From the Blog
Metal Detecting and the History of the Gold Search
It was once believed that gold nuggets were sheds from gold containing reefs as they were thought to have been released through erosion. This belief tended to support the idea that gold could also form at depth. Although it is possible for some nuggets to be released from particularly rich eroding reefs, most nuggets are believed to have formed otherwise.
Gold nuggets are formed very near the surface as gold precipitated from solutions from chemical weathering from deeply diffused gold deposits. Even nuggets found at depth are now thought to have originated from their place of formation near the surface. As such, it must be assumed that almost all nuggets of a noticeable size, resting on the surface, would have already been found and that many just under the surface would have been detected. Nuggets that still remain to be found represent a strictly limited and considered a diminishing resource.
So far, China and Australia have high official reports of natural gold. While historical records are limited, large nugget finds are reasonably good however, information on nuggets being found is scant.
The metal detection community has added to the confusion and has caused problems. These can be based on the huge number of stories, unfounded rumors and legends that has promulgated all these years. Official reports and activity reports are mixed and to add to the problem, people who have found these nuggets are selling them secretly several transactions never went through official dealerships.
Due to the stories that fuel and burn all these years, many treasure hunters manage to find the time in search for treasure full time and has ventured into medium to large scale search into the forests around the world. Many of these treasure hunters who find nuggets as a hobby tend to hold on to their hardfound treasures until necessary.
Reports in the 90's has propagated that almost all nuggets found has been melted down. During the olden times all gold would have been fashioned into artifacts. During the time of the gold rushes, nuggets did not have any value other than in respect of their gold content. Nuggets were melted and assayed to determine their gold value so that payment could be obtained for provisions, further investment or simply to squander. It is true that possession of gold, other than jewelry or official coinage has been illegal in some countries. The Great Depression and the gold price hike of 1980 saw some nuggets held by state governments, museums and private collectors being melted for cash. Only recently has an appreciation of geological rarity, natural uniqueness and nostalgia replaced the greed and fear that determined the fate of nuggets in the past.
The distribution pattern for gold nuggets has vary all these years. Today, locating a virgin patch is a rarity to treasure hunters. Nuggets smaller than 2 grams are harder to locate with the use of metal detector, but that is not the real reason. The logic behind that is that nuggets smaller than 2 grams are mere to redissolving, and simply can not be found in the environment. Equally fine particles that can be panned are frequently absent, and even the results of soil surveys seldom reveal gold enrichment very much above background gold levels. This is not accidental, but an intrinsic part of the nugget formation process whereby smaller particles are re-mobilized into larger ones. Almost half the gold in the soil on a nugget patch will be as nuggets above 2 grams in weight.