How Deep Do You Have to Dig to Find Gold?

Gold is one of the most valuable commodities on Earth, and you don’t have to be a professional to find it.

You can actually find gold without digging at all. 

How Deep Do You Have to Dig to Find Gold? (EXPLAINED)

What is Gold?

Gold is an element. 

It is a relatively rare element that is used for jewelry and has been valued as a monetary standard throughout recorded history.

It is the most malleable of all metals and it can be manipulated to take many forms. 

Gold is a reddish-yellow color in its natural form.

Gold is also known to be an excellent conductor of heat and electricity. 

Since gold by itself is too soft for many uses, it is often combined with other metals to be used.

As a result, gold is used for a wide variety of things other than making pretty jewelry.

Gold as a metal is also vital in the manufacturing and operation of computers, communications equipment, aircraft, spacecraft and many other modern products.

Why is Gold So Valuable?

There are several reasons why gold is so valuable

  • It is able to be used for coinage, which many other metals can not.
  • Its unique color, besides being pretty and desirable, is fairly hard to replicate. Since gold began being used in ancient times, the scientific advances that we have now were not in existence and gold would have been nearly impossible to replicate, making it a perfect candidate for currency.
  • Gold does not corrode, so it holds its value no matter how old it might be.
  • Gold is also fairly rare and inaccessible to the average person, which ups its value as well.
  • It can be manipulated and combined with other metals for a wide range of uses, including heat reflection and as an electrical conduit (read more about Calaverite and Montbrayite).

Where Can Gold Be Found?

Gold is found all over the world, usually in rock formations or in waterways such as rivers and streams.  

According to the United States Geological Society, approximately 244,000 metric tons of gold has been discovered by humans.

A majority of that gold was found in China, Australia and South Africa, with the fourth largest concentration of gold being in the United States.

The largest known source of gold in the world is currently in South Africa’s Witwatersrand basin.

It is believed that there is almost half of this basin that has yet to be mined, meaning there is a tremendous amount of gold remaining there. 

  • Gold that is found in rock formations is called primary gold and it is likely that in these formations the gold will be accompanied by other minerals such as silver or quartz. 
  • Gold that is found in waterways is called secondary gold. This type of gold has been carried from a rock formation downstream. It is usually much smaller in quantity and size. This type of gold will be present as flakes or nuggets. 

How Deep Do You Have to Dig to Find Gold?

You don’t necessarily need to dig in order to find gold.

In fact, the deeper you dig to find gold, the more likely you are to find copper instead.

There is absolutely gold to be found without digging at all if you utilize waterways and streams near gold-rich deposits. 

Gold can be found in waterways and there is no digging required. 

There are also two types of deposits that do require digging:

  • Orogon Gold Deposits – many of the larger gold deposits belong to this type and these deposits can be found at approximate depths of between 4000 feet and 15,000 feet. These deposits are typically caused by the formation of mountains and exist in marine deposits or in metamorphic rock.  These types of deposits can be found in the United States, Africa, western Australia, Ghana and Brazil.
  • Epithermal Gold Deposits – these deposits are where gold lies much closer to the surface, at approximately 5,000 feet or less. This type of gold deposit is mostly found in sedimentary and magmatic rocks.  Deposits of this kind can be found in Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, Peru, Romania and Mexico.

How is Gold Mined?

Gold is mined in a couple of different ways:

  • Placer mining – this involves using water or dredging material that is accumulated in a placer deposit. These deposits typically consist of fairly loose material.
  • Panning – this process separates gold from other materials such as rocks by filling large, shallow pans with sand and gravel that contain gold. The pan is placed under water and shaken until all of the gravel and non-gold material is released and the gold has settled into the bottom of the pan for collection.
  • Sluicing – this is a machine that creates a channel for water to flow through and collection riffles are placed in the bottom of the box in the channels. Material containing gold is placed into the sluice box and as it moves its way through, gold is collected in the riffles while other materials are washed away.
  • Rocker Box – materials and water are placed in the machine, which then employs a rocking motion to separate the gold.
  • Hard Rock Mining – this is when gold is extracted from rock instead of loose sediment.

Can Amateur Prospectors Still Find Gold and How?

Even someone with no experience in mining for gold can indeed find gold.

With the right equipment, even amateur prospectors can be successful in prospecting.

Mining in rivers and streams is a great way for amateurs to find gold.

While you aren’t likely to find giant deposits, you could easily find gold flakes or even some nuggets.

There are groups online that are dedicated to amateur prospecting and mining and there is even an organization called the Gold Prospectors Association of America that maintains records on where gold has or is likely to be found.

Use these resources to find the best locations to try your hand at prospecting.

In order to prospect, you would need a mining pan, a small shovel for picking up the sediment, a strainer which is called a classifier and a sucker bottle that you can use to pick up gold flakes.

Once you have all of your supplies and you know where you are going, try to find a good spot in a river or stream where gold might accumulate; near or between boulders, in idle pools or log jams are good places to start.

There are a plethora of articles and tutorials online that can help a potential prospector learn how to pan for gold effectively.

Now that you know that significant digging isn’t required to find gold, grab your panning supplies and good luck!

How Deep Do You Have to Dig to Find Gold