Can metal detectors detect rocks? A metal detector can be helpful. Most people don’t have a metal detector, but it is a part of my mineral collecting kit and it should be a part of yours too.
An A-Ha! Moment
I first realized the value of a metal detector when I saw an amazing gold specimen labeled “The Dragon.” It was perfectly crystallized, about seven inches high and Bryan Lees, a Collector’s Edge dealer, said it would likely sell for six figures. He said it had been found in the Colorado Quartz mine, near Mariposa, California, by miners using metal detectors.
That got my attention. Bryan made arrangements for me to visit the mine to watch miners using metal detectors to scan the walls of the old tunnels and then attack any spot that responded. That was a few years ago and those guys are still having success finding hot spots in that mine!
This is not the only “strike” I’ve seen made using a metal detector. My son Evan lives on a hillside that has an old gold mine on it. He has used his metal detector to find enough pieces of gold ore worth processing.
Metal Detecting in the Richmond Basin
In Arizona, a couple of fellows were rock hunting with metal detectors in the Richmond Basin silver mining district north of Globe, Arizona. They hit it using metal detectors!
Silver nuggets had been collected by the Apaches hundreds of years ago and in the 1800-1900s silver mines operated here. The nearby town of Globe was so named because a large rounded chunk of native silver reminding them of a globe was found near there.
Tiny nuggets of native silver were still found in Richmond Basin, so a couple of them decided to check it out. They walked the washes in the entire Basin with their detectors.
They found one or two small heavy, dull black rocks of tarnished native silver. They decided to get serious and organized a small group of collectors with detectors to check the entire area including the surrounding open desert.
They found several more small silver nuggets before their efforts paid off when they found two large masses of native silver each weighing in at over 100 pounds. The pieces were less than two feet underground.
The pieces had weathered out of an as yet unknown vein of silver and been buried by years of weathering.
Finding these two masses of silver would make anyone jump for joy. But the best was yet to come. One of the fellows was about done for the day and was scanning the ground as he walked to his vehicle when signals stopped him in his tracks. He was getting wide-ranging signals from something big. This time, they dug down less than two feet and uncovered a mass of silver you only dream about. The silver mass they exposed was almost three feet long, well over a foot wide and many inches thick. The find of a lifetime!
Once exposed and wrapped for protection, it took five guys hours to haul this treasure across the rough desert to a vehicle. When they finally weighed it on the scale, it hit an amazing 417 pounds!
Now that’s what I call a successful day in the field with a metal detector. What’s it worth? You tell me!
This story about can metal detectors detect rocks previously appeared in Rock & Gem magazine. Click here to subscribe! Story by Bob Jones.