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How to Find Gold

This guide will train your brain to recognize gold indicators, gold ore, and gold bearing land so when you are out on a hike or traveling you instantly recognize the possibility for gold.

Many new prospectors would go to their nearest river or stream, do some panning, and return home empty-handed, assuming there was no gold in the area. However, this is far from the case; gold can be found almost anywhere; all you need is a basic understanding of the indicators to figure out where it is most concentrated.

How to Find Gold: Location, Location, Location

If you want to find gold, then you need to gold prospect in proven lands. The best methods to find a great location include:

  • YouTube your Local rivers, streams, with the keywords “gold panning” “name of river.” For example, if you search for "gold panning Fraser river" and find a lot of videos from prospectors, it's very likely that gold exists in that region. You can also see the gold's quality and how much they're getting on that river.

If you can't find any videos of your river on the internet, it doesn't mean there's no gold in the area. If this is the case, the next step will assist you in determining whether gold exists in your area.

  • Google Earth, looking at elevation, river inside bends, road access, and more. Learn the step-by-step guide on how to find gold with Google Earth. (Coming Soon…)
  • Google gold panning zones in your state or province. For example, gold panning zones in British Columbia. Look for .gov websites like this one
  • Examine a map for towns or cities with names originating from gold prospecting terms. Alternatively, you can search your city or town's name with the keyword "gold rush" to see if there was a gold rush in your region.
  • Look for old mining equipment or even remanence from other prospectors while exploring a river, stream, or area. This involves looking for dug-out pits, moved rocks, and other similar things. (manmade evidence of mining)

Test Pan and Sample, Sample, Sample

The best way to learn where gold deposits is to take your gold pan and test pan along a river or stream and pan vertically and horizontally counting gold specs in your pans and recording your results. Doing this is a great method to find an area with the highest density of gold.

If you find a great spot don’t leave it! Great gold miners work their area till they gobble all that yummy gold up. Remember to fill in your holes and stream beds.

  • Test areas with large inside bends on rivers, bedrock, or behind a large rock for the best results.

Claims & Getting Permission

Find proven locations and a place you want to prospect in, and then contact someone who owns a claim in the area to see if you can do some sniping or gold panning.

You can do this usually by looking on the .gov website in your area and traveling to the “claims mineral and placer titles” section. Once you open the digitally map or title lists you can find out who owns a claim and how to buy and register your own.

However, if you're a new gold prospector, I strongly advise against purchasing a gold claim because you're unlikely to be experienced enough to choose one that will yield enough gold to justify your investment. Purchasing a good gold claim necessitates extensive study, experience, and practise in the area / region in question. Before you decide to leap in, learn from the experts.

What is bedrock?

Bedrock is a hard, solid rock found beneath the surface of the earth, usually beneath soil and gravel. On the ocean floor, bedrock also lies under sand and other sediments. The solid bedrock acts as a barrier or pit, trapping gold in cracks and crevices.

What kind of bedrock is best to find gold?

Intrusive rock (also known as Igneous bedrock)

You are looking for rough, jagged bedrock. Avoid smoothed bedrock as gold will roll over until something solid can trap it.

Types of Bedrock to Avoid

  • Avoid digging in or around smooth bedrock, as this type of bedrock indicates that the gold has likely washed right across and continued downstream.
  • Since granite bedrock is very soft and erodes easily, it will not provide enough time for gold to accumulate.

Types of Bedrock to Seek

  • Jagged, rough bedrock that has deep crevices or cracks as it will usually hold the most gold.
  • Serpentine bedrock is hard and is abundant in fissures which trap gold  
  • Caliche (False Bedrock) – is a sedimentary rock of calcium carbonate. (It binds with gravel, clay, silt, and sand.)

Natural gold Indicators to Find Gold

  • Beach Sand

Not all beach sand is going to have lots of gold you are going to want to look for beach sand with higher concentrations of hematite and magnetite (black sand).

When you dig deeper, you will notice that the black sand forms layers and streaks or bands. Some of these streaks may contain a lot of gold, while others may not. Test panning and determining the best height and streak to focus on is the best way to make the most of your time to ensure you pan or sluice the best material.

  • Gravel Beds

You are looking for "heavy gravel," which is a hard, dense rock that has become shinny due to erosion. Low-pressure zones from glacial gold and flood plain gold thousands of years ago are indicated by the location of these "large dense rocks." You should be able to find gold in cracks and crevices if you can find jagged, rough bedrock with heavy gravel.

gravel beds
  • Clay (Sometimes)

Clay can be a difficult material to work with, and many prospectors despise panning and sluicing it. Clay, on the other hand, can trap and hold a lot of gold, so it is worth breaking it up and panning to see if there is any.

The general rule of gold prospecting is that gold will collect at the lowest point or in bedrock cracks and crevices. However, gold does not always behave as we expect. Clay will behave like bedrock if certain conditions are met, which is why it is often referred to as "fake bedrock," where a clay layer in a stream behaves as bedrock and traps more gold than the bedrock underneath it.

  • Volcanic & Tectonic activity

Because of the circulating thermal and physical forces that bring gold to the surface, gold veins and deposits typically form nearest to volcanic and tectonic activity.

  • Tree growth & Vegetation

Many gold prospectors disregard plant growth as a gold-finding method. The volume and type of plant growth occurring at the highest watermark of a river channel will indicate how long ago the riverbed was that strong to move gold. For instance, finding an ancient tree that has been flooded and battered with debris indicates that flooding happened and that you are not operating in a backflow area.

How To Find Gold In Paystreaks

The heaviest substance you'll find in a creek or river is gold. It will appear in the form of "paystreaks," or gold lines. These paystreaks can settle into bedrock after passing through the sand and gravel.

Paystreaks form during high tide and flooding because gold is 19 times denser than water, resisting movement and taking a great deal of energy to travel. As a result, gold will struggle to move in low-pressure environments. People who fish know that fish prefer low pressure zones, and because of that someone who knows how to fish would be a good gold prospector as these are the most likely places to find gold streaks because the lack of energy allows gold to deposit there.

Dig Until You Hit Bedrock

Since bedrock acts like a gold magnet, you should always scrape, and test pan the material on its surface.

Gold pay streaks on Inside Corners

The best places to look for gold are along river bends (inside corners), on bedrock, or behind a large rock. Owing to the high density of the gold, the river's flow pushes the gold very slowly and ineffectively. As a result, it takes the shortest route possible across the channel. Therefore, it deposits on the inner bends of rivers. You'll normally find a straight, high-density line of placer gold that runs the length of the creek around those inside bends. Therefore, it is important to test pan across the vertical direction of the river to find that paystreak.

Don’t Just Look on The River’s Edge

Not only can you find gold deposits under and near the water, but you can also find the best gold deposited on bench deposits.

Bench deposits, which are higher slopes on the river's side, are considered to have some of the highest gold concentrations in gold traps.

Facts About Gold That Will Help You Find It

  • 1 / 1,000,000,000 particles on earth’s crust is a gold atom. However, luckily for the gold prospector gold tends to accumulate in larger deposits due to geological activity like tectonics, mountains, and even volcanoes.
  • Almost all the gold on Earth came from meteorites that hit the Earth 200 million years after it was created.
  • Pure elemental gold is 24 karats, 18-karat gold is 75%, 14-karat gold is 58.5%, 10-karat gold is 41.7%. Gold is commonly combined with metals like copper, palladium, zinc, nickel, iron, and platinum.
  • Gold is non-toxic, malleable, and ductile, and has a wide range of applications in electronics, dentistry, medicine, and other fields. As a result, it is a very important noble element.

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