Metal Detecting - A Surefire Method to Find Gold Nuggets

Metal Detecting is a surefire way to find gold. But be careful - you will not always find gold or clean out a patch if you dont have the right technique, use the wrong detector or coil or have poor detector settings.

Here are some answers to help you understand gold detectors and detecting and the techniques you can use to clean out that hard found gold patch.

Click on the following links to read the specific points that will interest you

How do Metal Detectors Work - Specifically Relating to Finding Gold?

Briefly a metal detector creates an electric current in its transmit coil which creates an electromagnetic field.

This field is transmitted through the ground and it is affected by conductive elements such as metals which change the signal that is received in the receiving coil of the detector.

This change in the magnetic field is then amplified and through the control boxes and audio output equipment the signal becomes audible to the operator.

Metal Detectors Used to Find Gold

Detectors used for finding gold come in two main types. They are either VLF detectors or Pulse Induction (PI) detectors.

The VLF circuits are very sensitive to gold, but they are also sensitive to other minerals and hot rocks in the soil which can lower their effectiveness as a gold detector in the WA Gold Fields.

Unfortunately these minerals are common in highly productive gold prospecting regions of the world. In particular the goldfields of West Australia.

The Pulse Induction detectors main strength is in ignoring the toughest ground mineral conditions and finding large gold nuggets at extreme depths. Follow these links which will show you how to compare detectors and see what the main differences between these types of detectors are.

The pages will help you see the difference between the VLF and the Pulse Induction (PI) Detector and,

.....more importantly - Which is the best detector for finding gold nuggets:

Here's a link to a Wikipedia item "How Detectors Work", if you want to understand it more deeply.

What sort of Metal Detector do you use for Gold Prospecting

Udo and I consider that a top quality PI Detector is the best for the gold fields in Western Australia and we expand the reasons why in the pages relating to "Which is The Best Detector For Finding Gold" at the following pages: Pulse Induction Metal Detectors and VLF Metal Detectors.

You will need to make the decision based on what your needs for metal detecting are and the compare metal detectors page will give you criteria you can use to select a detector that you need and even provide free decision making software to help you make the right decision.

Metal Detector Coils

It is essential to match the coil you require for the ground conditions and area that you plan to go prospecting for gold.

Here is a link to our Metal Detecting Coils page which will give you all the information to a ensure you have the correct coils when you are gold prospecting.

How to Properly Use a Detector so You Recover ALL gold from your site

Here is some steps you can take to ensure you recover ALL the gold from you hard found site and leave nothing for the next person.

Basic Detector Technique

  • Turn your detector on and let it rest for a few minutes before ground balancing it.
  • Remove all metal objects from your clothes and belt as possible - no boots with metal in them.
  • Tune and ground balance your detector according to the instructions for your machine. Do this regularly while detecting to adjust to different ground conditions,
  • Use the coils appropriate to the ground conditions, size of gold or depth of gold you are seeking.
  • Use a slow sweep speed about 4 seconds from side to side.
  • Keep the coil parallel to the ground at all times, especially at the end of the sweep.
  • Keep the coil as close to the ground as possible without scraping it on the ground.
  • Overlap your coils sweeps so that you cover the whole area - otherwise you will miss gold.
  • When you have a target signal - sweep the coil at different angles again over the target.
  • Pinpoint the target by swinging your coil North/South and East/West over it to see where the sound intersect (Draw a line when the target noise sounds and you will get X where the target is located)
  • Dig all Targets!!
  • As you scrape the rock material out of the hole test to see if the target has moved from the hole.
  • When you have the target in the loose sand either use a plastic shovel or your hands to find the gold.

Be Productive - Select Your Metal Detecting Area and Dont Stray

Now that you have done all the hard work of research and obtained your permissions to detect for gold in the area you have chosen and arrived at the site there is a few things you need to do.

Before you even turn your detector on walk the area and select the most likely places that you think there may be gold. Be disciplined and grid the most likely areas that you have assessed there will be gold.

It is better to methodically search a specific area rather than wandering around in a random manner trying to find a piece of gold!

Things you might be looking for are;

  • Old dryblowing heaps, old diggings, machine scraping, Leader holes in quartz or ironstone.
  • Old Rubbish Dumps or oldtimer camps.
  • Evidence of metal detecting in the past such as filled detector holes, old chaining lines, raked areas, rock piles, markers such as ribbons on trees.
  • Leads dug in the side of hills or gullies.
  • Reefs or outcrops of rock, quartz or ironstone.
  • Spots where gravels have accumulated.
  • Laterite (Czl on Geological Maps) or valley floors downstream or downhill from old mines or above Archean Rocks where secondary gold can form.

The key is to analyse the area you want to work and then metal detect the area at the places you think are best.

If you have aready found gold at the site then you will simply start gridding the area from the place you last found gold.

Clear the Site

This is often overlooked but it is an important step to take before you put the metal detector to the ground you have chosen to detect.

It doesn't take much time to clear the dead branches and debris from the area you want to detect and it could be the difference bewteen getting that faint signal of a large gold nugget buried deep.

If possible rake the fragments of rock away from the area you want to detect, this will also give you an extra 60+mm of detection depth. Make sure you metal detect the rock you have raked to retrieve any gold specimens that may be in the pile.

Clear the lower branches of shrubs so you cn get the metal detector right up to the trunk of the shrub or tree.

Clear away any metallic trash that you can see.

Chaining or Gridding for Gold to get ALL the Gold

This is such an important technique to ensure you get all the gold that we have devoted a whole page to it at chaining for gold.

WARNING - Make sure you read this page and look at the pictures which show gold that has been found in a previously chained area.

Make sure you get this technique right and leave no gold for the next person!

Change your coils

If you have a selection of coils for different ground types and detecting conditions (and you should), after you have chained the area with one coil change to a different coil and rechain the area.

For example if you have chained the area with a large coil then finish it off with a smaller coil which will be more sensitive to the very small bits of gold.

Salt Lake Metal Detecting

Don't neglect Metal Detecting on salt lakes, there is plenty of gold left on them if only because of the difficulty of detecting salt lakes.

The page Salt Lake Metal Detecting. describes where to metal detect on salt lakes and how to target salt lakes to find gold.

Observe and Record

.This is frequently overlooked, but how will you know in the future where you found gold, how much you found, the terrain and geology of the area and what metal detector you used at the time.

All of this information will build up your knowledge and help you to understand the best indicators and geology for the different areas you search.

Dont rely on memory, rely on records!

At a minimum keep records of;

  • GPS coordinates of locality.
  • GPS coordinates and size of each gold nugget found.
  • The geology and indicators of the area the gold was found.
  • The host rock or alluvium the gold was found in.
  • The type of gold found Alluvial nuggets, eluvial nuggets, ironstone specimen and so on.
  • The type of metal detector and coil used

Later on when you analyse other target areas and newer, better detectors are engineered this information will be invaluable and lead you to much more gold finds. 

Return to Gold Prospecting home page

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