In its original form, gold appears in igneous volcanic hydrothermal (hot water) veins where it is deposited along with quartz, amethyst, other minerals and heavy metal ores. The “Mother Lode” of gold in California is a region crisscrossed by many such quartz-and-gold-filled hydrothermal veins. Nearly all hydrothermal quartz veins everywhere contain some amount of gold. Find the quartz first and then find the gold.
Things You'll Need
- Source of quartz vein rich rocks (or mine tailings of gold-bearing rocks)
- Geology hammer
- Sledge hammer
- Safety glasses/goggles
- Iron or steel anvil
- Large flat pan or tray
- Gold prospector’s pan
- Assorted fine sieves and strainers
- Water (running or standing)
- Storage vials
Look for gold and gold-containing quartz rocks in areas where volcanic hydrothermal activity has taken place in the geologic past. These areas include the regions around old gold mines and rock outcrops upstream from placer gold deposits where gold has eroded out of its bedrock, washed downstream and accumulated in and near stream channels. Generally, gold originates upstream from places where it is actively panned or has been historically panned and sluiced from sand and gravel deposits.
Look for rock outcrops and rocky areas that contain a lot of quartz. Quartz appears in a variety of colors (including amethyst) depending on the mineral impurities it contains. Quartz has a massive crystalline appearance and can be white, yellow, pink, purple, grey or black. Gold occurs in between the other crystals found in quartz.
Look for natural cracks and lines in the quartz rocks that you find and examine them carefully because gold often occurs along such linear structures. Gold is easy to spot in white quartz.
Look for gold in quartz veins in areas where the bedrock is fractured by tectonic and volcanic activity. Fractures and cracks in the bedrock form ideal pathways for superheated water and steam under pressure to flow and to precipitate out their dissolved mineral and heavy metal loads. Gold is deposited by precipitation along the fracture edges and walls. Active geyser basins and old extinct geysers are evidence of such hydrothermal activity.
Use a metal detector to look for gold in quartz bearing rocks. Any large gold crystal pieces (nuggets) or veins of gold will give a good strong signal on most metal detectors. But just because you might not get a strong signal does not mean that gold is not there. Conversely strong metal detector signals may indicate the presence of other metals besides gold. Fortunately, when metals are present in quartz veins, gold is usually among them.
Look for gold-bearing quartz rocks where other miners and prospectors have already been. Even rocks that have been passed over by other prospectors as well as gold mine tailings (leftovers) may contain gold. Fortunes have been made by patiently and systematically reworking the leftovers and tailings of fly-by-night and slash-and-grab gold prospectors and miners. Large corporate efforts to extract gold often leave behind gold that is more efficiently and cost-effectively extracted by small-time miners and weekend prospectors.
Use your geology hammer and sledge to break open quartz and potential gold-bearing rocks. Place an iron or steel anvil in a large flat pan to prevent loss of rock powder and contained gold. Look for large pieces of gold that you can collect manually or with tweezers.
Sieve and pan the smallest fractions of crushed, gold bearing quartz rock in water to collect and extract the gold. Employ standard placer gold panning methods to extract small gold nuggets and gold dust from the pulverized rock. Pan, break up and re-pan finer and finer fractions.
Dry and place your genuine gold nuggets and any gold dust you find and extract from quartz rocks into small glass vials for storage and for subsequent gold assaying, metals analysis, refining, display or sale.
Tips & Warnings
- Re-process each size of quartz gravel to extract all of the contained gold.
- Beware of “fool’s gold.” Iron pyrite is dull, brassy and practically worthless.
- Photo Credit crystal image by Daughterson from Fotolia.com
What Does Gold Ore Look Like?
To the untrained eye, gold ore may look like rock with copper tones flowing within it. However, professional prospectors know how to...
How to Find Gold
The mid-1800s saw a series of gold rushes across the country, from Alabama to Alaska. While much of the remaining gold-rich land...
How to Find Quartz Stones
Quartz stone can be found in most geographical areas of the world. Quartz is located on the earth’s crust and forms in...
How to Find Gold Veins in Rock Formations
Professionals generally obtain gold through mining or sluicing, while amateurs often pan for gold or try to find nuggets mixed with the...
How to Extract Gold From Quartz
Quartz and gold are commonly found together, but this is where the two minerals' similarities end. Quartz is a plentiful mineral, whereas...
How do I Melt Gold Out of Quartz?
Gold is often found within quartz veins in gold-bearing parts of the United States and around the world. The quartz veins can...
How to Tell If Your Gold is in Quartz?
Gold is rarely found in the form that is worn or sculpted. Apart from gold nuggets that contain silver, gold also can...
How to Mine Rose Quartz & Gold
Location is key to mining for rose quartz and gold. Precious and semi-precious minerals are found in rocky regions of the United...
How to Identify a Gold Bearing Area
Gold prospecting and identifying gold-bearing areas have become increasingly more feasible, due to research developments on the geological process of gold formation....
Gold-Bearing Soil Types
Striking gold requires some geological and historical soil analysis of an area. Certain types of soil and rock formations are more likely...