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 customer in New England.

An example of gold that can be found with a metal detector. Located recently by a 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:

Planning is as Important as Equipment when Gold Nugget Hunting with a Metal Detector

If you’re going gold nugget hunting with a metal detector, you’ll need to be sure to do some planning first.  In fact, good planning is nearly as important as a good gold prospecting metal detector.  After all, if you’re not where the gold is, you won’t find any!

Some of the things to look for in a good nugget hunting spot include researching locations where gold was found before.  Signs of previous gold panning in an area include dredge tailings, and placer deposits.  For more on what to look for in gold prospecting spot, please take a look at our article Gold Nugget Hunting with a Metal Detector.

Selection Simplified – Gold Nugget Hunting Metal Detectors

As far as selecting your gold prospecting metal detector, the ground balance control is of the utmost importance.  Gold is generally found in more highly mineralized soil conditions and you’ll need to filter out the extra chatter this will create for your metal detector.  From there you’ll want to look at other features such as target identification and a built in pinpointer.  To help you find the best gold nugget hunting metal detector and accessories, please also review these three articles from our learning library:

What’s the Best Gold Prospecting Metal Detector

Choosing a Metal Detector Headphone

Metal Detecting Accessories and Necessities

Gold Rush Spurs Interest in Gold Prospecting

Gold is on the top of every metal detecting hobbyist’s list. Those who have actually recovered gold can’t say enough about the thrill of the find! The very first rock of gold discovered in the U.S. was fished out of a North Carolina creek in 1799. Since then, gold nuggets have been found in 24 American states. The quest for prospectors today is placer gold, which refers to an alluvial deposit of gravel that contains particles of minerals such as gold. Beginners should not be discouraged; rather, they should be aware that pure gold exists in pretty harsh conditions- where the ground is heavily mineralized or full of conductive salts. So, to specialize in gold hunting, you will need equipment specifically designed for the task.

Yes, Metal Detectors Can Find Gold

Gold prospecting metal detectors have frequencies ranging from 18kHz to a maximum of 71kHz. The highest frequencies are fine-tuned to target very small grains of gold. Gold detectors, like the Garrett AT Gold can detect right through tough ground conditions, making it easier to pick out all of the pure gold. Unfortunately, most entry-level detectors that are made to find coins, will send you on a wild goose chase, digging up false signals everywhere. Try to buy the best specialty machine you can afford on your budget. To learn more, check out: What’s the Best Gold Prospecting Metal Detector?


Related Gold Prospecting Equipment:

Gold Panning Kits

Automatic Gold Panning Machines