How is Gold Formed

How is Gold Formed
Posted on April 03, 2024 by BOLD Precious Metals
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Isn't it fascinating to ponder how is gold formed?

Some people have referred to a philosopher’s stone as the material magicians use to produce gold. Aristotle also said that gold was nothing but water solidified in the earth and mixed with sunlight.

When ancient Incas discovered gold, they thought it came down with rain as tears of an imaginary creature.

However, how is gold formed is much more interesting!

This is why gold has remained fascinating for so long despite being relatively rare and having exceptional properties. Hence, it would make no sense if there was plenty of gold on Earth because it would not be rare or special!

There are two theories surrounding how is gold formed: neutron star collisions and supernova explosions.

Thus, let us find out how the great emergence of this precious metal began from philosopher’s stones through asteroid showers and supernova explosions. Going into the heart of our planet reveals where and how is gold formed.

    Where Does Gold Come From?

Did gold, the precious metal we all covet, sink to the Earth's core during the planet's formation?

It's mind-blowing to think that it's only accessible to us today because of asteroid bombardment.

But here's the kicker - gold's origin story is truly ‘out of this world’! It dates back a whopping 3.9 billion years, originating in the ferocious furnaces of dying stars. These stars, in their final moments, produce heavy elements like gold through the intense conditions of supernova explosions.

The newly formed gold atoms are then flung into space, which eventually settle in gas and dust clouds, contributing to the birth of new planetary systems and stars. It's like a cosmic treasure hunt that ultimately led to gold finding its way into our world!

Whatever the case, it's fascinating to realize that gold formed long before our planet did.

Therefore, gold appears to come from the depths of space, having traveled great distances and through time to appear on our planet.

Although it originates from the celestial realm, its transformation into the shimmering metal we cherish on Earth is equally captivating as it undergoes various geological processes.

    How is Gold Formed

There are two theories to describe how is gold formed, including Supernovae and neutron star collisions.

Gold Formed by Supernovae?

The supernova nucleosynthesis process generates approximately half of the metals in the periodic table, including uranium, platinum, and gold. Nuclear fusion gives a star its brightness.

Hydrogen atoms are drawn together by gravity and collide with helium atoms, releasing massive amounts of energy in the form of heat and light.

When the star's core runs out of hydrogen, gravity causes the star to collapse. Depending on the star's mass, a huge shockwave produced during the collapse creates gold.

The explosion releases massive amounts of energy, and the rapid neutron-capture process generates heavy elements.

This process occurs when one or more heavy seed nuclei quickly absorb available neutrons before radioactive decay can begin.

Gold is one of the heavy elements created and is either transported through space to its final destination or forms the nuclei of new stars or planetary systems.

Gold Formed by Neutron Star Collisions?

The rapid neutron-capture process, or r-process, can also result from neutron star collisions.

Some neutron stars are trapped in binary star systems throughout the galaxy, orbiting one another. They gradually get closer and closer until they merge.

The conditions created by the massive amount of energy released during a collision are similar to those of a supernova, which permits the formation of heavy elements like gold.

Scientists spotted GW170817, a gravitational wave from a neutron star collision in 2017. This event, located about 140 million light-years from Earth, produced gravitational waves and electromagnetic radiation, confirming Einstein's theory and providing insights into neutron stars and heavy element formation.

They detected heavy elements up to 16,000 times the mass of the Earth. Gold formations with a mass three to ten times that of Earth were among these discoveries.

    How is Gold Made in the Earth

Even though gold atoms may have come from meteors and played a role in the formation of the Earth, gold deposits took millions of years to form in the geology.

The process starts deep under the surface of the Earth, where the elements needed to make gold are subjected to extreme heat and pressure.

Hydrothermal Activities

Gold primarily originates from hydrothermal processes. These processes involve the movement of hot fluids that are rich in dissolved minerals, including gold, from deep within the Earth's mantle.

As these fluids flow through the cracks and fissures in the Earth's crust, they encounter cooler conditions, leading to the precipitation of minerals, including gold, which gradually accumulate over time.

Magmatic Processes

Magmatic activity is also a significant process in the formation of gold. As molten rock, or magma, moves up towards the Earth's surface, it contains dissolved metals, including gold.

