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Indicators of Gold Deposits - Arizona Outback
Indicators of Gold

Some Hints for Prospecting


Although these tips are geared more towards prospecting for lode gold, they are still of great use to the electronic prospector, as almost all placers deposits are derived from the erosion of gold-bearing lodes. Being able to quickly identify these favorable geological indicators will help you narrow down your search and put you that much closer to those nuggets!

Favorable Areas:



Probably the most favorable area in which to prospect for gold is one where the country rock is made up of surface flows, sills, dikes, and other intrusions of relatively fine grained, light colored, Tertiary igneous rocks such as rhyolite, trachyte, latite, phonolite, and andesite.




As already been suggested, prospecting in areas where there are outcrops of granitic or schistose rocks that are cut by dikes or other intrusions of relatively fine grained, light colored igneous rocks may prove profitable.




Areas in which the country rock is some type of porphyry, especially if several varieties formed at different times are found there, may contain deposits of gold that can be worked profitably.




Gold lodes that may be worked profitably are sometimes formed around the borders of great masses of granitic igneous rocks, both in the granitic and in the surrounding rocks, but more commonly the latter.




Areas in which some gold has already been found are naturally more favorable than places that have never produced any gold. This statement applies particularly to areas where considerable prospecting has been done – any area in Continental United States excepting much of Alaska.


Unfavorable Areas:


The saying that “gold is where you find it” is certainly true. There are, nevertheless, certain conditions that are so unfavorable to the occurrence of gold in any considerable quantity that prospectors would do well to avoid areas in which these conditions exist. Among such unfavorable areas are the following:


Areas where large masses of granite and related, coarse grained, crystalline igneous (once molten) rocks outcrop, particularly if these outcrops are not cut by dikes or other intrusions of finer grained, usually light colored igneous rocks such as porphyry, rhyolite, or andesite.




Areas where large masses of gneisses and other crystalline schists outcrop unless they are cut by or in the vicinity of dikes or other intrusions of igneous rocks.




Areas where large masses of sedimentary rocks such as limestone, sandstone, and shale outcrop unless they are cut by dikes or other intrusions of the relatively fine grained, light colored igneous rocks previously mentioned, and, even where so cut, sedimentary areas rarely contain workable quantities of gold unless the sediments have been metamorphosed (changed in character by pressure and heat) to marble, quartzite, or slate.




Areas where large masses of dark colored, relatively heavy igneous rocks, such as peridotite, diabase, and basalt or malpais outcrop.

It is not true that valuable gold lodes never occur in areas described as generally unfavorable, such as in a great mass of granite without intrusions of other igneous rocks, for instance, but a prospector will usually save time and money by avoiding such areas.

* Information taken from: Arizona Lode Gold Mines and Mining, Part II. Some Hints on Prospecting for Gold, by G.M. Butler, pg. 195.


What to look for when searching for gold deposits including geological clues.
Indicators of Gold Deposits - Arizona Outback


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