How and where to find beach placer gold

How and where to find Beach Placer Gold

Knowing how and where to find a beach placer will save you wasting your precious time and if you do find one, will make your venture a lot more profitable. Beach placer gold has been known to be very lucrative and is among some of the easiest gold to extract from its source. The prime example of a beach placer is Nome Beach in Alaska. This beach placer has been prospected for well over a century yet still contains large quantities of gold as it is constantly refreshed by seasonal storms and the everyday action of the waves.


Where to find Beach Placer Gold


To find beach placer gold in a given area several factors must combine to allow it to form. (these factors are not 100% foolproof but these are the basic signs that beach placer gold may occur in the area)


  • It must be in a gold bearing location
  • A river that is known to contain gold should run into the Sea nearby
  • The local sea and wave conditions allow the formation of a beach placer
  • The local geography allows the beach placer to form


A beach placer can be found (but not always) in a KNOWN gold bearing location. There is no point looking for a beach placer where gold has never been found, this is simply a waste of time. So first off, be sure that you are 100% certain that gold has been found near the beach that you think may contain beach placer gold, this should preferably be a gold bearing river that runs into the sea near the beach that you are looking at. As the gold (usually flour gold) leaves the river and enters the sea it will fall out of  the rivers strong current and as a result settle to the Sea floor a short distance from the mouth of the river. For a beach placer to form the wave action needs to be right.


How a Beach Placer forms


A beach placer forms through several stages

  1. when the gold that has dropped out of the rivers strong current and falls to the sea floor
  2. The sea waves begin to push the flour gold (as well as black sands and other heavy elements) towards the nearby beach
  3. An process called long-shore drift allow the gold to accumulate
  4. The local Geography “traps” the beach placer and it accumulates into a richer deposit.


Please note that the processes outlined below can take a very long time in human terms to occur (but the blink of an eye in geological time) and I have sped up the stages involved for explanatory reasons.


Stage 1 – The gold that leaves the rivers mouth, both flour gold and coarse gold, drops out of the rivers strong current and settles on the sea floor. The more coarse gold may stay in the position that it is in depending on the strength of the local waves, however, the flour gold will most likely be under the influence of any sea waves as it is fairly easy to move.


Stage 2 –.The Seas waves begin to push the gold towards the beach and actually up onto the beach in the sediments, as always, gold will settle in the deeper portions of this sediment. At this stage in the process the gold is very sparse, there may be 1 part of gold per billion other parts in the sediment, obviously it would not make sense to begin prospecting for the gold at this stage as it would cost more to extract the gold than you would get back. In fact, this is where most potential beach placers meet their end – for a beach placer to form the local geography must also allow the placer to form.


Stage 3 –Longshore drift moves the gold along the beach. Longshore drift is a natural principle that was discovered hundreds of years ago. As we all know the seas waves come in and then back out again, Longshore drift happens when the sea hits the beach at an angle, and then retreats straight back out, returns at an angle then straight back out again. This has the effect of moving things along the beach, from general flotsam and jetsam all the way down to the smallest particles of gold. The steeper the angle the waves hit at the quicker things get moved along the beach and the less tightly packed the placer will be, the more shallow the angle the slower things are moved along the beach and the more tightly packed the placer will be = more gold J.


Stage 4 – For a true beach placer to occur there must be some form of natural (and in recent times manmade) obstacle whereby longshore drift is stopped dead in its tracks. This obstacle could be in the form of a peninsula, a change in the angle of the coastline or even a manmade pier. When the sediment that is being accumulated by longshore drift encounters such an obstacle it has no choice but to get stuck behind it and the sediment is deposited. Over many decades and centuries a beach placer could become very rich at such obstacles. The placer will be most tightly packed with heavy sediments directly at the obstacle and will grow gradually less rich the further away from the obstacle you move.



Signs that you have found a Gold Beach Placer


The existence of a gold bearing beach placer can be seen if you take a section through the sands. Sometimes a visible line of black sands can be seen at different intervals through the section. The only real way to know if you have fund a beach placer though is to test several gold pans and if you find some color, sluice that placer :).