Oroville dam and flood gold

(pleasant acoustic guitar) – Hey, it’s Prospector Jess. I’m gonna bring you a little bit of a current event right now. You’ve heard of Lake
Oroville, or the Oroville Dam, up in Northern California. This is in gold country on route 49 and it’s a very interesting place because it’ll give you a little insight into how water moves gold. It’ll also give you
insight into what’s behind those dams and the history
of that whole area. So hang on, let me go
into that a little bit. First I’m gonna draw up a little picture to kind of give us something
to work with, a diagram, so. (pleasant music) So there we have it. We’re gonna go into this in a second here. Let me explain as I go through. But this is where we start. The dam’s construction. I’ll go a little bit
over what that has to do with the geometry of the dam. Storm and snow melt and the role it plays. Why it’s so easy for
everybody to be critical of the engineers that
did this, and not really recognize what’s going on
here, it’s not just political, it’s not engineering, it’s complicated. As most life is. There’s risks involved
that I will go into. But the main thing I want you to look at here is this power equation. This power equation has
to do with how much energy comes from flowing water as it drops, specifically the potential
energy to kinetic energy, which shows up, and we can refer to it in terms of kiloWatts,
that’s the amount of Watts. Excuse me, that is the amount of energy, consumed over a period of time, so it’s, the amount of material
moved, as in pounds of water, over the number of feet, over
the amount of time, seconds. And so what you’ll find out
is that this number is huge when it comes to this reservoir. And when it comes to most
applications of roaring and raging rivers for recovery of gold, so that’s why it relates to gold and I’ll get into that in a second. Let’s start off with this picture. So Lake Oroville is one of the largest lakes in the state of California. It is the tallest reservoir
in the United States, continental United States. And as such, it’s constructed
of a particular design that’s safe, or safer, in the area of
when it comes to earthquakes. You have to have that in California. But it also has some other properties that make it riskier
when it comes to flows. We’ll talk about that in a moment. Those flows in the context of gold are what I will tell you
about in the long run, showing you in this
series of Miner’s Minutes about this subject ’cause
I think you’ll find it quite interesting and
illustrative of what happens when a flood or a storm
strikes a river basin and moves rocks and boulders and gold. So. First thing. The Oroville Dam at its crest to its base is 770 feet tall. That’s larger or taller rather
than the St. Louis Arch, to give you an idea, it’s a huge distance from top to bottom. Now in addition, we have a
storm runoff combined with snow melt because the storms
that have been striking the coast due to atmospheric
rivers, they call them, has been particularly
warm, it’s coming from Hawaii and south of there. So what happens is when
that rain hits the snow that built up before from the cold storms that have been building up snow, to the tune of tens, dozens of feet. It melts the snow and has
the storm runoff as well, so you get this double factor going on. That basically goes into your reservoir. That’s what this line shows right here. That water flowing in is what basically has to be accounted for in the buildup of water behind the dam. When the water hits a certain
amount, the water overflows. It goes down the basic overflows that are designed into this system. The problem is, if you have
too much water overflowing for the existing design,
these concrete ramparts, you’re gonna have to use
the emergency overflow which is basically designed
to go down the riprap next to the base, next
to the edge of the dam. And that’s where we’ll get
into a little discussion about what happens in
your gold prospecting. Because, in both cases we
see damage to the system. That damage is not something
you can easily explain unless you understand the amount
of energy that’s going on, the amount of power that
we’re talking about. So, looking at what’s happening here, you can see that at the peak
we had 100,000 cubic feet per second flowing over
the top of this reservoir, top of the dam, rather. 100,000 cubic feet for
