Gold Deposits In The United States
Gold is found in two basic forms in the US, placer gold and lode gold. Lode gold is embedded in hard rock ore and must be mined with shovels, pick axes, jackhammers, and the like from open pit mines or mine shafts. Placer gold is residual gold flakes or nuggets that can be collected by panning or dredging. There is a large difference in being able to find gold which depends on which kind you are specifically looking for.
Finding Placer Gold
Placer gold is always the result of gold material being carried in a running water source, such as a river or stream. This includes desert gold which is usually found in dry lakes and evaporated riverbeds. Finding placer gold deposits relies almost entirely on looking where it’s been found before.
Doing a little bit of research on Google will give you a wealth of areas that are gold-rich. In most states gold is found in rivers, streams, and lakes. Finding gold of this type is usually a case of using your eyes and being patient. The best places to start looking and panning or dredging for placer gold are:
- Along the outer banks of a river bend where the current deposits gold.
- Rocky outcroppings that may hold gold material.
- Mouths of rivers flowing into lakes where the current slows and spreads out.
- Under waterfalls where gold may settle.
Looking for gold in places of a historically rich river or lake is your best chance of finding placer gold.
Finding placer gold in a desert environment is slightly different. This process involves you walking around a dry lake or riverbed and scanning with a metal detector specifically tuned to find gold. Again, it is important that gold has been found there historically, or you could easily be walking around in the hot sun all day without anything to show for it.
Finding Lode & Hard Rock Gold
Finding lode gold for mining is much different, but once again it is important to search in a state where gold has been mined before. When you find a good region to start looking:
- Do some footwork and find a good stretch of exposed rock, either in an exposed canyon wall, the side of a hill, or underfoot.
- Examine the rock and look for a crystalline structure that is hard and gray, white, or rosy in color. This is quartz, the primary indicator for the presence of gold ore.
- Use a metal detector that is set specifically for gold and scan the immediate area. If you get a hit on the metal detector, you’ve found your gold underneath the surface.
Now that you’ve found the lode gold, it’s just a matter of extracting it.
Claiming Your Find
Before you start extracting gold, you must stake and validate a claim. Where you do this depends greatly on whether the land is owned by the state or federal government. All federal land gold claims are made with the US Department of Land Management – to make a claim on state owned lands you will have to do a little research to find out what office handles claims in your area.
A great way to keep your claims in order is to join a national gold claim association that can provide resources on existing claims in the area, as well as the best place in the state to find gold.