EarthWord - The Mother Lode
USGS EarthWord of the Week
EarthWords is an on-going series in which we shed some light on the complicated, often difficult-to-pronounce language of science. Think of us as your terminology tour-guides, and meet us back here every week for a new word!
The EarthWord: The Mother Lode
- The Mother Lode is a principal vein of a valuable mineral commodity, particularly gold or silver.
- Lode is the Middle English spelling for the word "load."
Use/Significance in the Earth Science Community:
It's also the name given to a region of the western Sierra Nevada in California. Its extensive gold deposits, and their accessibility, led to the Gold Rush of 1849.
- In a survey of the region's mining activity in 1929 by USGS scientist Adolph Knopf, he noted that the name was misattributed. Folks mistakenly believed "that a quartz vein extends continuously from one end of the belt to the other—the Mother Lode." The vein isn't actually continuous, but the name stuck.
- According to Knopf, the total output of the Mother Lode in 1924 was $240 million. (That's over $3.3 billion today, adjusted for inflation)
Next EarthWord: This EarthWord is your best friend in Scrabble or Words With Friends.
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