second and the water was still building from this input. What that essentially says
is we had more than 100,000 cubic feet per second coming in. More coming in than goes out, the reservoir builds up and overflows. More goes out than comes
in, the reservoir drops. That’s what we’ve been having
with all these droughts. So right now what we see is that 770 feet, we’re producing, so h is equal to 770. This equation I’ve given here is basically in terms of kiloWatts and
the units are going to be cubic feet per second is Q, okay. And our height is 770 feet. And so, per second. So this number is 100,000. Times 770, see how big
this number just got. Divided by 11.8 gives us the
kiloWatts, that’s 1000 Watts. So the end result of this
equation is a ginormous number I’ll show right here. So what you wanna be aware of
is how much energy that is. This is bigger than a Saturn
V rocket by quite a bit. At its peak, that energy
goes into two things. The fall, so when it hits the bottom, it turns into kinetic
energy from potential. That kinetic energy can
cause a tremendous amount of damage down here based
on how fast it falls. Unless you build in friction on the way, that’s why the riprap
design of these things and why they both have rough surfaces. The problem is, those rough surfaces pull away a bit of the energy. As they pull away the
energy, you get damage, boom. First thing that happened,
we blew some holes in the concrete here, that over the years that had taken on too
much wear and had some ice and weather damage
to ’em, causing a hole to develop in the concrete rampart. That slowed down, what
they did was they cut off the water into this and slowed
down the amount of damage. That caused the water to
rise in the reservoir, causing water overflow over
here, and damaged this. Now watch what happened over here the minute they had this
thing going on full bore. They had hoped that they
would be able to take a little bit of this riprap off and some of the trees and dirt. Instead they started
chewing into this hole, sideways it looked something like this where they were chewing a great big chunk out of the side of the mountain, and they were afraid that
this whole area would collapse with the water flow going
over, that they would lose control and chop off
the top part of the dam. That would cause an
immediate rush from 770 feet to the floor of the valley. What you need to understand
from the standpoint of gold prospecting is, that’s
just the kind of erosion, amplified by a large value,
of course, but that’s the kind of erosion that will
unleash from this material a huge amount of gold ore, and nuggets that are buried
underneath this kind of rubble. It’s way bigger than
anything that was ever done in the gold rush in the way of prospecting using what they call
monitors, or these big huge fire hoses that blew down mountains. This is a very large amount of water. Something like 3.5 million
acre feet in volume, that’s 4.3 cubic kilometers of water. The normal use for this
water is of course, a combination of protection
of everything downstream during these atmospheric
flows, which by the way there was one in the 1860s
that you can look up, I think it was 1868, which
pretty much wiped out the town of Sacramento and a whole
bunch of the Central Valley, turned it into a lake that was
up to 30 feet deep in places. These are designed to control
that kind of flooding. In addition, they also were
designed to produce hydropower. Normally the water goes out
through these hydropower outlets and gets routed to aqueducts,
et cetera under control, or back into the river
that flows away from them. In this case, there isn’t
any outlet for that. There’s just too much water coming in and so what happens is they
use these emergency outlets and they use some of the
hydropower outlets as well as some bypass valves to
control this extra water, to remove the energy from
what’s behind the dam so that it doesn’t destroy the dam. We wanna know this erosion
factor and how it works and I’ll get into that in
the next few Miner’s Minutes. But for now, this is what’s going on with Lake Oroville in California, in 2017. Stay tuned for more because
we really don’t know what’s gonna happen in the next few weeks. We still aren’t done with
these storms this season. It’s a big one. You might ask me offline how I know so much about this hydropower stuff. It’s another story. Another part of Prospector Jess. So. Prospector Jess, over and out.

