Miners and prospectors have found a lot of gold over the years, but they haven’t even come close to finding in all. There are many rich gold deposits that have yet to be discovered.
The following are several indicators of potential areas that may contain gold. Be sure to check out Natural Gold Indicators (Part 1) for more great areas to start exploring!
Iron Staining ~ Hematite ~ Magnetite ~ Black Sands
If you have done any amount of gold prospecting, you probably know that gold and iron have a very strong relationship. Gold is almost always associated with iron. When you pan for gold and find black sands among the fine gold that is generally comprised of hematite and magnetite. These are both types of iron oxide that are common to almost all gold bearing areas.
You will also find that most of the areas that you can find gold nuggets with a metal detector also have high iron content.
This is easily visible by the presence of very dark soils. They are often black or reddish in color, but they can even show purple, orange, yellow, and a variety of different colors. These dark or brightly colored soils can be an indicator of high iron content, as well as many other minerals associated with gold.
This is the reason that it is recommended that you use metal detectors specifically designed for detecting gold nuggets, since they are specifically designed to handle these highly mineralized, iron-rich environments.
Most people know about the common association of gold with quartz. Gold veins often form within quartz rock and it is certainly an indicator to look for. However, many prospectors give more attention to quartz than it really deserves.
Quartz is the second most abundant mineral on the Earth’s surface, and it can be found in many locations that have very little or no gold. Thus, the presence of quartz by itself is a fairly poor indicator of the potential for gold.
While the presence of quartz alone is not a very good indicator of where gold can be found, there is no doubt that there are many gold districts where gold and quartz have a strong correlation.
I generally consider quartz to be a good indicator once I know that I am in a known gold bearing area, and I have identified that there is a relationship between gold and quartz in that particular area.
Let me explain that a bit more for clarification. There are some gold bearing areas where gold and quartz are commonly found together. Many times the gold nuggets that are found will have a very coarse texture and still have quartz attached to them down in the grooves of the nugget. This indicates that they were eroded directly from the quartz. In these areas, it is worthwhile to spend some time metal detecting around quartz outcroppings and scanning quartz pieces with your detector.
However, there are many areas that you can find gold nuggets that seem to have little to no association with quartz. There may be quartz present in the area simply because it is so common, but the gold doesn’t run through the quartz itself, it is just there.
Research is yet again a good way to determine the value of quartz as an indicator in an area. Mining reports will often mention if gold veins occur in the quartz.
Another thing worth noting about the quartz is that the kind of quartz that gold is generally found in is not pure white. Most commonly it will show significant iron staining, and the quartz will have a dirty appearance with reddish/brown stains. Gold can be found in pure white quartz, but it is much rarer, and highly collectable.