As gold prospecting has gained popularity in recent years, people are seeking new areas where they can successfully go out and find gold. Some places that were overlooked for years are being found with good amounts of gold.
The black sands found along the beaches of Lake Superior contain trace amounts of placer gold. The occurrence of this gold has been known for a long time, but in general it has gotten very little attention because of its small size and difficulty to mine.
This is starting to change.
Source of the Gold on Lake Superiorís Beaches
Most of the gold that is found along the beaches of Lake Superior did not originate there. In fact, some of it likely traveled thousands of miles from its original source.
It did this with the immense power of glaciers.
Rich gold bearing ores in Ontario, Canada have been transported south across the upper Midwest on numerous occasions during various ice ages. The latest was roughly 11,000 years ago, but the continuous advancement and receding of glaciers in this area caused gold to be scattered all around the region, including the states of Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Of course this scattered gold also ended up in Lake Superior, and the wave action has helped to concentrate it along the beaches.
Where to Prospect for Gold on Lake Superior
Just about any beach on Lake Superior has the potential to have some gold, but the areas that have the best odds are going to be where to see concentrations of black sands.
This is because black sands are heavier (just like gold), making it a hand visual indicator. The black sands are going to have more gold than the lighter colored sands.
It is worthwhile to take your time to search for a beach that has nice black sand concentrations.
Mining Techniques for Lake Superior Beaches
The real challenge with mining on Lake Superior is the fineness of the gold. It is tiny! You may find 20-30 specks of gold in your gold pan, yet the weight will be negligible. You arenít likely to find any nuggets or ďpickersĒ here, just tiny fine-textured gold dust.
This creates a unique challenge for miners. While a gold pan is usually the standard tool for gold prospectors, there is some specialize equipment that will really help you here.
The Gold Cube
is one thing that has gained popularity here. You can slowly add sand directly to the Gold Cube and it does a good job capturing and retaining fine gold particles.
One of the single best tools for catching fine gold is a vibrating shaker table
. When set up properly they are one of the best separation methods out there. You canít process lots of material through them though, so you this is only a good option for final cleanup.
Automatic gold panning machines are another option to consider. When you get them set up properly they will capture the really find gold that Lake Superior is known for.
Prospecting for Beach Gold
Lake Superior isnít the only place where gold can be found in beach sands. There are places in California, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska where profitable amounts of gold have been mined. The famous beaches of Nome, Alaska may come to mind.
Most prospecting efforts on Lake Superior have been relatively small-scale but that isnít to say that decent quantities of gold canít be recovered. In fact, some have estimated that there are easily several million dollarsí worth of gold hidden in the sands of Lake Superior.
As expected, the challenge with operating a paying operation would be the need to mine large amounts of sand to recover the tiny amount of gold that is hidden within them.