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Metal Detecting In Alaska, Recommended?

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Guest Kelly S

Alaska is a different animal to detect.Having detected there for six summers of the eight I spent there,I am still learning the in and outs of the tundra land.One thing is that all bed rock isn't so good.You need the hardest bed rock you can find for nuggets to be in detecting range.It thaws and freezes so much that soft rock has massive cracks so the gold can be several feet down in the crevises,But hard bedrock say with some quartz in it can be a bonanza!Also the old taillings from the bucket line dredges can yield good results,and a chance at a whopper! All in all a detector is one more tool that can put gold in your poke even in alaska.A bear watch person is good to have also,detecting up a creek thew willows with headphones on is living dangerouse.I found over 300 nuggets on the Seward Peninsula 80 miles north east of Nome Alaska.All with a gold bug this was in the 90's I want to go back this summer with my GPX 5000 and see what I can do.post-9677-0-58385600-1386384281_thumb.jpg this is a 10.3gram nugget the only onei have left from my detecting in Alaska>>>SWING ON  KELLY

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Guest beebug

Hi!  Glad I found your forum and this thread as we could use some advice from those in Alaska.  We might be moving to Skagway.   We like to metal detect but in reading the laws and the fact that so much land is owned by the Fed's, how much detecting do you think we could really do in that small part of Alaska?  We probably won't have time to get to other parts so we are debating on bringing the detectors or not. 

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Well, there is gold in the area "Production: The estimated total production from the Porcupine Mining Area from 1898 to 1985, including Christmas (SK062), Nugget (SK048), Porcupine (SK041), Cahoon (SK044), and McKinley (SK046) Creeks, is 79,650 troy ounces of gold."


How much metal detecting you do is up to you. Why is federal land a problem?

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Guest beebug

About half of downtown Skagway is a federally owned National Historic Park.


From the Bureau of Land Management website:  More than 75% of the federal
land in Alaska is closed to mining because it is located in national
parks, preserves, monuments, wildlife refuges, or other areas withdrawn
from mineral entry (staking mining claims).


Federation of Metal Detector and Archaeological Club advises:  If it is a historical park in any sense of the word then
        consider it off limits.



§ 327.14 Public property.

(a) Destruction, injury, defacement, removal or any alteration of public
property including, but not limited to, developed facilities, natural
formations, mineral deposits, historical and archaeological features,
paleontological resources, boundary monumentation or markers and
vegetative growth, is prohibited except when in accordance with written
permission of the District Commander.




Agency:              National Parks, Monuments, Seashores, Forests, and Public Property


Law:                  Title 36 Parks, Forests, and Public Property


§ 2.1 Preservation of natural, cultural and archeological resources.

(a) Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, the following is prohibited:

(1) Possessing, destroying, injuring, defacing, removing, digging, or disturbing from its natural state:

(iii) Nonfossilized and fossilized paleontological specimens, cultural or archeological resources, or the parts thereof.

(iv) A mineral resource or cave formation or the parts thereof.

(3) Tossing, throwing or rolling rocks or other items inside caves or
caverns, into valleys, canyons, or caverns, down hillsides or
mountainsides, or into thermal features.

(5) Walking on, climbing, entering, ascending, descending, or traversing
an archeological or cultural resource, monument, or statue, except in
designated areas and under conditions established by the superintendent.

(6) Possessing, destroying, injuring, defacing, removing, digging, or
disturbing a structure or its furnishing or fixtures, or other cultural
or archeological resources.

(7) Possessing or using a mineral or metal detector, magnetometer, side
scan sonar, other metal detecting device, or subbottom profiler.



Agency:              Bureau of Land Management

Website:             http://www.blm.gov/ca/st/en/info/iac/metal_detecting.html

Law:                  Metal detecting is a
                recreational activity that people do to find coins, jewelry, and
                precious metals.  Metal detecting is allowed on BLM lands as
                long as
                no artifacts are removed
.  Artifacts should be left
                alone and reported to the appropriate Field Office.  Avoid all
                cultural and archeological sites.  The Metal Detecting
                enthusiast may remove some rocks (handful) from areas such as
                picnic areas, campground areas, and recreational sites. 
                The enthusiasts may remove some rocks as long as there not being
                removed from another mining claim.  Mining claims can be
                researched on the LR2000 (http://www.blm.gov/lr2000). 
                 Enthusiasts are only allowed to make minimal surface
                disturbance (i.e. removing a couple of stones for memories).



If any member is from or has metal detected in Skagway area, I was wondering if they had in insight if it was worth their (not 87 years worth) time, especially as a novice.  This is just a hobby to us that we might find time to do once every couple months and although your site is about gold mining, we detect for just about anything, depending where we are and how much time we have.

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It's been a several years now so I don't remember who it was or where it was posted, but a prospector rigged his sluice box with a metal detector at the end and also a sweeping arm that was activated when the detector detected a piece of metal thus taking the material off the sluice before it could exit into the tailings so the material could checked for gold, etc., the section that had the detector was made of plastic.

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Generally I would say a  metal detector should always be part of your arsinel of tools - it can't hurt, it can only help. That being said, do remember that it takes much more patience to hunt for gold that way, especially if you're unfamiliar with the terrain and aren't certain there's stuff to be found. Now, the fact that you'll be in Alaska, I can say that it's going to take much longer with a detector, because there's so much bedrock to get through before the gold is found. I say go ahead and get a detector, but also invest in a good  dredge /high banker combo because no matter what you will need something like that to make a profit. Good luck!


Edit - please no advertising - its in the conditions you agreed to follow in your sign up.

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KaleMack - I am guessing you have not done much prospecting in Alaska. I have found more than a hundred shallow nuggets there with a metal detector. I dug a 3/4 ouncer with my detector just last July that was not more than 2 inches deep and not more than 30 feet from a well known highway. I've dug gold in Alaska with a highbanker too - it just depends on where you are mining. Alaska is a big state and conditions vary a lot from place to place, just like they do here in the lower 48. 

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Metal detecting in Alaska can be profitable.


It can be reasonably well assumed that the easy gold has been found. Contacting owners of mining claims and getting permission is the fist step in getting onto ground that could produce nuggets.


- Geowizard

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