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Ways to Test Gold Ore In the Field

Updated on July 29, 2017
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John prospected for gold in Arizona 5 years. His experience taught him to deal with the terrain, heat, and gold fever. He makes his tools.

Tests To Determine Mineral Type: Step One in Determining Gold Ore Type

To the right: Oxidized Gold Ore from Austen, Nevada.

Gold ore combines with few elements. Because of this, it is found in nature in pure form, and to a limited extent in gold ores. The gold ores that exist produce a relatively small percent of discovered gold. nagyagite, calaverite, sylvanite and krennerite are 4 examples of low yield gold ore. Since gold forms few compounds, it has been a characteristic that has contributed to its rarity. Learn about luster, streak, hardness, and cleavage; physical characteristics which may help identify gold ore prospects.

Mohs Testing of Minerals

Down to the Nitty Gritty

So why learn about luster, streak, hardness, and cleavage? If you are reading this lens, you more than likely have an interest in learning about and/or finding gold. I do too.

So if you stumble upon an abandoned mine, or start to take a miner's pick to a piece of rock with quartz streaks in it, how do you know, or have good reason to believe, the ore you have attained is a classic gold ore? You can use Mohs tests in the field to determine the ore characteristics and see if that jives with what the Mohs test has to say about gold ore. Though rather rare, gold does appear other than in pure nugget or string form. It can be mixed in with the minerals calaverite, kennerite and silverite.

On Mohs Test Scale, calaverite has a hardness of 2.5 to 3. Cleavage is absent. Its luster is bright metallic. Its color is silver white to brass yellow, and its streak is yellow gray. Using various tools and minerals of KNOWN hardness, one can perform a scratch test. The first object or mineral to scratch the ore gives an approximate value for hardness.

Scratching repeatedly over a white glazed tile with a pocket knife gives a measure of powder. When smeared, if it is calaverite, the streak should be, as mentioned above, yellow gray. In this manner many of the tests can be made that will give the prospector a better idea of what ore he has discovered.

Carrying a handbook that identifies minerals helps also.

Pure Gold and Gold Ores - Identifying Mineral Ores and Metals

Synthetic made gold crystals by the chemical transport reaction in chlorine gas. Purity >99.99%

Author: Alchemist-hp (talk) www.pse-mendelejew.de

Useful Information About Gold Prospecting

There is a lot to know when starting the hobby of gold prospecting. There are the tools peculiar to gold prospecting. One needs to understand how gold placer winds up where it is. One needs to know about hard rock mining. One needs to figure out where to go on a claim for the first time. There is much more to understand but these links will give more information about the ever increasingly popular pastime of prospecting for gold.

Glazed tile and pyrite - the streak test - Abrading a specimen to get a powder

Streak plates are glazed white tiles so that a powdered mineral can be seen clearly. The streak contrasts with the white quite vividly.

Of Interest to Gold Prospectors

Finding gold may not be as simple as seeing a gold stringer in a quartz outcropping. Sometimes gold is mixed in ore with manganese. Other times, it can be found in reddish rock, occurring due to iron oxide (rust), with lines of quartz. Yet other times it is in the form of placer, flakes that have washed down a mountain in some kind of water pathway. To increase your yield, you really need to get some basic equipment. It's here.

And for my last entry for this hub, I would like to refer the reader to an excellent article on extracting gold from gold ore. Since all (as far as I know) extraction methods involve chemicals that can produce noxious and deadly gas vapor, this article can lay out the basics better than I could. Remember to always wear a mask/ventilator if you wish to separate gold from ore (in its pure form) chemically. The gold test methods I previously suggested simply indicate the probability of the presence of gold. The following method will separate the gold from other elements.


If you have anything to add to the subject, I would be thankful for your comments. It is through commentary that I plan to grow. Thank You.

© 2013 John R Wilsdon

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    • GoldenRod LM profile image
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      John R Wilsdon 4 years ago from Superior, Arizona USA

      @TanoCalvenoa: Funny you should say. I once did the same in Columbia, California where there is a park where an old mining town existed. Thanks for the comment.

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      TanoCalvenoa 4 years ago

      This is a great lens. I love geology, and I have tried to pan for gold in streams. Only success I had was at Knott's Berry Farm amusement park where they intentionally put tiny flakes of gold in sand for you.