Prospecting Looks Promising in Glacial Drifts in Midwest & Northeastern USA

gold mining


What is glacial drift? A simple definition is that "glacial drift" refers to all rock material in transport by glacial ice, and all deposits predominantly of glacial origin or in bodies of glacial meltwater. Glacial drift occurs mainly in two forms: as till (rocks mixed with finer material), and as outwash (fine material with no rocks). Now that we know what glacial drift means, what does it have to do with gold prospecting in the Midwest and Northeastern USA? Previously, these areas were not known to be hot spots for gold, but GPAA members (Gold Prospectors Association of America) report that they have been recovering gold here— not only fine and flake gold, but nuggets as well!

How did the gold get there? During the ice ages, the glaciers acted like giant bulldozers pushing enormous amounts of rocks and gold-bearing gravels down from Canada. Many states were completely covered by glaciers at one point in time and were left with moraine (gravel) deposits. By researching state or regional glaciation books (check with college geology departments or state geological surveys), prospectors can better determine the locations of moraine deposits such as local gravel pits.

Keep in mind that the best gold prospecting potential does not exist at the moraine deposit itself because gold will not be concentrated here. Instead, try rapidly flowing streams and rivers that cut through or drain moraine deposits or the moraine terminus. The natural flooding of these drainages will concentrate the heavier materials (such as black sand and gold) into pay streaks or layers. These layers are generally not on the surface. GPAA members have reported having to reach depths of 18 inches or more to recover some color. Slow meandering meadow streams may contain gold, but it will generally be much deeper.

Members have reported finding nuggets in nearly all the states that have glacial gold, so get out there and get your share! If you're a GPAA member, consult the GPAA Mining Guide for information on where to find GPAA claims in the Northeastern USA and all across the country. Good luck!


gold prospecting