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6 Tips for Finding Gold Nuggets on Exposed Bedrock

Most any experienced gold prospector can tell you that hunting on exposed bedrock is one of the best ways to find gold. The bedrock acts as a trap, where gold will get stuck and concentrate over the years. You may find a concentration of placer gold that has accumulated over just the past season, or you may find a pocket that has accumulated over millions of years. Obviously, the later can be very rich indeed and may result in a “Eureka!” moment.

Bedrock gold

Here are a few tips to help you get started finding gold nuggets and dust on exposed bedrock.


1. Make Sure Your Area actually has Gold


First and foremost, you need to actually be in an area that has some gold to find. You might think that goes without saying, but so often people try to find gold in areas that have never had any evidence of historic mining or any indication that gold is actually there.

Although you might get lucky and find some gold, your best bet is to do a bit of research and seek out areas that are known to have been mined in the past. This way you will know for certain that there is some gold to be found.


2. Make sure you are actually on Bedrock


Another common mistake people make is that they don’t actually dig down to bedrock. They will just dig a hole in the gravel and start panning it without putting enough effort into getting down deep on the bedrock itself.

Gold is heavy, with a higher specific gravity than any other element in the stream or river. That means that it quickly moves down deep toward bedrock. This is why we are hunting bedrock to begin with.

If the bedrock is already exposed to the surface then your job is going to be much easier, but sometimes it’s covered with an overburden of sand and gravel. Make sure you find it, as your success is highly dependent on actually searching ON BEDROCK.


3. Hit the Cracks


Bedrock is good, but if the bedrock is relatively smooth then it will usually keep moving down. Remember that gravity is at work here, and gold will still move until it reaches an obstruction that prevents it from going further. This is usually a crack.

Cracks in bedrock can be a literal gold mine. Stories during the early California Gold Rush often told of literally millions of dollars-worth of gold nuggets being recovered from just one large crack in the bedrock. Millions of years accumulated massive amounts of gold that was just waiting to be found.

Probably most of these rich locations have been found by now, but there are still undiscovered bedrock cracks out there that have loads of gold.

Make sure you clean those cracks out good. The richest pockets of gold will be at the very bottom, and sometimes they are tough to clean out. Take your time and remove all the material you can for later panning.

Also Read: Summertime Gold Panning in Northern California


4. Sample


As with any type of prospecting, make sure you do plenty of sampling to locate the richest areas. Sometimes it might seem that there is no rhyme or reason why a certain area is richer than another, but regardless, it is well worth your time to explore different locations and find those rich areas. You will be well rewarded for it with more gold in your poke at the end of the day.


5. Use a Good Metal Detector


Metal detectors are a great tool for locating gold on bedrock. This is because once you have reached bedrock the gold should be relatively shallow, so a good quality metal detector should be able to find it.

Of course, the gold will need to be large enough size for the detector to hear, but using a gold-specific detector will increase your success considerably. Some of the best to use for hunting on bedrock include the Fisher Gold Bug 2, Fisher Gold Bug Pro, and the Garrett AT Gold. These are all very sensitive to small gold.

The other great thing about metal detecting a nugget on bedrock is that it can lead you a spot that you can later dig out and pan to recover smaller gold dust and flakes, even if they are too small for the detector to see.

Also Read: Nugget Hunting With the Garrett AT Gold

And: The Fisher Gold Bug Pro Metal Detector


6. Put together a nice Crevicing Kit


You will soon find that to get all the material out of the bedrock cracks, you need to work at it. It can take a lot of time to do it properly, but if you don’t you will miss a lot of gold.

Having the right tools for the job is really important. You can put together a simple crevicing kit yourself. Some of the items that work best you can find in your garage like flathead screwdrivers, spoons, etc. Other good gear to have with you include a good rock hammer and a small rock chisel.

You can carry all of these items in a backpack and you will be much better prepared for a day looking for gold.

Another very neat tool to consider is a hand dredge suction gun that is designed for pulling material out of bedrock cracks that are submerged underwater. These are fairly simple to build yourself, or you can buy one for a reasonable cost. They work quite well and are really efficient if you are hunting for gold in shallow water.


Final Thoughts


Bedrock is perhaps the most reliable place that you can find gold, simply because it is a natural location that traps gold. This is particularly true if the bedrock is rough textured, with lots of deep, narrow cracks where dust and nuggets can get stuck.

The great thing about exposed bedrock is that it will get replenished with gold anytime there is a major weather event that releases new gold from the hillsides.

Take your time to carefully sample different areas, and try to identify areas that are most likely to catch and hold gold. Sometimes everything will look perfect, but for some reason there just isn’t any gold there. Don’t get discouraged. Just keep prospecting and sampling and eventually you will hit on a nice pocket of gold.

Using the proper gear will improve your success considerably. You can invest in a nice metal detector that will help, but you can also just use some very basic tools that you can get from your home or garage. The important thing is to carefully clean out the bedrock cracks and see what’s hiding there.

Next: Does Your Mining Area Have Detectable Gold?

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