Search The River To Find Gemstones, Crystals, And Minerals


Most people tend to look on dry land when they are searching for gemstones, crystals, and rocks. Although there are some that can be found by digging in the dirt, there is a place that should not be overlooked. It might involve getting your feet wet or perhaps just knowing where water ran centuries or millennia ago.

How To Find Gemstones In Rivers

The easiest way to find gemstones is to check a river or a dry riverbed. Look where the water slows down and forms an alluvial deposit. That is the most likely place to find a gemstone in the river. It might require some digging but it will be time well spent.

In some cases, you may find that prospecting yields the greatest results. Digging for gemstones is also productive, especially if you look where the gems are most likely to be.

Where Are Gemstones Found in Rivers?

Any water that runs away from the areas where a gemstone deposit exists has the potential to carry those gems hundreds of miles. They may be found in any location along the way, but finding the secondary deposit location will likely yield good results.

Gemstones are commonly found in rivers where the water slows down and a sedentary deposit is formed. That deposit, known as an alluvial deposit is where many of the gemstones will be found. Since they are heavier than the silt that is deposited in the area, they are likely to be concentrated at lower levels.

An alluvial deposit that contains gemstones is known as a placer. It is an area where silt has accumulated and it may hold gemstones, minerals, or other valuable items. You may even find that an alluvial deposit is a great place to find everything from fossils to arrowheads!

What Minerals Are Found in Rivers?

Gemstones are only one of the many items that can be found in a river. A wide variety of minerals can be discovered in a river, each of which has value to the person that is finding it. Here are some of the common items that you may find in an alluvial deposit.

  1. Diatomaceous Earth – Much of the sentiment that you would find in a river is diatomaceous earth. It forms over eons of time, as single-celled algae, known as diatoms, accumulate in the silt that is deposited in the area.
  2. Salt – Although salt may not be of great interest to a rockhound, it has been valuable to many civilizations over the course of human history. Some of those ancient civilizations even used salt as a form of currency.
  3. Gold – As one of the most valuable placer minerals, gold has been of interest to people for millennia. As the water carries the gold away from the vein, it is deposited in small amounts here and there along the river. Panning for gold is a fun activity that is done by many rockhounds. Some even focus on panning for gold for fun and profit.
  4. Heavy Minerals – The movement of the water tends to push many of the lighter minerals further downstream while the heavy minerals are deposited in a specific area. They may even become concentrated, depending upon the current of the river. One interesting area to find heavy minerals is where the river meets the sea. The river will push those minerals out into the ocean and then the wave action will deposit it on the beach.
  5. Gemstones – Water can push gemstones downstream over time and they can be found hundreds of miles from the main deposit. This can include anything from diamonds to jasmine
  6. Crystals – All types of crystals can be found in a riverbed. Since they are heavier than much of the silt that is being pushed downstream, they tend to be deposited where the water slows down or takes a turn.
  7. Peat – Peat accumulates as organic compounds begin to decay and they form deposits on the beds of rivers. It is a very rich material that makes your garden grow.
  8. Arrowheads – Although this might not be classified as a mineral, don’t overlook the possibility of finding an arrowhead or two as you are searching the river for minerals.
  9. Aggregate Minerals – Rivers often do a lot of the heavy work when it comes to pushing these valuable materials to an area where they are deposited. Many of these materials are used in the construction industry, such as gravel and sand.

Can You Find Gemstones In Creeks?

Even small movements of water, such as what you would find in a creek can push gemstones away from larger deposits. Concentrate your efforts near a mining area, even if it is no longer active. Gemstones can be found in any area of the creek but they are more likely to be found where the water is lowest or where the creek turns.

A lot of planning may be involved to find some of the best areas to look for gemstones. Keep in mind that a small creek that flows through the area today may have been a torrent just a few decades ago. It may still flow with a lot of force during the rainy season or the spring thaw.

Most of the gemstones that are found in creek beds are found through the process of streambed panning. Keep in mind, you may find more than a gemstone when you are panning, you could find gold or even old artifacts! Anytime you find a location where the water slows down suddenly, you are likely to find a deposit of gemstones. They will fall to the creek bed when the water no longer has the force to move them further downstream.

Can You Find Crystals In Creeks?

Crystals can be found in creeks, including dry creekbeds. The water picks up the crystals and carries them downstream, eventually depositing them in a location where the water slows down or the creek takes a turn. Common crystals found in creeks include Jasper, Topaz, quartz, amethyst, and beryl.

Although many people tend to single out crystals, they are similar to any other gemstone or mineral. When they are formed in larger deposits, water has the ability to carry them downstream. This is especially true when the main deposit is exposed through erosion or mining.

The beauty of finding crystals in creeks is that they may still be in the area, many years after the mining operation has shut down. It is not financially beneficial for the mining operation to continue but rockhounds and Crystal hunters love the deposits when they are able to find them.

You don’t need to only search active rivers, streams and creeks for gemstones and minerals. Some of the best places to look include ancient rivers that may have carried those materials downstream hundreds or thousands of years ago.

How Do I Identify An Ancient River Bed?

Ancient river beds are not always easy to find. We do have some tools available that can make it easier, including searching on Google Earth. Visiting the area will also provide clues as to where water may have run many years ago. It will open up opportunities to rockhound, looking for gold, gemstones, valuable minerals, and beautiful rocks.

The following are some of the most common signs that you are looking at an ancient riverbed. The water isn’t going to be there, but the signs will continue to exist for many years.

Rounded Rocks Are a Sign of an Ancient Riverbed

If you look at the bottom of any river, you will see rocks that have been rounded due to the erosion from water. They are smooth and we can easily tell that they came from an active river. An ancient river will have left behind similar-looking rocks.

Search for Alluvion Gravel to Find Ancient Rivers

A river pushes everything downstream and deposits it in different levels, depending upon the size and weight of what it is carrying. Alluvion gravel is made up of much smaller particles and it is typically deposited in areas where the river slowed down or took a turn. If you can find alluvion gravel, you have found an area of the ancient riverbed that may contain minerals and gemstones.

An Existing Riverbank Is the Sign of an Ancient River

When you find the old Riverbank of an ancient river, it can give you many clues as to the water that used to flow by the area. It might give you an indication as to where the alluvion gravel would exist, perhaps leading to the discovery of a placer, which is a prime spot for rockhounding. You may even be able to determine which way the water was flowing, so you can follow it for more clues.

Existing Vegetation Will Line in Ancient Riverbed

You often find the same vegetation along an ancient riverbed that you would find along an existing river. These include certain types of trees that grow well with water, including willows and cottonwoods. Other vegetation that you may find along an ancient riverbed includes berry bushes, native wildflowers, and even grass.

Tommy

I love doing things around the house. I'm taking my years of experience as a homeowner and a full-time handyman and putting them here for your benefit. When I'm not writing, you can find me on the beach watching the waves come in. Call me Tom or Tommy, it's all the same to me.

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