Finding Gold in North Dakota
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Finding Gold in North Dakota

Placer gold in North Dakota has two sources Canada and the Black Hills of South Dakota. Gold is found sometimes in conglomerate.

Placer gold has been found in North Dakota from two different sources. One of them was from northern Manitoba 500 miles away by the time the gold reached North Dakota it was in the form of flour gold in tiny specks. The other source apparently was from the Black Hills of South Dakota where northeast flowing streams carried placer gold. This gold is now deposited as cemented gravel that has been brought to the surface by the Sheyenne River cutting through glacial sediments.

Another place where this type of conglomerate often shows up is the cap rock on buttes and ridges. It is well known that conglomerate is one of the source rocks for mining gold. The largest goldfield in the world is the Witwatersrand in South Africa where the gold ore is actually conglomerate. Recent discoveries using the half-life of iridium have finally pinpointed the source of this gold that was deposited from the outwash in braided stream channels from an ancient mountain range. This explains why the gold is found in stringers throughout the Rand.

The same kind of formation is also found in many of the hard rock mines of the Abitibi region of Ontario and Québec. In other areas the same kind of formation can also carry deposits of uranium minerals. This was the type of mine that was developed at Bruce Mines, Ontario. It might be profitable to prospect the conglomerate to see if they do contain any gold.

Another place where they have found gold in North Dakota is in an area called glacial Lake Souris. This prompted the first gold rush in North Dakota in 1884. The discovery of gold was made 6 miles north of Fort Ransom in Ransom County.

Although the surface rocks and North Dakota are not conducive for containing gold in most places it should be remembered that beneath the veneer of sedimentary rocks is buried several thousand feet down a continuation of the Canadian Shield. It is unlikely that man will ever penetrate this layer of sedimentary rocks now or in the near future.

However, gold is not the only riches that are found in North Dakota. In western North Dakota they are now drilling for oil in the Bakken formation where they are finding large quantities of oil. Although this formation was known since 1951 it was only recently that they developed a technology to recover the oil. This oil field covers areas of North Dakota, Montana, Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Some experts have estimated that the Bakken formation is one of the largest pools of oil in North America.

For more information about gold mining go here!


Bluemle, John P., North Dakota Geological Survey, Gold in North Dakota,

Bakken Formation, Wikipedia,

Shidlowski, M., Mineralium Deposita, V3 N4 Dec. 1968, The gold fraction of the Witwatersrand conglomerates from the Orange Free State goldfield (South Africa)

Origin of the world’s largest gold deposit found?, Charles Choi, National Geographic,

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