Gold and mica together on the ground

Is Gold and Mica Found Together? (a Gold Clue?)

They say that “all that glitters is not gold.” As gold is one of the world’s most valuable minerals, it is every metal-detecting enthusiast’s dream to detect it. Unfortunately, gold is rarer than most metals, including diamonds. Therefore, most folks are always looking for gold clues everywhere they metal detecting in a known gold mine. Fortunately, there are several clues that most folks seek. The most underrated gold clue is the presence of mica in places where you can find gold.

You can find gold together with several metal indicators, including mica and quartz. In fact, at the Canadian Malartic, Gold mineralization is associated with white mica potassic and Microline-biotite. Mica resembles gold in features and has been mistaken for gold by some folks.

There are several gold clues that folks consider when searching for gold. And one of the most effective clues that can always lead to gold deposits is mica. In this article, we’ll try and answer the question, “Are gold and mica found together?” We’ll also elaborate on mica and why it’s easily mistaken for gold or found with gold.

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Is Gold and Mica Found Together?

Generally, gold is a malleable metal found in nature with several minerals that play a significant role in its existence. The materials found together with gold are called placer deposits and metal-bearing minerals like magnetite, quartz, silica, and mica. Unfortunately, gold from different sources should be handled differently, with the most common source for metal detectors being stream beds.

Therefore, if you have ever tried detecting gold in river beds, you should learn more about placer mining. Placer mining is one of the oldest methods for mining gold found embedded in placer deposits along the stream beds. (source)

These placer deposits serve as gold clues, one of the most overlooked clues being mica. Therefore, knowing how to detect mica in the quartz vein that secures gold can help you trace the source of the gold. Detecting mica has helped several experienced metal-detecting enthusiasts find a massive gold deposit.    

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What Are Placer Deposits?

Most precious stones, including gold, are found in alluvial deposits, also known as placer deposits, gravel, and sand deposits in ancient or modern stream beds. Since gold is denser, you can find it at the lower level of placer deposits.

Remember, placer deposits are the products of erosions. They must be hard enough to remain recognizable if they can withstand the weathering process.

Unfortunately, gold is a unique and malleable mineral found in similar environments. And since it’s not a hard metal, its survival doesn’t depend on its hardness. Instead, its survival ability will depend on the hardness of the placer deposits and surrounding materials.

What Are Metal-Bearing Minerals?

Other than placer deposits, folks use other gold clues when locating gold. These include finding lode deposits and several indicator minerals known as metal-bearing minerals. Some of the most common indicator minerals include:

  • Magnetite 
  • Mica 
  • Quartz, 
  • Zircon, 
  • Kyanite.

Some of these minerals are the outcome of the process of gold formation or the heat and pressure of an active volcano. In some places, you can find mica in irregular quartz veinlets accompanied by gold, carbon, and sulfide. (source)

Therefore, when placer mining for gold, if you find some small mica flakes, there might be a gold veinlet near there, and with the right detecting tools, you can find it. But you have to also look for other clues, which include the placer deposit that helps gold survive the soil weathering process for centuries.

Plus, you can track the quartz in the veinlets near an abandoned gold mine until you find gold deposits. You might be lucky and find some pieces of gold that the miners left behind. Plus, on a good day, you may find other pieces of metal together with gold.

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Mica as a Gold Mineral Indicator

Gold usually forms veins or lodes inside a fractured rock containing quartz. The lode deposits form when heated fluid circulates and concentrates gold-bearing rocks near the crust. The chemical differences between the rocks and fluids and physical differences create a wide range of lode deposits.

These lode deposits, including sulfide minerals commonly known as fool’s gold and quartz (source), among other heavy metal ores together with gold, are usually found in an igneous volcanic hypothermal vein. Mica is generally found in the veinlets crossing quartz together with carbon and sulfides. (source) Therefore, if you find mica, you can easily trace the quartz veinlets and start looking for gold.  

The close contact between quartz and mica suggests that mica replaced quartz along the tiny fissures in the veins. (source) Evidence indicates that mica and carbonates were introduced after the crystallization of quartz. Mica is a cementing mineral of the fault breccias, which includes vein quartz and helps strengthen the vein. (source)

Over time, the gold flakes and the lode deposits are worn from the veins and swept to the nearby water bodies. Being heavier than most metals, it settles in riverbeds, lakes, and streams, creating placer deposits.

