How Does Gold Form?

How Does Gold Form?
Where does gold originate and how does it actually form in nature?

Gold is not formed on the Earth like diamonds and many other gems and minerals. Instead, most scientists now believe that gold actually came to earth from outer space in large meteorites that have struck the planet over billions of years. In fact, most of the gold on Earth is actually located in its core where its heavy properties caused it to sink over time. The gold that is found near the surface comes from relatively recent strikes of meteors that contained a considerable amount of gold.

While diamonds can be artificially produced, there is only so much gold available on the planet. It cannot be created in a lab the way that many gemstones can be. While some scientists believe that gold mining in outer space may be the bonanza of the future, such dreams are currently too expensive to be realized. Of course, if the value of gold continues to climb up and up, maybe one day soon we will be exploring meteorites for precious metals. For us small-scale miners interested in gold, the search remains near the surface of our world where we find it in hard rock and placer deposits.

Water not only moves gold by erosion, but it actually helped form the gold veins that originally formed many millions of years ago. Underground sources of hot water and pressure combined to melt gold and sulfur, which are often found together, and push them towards the surface. When the waters cooled, the gold filled the natural cracks in the rocks which formed veins of gold. These veins are often microscopic, but sometimes they are quite significant high grade deposits that can be mined profitably.

Why is Gold only Found in Certain Areas?

These processes mentioned above tend to occur in areas with natural faults that move the earth’s crust. This is the reason why most areas that contain the most gold are mountainous regions with constant geological activity going on.

Although gold can potentially be found anywhere on earth, the truth is that most gold is found in the more active parts of our planet, geologically speaking. Most of the original discoveries of gold were made by accident around stream beds where gold particles and nuggets were found washed down from the hills and mountains where most of the gold veins are located. These placer deposits are where the majority of present day gold miners go looking for gold, as these concentrations can be some of the most productive areas. The erosion process of water over time reveals the places in which large gold deposits can be found. Streams that cut through the rocks carry the smaller elements of gold down with them.

Because of the malleable nature of gold, it rarely forms into nicely shaped crystals and mostly is found in lumps or irregular masses that filled the cracks and natural faults in the rocks. These are the typical gold nuggets that we have come to associate with natural gold. On rare occasions however, gold can be found in crystalline forms, which are very rare and highly collectable. Gold specimens of rough texture that contain quartz and other host material are also occasionally found by prospectors using gold pans, sluice boxes, and metal detectors.

Gold is one of the most sought after elements on Earth. Its value has been recognized over thousands of years for its malleability, multiple uses and rarity. Since the beginning of civilization, gold has been highly valued and is still today used for monetary value. Gold is also the stuff of legend and dreams for those who seek the quick fortune of finding a large gold strike.

Although it may seem that today the business of gold mining is reserved only for large companies, there are many thousands of individuals around the world who pan and mine for gold in different locations around the world. These artisanal miners find gold all across the globe in different climates and ecosystems.

Prospectors can use a variety of methods to find gold deposits, but a proper understanding of how gold is naturally deposited in the environment, as well as the naturally processes that cause it to accumulate in certain areas, are what will really help the modern day gold miner learn how to successfully find gold.