When the magma solidifies and cools down, these metals can crystallize and form gold-bearing mineral veins or deposits within the adjacent rocks.

Geological Conditions Determine Gold’s Geography

In the formation of gold deposits, both hydrothermal and magmatic processes require specific geological conditions, which include the presence of certain types of rocks, and appropriate temperature and pressure regimes.

The resultant interplay among these forces ultimately controls the occurrence of gold mineralization.

They are then exposed on the earth’s surface over millions of years due to geological forces such as erosion and weathering, tectonic movements etc., for human beings to dig them up in search of gold.

The kind of jewelry, bullion, or ornaments made from this gold shows how powerful underground forces are.

    Four Primary Types of Gold Deposits

The formation of gold actually refers to the creation of gold deposits, including ores, veins, nuggets, and flakes.

There are four primary types of gold deposits.

  • Lode Gold
  • The earth's tectonic plate collisions produce lode gold deposits. Metamorphic rocks are produced when tectonic plates collide, pushing magma upward and cooling it.

    Natural fault lines found in metamorphic rocks allow hydrothermal water to try to escape. This water pushes molten gold into the rock's fissures, solidifying and absorbing the metamorphic properties as the water cools.

  • Intrusive Gold
  • Gold that intrudes into solid rocks is formed like lode gold. The gold is carried within magma as it penetrates rock walls.

    As the magma cools, it forms new layers of rock and minerals, including gold, inside the preexisting rock.

  • Placer Gold
  • Lode and intrusive gold deposits already exist as placer gold sources. The erosion of rock by water is the cause of placer gold. The minerals in rock walls will be released through erosion caused by rain and rivers flowing against them.

    These minerals, including gold, will flow into rivers and streams as they flow downward. In places where the stream current is slower, gravity will then draw the gold downward to form these deposits.

    These deposits stay in place and can be extracted when the riverbeds dry up. They may come in the form of nuggets or flakes.

  • Laterite Gold
  • Laterite gold deposits are produced from preexisting gold deposits. Laterite denotes the types of rocks abundant in iron that were formed due to the erosion of bedrock. These rocks are reddish-brown and found in hot and tropical regions.

    The gold in bedrock combines with iron oxide to create these deposits.

    Interesting Facts About Gold

  • Meteorites, which struck Earth over 200 million years after its formation, are the source of almost all gold on Earth.
  • Other metals are alloyed with gold: Due to its softness, gold is typically combined with other metals to increase its hardness. These metals consist of zinc, nickel, copper, and silver.
  • Earthquakes can produce gold. Mineral-rich water decomposes and vaporizes when faults shift. Quartz and gold strips can be found on stony surfaces.
  • Gold is not color-changeable: Unlike other metals, gold does not rust or change color. Your jewelry is probably not real gold if it turns silver, green, or any other color.
  • Gold can be eaten. There is a trace amount of gold in our bodies.

    How Much Gold Exists in the World

Up until now, about 244,000 metric tons of goldhave been found (187,000 metric tons produced historically plus 57,000 metric tons of current underground reserves).

Three nations have contributed the majority of that gold: South Africa, Australia, and China.

The majority of gold produced nowadays is used to create jewelry, coins, and bars. Still, it is also a vital industrial metal used to make a wide range of products, including computers, communications devices, jet engines, spacecraft, and more.

Graphical Presentation of 10 Countries with the Largest Gold Reserves 2024

The world's largest gold reserves are found in the United States, Germany, China, and Italy, with smaller reserves in other nations. Gold is typically kept in private vaults, central reserves, and banks.

RankCountryGold Reserve (Tonnes)Gold Reserve Holdings ($ Million)
1USA8133.46489,133.74
2Germany3352.65201,623.07
3Italy2451.84147,449.64
4France2436.9146,551.80
5Russia2332.74140,287.50
6China2191.53131,795.43
7Switzerland1040.0162,543.91
8Japan845.9750,875.51
9India800.7848,157.71
10Turkey612.4536,832.02

The United States has the largest gold reserves in the world, with 8,133.46 tonnes as of 2024. At $489,133.74 million,this sizeable reserve accounts for an astounding 68.22% of the nation's total holdings.

