Gold Prospecting with a Metal Detector- Signs Pointing to Gold

An example of gold that can be found with a metal detector. Located recently by a MetalDetector.com customer in New England.

An example of gold that can be found with a metal detector. Located recently by a MetalDetector.com customer in New England.

Spring is here! And gold season is quickly approaching… So, here are a few prospecting tips to get you excited and ready to strike gold! Luckily, there are geological clues that point to gold. Just like you can read the soil for indicators of metal treasure, you can look for visual evidence when gold prospecting. Where is gold found? Often, it  is found in low places; definitely on top of bedrock and in front of obstructions that prevent it from moving further. Gold that has accumulated as a result of moving downriver is called placer gold. However, placer gold is not just found in rivers, it also accumulates on dry ground in valleys and rock crevices. Placer gold is a popular target because it has concentrated over a long period of time and is fairly easy to find if you are in gold bearing country.

Five Indicators that Gold May be Present:

  1. Rock Types for Gold are Nearby: If a certain rock type is known to be productive for gold in one zone, and the same rock type exists nearby, this is a good place to search.
  2. Lighter Colored Rocks: If you notice out-of-place colors in a group of rock formations, it can be a gold indicator. Acidic mineral solutions in gold areas can bleach the rocks to a lighter color.
  3. Presence of Quartz: Quartz is a common indicator that gold MAY be nearby. This is not always true. The hydrothermal conditions needed for gold deposits are also right for quartz. Quartz is more plentiful—so most gold deposits contain quartz, but most quartz deposits do not contain gold.
  4. Coexisting Rock Types: Most gold ores (and placer gold) contain small amounts of silver, copper, iron, garnet other minerals. These favorable host rocks can be important when determining gold prospecting zones.
  5. Abrupt Geological Shifts: Hard rock gold deposits are known to occur at the contact of two different types of rock. Example: one zone in New Mexico has rich dry placers; then just down the road is coal-bearing country. Not far from there is a turquoise mine. Detecting on the borderline of these zones can prove to be lucrative.

These are just a few tips. Reading gold prospecting books and articles can REALLY point you in the right direction! Check out our Learning Library for gold prospecting advice and our favorite gold-prospecting metal detectors!

Articles on our Best Gold Metal Detectors:

Whites TDI SL Metal Detector- Ultimate Gold & Relic PI Machine

Whites TDI SL Metal Detector

Whites TDI SL Metal Detector

Find tiny gold flakes or gold ‘pickers’ with Whites TDI SL Metal Detector—the ultimate gold nugget shooting detector! Pulse induction machines are known to penetrate deeper and handle highly mineralized soil. Whites TDI SL features full-control ground balance to filter out hot rocks, black sand and more. Trademarked features of this model include its lightweight design, threshold control, frequency control, pulse delay and waterproof search coil. At only 3.5 lbs., Whites TDI SL performs comparably to a much more expensive counterpart!

Proven Gold Prospecting Metal Detector

 According to TDI SL user Dan from Southern California, “the TDI SL is easiest to ground balance and produces a constant smooth threshold even in nasty mineralized soil.” It’s also a champion relic-hunting detector!

 

Related ArticleSelecting the Best Metal Detectors for Gold Nugget Metal Detecting

Gold Prospecting: Gear Up for That Time of Year

Gold found with the new Makro Gold Racer metal detector

Gold recently found with the new Makro Gold Racer metal detector.

Is there a gold prospecting season? This is a common question across metal detecting forums. There is no hard and fast rule about when you can prospect in most states. However, in Alaska, gold prospecting season runs from June through September—only into October if the weather permits. In other known prospecting states: California, Nevada, North Carolina, New Mexico, there are no posted prospecting dates. It is important to note, though—many sites DO require permission to prospect if you plan to stake any claims.

Why the Rise in Gold Prospecting Recently?

Gold prospecting seems to be spiking again in recent years, and geologists theorize as to why. In California, droughts in recent years are cited as one of the reasons. California State University (Sacramento) geology department executive, Tim Horner, explained that amateur prospectors “have been able to get to places they couldn’t before” because the drought has shrunk many of the state’s rivers, “some down to a trickle.” Horner said that one of his students recently found about $900 worth of gold in a stream that had previously been too treacherous to explore. He added, “Looking for gold [the old-fashioned way] is a popular hobby, and some people are making a living doing it.”

