Gold Occurrences in Utah

Mountains like this in Utah are where you can find gold.
Photo by Scott Catron

Most gold deposits found in Utah are in the mountains around Salt Lake City, and placer gold is found in the streams draining the Brigand district. Gold is also produced as a byproduct of the copper mining business at Bingham Canyon. Today most of the gold that has been mined in Utah was found during the Great Depression of the 1930s.  Please are gold is still found in the rivers and dry washes that are coming down the mountains in the area around Salt Lake City.

It has been recently discovered that there is gold present in skarn deposits in the Western part of the state that has a potential for gold. So far gold is been found in 146 of the skarn deposits in Utah that continues across the border into southwestern Montana. Skarn's are a variety of calc-silicate rock that occurs when limestone is intruded by igneous rocks. These rocks consist primarily of calcium bearing silicate such as diopside, wollastonite that are formed by the metamorphism impure limestone or dolomite. Typically the calc- silicate minerals have a greenish hue.

According to the Utah geological survey many of the skarn deposits are considered to be economic. Many of these skarn deposits also contain other or under rules such as sheelite one of the ores for tungsten. They also contain copper rowers such as chalcopyrite and the bornite.

Another source of gold in Utah is as a byproduct of the copper ores from Bingham Canyon, and Gold Hill. These copper deposits are found in porphyry that can also contain molybdenum and Gold.

Gold can sometimes be found as detrital gold in sedimentary rocks especially in the sedimentary rock conglomerate where it is found as fossilized placer deposits.  Conglomerate is nothing more complicated then a gravel deposit that has been turned to stone.  The largest gold producing area in the world, the Witwatersrand in South Africa is conglomerate.  This one area has in just over a century produced 40% of the gold that has ever been mined.  Gold is also produced from conglomerate in the Abitibi gold belt in Ontario and Quebec from conglomerate at Timmins Ontario.

Gold is often found associated with marble especially where it has come into contact with intrusive magma.  Often these deposits occurred during the Mesozoic era when dinosaurs roamed the Earth.

A crystal of bixbite on a matrix of rhyolite
Photo by Rob Lavinsky

Gold is not the only mineral those found in Utah that has great worth. The state gemstone of Utah is topaz that is found in topaz rich rhyolite as well as another mineral called “bixbite” that is reckoned to be more than 1000 times as valuable as gold.  According to the Utah geological survey bixbite is even more valuable than diamonds. If the stone was cut and polished it is worth far more than $2000 per carat.