The sizeable amount highlights the US's dedication to monetary stability and its crucial role in shaping the world gold markets. These reserves support the country's standing in the global monetary system and provide a solid basis for economic growth.

    Where Could Gold Come from in the Future?

With gold’s presence on Earth being attributed to the planet’s initial formation and the possibility of rare comets contributing deposits, it seems that there may be a finite amount of gold in the world.

But is it possible to obtain new sources of gold by mining in space, new gold-laden comets reaching Earth, or, in fact, creating more gold in a lab!?

Gold Mining in Space

Though it may sound like science fiction, the idea of mining gold in space is becoming increasingly realistic.

Due to the growing interest in space exploration and the advancement of advanced technologies, mining asteroids and other celestial bodies for precious metals like gold is becoming a reality.

In particular, asteroids are thought to hold substantial concentrations of gold and other precious minerals, which makes them possible targets for mining endeavors in the future.

Businesses and space agencies are already investigating the potential of mining asteroids to supply the increasing Earthly demand for precious metals in the future through resources taken from orbit.

Although there are many logistical and technical obstacles, the possibility of gold mining in space opens up new vistas for human exploration and resource utilization.


Future Deposits from Meteorites

If they have previously brought us gold, perhaps more will follow.

Future gold deposits may come from meteorites, the remains of asteroids, and other celestial bodies colliding with Earth's surface. These alien rocks frequently contain a range of metals that formed early in the formation of our solar system, including gold.

Although large-scale gold extraction from meteorites is beyond the capabilities of current mining technologies, developments in space exploration and resource extraction may open up new avenues for mining operations in the future.

Thanks to advancements in space technology and growing interest in asteroid mining, mining gold from meteorites may be possible.

Nonetheless, many logistical and practical issues with space mining, such as extraction and transportation strategies, remain to be resolved.

However, the possibility of extracting precious metals from these cosmic reservoirs offers a fascinating direction for further research and resource development.


Deep Sea Mining

Valuable metals like gold can be found and extracted from the deep sea by using new technologies.

There are several new operations to extract and mine gold, including seabed deposits and oceanic trenches which are mainly focused on mining and exploring deep sea containing gold and other valuable metals.

But there's a problem.

Mining deep in the sea can harm the environment. It can mess up where sea animals live and hurt the variety of life down there. We need to be careful to balance making money with taking care of the ocean.


Recovery from Waste Streams

The process of recovering gold from waste streams entails taking the metal out of mine tailings, industrial waste products, and other human-made residues.

  • Streams of Industrial Waste:
  • Numerous industries, including the fabrication of semiconductors, jewelry, and electronics, generate waste streams that contain traces of gold.

  • Tailings from mines:
  • Mine tailings are the leftover materials from ore processing at mining operations. Small amounts of gold that were not extracted during the first processing are frequently present in these tailings.

  • Techniques for Recuperation:
  • One can recover gold from waste streams using a variety of methods, such as flotation, gravity separation, and chemical leaching. Concentrating and removing gold from the waste is the goal of these techniques.

Closing Words

Lets’ conclude how is gold formed. Celestial events like a supernova explosion or the collision of two neutron stars that took place billions of years ago are believed to have led to gold's formation.

On Earth, it is formed by geological processes such as hydrothermal activity and magmatic events, which create deposits of this valuable metal. Gold's presence from asteroid bombardments can be seen as a recorded part of our cosmic history on Earth, resulting in its rarity and value.

Advances in space exploration may make mining asteroids and extracting gold from meteorites possible, whereas deep-sea mining and extracting gold from waste streams can be alternative sources.

The development of science has allowed us to understand how our universe is structured and how it functions. Gold also symbolizes the limitless potential that exists beyond what we currently know, reminding us that human imaginations have no boundaries.

Gold remains irresistible throughout time because it is closely related to the universe and other things on Earth, making it one of the most loved metals on Earth. In today’s unpredictable economic climate, many people turn to investing in gold as a safe way to protect their wealth against inflation and market volatility.

If you're considering adding this exquisite and rare yellow metal to your investment portfolio, look no further than BOLD Precious Metals. We provide a diverse range of gold bullion products, from stunning gold bars to exquisite coins, all offered at the most competitive prices in the market.


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