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Categories: From the Gold Prospectors Magazine, How-To's

 Thursday, December 17, 2020

A Guide to Prospecting

by KellyCo Detectors

by GPAA Admin

A Guide to Prospecting
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A VLF (Very Low Frequency) metal detector is a single or multi-frequency

machine that consists of a continuous sine wave. The sine wave(s)

goes down and into the ground to find a metallic target, and once it does, the

machine charges the target releases an eddy current and sends a signal back.

A common misconception for these machines is that you cannot get depth out of a VLF metal detector. That is not true, as long as a VLF machine is properly set up and you are using the right detector in the right conditions with the right coil, you can absolutely get depth with this machine. Yes, a VLF detector can have an advantage on shallow very very small targets, on and off of bedrock. As long as you can keep it stabilized, ground balanced, and the sensitivity is set properly,

this can help you find some of the smallest gold pieces, many in the

grain over gram range.


A PI (Pulse Induction) I guess that my best and easiest description of PI metal detectors is a machine that talks and then listens. Unlike the VLF detector, a PI machine is not a continuous sine wave it is pulse, on off, on off. These machines will do better than VLF in most highly mineralized soils because it’s measuring

the speed of the signal decay of the target and the ground around the target. However, there are places like low mineralization deposit areas where your PI machine will simply just not work to its fullest potential and in these places, you are better off with a VLF machine, and vice versa. For example, if you have excessive cold or hot rocks and or weird salts, there have been times when a VLF detector has been outperformed by a PI machine.



The higher the frequency, the closer to the surface the

machine works to find smaller targets. The lower the frequency,

the deeper in the ground the machine will go to find

larger and more conductive targets. It’s not the case that one

machine or frequency works better than another, it depends

on the conditions and the ground that you’re detecting coil size and your tuning. Frankly, for me when I head out detecting, I have a VLF and PI with me and I do  recommended that you carry both types of machines, if you can, to be prepared for all of the varied conditions and the ground to change and to get the best results.



One of the most common questions received in the metal

detecting industry is, What is a Hot Rock? Hot rocks are

magnetic or have metallic properties that are higher than the

surrounding ground. No matter what, it is seen as a target

to your machine which can be disrupting if you don’t know

how to properly mitigate them. Keep in mind, hot rocks will

never be 100% avoided, but there are ways to reduce the

number of hot rocks you come in contact with.



There are two types of mineralization most associated with nugget hunting. First, there is high mineralization within the ground, where the ground

itself is hot and can contain hot rocks or cold stones. The

second type of mineralization is moderate or benign, where

there is less mineralization in the ground. Many people confuse

hot mineralization for hot rocks, but these are two different

things. Moderate or benign mineralization can also

contain hot rocks, and it’s actually this combination that can

cause the mitigation of this to be very challenging. Another

misconception is assuming orange soil is always hot. It’s

very possible that if you see orange soil, it’s most likely hot.

However, it could just be a red iron pigment. It’s important not

to immediately jump to that conclusion.




Three Different Types of Coils

1. Mono Coils: A mono coil is designed for a PI machine

and is a single winding which puts a concentric pattern

into the ground. You will always be able to get more

depth with a mono coil, but it is also more susceptible to

ground mineralization noise and it will be affected by the

ground mineralization itself. Using a mono coil, you have

to be very aware of what your overlap is. The second part of

the Mono coil question is when to take the Mono off and go

to a Double D coil. That answer is simple, when you can no

longer detect with a Mono is when you go to a Double D.

2. Double D Coils: Double D coils work for both PI

and VLF machines. Double D coils have two back to back D-shaped

windings inside the coil. At all times the coils are transmitting, and

another receiving across the plane of the coil. The Double D coil design is like

a knife blade that goes into the ground down the center of

the coil. These coils are great at handling mineralization

where it essentially takes the ground mineralization and distributes

it all the way across the blade lessening its effects.

3. Concentric Coils: The third type of coil is the concentric

coil. Many people think concentric coils are the

same as mono coils however, that is not the case. Mono

coils are built for a pulse induction machine using one winding

whereas concentric coils work with VLF machines by

using two separate windings one send one receive. Although they are similar in

design, they work for two completely different ways for two

completely different detectors.


Coils are measured off of a round coil configuration.

That being said, there is really no difference in size, only

in shape. For example, a 14x10 coil will have the same attributes

as a 12-inch coil. Why are there two different kinds

then? The key difference here is that elliptical coils work

extremely well in difficult areas in between scrub bushes and rocks. If you are still trying to wrap your head around that, here is a simple way to make

sure you choose a coil size that is different from what you already have:

Length + width = X ÷ by 2 = the size of the coil.

Take a 14x10 coil for example, 14+10=24 ÷ 2 = 12.

You have a 12-inch coil.




There is no truly accurate nonferrous discrimination on gold detectors

and discrimination for gold is dangerous. Iron discrimination

is really the only type of discrimination on a gold machine

and at best, this discrimination works “kinda.” Trusting

these signals is dangerous and can lead to missed gold,

so do your best to operate your machine to the best of its

ability without assuming anything. Even with the best iron

discrimination, you should dig these targets until you know

for sure they are ferrous junk, understanding that if there

is any wavering in the signal of another target that sounds

“almost the same,” it has to be dug.



Many people assume that the West is a better place to

go gold prospecting, but this isn’t completely true. The key

differences between the two locations are the gold mineralization

area, with the West containing a lot more open ground and it is hotter ground.

That being said, there is a gold belt that runs from the north eastern United States all of the way through Alabama. Plus there is a lot more glacial gold in the eastern US. Although geography is going to be different, gold is gold, and the best place to look for gold is where it has been found before. The biggest issue with both the

West and East is going to be finding accessibility and being able to find that line and stay on that line. However, western states were developed to be able to go prospecting, mining, and staking claims which is why these states are known to

have easier access.



With gold panning, 99.9% of the time, wherever there is

gold there is black sand. However, this cannot be reversed,

if you find black sand that doesn’t mean there is definitely

gold in the same area (although it is possible). The most

important thing you can do before gold prospecting is to

understand your surroundings and the area you will be hunting.

1. Think like gold! “If I were 19 times heavier than

the same volume of water, where would I go?”

2. Understand the streams and the water dynamics or

the deserts around you.

3. Take a look at the overall geology. Look closely at

what is easy to see then deeper to see what others miss.

4. Take notice of any big trees or massive boulders that will change water flow.

5. Don’t forget about the inside bend, but also keep in

mind there are so many things that can change the way gold

drops out of the flow.

6. Do your research beforehand.

Total Comments (1)


1 comments on article "A Guide to Prospecting"

Christopher Coleman

1/13/2021 10:59 AM

I have prospected city parks in Virginia, private property in Georgia and open BLM land in California. Out of these three areas the open BLM land was the most productive in terms of older coins and possibility for places to gold prospect. I haven't recovered gold yet, but if I had a choice I would rather be out West and be in the open land and exploring open BLM land without having a property owner overshadowing my steps.

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