making pilgrimages to several rivers in California in search of gold.

San Joaquin River in California is one such river which gets several tourists, coming to hunt for gold in the riverbed slush.

What these people are doing is that they scoop some silt from the frothy river bottom and drops it into a sluice a boxlike device that sifts sediment using a screen and running water. Then they take the filtered material and swishes it in a pan. The net result is a bed of black sand with a few conspicuous flecks of Gold. Several people now pick through this river in the hogback hills of the Sierra Nevada for the yellow metal.

Membership in the Gold Prospectors Association of America (GPAA) has tripled in just the past few years and is adding as many as 250 people a day so far in 2008. The circulation of once obscure mining journals is booming, and panners and prospectors have filed more than 1,500 new mineral claims in California in just the past three months. The Central Valley Prospectors Club is helping introduce newcomers to the world of gold panning. The method is simple: Scoop up the river water and sand in a plastic pan and swirl the mixture. The motion sinks heavier materials like gold to the bottom, while the lighter sands slosh over the edge. Eventually a patch of black sand strewn with beguiling specks is left in the pan.

And in normal case, the flecks total about $2. A day s work will get you enough to buy burgers and fries in town.

People take it as an outing plus earning exercise. Hardly anyone in the club sells their gold.

A local mining supplier has watched a lot of newbies come into his shop lately beguiled by the price of gold. One man dropped $10,000 on equipment in one day.