The simplest way to get into prospecting is to comb through sediments along a riverbank. Gold is 19 times heavier than water and denser than other particles in a stream, so it quickly settles to the bottom or into cracks between rocks or grains. A park ranger who oversees the California Bear River Campground and Recreation Area has his own theory about why gold prospecting is gaining momentum. He suggests, “The relatively high price of gold and the relatively weak economy have brought out more prospectors in recent years. The fact that low water means they can wade further upstream and get to new areas is advantageous.”

Top-Rated Prospecting Metal Detectors

Since gold occurs in nature at different levels of purity and different levels of concentration, the phase shift for gold objects appears along a wide spectrum on the phase shift dial. “Phase shift” is the difference in timing between the transmitter coil’s frequency and the frequency of the target object. Basically, this means that an object with high inductance is going to have a larger phase shift, so it is highly beneficial to use a prospecting metal detector when hunting for gold. Some machines dedicated to gold prospecting eliminate coin identification features altogether, since you’re not looking for coins. Instead they rely on sounds alone, using  a low tone for base metals, and a high-pitched signal for gold. Among some of the best detectors designed for finding gold: Garrett AT Gold, Fisher Gold Bug, the Tesoro Lobo SuperTRAQ and XP DEUS. For more units that are made to find gold, read our buyers guide article called Best Metal Detectors for Gold Prospecting.

Related Article:

Gold Nugget Hunting with a Metal Detector

TV Shows “Gold Rush” & “Jungle Gold” Inspire New Prospectors

The gold nuggets pictured here were found in New Zealand with the use of a metal detector. Click the picture and read the story of how they were found.

The gold nuggets pictured here were found in New Zealand with the use of a metal detector. Click the picture to read the story of how they were found.

Discovery Channel has tapped into the 21st century gold rush in recent years with action-packed TV shows like “Gold Rush” and “Jungle Gold.” “Gold Rush” follows the journey of six men from Oregon who lost their jobs during the 2008 economic crisis and decided to pack it up and risk it all to mine for gold in Alaska. Even though Todd Hoffman and his buddies had no previous gold prospecting experience, they managed to mine over 1,000 ounces of gold worth well over $1 million dollars during the first few seasons. Their adventures continue as the cameras still roll, following Todd Hoffman and 2 other mining crews on their quest for gold.

When “Gold Rush Alaska” premiered on the Discovery Channel, it was Discovery’s highest rated docu-series, beating out “Deadliest Catch” and others in their lineup. That is probably why Discovery Channel launched a new series called “Jungle Gold” in 2012. Similar to “Gold Rush” in its backstory, “Jungle Gold” chronicles the real-life story of two real estate moguls who lost everything after the housing crash. Former millionaires George Wright and Scott Lomu were over $1 million in debt and had families to support. They decided a high-stakes gamble was the only way out after learning about the recent African gold rush. So, off to Ghana, West Africa the duo headed to try their hand at gold placer mining in one of the most temperamental regions on the planet.

Get Rich Quick? Maybe Not…

Most prospectors will tell you, you’re not going to make a living by prospecting for gold nuggets and your chances of getting rich are slim. Sometimes you’ll read a news story about an amateur treasure hunter finding gold, such as the massive gold nugget stumbled upon in Australia a few years ago. The value of this nugget is at least $300,000; and the region was continuously searched for the past 150 years. According to the amateur explorer, “In the old days, miners could only see or feel gold – but now with metal detectors they can hear it.” Perhaps this story should include the disclaimer, “Results not typical. The average treasure hunter should not expect to recover substantial amounts of gold.” Regardless, more and more people are flocking to rivers and hillsides in search of gold. Why? Because they know that natural gold can be found—and modern metal detectors are sophisticated at pinpointing tiny nuggets and flakes of gold.

You Will Definitely Have Fun Trying!

If the idea of prospecting intrigues you, try your hand at it! Even if you don’t get rich when you’re prospecting for gold, remember: it’s fun and exhilarating, it’s great exercise and you’ll enjoy fresh air while being outdoors. Many people schedule camping trips around their prospecting adventures. And if you’re lucky…you may just make a profit while you’re at it. When selecting a metal detector for prospecting, you’ll see a broad range of prices. All gold detectors are designed to search in heavy mineralized soil, but advanced models have specialized features: some are waterproof to 10 feet, some feature automatic ground tracking, an iron-discrimination mode or a sophisticated audio or target identification display. Experts recommend that you purchase the best unit you can afford without breaking your budget.

Check out the following articles related to gold prospecting metal detectors:
“Best Metal Detectors for Gold Prospecting”

“Gold Nugget Hunting with a Metal Detector”