Hal Linder ’58 paid $4,000 for his bachelor’s degree in geology at MIT. In six decades following graduation, Linder got his money’s worth, surveying and prospecting on all seven continents, eventually discovering a gold mine in California which produced over 1.2 million ounces.
Linder chronicles his adventures above and below the earth’s crust in a new book, Wild Places: The Adventures of an Exploration Geologist. Listen to an interview with Linder in this episode of the MIT Alumni Books Podcast.
In 1985, while consulting for Viceroy Resources in terrain on the California border near Las Vegas, Linder started drilling survey holes between two clay pits in the Castle Mountains.
“It was an old mining district, mined in 1906,” Linder says of the land where he made a lucrative discovery. “It was a classic boom town. Some narrow, vertical quartz veins had high-grade gold in them. The old-timers came in, set up a tent city, mined for three or four years, and the mines petered out because the gold didn’t continue at depth. Other mining companies came along later and looked at it and thought it was just steep, vertical veins.”
“I went in and looked for a few days, and I was very impressed with the amount of brecciation and solicification in the rocks. To me that suggested there was a good chance that there had been mineralization between the vertical veins. And that turned out to be the case. It was a large bulk deposit.”
In the seven years that followed, the deposit yielded 1.2 million ounces of gold. The discovery followed a hunch that Linder says he might not have had in his early twenties. “Experience is very important in exploration geology. The more deposits you’ve seen, the more places you worked, the better your judgment,” says Linder.
In the decades before his work in gold, Linder explored and surveyed in Canada, Russia, Alaska, Tasmania, and Antarctica. Along the way, he took photos and recorded scrupulous notes in a journal. The results are the meat of Wild Places. Listen to the complete interview with Linder.