The History of Hydraulic Riffles
In-depth research on gold recovery in the Yukon conducted in 1990 by Randy Clarkson concluded that the “reliability, inexpensiveness and operating simplicity of sluice-boxes are hard to beat”. The same still applies, although sluice design has progressed since.
Water injection into the capture zone of a sluice-box, marketed as hydraulic riffles, represents the latest major development. After L.G. Heron filed a patent in 1987 for the technology it remained poorly understood or implemented by 1990 when Clarkson commented on early North American adopters that the technology requires “more testing”. Continued improvements to the riffle design and a practical fluidization water filtration solution were key to solving major roadblocks in the technology’s widespread roll-out. Robust instrumentation such as flow meters and pressure gauges allow fine-tuning of the fluidized bed to meet individual operating conditions. While still reliable, relatively inexpensive and simple, today’s hydraulic riffles have become technology equipment adding another dimension of operational control.