33 thoughts on “Oroville dam and flood gold

  1. First comment there's probably a huge huge amount of gold there I live in Michigan and if I lived there I think I would be prospecting every chance I got

  2. Jess, nice vid, I hope that I am not the only person in Nor-Cal that watched the emergency spillway overflow as the biggest sluice that was ever made. It moved a lot of material.

  3. Jess the States own website for water levels for this dam when at over flow stage is 900 feet not 770, just saying. Seems they are trying to understate the numbers which makes the power output even greater.

  4. I don't think that spillway produces energy. It's just a spillway. The energy is produced on the right side of the dam. If the spillway produces energy, then your calculation is wrong, because the generators are at the top of the spillway, not the bottom. Your height calculation then would be around five feet high instead of 750'.

  5. A lot of the Oroville dam earth was compacted clay and large rounded river rock brought in to the location. It's in a youtube documentary. The 1986 Auburn cofferdam dam giving way was good engineering. With Oroville I think another worry they had was the emergency spillway being clay and rock under the concrete cap with potential of ending up being like the Auburn event. But with the concrete cap it's a big surge in an initial failure which the Oroville dam is not designed to have like Auburns upstream cofferdam.

  6. Prospector Jess that's just right in the backyard. The Canyons feeding that lake are where I like to spend my weekends in the summer.

  7. They keep raising and lowering the Flow rate on the Main Spillway to
    create more damage to it like Flexing a piece of metal to get it to
    break and it lets more water under the damage to keep it eroding they
    know physics and they know it would be better to keep the flow rate up
    this would keep pressure on the Spillway and prevent water seepage
    underneath but that's not the agenda they are doing there best to
    encourage a failure. high flow generate millions of pound of
    pressure and keeps the erosion in Check constant change is
    creating more cracks and undercutting the spillway this is there

  8. Awesome – thank you for explaining all this – I knew there was an upside to all this.

  9. That is a lot of great information. When I saw this event on the news I thought there's got to be a lot of gold moving there.

  10. The drone shots of the area now reveal areas of blue. Is that where you would find pockets of gold or diamond (Cherokee mine, for example)?

  11. The spillways are a complete write off right now even if this dam survives the oncoming storm which I have douths about.It going to cost many millions more to fix this problem now than if they had invested in proper maintenance ten years ago.

  12. This dam is built on Mica Schist (rotton bedrock). This is the stuff the hydraulic miners washed down with water jets to get the gold out. They could take down a whole mountain in a couple of days. It is absoultely the worst possible material on which to build a dam. They had to know this!!!!! This churning and washing new gravel will deposit billions in new gold along that river when this is over!!!! It may litterally be possible to walk the river bank and pick up nuggets like potatoes!!!! A #2 shovel and a gold pan could easily fetch you $1,000 a day next fall 🙂 This type of 100 year flood is the wet dream of gold miners!

    This dam was certified to blow out the day it was built!!!!!!! The bible warns about building a house on shifting sand, these idiots built a whole dam on it and filled it with 4 million acre feet of water!!!!! Isn't that special 🙂

  13. Cavitation! https://youtu.be/jPNCrk2p1Vs
    Horseshoes, Hand Grenades, and Hydroelectric Dams!

  14. Yeah Jesse, I knew the GOLD fever was tickling my spine too. You are so lucky if you do get a chance one day to do some detecting there. I do here but nothing but a few old coins and mostly BEER tabs. CANADIAN EH! 🙂 Great demo and video I will subscribe and stay tuned. Thanks

  15. So they should have seen the potential for flooding, and began releasing water from the lake ahead of time, making room for incoming rain. They didn't, they waited till it became a catastrophe?

  16. I live on the lake there and I don't think they're letting anybody up in that area they're firing people who take pictures who are working there so there's some weird stuff going on there right now I tried to get back there

  17. I told all of you, no one would listen to me. that's okay, I've pulled out over 5 ounces of gold.

  18. Thanks for information that cements my idea that this is a planned event gold grab

  19. Wow…That was "NICE". You did an excellent job…Great content, great format, accompanied by a superb delivery. I subbed and clicked on the notifications bell immediately and expect to send others to do the same in short order…this date being 4/25/2019 & we are looking at the potential for another major occurrence in the coming weeks. I'm off to see what other treasures you have in your trove of videos. Thanks alot… We'll be seein' ya around…

  20. great exposition on how the Oroville Dam will fail…the key indicators are there, the dam must be drained and re-engineered to deal the cavitation issues caused by possible extreme seepage through the bedrock…they always count on the bedrock not failing…this is why the Teton Dam failure exercise must be applied through the country…always treat each dam as a possible failure…then there won't be any panic or angry feelings about being evacuated from the flood zone…

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