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Natural Gold Indicators (Part 3)

Also be sure to read:

Natural Gold Indicators (Part 1) & Natural Gold Indicators (Part 2)

There are many gold deposits all around the world that are still undiscovered, and waiting to be unearthed. Below are some natural indicators that can lead you to rich gold-bearing areas.

Similar Appearance to Nearby Gold Districts


One of the best ways to find new, undiscovered gold deposits is to study the geology of known gold districts and then explore the fringes of that known district. Identify areas that have a similar geological appearance.

We are not discussing any specific indicator here. This could be one or several natural indicators that are similar to a gold district with a known history of gold production. This is one of the best ways to find an area that nobody has ever prospected before, but it can take a lot of time and patience, and you will likely spend a lot of time searching before you stumble upon any gold.

Bench Deposits

Bench deposits are locations near the current river channel that have been left “high and dry” as the river has eroded and moved over time. Some rivers are constantly moving and changing their path. Some rivers that are deeply entrenched in bedrock really don’t move much, but many rivers that have a wider, meandering path will change location frequently with each high water event. These changes may be as small as a few feet or sometimes they are hundreds of feet. When this happens, rich placer deposits can get “left behind” by the river, and remain in place away from the current river channel.

Bench deposits also occur as a river naturally erodes downward. In these cases, a layer of gold bearing gravel will often be found just a few feet above the current high water mark of the river.

The great thing about bench deposits is how often they are overlooked by other prospectors. It seems that most placer miners are focused on the water’s edge, and don’t take the time to look around and study the river. Even in areas that have been prospected hard over the years, and finding a nugget down near the water can be difficult, bench deposits are often left nearly untouched.

Ancient River Channels

Somewhat similar to bench deposits, the presence of ancient river channels is something that many prospectors completely overlook, or don’t even know about. The exciting thing about locating ancient rivers is that they are sometime virtually unknown and may have never been searched with metal detectors.

So what is an ancient river?

Imagine for a moment that it we are in the Jurassic time period, approximately 200 million years ago. A rich gold bearing river is flowing; a river that has never been prospected and has been completely untouched by man. It has millions of ounces of gold within its gravel.

As the years go by, the Earth changes in dramatic ways. Tectonic plates come together and create the mountains that now exist across the western United States. Some areas that were once valley bottoms are now located high up on the side of a mountain.

I created a 5-page PDF report about Natural Gold Indicators that you can print out and save. It’s free. Click here to get it.

Many people have a hard time grasping the concept of how much the Earth can change over millions of years, but it most certainly has. There are ancient rivers that were once full of water and rich with gold that are now found high above the existing water line. Of course they no longer contain water, but the ancient river channel (and gold) remains.

Identifying an ancient river channel is actually quite simple once you know what to look for. Think about how different a water worn rock looks compared to the average rock that you find on the side of a mountain. The smooth, polished look of gravel within a river channel really doesn’t chance much, even after millions of years.

If you notice round, river worn rocks and gravel away from a current waterway, ask yourself “How did it get there?”
Again, studying old mining reports may provide some insight on where ancient river channels may be found. When in doubt, strap on your hiking boots and start exploring!

Next: Evidence of Historic Gold Mining Activity

And: The Best Metal Detectors for Gold Nuggets

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Updated: August 8, 2016 — 10:22 pm
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