Gold Indicators and Indications (Part 1)

Jack, an Australian "fossicker" ("prospector" in U.S. mining lingo) and small-scale gold miner posed a topic for me to discuss about the difference between gold "indicators" versus gold "indications." Well, I have to say that Jack posed a very good question despite the fact that some folks may see the difference between the two terms as so slight as to be negligible. But let's see what shakes out in this regard.

Caught Off Guard

This whole gold indicator/indication thing came about on a mining forum that Jack is involved in or runs (I'm not sure Jack, let me know if you find this point needs clarification). When queried about the difference between the two qualifiers Jack admitted he was a bit taken aback and felt embarrassed about not being able to answer immediately. Well Jack, you need not be embarrassed since I was caught off guard by this query as well. As a matter of fact, I never really thought about it much in terms of comparison or differentiation. But, like Jack, I thought it deserved a response. So that's what this series of posts is about.

We're Here to Learn

I'll lead things off here and then after I give my two cents' worth I'm going to turn things over to Jack and let you read what he has to say about gold indicators. Why? Because like most Aussie fossickers/miners he is one sharp dude with a wealth of knowledge and some valuable information to impart. Remember, we're all here to learn...myself included. And if you think you already know it all regarding gold prospecting and mining, then my probably don't want to be hanging around mere mortals like myself, Jack, and the rest of the readers here at Bedrock Dreams. Like the cops say at an accident scene, "There's nothing to see here. So just move along."

Anyhoo, let's look first at the general definitions of indicators and indications:

An indicator is a visual sign, instrument, or pointing device that suggests or shows the condition of something.

OK, so let's see if we can apply this definition to gold prospecting and mining. I'm winging it here, so I may be right and I may not be...whatever "right" means in the context of indicators versus indications. So please bear with me. When we come across a quartz vein or blowout ("reef" in Aussie talk) that is heavily iron stained we know that some degree of mineralization has taken place. In other words, the visual signs of the presence of sulfides (including pyrites) is an indicator. It doesn't mean that gold is is simply an indicator that suggests closer examination may be worthwhile. If we're swinging a gold detector and that machine sounds off, that aural signal then becomes an indicator of the presence of ferrous or non-ferrous metal beneath our feet. It does not mean, however, that the area we're detecting is a gold area (although that'd be our best place to hunt!). If we come across a nice spread of rock and cobble piled up on bedrock at a low-pressure point of a stream, then those rocks and cobble are visual indicators that deposition is taking place there. So an indicator may lead us to gold but doesn't necessarily mean we'll find it as a result of that indicator.

An indication is a sign or signal that serves to indicate a mark, manifestation, showing, evidence, or proof of something.

This should suggest an immediate difference (however slight) between indication and the definition of what an indicator is. Or am I pissing into the wind here? From my point of view, the key differentiating factors here are words like manifestation, showing, evidence, and most importantly...proof. So let's jump back to indicator for a moment. If we take a closer look at that sulfide vein we came across as an indicator, and we determine that vein material contains particles of gold that are visible to the naked eye or we have taken samples and crushed and panned them, then we have verified indications of gold in the area we are searching. Additionally, if we dig down to bedrock beneath those cobble and rock indicators at the fore-mentioned placer stream and find good gold, then that gold is an indication (proof) of gold in that area. So, based on the indications (showings?) we may want to dig down to bedrock wherever we come across similar set ups in that particular area. Go back to the definition of indication. Unlike indicators, indications are verifiable manifestations of gold and proof it exists in the area. Make sense or not?

You Decide

Now I know some of you out there are thinking, "Toe-may-toes or Tow-maw-toes? Who gives a rat's ass?" In a sense this response is OK, I guess. Nothing much to get too caught up in. But the question was posed and it's a reasonable query. Jack found it somewhat  difficult to answer in an off-the-cuff fashion and I empathize with him in that regard. So, for better or worse, I've taken my headlong run at the difference between gold indicators and gold indications. And truth be told, I think I may have shed some light on the matter. But that's for you to decide. In my next post I'll start laying out what Jack has to say about all this, including specifics and valuable info whether you're an Aussie or one of us ugly Americans!

(You  decide.)

Sincerest Thanks

However, before I depart I wanted to digress a bit and say a few words of important thanks. I don't know how many of you know this, but Australian soldiers, airmen, and sailors fought right alongside us (the United States) during the Vietnam War. Now I'm not going to get into a pissing contest about whether that unfortunate war was right or wrong... when I was there I wasn't worried about rights or wrongs...I was just trying to keep my act together and get home again. That said, you should know the Aussies were fierce and brave fighters whom the Vietcong and North Vietnamese regulars soon learned to fear. You see, when the shit came down the Aussies kept at the enemy in unrelenting fashion. And they went for the throat. Always. I had the great good fortune to meet and party with some Aussie troops from Down Underr while on R&R leave in 1968 and they were good men and a hell of a lot of fun. Until they got too drunk, that is...then there was hell to pay for all concerned! Anyway, I want to offer my sincerest gratitude to all you blokes Down Under who served with us in Vietnam. Your sacrifices are greatly appreciated on this end and will be till the end of my life anyway. So thank you very much. And to the Aussie family members who lost loved ones in Vietnam I tinder my deepest and sincerest condolences.

Thank you Australia. Good on ya Mates!!

(c) Jim Rocha 2018

Questions? E-mail me at


  1. Interesting JR. Like you say "what difference does it make?" well, if you are reading something and trying to understand it, it makes a lot of difference! That is, if the writer understands the difference too.
    Us Americans all too often seem to have blinders on when it come to giving other countries credit for their part in any war. We like to beat our chest and be the big shot, but the truth of it is, we can't do it alone. Without help, if we got the job done, it would be much, much harder if not impossible. I'm glad you talked about this, it is something we should be reminded about, and thankful for.

    1. Yep, the Aussies serving in Vietnam is not a well-published fact. And right on count two as well...people need to be reminded of their valor and sacrifices.


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