Therefore, when you find mica, you are likely to find gold in the vicinity. Mica is part of the lode deposit that helps protect gold under high pressure. Mica can help you locate the quartz veins, leading you to a gold deposit.

Gold bearing quartz
Gold bearing quartz

How Are the Placer Deposits Formed?

Generally, the superheated waters from the spring-like vents form the ocean floor. When it occurs, tectonic activities force the oceanic crust to spread. Therefore, some metal-rich minerals featuring gold are deposited at the bottom of a water body and mixed with the cold water. The hydrothermal-hot fluid rich in sulfur creates gold in some of the rocks in an active volcano. (source)

The chemical reaction between the sedimentary rocks and hot fluids resulted in the formation of invisible gold particles like the ones found in Meikle mine, Nevada. (source)

On the other hand, when the mountain rises, it creates some fractures, and when the hydrothermal fluid flows through these spaces, it creates gold-rich quartz veins. The hot metamorphic rocks buried deep underground usually make these fluids. And a great example is the lode, and other deposits formed through this method can be found in the Sierra Nevada. (source)

You can also find placer deposits on the earth’s surface, where the weathering has exposed gold and old lode deposits. Generally, you can sweep ancient lode deposits and gold by weathering to the base of the rivers, lakes, streams, and seas. Therefore, if you notice some mica on the river bank or a shallow stream, you can start metal detecting for gold.

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What is Mica?

The term mica refers to silicate minerals whose significant physical property is that their crystals can divide into thin elastic plates. They are opaque to translucent with a distinctive pearly or vitreous luster. Different mica minerals display various colors, from black to red or green to white. Mica has a platy or flaky appearance. (source)

You can find mica in metamorphic and igneous rocks. You can also find it in sediment rocks as tiny flakes, but it’s prominent in schists, pegmatites, and granites. Fortunately, it does have several uses, particularly in the cosmetic and paint industry.

Can Mica Be Mistaken for Gold?

Yes, mica is one of the few metals referred to as fool’s gold. Therefore, when looking for gold, you can easily mistake it for pure gold, particularly weathered mica. Fortunately, most metal detectors cannot be disrupted by mica near gold veins. Most folks have detected mica using their eyes.

Luckily, they do have different physical and chemical properties. Compared to gold, these minerals tend to crumble, powder or flake when poked. On the other hand, gold will indent or gouges like a delicate piece of lead when poked. (source)

But if you’re still unsure if you have found real gold or mica, then there are a couple of tests you can do to confirm. The streak test is the most straightforward, which involves you scraping mica on unglazed porcelain. Mica creates a white streak, while gold leaves golden-yellow streaks.

Gold is heavier than most metals, including pyrites, and denser than yellowish mica. Therefore, you can place them on a pan and try to move the pan around at a steady speed. Gold is heavier than mica; consequently, you should expect it to settle at the bottom while it floats. If you hit gold with a hammer, it flattens while mica shatters.

Final Verdict

Gold is one of the most valuable metals on the planet; therefore, it is on the bucket list of most metal-detecting enthusiasts. Unfortunately, it is pretty rare, and most gold mines have been depleted, but some folks have found many gold crystals. Therefore, you need to track the gold veins by the following mica, a metal indicator generally embedded in quartz. Luckily, you may end up finding some gold deposits.     

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David Humphries, Writer and Creator of METAL DETECTING TIPS. After borrowing my sonโ€™s detector and finding $.25. I felt like a treasure hunter. FREE MONEY! I was seriously bitten by the metal detecting bug.

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  1. Wikipedia contributors, Placer mining, accessed November 15, 2022
  2. Geology Survey (US), Geological survey professional paper, accessed November 15, 2022.
  3. Wikipedia contributor, gold, accessed November 15, 2022.
  4. American Museum of Natural History staff, Forming deposits, accessed November 15, 2022.
  5. Wikipedia contributors, mica, accessed November 15, 2022

USGS staff, What is โ€œfoolโ€™s gold?โ€ accessed November 15, 2022.

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