There is no doubt that the idea of finding gold still excites the mind. With new television shows showcasing the possibilities that Alaska holds for gold mining and the many California streams that can still be successfully panned, it is hard not to wonder just how much a person could make. However, without gold prospecting, it’s hardly worth the time and money to hunt for gold.
Gold prospecting types and methods used can vary widely depending upon the prospector, the resources available and the deposit type.
Placer gold prospecting has become quite a popular recreational activity over the past few decades. Why? Well, placer gold rarely requires more than a simple gold pan, a good panning technique and a keen eye. Since this can be done without heavy equipment, the expense is minimal.
Of course, for more serious prospectors, larger placer deposits can be sought as well. These are often located much deeper and often require the use of geophysical methods for location. Magnetic, seismic or gravity methods can locate old river channels, which are ideal spots to find placer gold. It is not unusual for prospectors with a strong financial backing to trace placer gold to its source in a hardrock deposit.
Hardrock deposits of gold are also prospected for and there are a variety of tools that are used to do this. Of course, the most basic level of prospecting for hardrock deposits starts with surface examination. This can be performed by examining outcroppings of rock, looking for mineral vein exposures, types of rock that are known to typically hold gold deposits or hydrothermal alteration. However, drilling, geophysical and, eventually, geochemical methods can also be used to prospect areas below the surface.